Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Year: 2019
Language: French, English
Run Time: 115 minutes

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Constructing a comprehensive documentary on Miles Davis is an arduous task, but filmmaker Stanley Nelson pulls it off with MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL. The jazz icon’s career went through many transformations—from his early days with bebop to later experiments fusing jazz with rock, funk, and early electronic music. His life beyond the trumpet, which Nelson often focuses on, followed a similarly varied path. Unlike most African-Americans in the 1920s, Davis grew up wealthy, although it didn’t prevent him from experiencing the cruel scourge of racism. The film describes his famous trip to Paris, where he was elated to be treated as an intellectual equal. He was so depressed about returning to the racially tumultuous United States, it spawned a heroin addiction. His love life was complicated, too, as Davis admitted music came before everything and everyone in his life. Keeping balance, the film examines his darker side, including his brushes with domestic abuse. Nelson offers something for everyone here: die-hards will enjoy the never-before-seen photos and footage, while casual fans and newbies will get a crash course on everything Miles Davis. —E.F.

CIFF43 Screenings

Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 12:30 PM

African Diaspora
Race Relations

Music Movies Competition


Stanley Nelson

Stanley Nelson is an American documentary filmmaker and a MacArthur genius fellow. He is known as a director, writer, and producer of documentaries examining African American history and experiences. Nelson is a recipient of the 2013 National Humanities Medal from President Obama. He has won three Primetime Emmy Awards.

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1999), A Place of Our Own (2004), Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006), Wounded Knee (2009), Freedom Riders (2010), Freedom Summer (2014), The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015) – CIFF39, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (2017), Rise Up: The Movement that Changed America (2018), MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL (2019)

Stanley Nelson, Nicole London

Lewis Erskine

Film Contact

Community Partner

Tri-C JazzFest

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