‘Definitive’ family-authorized Bob Marley documentary slated for April release

Magnolia Pictures has announced their acquisition of the feature-length documentary “Marley”, a new film that covers of the life of reggae legend Bob Marley through the use of rare footage and photos, video of his performances, interviews with those who knew him best and, of course, his songs.The indie distributor has slated an April 20th release for the film, both theatrically and through VOD and digital platforms. It will have its world premiere at this month’s Berlin Film Festival and its North American premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March.

Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”, “The Last King of Scotland”), “Marley” is the first family-authorized documentary to be released about the singer, who died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36.

The film was executive-produced by Marley’s son Ziggy and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. 

In addition to the Magnolia deal, VH1 has snagged rights to the documentary’s first TV airing as part of its “VH1 Rock Doc” series. The cable network will also team up with Magnolia and the filmmakers to promote the documentary’s release.

“This documentary is the ultimate revelation of my father”s life,” said Ziggy Marley in a statement. “The family is proud to be able to have the world finally experience this emotional journey.”

Marley is credited with popularizing reggae music along with his band The Wailers during their 1970s/early ’80s heyday, with the group selling tens of millions of albums worldwide. Marley himself was awarded a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 Grammys.

What are your thoughts on the new documentary? Do you think it will present a fair and balanced view of Marley’s life, or – given his family’s involvement – will it stray too far into “hagiography” territory? Let us know your opinions in the comments!