Cleveland International Film Festival } March 25 – April 5, 2020 } Tower City Cinemas

Long Live Rock [Promoters]!

March 27, 2019   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers


Rock stars truly live enviable lives. They have passionate fans, carry on outrageous lifestyles, and tour the world sharing their music.

Let’s give some credit to the concert promoters, though. Philip Dolin and Molly Bernstein do. The directors spent time interviewing and researching those who booked those tours and promoted the shows in the early days of rock and roll. Take a look behind the scenes with them as they give due credit to rock promoters in their film, “The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock.”

Directors Dolin, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Bernstein heard about the idea for their film from Winston Simon, the manager of magician Ricky Jay, the subject of their first film, “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors Of Ricky Jay.”

“Winston knew of all the promoters and revered them as the unheralded great showman of the era,” recalls Dolin. “And he made a point that it was impossible to have a career in rock without working with these guys.”

The two filmmakers thought information on these promoters was “an unknown chapter in the history of rock music worthy of sharing,” they say.

Then at one point it clicked. Dolin grew up listening to WMMS radio where he heard "‘Belkin Productions presents…’ mentioned every 20 minutes,” he says. His hometown was home to the legendary promoters Jules, Mike, and Fran Belkin.

“I understood how important these promoters were to the cultural life of their respective cities,” he says.

It was during their visit to CIFF 40 in 2016 with their film, “An Art That Nature Makes: The Photography of Rosamond Purcell” that the filmmakers first met the Belkins. While in Cleveland, the two “actually did our interviews with Jules, Fran, and Mike during that very same visit.

“The Belkins have a great story to tell,” he continues. “I think [audiences] will be surprised to learn the background to all those amazing concerts of the ’70s and ’80s.”

They also went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to conduct additional interviews with Rock Hall executives Greg Harris and Todd Mesek. That’s where the filmmakers learned the history behind the Moondog Coronation Ball—generally known as the world’s first rock concert held in Cleveland in 1952.

In addition to those hometown heroes, the film also shares interviews and footage of Frank Barsalona, who was instrumental in creating the very concept of a rock tour, Carlos Santana, and Jon Bon Jovi.

“Without my prompting,” Dolin shares, “Jon Bon Jovi talked about coming to Cleveland for a lunchtime concert on WMMS and then opening for Michael Stanley that night.” Bon Jovi continued to explain how he and his band went through the process of “working with the promoters to slowly build an audience in each territory.

“That was fun to have in the film,” says Dolin.

– Anne M. DiTeodoro

PHOTO: Philip Dolin, left, and Molly Bernstein are happy to be back in Cleveland with their latest film. “Attending film festivals is great,” says Dolin. “Especially CIFF where the hospitality shown the filmmakers is remarkable. … The theaters are packed and the audiences are great and clearly having fun at the festival.” Photo by Jammi York, BUILD Series.

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.2 MB]

Related Screenings:
03/28/19 @ 6:45 PM – The Show's the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock
03/30/19 @ 9:15 PM – The Show's the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock

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