5 unmissable rock ‘n’ roll biopics and documentaries at SFF

There are so many options at the Sydney Film Festival, so how can you possibly decide what to see? Embrace your inner rockstar with these hand-picked features of rock and roll cinematic gold.

janis little girl blue

1. Janis: Little Girl Blue

Often heralded as the first female rockstar, game-changing blues vocalist Janis Joplin’s spine-tingling voice remains iconic almost half a century after her tragic early death. Watch Joplin's rise to fame in the 1960s in this documentary from Oscar-nominated Amy Berg. Featuring private letters and strewn with unseen footage, this film celebrates the supreme talent and short life of a blues-rock legend.

Interesting fact: Amy Berg also directed the sobering documentary An Open Secret, an uncomfortable look at child abuse in the film industry.


Friday 10 June at 8.15pm - Event Cinemas George Street

Wednesday 15 June at 8.30pm - Dendy Newtown

born to be blue

2. Born to be Blue

This biopic follows the life of influential jazz musician Chet Baker, showcasing his fame, addictions and unexpected comeback. Baker is played by Ethan Hawke, and Variety says the performance “ranks among the best of his career. Mixing heart-breaking fact and fiction, this acclaimed feature is essential viewing.

Interesting fact: Australian electronica artist Chet Faker chose his stage name as a homage to jazz legend Baker.


Wednesday 8 June at 6pm - Event Cinemas George Street

Monday 13 June at 2pm - Dendy Opera Quays

i saw the light

3 I Saw The Light

Accompany country music icon Hank Williams through his boozy rise to fame and untimely death in this handsome biopic starring super-talented Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen. The film itself has received mixed reviews from the media (with a lot of praise for the main acting talent), but the only way to have a valid opinion about this picture is to go and see it for yourself.

Interesting fact: Tom Hiddleston performs all of his own vocals in the film. Some are pre-recorded and some are sung live on stage.


Saturday 11 June at 8.15pm - Hayden Orpheum

Sunday 12 June at 7pm - Event Cinemas George Street

gimme danger

4. Gimme Danger

Nearly two decades after Year of the Horse (which follows Neil Young and Crazy Horse), director Jim Jarmusch is back with a documentary about charismatic Iggy Pop and his band The Stooges. This adoration-filled tribute picture to the energetic punk icon is filled with archive footage, sincere peer anecdotes and anarchic performances.

Interesting fact: At Cannes, Iggy Pop himself took the press stage to answer questions about the documentary. He commented on his drug-use, being a “product of the times” and walking the red carpet with no shirt.


Friday 17 June at 9pm - State Theatre

Sunday 19 June at 3.45pm - Event Cinemas George Street

american epic sessions

5. The American Epic Sessions

Co-produced by Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford, this documentary takes a trip back to the birth of modern music and recording. Using a restored vintage recording machine (the kind that record execs would tour the Deep South with in the 1920s, looking for new and raw talent) this feature captures recordings of today’s music icons. Look out for legends such as Elton John, Beck, Nas and Willie Nelson.

Interesting fact: This collective venture will also be release a TV series and related soundtrack albums.


Monday 13 June at 5.15pm - Event Cinemas George Street

Thursday 16 June at 8.30pm - Dendy Newtown

The Sydney Film Festival runs from 8-19 June 2016 at 13 venues across Sydney, including Dendy Newtown, Hayden Orpheum and the State Theatre.

Images from IMDB and Sydney Film Festival.

Sarah Neate

Sarah is our shopping & lifestyle publisher here at finder.com.au. She'll help you find the perfect gift, an unbeatable flight deal, the hottest fashion sales and pretty much anything else you're looking for - all at a discount, naturally.

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