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Bill Withers Film Finally Gets Released

05/12/2010
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Still Bill, a project by filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack, had what seemed like a simple idea: make a film about Bill Withers. Eight years later, on May 11th, the film was finally released exclusively through www.stillbillthemovie.com.

The full physical DVD and digital download are available through the website, as well as a deluxe package which includes exclusive merchandise. The DVD includes never bonus features, such as live performances from the Bill Withers Tribute Concert and conversations with Graham Nash, Bill Russell, and Jim Brown.

After touring the world in festivals and winning numerous awards, Still Bill premiered to sold-out audiences at the IFC theater in New York.

The film has been profiled on NPR's "All Things Considered" and Oprah Radio's "Gayle King Show". Audiences across the country and throughout the world have laughed, cried, and taken to their feet in hundreds of screenings. They've been clamoring for a chance to get their hands on the film—and now, for the first time, it's available.

Little was known about Withers since he'd left the business of music behind, and his music, which includes the classics "Ain't No Sunshine", "Lean On Me", and "Just the Two of Us", had left its mark on the world in general and these two filmmakers in particular. But they soon found that access to Withers was not freely granted, and that many doors would open, only to slam back shut. With such limited access, their attentions shifted to trying to produce a concert of his music, which would provide a narrative thread for a discussion of his influence. For while his songs are part of the American fabric, his name is not well known.

Then things changed. His door cracked slightly open. First, a four-hour interview. Then a trip to his hometown of Slab Fork, West Virginia, the place to which he swore he'd never return. Four hours became forty. Forty is now three hundred hours, filmed over two years—a personal journey into the life of a complex, fascinating, and profound man.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Withers has lived a simple life, raising his children with his wife in Los Angeles. His son is just starting law school; his daughter, whose own dreams of being a singer and songwriter have been overshadowed by the legend of her father, has started to come out of her shell with a clear and resonant voice. Withers nurtures them both, as his grandmother nurtured him. And when Dr. Cornel West asks him what he'd like his legacy to be, the answer lies with them.

Through interviews with Dr. Cornel West, Sting, Angelique Kidjo, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Withers' family and his oldest friends, and through countless hours of Withers living a full and contemplative life, the film presents a man who in his seventieth year continues to bring a rich understanding of the heart and soul of a man, and a man's relationship to fame.

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