Miles Ahead, a Miles Davis biopic directed by Don Cheadle, will make its world premiere as the closing night selection of the 53rd New York Film Festival on Oct. 11. The festival begins on Sept. 25.
The film was partially funded via the crowdsourcing website Indiegogo.com. With contributions from over 2,000 online supporters, the film exceeded its $325,000 fundraising goal in July 2014, receiving a total of $343,000 for the project.
Filming for Miles Ahead began July 14 in Cincinnati, lasting six weeks and covering over 25 locations. The film stars Cheadle as the legendary trumpeter. Ewan McGregor (Big Fish) portrays Dave Brill, a fictitious character described on the festival website as “the ‘reporter’ who cons his way into Miles’ apartment.” Emayatzy Corinealdi (The Middle of Nowhere) portrays Davis’ first wife, Frances Taylor.
The movie, which was co-written by Cheadle and marks his directorial debut, explores Davis’ “silent” period, the five years of self-imposed isolation between his 1975 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival and his return to touring in 1981. The plot focuses on Davis and Brill’s attempt to reclaim a recording that was stolen from the trumpet player’s home.
Cheadle, who played saxophone as a high school student in Denver, learned to play trumpet for the role.
Cheadle has hired pianist Robert Glasper to score the film, while Herbie Hancock will help supervise the soundtrack. Hancock previously won an Oscar for his 1986 score to the film ’Round Midnight.
Davis’ son Erin Davis and nephew Vince Wilburn Jr., a drummer, also collaborated on the project.
“I am happy that the selection committee saw fit to invite us to the dance,” Cheadle said, regarding the film’s inclusion at the festival. “It’s very gratifying that all the hard work that went into the making of this film, from every person on the team, has brought us here. Miles’ music is all-encompassing, forward-leaning, and expansive. He changed the game time after time, and New York is really where it all took off for him.”
Other biopics being screened at the festival include Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, about high-wire artist Philippe Petit, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the titular character.
Photo: Brian Douglas