After premiering to rave reviews at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival earlier this fall, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s mammoth Paul Simon documentary, In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon has been acquired for release by MGM+. The 3 1/2 hour film will be released as a two-part docuseries in 2024. Deadline first reported the deal.
Capturing Simon at work on his most recent release, Seven Psalms, Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Taxi to the Dark Side, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley) uses those modern-day moments as a jumping-off point to assess the singer-songwriter’s long career. The streamer will release the two halves of the film on March 17 and March 24 of next year.
As MGM said in a statement: “The docuseries juxtaposes Simon’s process of making a new album during the COVID-19 pandemic against archival material tracing Simon’s career and creative journey, including revelatory, previously unseen footage from such historic moments as the recording of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Graceland, Simon & Garfunkel’s unforgettable reunion concert in Central Park, and, 10 years later, Simon’s solo concert there, where he performed before 750,000 people.”
In Restless Dreams premiered as a single film at TIFF, where it earned a 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on initial reviews out of the festival. In addition to the contemporary studio footage, of particular note to fans will be the film’s inclusion of outtakes from the 1969 TV documentary Simon & Garfunkel: Songs of America, previously unseen footage of Simon in the UK in 1964, and early rehearsal footage of the star during jam sessions with South African musicians prior to recording his landmark (if controversial) 1986 album Graceland.
“Alex Gibney is one of the most gifted documentary filmmakers of our time,” said MGM+ head Michael Wright of the director in a statement, “and he has brought his incredible storytelling eye to the fascinating and worthy subject of Paul Simon’s iconic career. Simon’s generational talent and incomparable body of work is expertly presented by Alex and his team.”
With a career that encompasses early success with Simon & Garfunkel and a solo career that stretched from the 1970s to the present day, Simon recently sold publishing rights to his compositions to Sony Music Publishing for a reported $250 million dollars, making it one of the most valuable songbooks in history. Nine of his albums have charted in the top 11 of the Billboard album chart, with three reaching No. 1. (Not counting the No 1-charting soundtrack to The Graduate, for which Simon & Garfunkel contributed most of the music.) He has won sixteen Grammy Awards, including three Album of the Year honors and three for Record of the Year. (Seven Psalms is nominated for the Best Folk Album Grammy at next year’s ceremony.) He and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first as a member of Simon & Garfunkel, and later as a solo artist.