#tbt Tony Palmer: ‘All You Need is Love’

Tony Palmer
Courtesy of Hot Docs


By Pat Mullen

Elvis Presley might be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but Tony Palmer wears the crown when it comes to great docs about music. There are plenty of reasons why the British director is the subject of this year’s Outstanding Achievement Retrospective at Hot Docs: the endless popularity of music docs, the prolific output of Palmer’s work, the accessibility of the films, or the toe-tapping range of subjects that covers everyone from Leonard Cohen to Benjamin Britten. The programme, curated by filmmaker and POV board member Michael McNamara, includes the acclaimed Leonard Cohen doc Bird on a Wire (1974), which still enjoys frequent retro screenings and theatrical runs at cinemas around the world; Margot (2005), an epically scaled portrait of ballerina Margot Fonteyn; and The Harvest of Sorrow (1998) about pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The retrospective also features an entry from Palmer’s 1976 TV documentary series All You Need Is Love, a landmark 17-episode opus that broke new ground for non-fiction filmmaking. All You Need is Love surveys the social history of popular music with episodes covering a range of top performers and influential musicians primarily from the USA and UK. Hot Docs screens episode 14, which focuses on The Beatles and looks at the journey of the Fab Four a few years after their break-up. To pique some curiosity and whet your appetites for Hot Docs, here’s another episode from All You Need is Love, ‘Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll’:

PS: Stay tuned for a profile on Palmer by McNamara in the Hot Docs issue of POV!