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18 Music Festival documentaries you should watch

Music Festival Documentaries
When it comes to music festivals, there is no better way to experience them than to attend them in person. However, there are also plenty of amazing documentaries that capture the sights and sounds of these events.

In this article, we will explore some of the best music festival documentaries out there that capture the essence of what makes these festivals so special.

A music festival documentary is a film or television program that focuses on a particular music festival. Many are available on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

A music festival documentary may explore the history, culture, and atmosphere of the event, featuring interviews with past and present attendees, artists, and organizers. It may also include footage of live performances, or even an exploration of the effects of the festival on the local economy.

From Woodstock to Burning Man and beyond, these films provide a unique insight into the music, the people, and the culture of these incredible gatherings. So, sit back and enjoy the ride as we take you through some of the best music festival documentaries ever made.

Trainwreck: Woodstock `99 (2022)

Woodstock 1969 promised peace and music, but its ’99 revival delivered three days of rage, riots and real harm. This music festival documentary reveals why did it go so horribly wrong?

Festival: A Documentary (2015)

Festival: A Documentary is a 2015 film that follows the behind-the-scenes action at several music festivals around the world, including Tomorrowland in Belgium, Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and Sziget Festival in Hungary. 

The film explores the culture and community of music festivals, and features interviews with festival organizers, performers, and attendees. It also touches on the environmental impact of these events and the efforts being made to minimize their carbon footprint. Overall, Festival: A Documentary offers a unique and in-depth look at the world of music festivals and the people who make them possible.

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert (2020)

“Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert” is a documentary film released in 2020 that celebrates the iconic music and arts festival, Coachella, as it marks its 20th anniversary. Directed by Chris Perkel, the film takes viewers on a journey through the festival’s history, from its humble beginnings in 1999 to becoming one of the most influential and globally recognized music events. Coachella was originally envisioned as a festival that would focus primarily on indie rock music. However, over the years, it has expanded its lineup to include various genres like hip-hop, electronic, and pop, showcasing a wide range of musical acts. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes its name from the Coachella Valley, located in Southern California, where the festival is held annually. The region is known for its desert landscape and is home to the Empire Polo Club, which serves as the festival grounds.

Last Hippie Standing (2001)

“Last Hippie Standing” is a thought-provoking documentary released in 2001 that explores the enduring spirit and cultural legacy of the hippie movement. Directed by Marcus Robbin, the film takes viewers on a captivating journey through the lives of individuals who were once part of the counterculture revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

The documentary introduces us to a diverse cast of characters who embraced the ideals of peace, love, and freedom during the height of the hippie movement. Through a combination of interviews, archival footage, and personal anecdotes, “Last Hippie Standing” presents a vivid portrait of the era’s ideals, its rise, and eventual decline.

Music Is My Drug: Psychedelic Trance (1996)

A documentary by two French journalists about psychedelic trance music. The film is shot across several psytrance hotspots including Goa, Israel, United Kingdom and Japan. You’ll see quite a few retro artists throughout the documentary.

Spark: A Burning Man Story (2014)

Spark: A Burning Man Story is a 2014 documentary film that explores the culture and community of the annual Burning Man festival, which takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The film follows a group of participants as they prepare for and experience the event, and features interviews with Burning Man founders and organizers, as well as attendees. The film offers a unique look at the alternative community and culture that has developed around the Burning Man festival, and the transformative power of the event for those who participate.

Woodstock (1970)

The most well-known documentary film about Woodstock is probably “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” which was released in 1970 and directed by Michael Wadleigh. The film features performances by many of the artists who appeared at the festival, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and execution of the event. The film has become a classic of music documentary filmmaking and has been widely celebrated for its portrayal of the spirit and energy of the Woodstock festival.

My Generation (2000)

My Generation is a 2000 documentary film directed by David Batty that explores the culture and history of the 1960s, with a focus on the United Kingdom. The film features interviews with prominent figures from the time period, including musicians, activists, and politicians, as well as archival footage from the era. The film covers a range of topics, including the rise of the counterculture, the Civil Rights movement, and the political and social changes of the time. It offers a unique perspective on the events and people that shaped the 1960s and helped to define a generation.

