Brooklyn-based Film First has announced North American distribution deals for their feature documentary “Mavis!” on the life of Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers, which made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival last month.
Directed by Jessica Edwards, the documentary has been picked up by HBO (U.S. television rights), with Films We Like taking Canada rights.
“We are beyond thrilled to have HBO as our broadcast partner,” director Edwards said in a press statement. “They’ve always been such a huge supporter of documentary films. We can’t wait to share the inspiration and joy of Mavis’s music and story with HBO viewers, and with audiences across Canada through Films We Like.”
Mavis Staples added: “I’ve been touring since 1954, and I’ve been to all kinds of festivals, but I don’t think I was at a film festival until my movie screened in Austin. That was something else – to sit in the audience and see on that big screen the results of me and Jessica talking, all the old pictures and family performances, to hear these music giants say such nice things about me. I cried all my mascara off. To think that this story about my family and our music will be in theaters and on TV after all this time is just awesome. And being on HBO – that is a thrill. I’m catching up to my guy John Oliver! I am so grateful, knowing all these young people – whole new generations – they want to hear my songs and my family’s story and what I have to say… I’m really blessed.”
The film is the first documentary on the gospel and soul music legend, as well as civil rights activist, and her musical family, featuring live performances, rarely-seen archival footage and conversations with musical legends Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Chuck D and more, collectively revealing the trials and triumphs of Staples’ 75-year-old journey.
The film will next screen at the upcoming Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Hot Docs, and the Montclair Film Festival, which will include a post-screening conversation with Stephen Colbert and Mavis Staples. The film will screen at more festivals worldwide through the summer.
The distribution deals were negotiated by Josh Braun and David Koh of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.