Magnolia Pictures has released the trailer for Alex Winter’s Zappa. The documentary attempts to dissect the genius of iconic musician Frank Zappa with stories from some of his closest collaborators. Winter just starred in the critically acclaimed Bill & Ted Face the Music, which proved to be a much bigger hit than many expected during this uncertain time for the entertainment industry. Now, he is behind the camera.
With unfettered access to the Zappa family trust and all archival footage, Zappa explores the private life behind the mammoth musical career that never shied away from the political turbulence of its time. Alex Winter’s assembly features appearances by Frank Zappa’s widow Gail Zappa and several of Frank’s musical collaborators including Mike Keneally, Ian Underwood, Steve Vai, Pamela Des Barres, Bunk Gardner, David Harrington, Scott Thunes, Ruth Underwood, Ray White, and others. This was a labor of love for Winter, who spent years on the documentary.
Frank Zappa was a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and unorthodox bandleader. His work is often unclassifiable, though he has played rock, jazz, progressive rock, psychedelic, and many, many more styles and genres, often all combined into something the world took years to catch up to. He is known for his non-conformity and his fight for freedom of speech within the realm of art. Musicians who were lucky enough to have worked with Zappa had to be the best of the best with an open mind to extreme experimentation.
Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles says, “Alex Winter has created an amazing documentary. Zappa is an incredibly nuanced and compelling look at the visionary iconoclast and the environment that formed him.” The trailer features a treasure trove of unreleased footage that is sure to make any Zappa fan drool. With that being said, it was not an easy project to pull off for director Alex Winter. He had this to say about making Zappa.
“This is the most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on, with a couple years of archival preservation in addition to several years to make the film itself. This isn’t your typical music doc, but rather a multi-faceted narrative that aims to bring this complex artist to life. Magnolia, with its long and distinguished history of platforming great cinema, is the perfect home for Zappa and I am ecstatic to be partnering with them.”
Working within the world of Frank Zappa has not been easy since the musician passed away in 1993 after a battle with prostate cancer. There has been plenty of infighting amongst family members over the years, but Alex Winter is putting the focus on Zappa and his music. “From the moment Gail Zappa said ‘yes’ to our pitch I’ve been excited for the day that we could share Alex’s film with the world,” said producer Glen Zipper. “I can’t wait for audiences to see it.”
Frank Zappa’s son, Ahmet Zappa, says, “This emotional journey began with my mother’s belief in Alex Winter and he’s made an extraordinary film… I feel in my heart Frank and Gail would be so proud of the documentary and I can’t wait for everyone to see it!” Magnolia Pictures will release Zappa everywhere November 27th, 2020, along with a special one-night-only theatrical event on Monday, November 23rd, 2020. You can check out the trailer for Zappa above, thanks to the Magnolia Pictures YouTube channel.
Writer for Movieweb since 2017. Enjoys playing Catan when not writing about superheroes and Star Wars.