Psytrance: A Way of Life (2014)

A documentary shot at Ozora Festival in Hungary, interviewing legends like Raja Ram, Chicago, Cosmosis, Ajja, Rabten, David, Jeremy and Liz.

Raving Iran (2016)

Raving Iran is a 2016 documentary film directed by Susanne Regina Meures that tells the story of two young Iranian DJs, Anoosh and Arash, and their journey to bring electronic music to their home country. Despite the fact that dancing and electronic music are illegal in Iran, the two men, who make up the DJ duo Blade & Beard, are determined to share their love of music with their fellow Iranians. The film follows Anoosh and Arash as they risk arrest and punishment to hold underground parties and perform in other countries. Along the way, they face challenges and make sacrifices, but ultimately, they are able to inspire a new generation of Iranians to express themselves through music.

This Was Tomorrow (2015)

This Was Tomorrow is a 2015 documentary film that explores the history and culture of the Tomorrowland music festival, which takes place in Belgium. The film features interviews with festival organizers and performers, as well as attendees, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and execution of the event. It also delves into the broader community and culture that has developed around Tomorrowland, and the ways in which the festival has evolved over the years. This Was Tomorrow offers a unique and in-depth look at one of the world’s largest and most popular music festivals.

Under The African Sky (2009)

Under The African Sky is a South African documentary, produced by Tune Raider, that explores the history of psychedelic trance culture in the early 1990’s up until 2005. It’s a fascinating documentary that shows early parties and interviews with local legends.

It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004)

It’s All Gone Pete Tong is a 2004 comedy-drama film that tells the story of Frankie Wilde, a successful DJ who becomes deaf after years of heavy partying and drug use. The film follows Frankie as he struggles to come to terms with his new reality and navigate the challenges of living with a disability. As he struggles to reconnect with his loved ones and rebuild his career, Frankie must confront the mistakes of his past and learn to embrace a new way of life. The film is a dark comedy that tackles serious themes of addiction and recovery, and explores the highs and lows of the DJ lifestyle.

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a 2019 documentary film that chronicles the infamous Fyre Festival, a music festival that was advertised as a luxury event but ultimately turned into a disaster. The film features interviews with key players involved in the event, including festival organizers, investors, and attendees, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and execution of the festival. It also explores the online marketing campaign that promoted the event and the social media influencers who helped to spread the word. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed, hubris, and the dangers of attempting to create a lavish event on a limited budget.

What We Started (2017)

What We Started is a 2017 documentary film that explores the history and evolution of electronic dance music (EDM), from its roots in the underground club scene to its current status as a mainstream phenomenon. The film features interviews with key figures in the EDM world, including DJs, producers, and industry professionals, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of electronic music and the culture surrounding it. It also examines the impact of technology on the music industry and the ways in which electronic music has influenced and been influenced by other genres. Overall, What We Started is a fascinating and in-depth look at the world of EDM and the people who have helped to shape it.

High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music (2006)

High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music is a 2006 documentary film that traces the history and evolution of techno music, a genre that emerged in the 1980s and has since become a global phenomenon. The film features interviews with key figures in the techno world, including DJs, producers, and music industry professionals, and explores the origins and development of the genre in Detroit, Michigan. It also examines the cultural and social context in which techno music emerged, and the ways in which it has influenced and been influenced by other genres. High Tech Soul: The Creation of Techno Music is a comprehensive and engaging look at the history and culture of techno music.

Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation (2019)

Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation is a 2019 documentary film that explores the iconic music festival that took place in Bethel, New York in 1969. The film features interviews with musicians, festival organizers, and attendees, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and execution of the event. It also delves into the cultural and social context of the time period, and the ways in which the festival reflected the political and social issues of the era. The film uses archival footage and photographs to bring the events of the festival to life, and offers a unique perspective on one of the most significant events in music history.

Detroit: The Blueprint of Techno (2019)

“Detroit: The Blueprint of Techno” is a captivating documentary that explores the origins and cultural impact of techno music in the city of Detroit. Directed by Jenn Nkiru, the film provides an in-depth look into the birth and evolution of techno, a genre of electronic music that originated in the Motor City during the 1980s.

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