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Trailer Watch: Festival Hit ‘Mavis!’ Tells Story of Legendary Singer and Activist Mavis Staples

Trailer Watch: Festival Hit ‘Mavis!’ Tells Story of Legendary Singer and Activist Mavis Staples

HBO has released a trailer for highly-anticipated documentary feature “Mavis!,” which chronicles the life and times of legendary gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples. The trailer opens with concert footage of Staples herself promising an audience “joy, inspiration and positive vibrations” — all of which “Mavis!” seems poised to deliver on too, judging by the critical buzz surrounding the film. The premium cable network acquired director Jessica Edwards’s doc last year after it premiered to great acclaim on the festival circuit, receiving a standing ovation at SXSW 2015.

Mavis Staples is well known as a woman for whom musical expression and the fight for equal rights have always gone hand-in-hand.  As Edwards told Women and Hollywood, her celebratory portrait of Staples consequently strives to go beyond the more traditional documentary structuring of archive footage, to achieve a strong sense of timeliness. “To me, this wasn’t a historical bio-doc,” said Edwards: “It was a film about how at 75 years old, [Mavis] is as vital now as she has ever been … And I didn’t want the civil rights movement to appear historical. To Mavis, the fight for equality didn’t end in the 60s, and I really wanted to emphasize that.”

The trailer promises plenty of interview footage with the legend herself, as well as lots of other famous faces — including the likes of Mavis’s close friend Bob Dylan. 

“Mavis!” is set to debut on HBO February 29. You can catch the film for free before its HBO premiere when it screens at the Athena Film Festival on February 21.

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