"Bang! The Bert Berns Story", Telling the Story of Bang Records, Set For Film Festivals

via Press Release

Over the course of the next few months, Bang! The Bert Berns Story is set to screen for multiple film festival audiences across the North America. Newly added venues include Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival’s Doc Soup series, the Jewish Film Institute's Winterfest in San Francisco and a special screening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The biographical documentary, which debuted at SXSW last spring, tells the story of one of the most important songwriters, producers and label chiefs of the 1960s. Until quite recently, Bert Berns had been relegated to obscurity, his very existence known only among the cognoscenti of hardcore record collectors and old school music industry veterans.

The film was produced and directed by Brett Berns, Bert’s son, and co-directed with Bob Sarles who served as editor. The younger Berns is a lead producer of the Broadway-bound musical Piece of My Heart – The Bert Berns Story, which ran Off-Broadway in 2014. Sarles is a Primetime Emmy nominated film and television editor and documentary filmmaker. He co-edited the Peabody Award winning documentary series Moon Shot and directed and edited Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield; Fly Jefferson Airplane; John Lee Hooker: Come And See About Me; Feed Your Head: The Psychedelic Era and Soulsville.

Stevie Van Zandt, who inducted Berns into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, provides the film’s narration which was written by Joel Selvin, author of Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues (Counterpoint Press). Bang! The Bert Berns Story chronicles the brief life of a musical genius whose hits included Twist and Shout, Hang On Sloopy, Brown Eyed Girl, Here Comes The Night, A Little Bit of Soap, Tell Him and Piece of My Heart. Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, Cissy Houston, Ronald Isley, Andrew Loog Oldham and Wilson Pickett are among those who appear in the film, produced by Michael B. Borofsky and Brooks Arthur with Sid Ganis as Executive Producer.

Berns, unlike his music business contemporaries, was equally at home producing American soul artists in New York as he was working in London during the height of the British Invasion where his songs were covered by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and Them. His relationship with the mob made him a controversial figure even before his untimely death in 1967 at the age of 38. He founded Bang Records, which was acknowledged as the hottest label in the business and the home of hits by Neil Diamond, The McCoys, Strangeloves and Van Morrison. Bang’s Shout subsidiary label yielded hits for Freddie Scott, Erma Franklin and other R&B artists.

The film, which has received high acclaim at over two dozen major film festivals world wide will have its domestic theatrical release later this spring, and represents the culmination of a ten-year struggle by Berns’ children, led by Brett to bring their father’s story to the screen. This run of film festival screenings will provide audiences with insight into the life and work of “the greatest songwriter and record man you never heard of.”

Scheduled Film Festival screenings for Bang! The Bert Berns Story (Check festival websites to confirm screening times and locations)
  • 02/11 - Atlanta, GA - Jewish Film Festival
  • 03/01-02 - Toronto, ON - Hot Docs Festival presents Doc Soup Series 
  • 03/05 - San Francisco, CA - Jewish Film Institute presents Winterfest - Roxie Theater, SF
  • 03/08 - Cleveland, OH - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Foster Theater at the RockHall Museum
  • 03/23 - Portland, ME - Maine Jewish Film Festival 
  • 03/25 - Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN - Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival
  • 04/24 - Port Jefferson, NY - Documentary Series

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