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Showtime Tunes Up ‘Eric Clapton: A Life In 12 Bars’ For Theatrical & TV Release

Deadline logo Deadline 2/10/2017 Nancy Tartaglione
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EXCLUSIVE: Showtime Documentary Films has boarded Lili Fini Zanuck’s upcoming documentary, Eric Clapton: A Life In 12 Bars, which it will distribute in North America. The plan is to roll it out at domestic and international film festivals later this year, followed by a theatrical run in the U.S. and Canada with a TV airing set for 2018.

An unflinching and deeply personal journey into the life of the legendary musician, A Life In 12 Bars is produced by Searching For Sugarman‘s John Battsek of Passion Pictures. BAFTA winner Chris King (Amy, Senna) is editing.

Fini Zanuck, the Oscar-winning producer of Driving Miss Daisy, who also scored an Emmy for 2015 HBO movie Bessie, is taking her sophomore feature helming turn with the doc. She made her directorial debut with 1991’s Rush, a crime drama that Clapton scored.

A Life In 12 Bars is told through Slowhand’s own words and songs. It’s described as a moving and surprising film about the 18-time Grammy Award winner, and the only artist ever to be inducted three times into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Spanning more than half a century of legendary popular musical innovation, the film will contextualize Clapton’s role in contemporary music and cultural history.

It features extensive interviews with Clapton himself, along with his family, friends, musical collaborators, contemporaries and heroes — including late music icons B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison.

Stretching from Clapton’s traumatic childhood living in a “house of secrets,” through his long and difficult struggle with drugs and alcohol and the tragic loss of his son in a devastating accident, Clapton has found an inner strength and healing in music. The insatiable search to grow his artistic voice surprised fans as he constantly quit successful bands, from the groundbreaking Yardbirds to 60s supergroup Cream. His isolated pursuit of his craft — and fear of selling out — served as a catalyst for his evolution as an artist.

“Clapton’s music is the foundation of our film. His commitment to the Blues, its traditions and originators, is absolute from his earliest days,” says Fini Zanuck. “His personal life conveys the emotional spine of the film — his damaged emotional psyche threads throughout his life, informing his art, and causing many abrupt and surprising shifts along the way. The film traces all the key junctures: his prodigious talent, obsessive impatience, perfectionism and musical ‘mission.’ Mining inner strength and spiritual resolve, he somehow maintains sobriety, finding healing in music. He reflects on his newfound domestic happiness and a magical, meteoric journey which has secured his place in the rock pantheon.”

Adds Battsek, “We have unique access to Clapton’s extensive personal archive of classic performance clips, on- and off-stage footage, iconic photos, concert posters, handwritten letters, drawings and personal diary entries — elements with the power to transport audiences to each era, from obsessive student, to peer, to transcendent figure in musical history and one of the greatest guitarists of all time.”

Will Clarke’s Altitude Film Sales is selling international in Berlin and has UK distribution rights.

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