There’s no shortage of great musicians and composers out there deserving of feature length documentaries diving into the genius of their creative process, but surely there are few that are more of a no-brainer than Frank Zappa. The enigmatic, iconoclastic singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist was the sort of mythic figure of American music that comes along once in a generation, inspiring fanatical devotion while simultaneously exploding the soundscape of the music scene that existed before him. Zappa was one of those artists impossible to pigeonhole into any kind of style—at one moment, you could describe his works as “rock,” and at another they were more akin to jazz fusion or orchestral pieces. Across more than 60 albums, he plied a very particular brand of inscrutable genius. Zappa passed away from cancer in 1993.
Now, we are indeed getting that feature length documentary, courtesy of actor-director Alex Winter—yes, the very same Alex Winter who recently returned to the screen in the long-awaited Bill & Ted Face the Music. In recent years, Winter has become a documentarian of some renown, and he’s now turned his interest on exploring the who, what and why of Zappa. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that’s a pretty big task, but you can see the fruits of his labor in the first trailer below. The film is scheduled to hit limited theatrical distribution and VOD the week of Thanksgiving in the U.S.
The official synopsis, from Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing, is as follows:
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’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.
Check out the full trailer for this loving tribute to Frank Zappa below.