The documentary, directed by Oscar winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and produced by James Keach and Michele Farinola and CNN Films, had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and recently took the Documentary Audience Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival.
Co-financed by Keach’s PCH Films and CNN Films, the latter has also acquired broadcast television rights for North America. It will open in theaters in September. It is a powerful and no-holds barred look at the 1960s and ’70s music icon whose voice transcends all genres, and as I said when I wrote about its Tribeca premiere, the film is another sterling example in the wave of musical documentaries and biopics sweeping the theatrical exhibition scene.
Constructed from interviews over 50 years, Ronstadt effectively narrates the film that documents her career from her early days in Tucson through her premature 2011 retirement due to Parkinson’s disease. She has not performed publicly in the last decade, but the film offers a heart-rending sequence towards the end that won’t leave a dry eye in the house. The doc, which won acclaim out of its Tribeca screening, includes interviews with her friends and collaborators, among them Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther and Jackson Browne. Browne actually accompanied her back to the roots of her career in a visit to Mexico that the filmmakers captured.
“Linda Ronstadt is a rock icon who has wowed audiences across the world for decades and is a staunch human rights advocate,” said Danielle DiGiacomo, SVP of Acquisitions and Strategic Partnerships for 1091, and Ed Arentz, Co-Managing Director of Greenwich Entertainment. “We’re excited to partner with Rob, Jeffrey, James, Michele and CNN to bring this powerful documentary to audiences across the country.”
“Rob and Jeffrey have crafted an inspirational exploration of a singularly exceptional talent and humanitarian,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide and Courtney Sexton, vice president for CNN Films, who are both executive producers for the film.
“It was a privilege to be entrusted by Linda to make this film,” said Epstein and Friedman. “We hope audiences have as much fun watching it as we had making it.”
Golden Globe winning producer James Keach (Walk The Line), who has been part of some of the best musical films in recent years including directing and producing Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, said “We are excited to be working with 1091 Media, Greenwich Entertainment and CNN. They will ensure that Linda’s legacy will be shared throughout the world and help pave the way for future generations of Latin X and visionary performers to realize their dreams.”
Epstein and Friedman have received two Academy Awards, five Emmys, and three Peabody Awards, among other honors. Epstein won the Oscar for his docu The Times Of Harvey Milk in 1985, and then partnering with Friedman the duo won the Oscar for Common Threads in 1990.
The deal was negotiated by 1091’s Danielle DiGiacomo, Greenwich’s Ed Arentz and Eric Sloss of Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers, and by Stacey Wolf, vice president for Business Affairs for CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN.
The deal between 1091 Media and CNN Films marks their fourth collaboration. Previously, the two brands brought Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent (2016), Trophy (2017), and Halston (2019) to successful theatrical and television exhibitions. Greenwich recently released another musical docu about pop icons, Echo In The Canyon, which is currently in theaters.