New documentary traces the career of disco legend Donna Summer

A new documentary traces the life and career of disco legend Donna Summer.

The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and will be broadcast in the USA on HBO Max.

The film is directed by Roger Ross Williams and Brooklyn Sudano. Williams won an Academy Award in 2009 for his short documentary Music by Prudence and he’s gone on to helm a number of documentary projects. Sudano is the daughter of Summer and her husband musician Bruce Sudano.

The film includes previously unseen home video recordings, film, recordings, personal audio and other archival material that has never been seen or heard before.

The singer had huge success in the 1970’s and is often referred to as the Queen of Disco. During her recording career she scored a series of hits with songs like I Feel Love, Love to Love You BabyShe Works Hard For The MoneyBad Girls, Hot Stuff and Last Dance.

Summer’s career had a revival in the late 1980s when she teamed up with British producers Stock Aitken and Waterman scoring another round of hits with Love’s About to Change My Heart and This Time I Know it’s for Real.

Summer was born La Donna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Massachusetts. She moved to Germany in the early 1970s to take part in a production of the musical Hair. There she married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer, when the couple divorced a few years later she kept the surname but changed it to anglicised Summer.

Summer’s musical breakthrough came when she teamed up with German producers Georgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. The disco song Love to Love You Baby was filled with orgasmic sounds and was popular in discos when Moroder provided a 17 minute version.

Summer continued to have a string of top hits in the ‘70s including I Feel Love, a cover of the Manilow song Could It Be Magic (Later a hit for British boy band Take That), Last DanceBad Girls and Hot Stuff. She scored a US number one with her take on the Jimmy Webb ballad MacArthur Park.

No More Tears (Enoughis Enough), her duet with Barbara Streisand is also considered a disco classic. In the ‘80s Summer’s hits began to wane but she had another hit in 1983 with She Works Hard For The Money.

In the early ‘80s Summer was the centre of some controversy when it was reported that she made disparaging remarks about gay men and HIV. The reports saw thousands of her records being returned by fans. Summer later clarified that she had not made the remarks.

In 1988 Summer had a career revival in Europe when she teamed up with British Producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman to record the album Another Time and Place. 


Check out the trailer

OIP Staff

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