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Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Jazz Documentary Film Release: 'Keep On Keepin' On' (2014)

It's great news to hear that young Wollongong director Al Hicks has won the Best New Documentary Director award at the Tribeca Film Festival jury awards last week in New York. His film, 'Keep On Keepin' On' about the jazz trumpeter Clark Terry and his mentoring of Justin Kauflin, a blind piano player, also received an audience award for best documentary. This week the world rights to the film were incredibly snapped up by RADiUS- TWC for a reported low 7-figure fee.

Best current link. It includes a short segment from the film:

Hicks is a former student of Clark Terry and took about five years to develop his film. Initially, the film was crowd-funded through Kickstarter 
(I was an early sponsor) and Hicks drew on the support of his friends Adam Hart, a local surfer, and Rory Anderson of LAWW Media. In the film's later stages, industry heavyweights Quincy Jones and Paula DuPre Pesman & others became involved ensuring the documentary's financial and artistic success.

 (2014) on IMBd

Plot Summary

  • First-time director/drummer from Australia, Alan Hicks, convinced his surfing mate and cinematographer, Adam Hart, to travel to the U.S. to follow and film 89-year-old jazz legend, Clark Terry (Quincy Jones's first teacher) over four years - to document an unlikely mentorship between Terry and a driven, blind piano prodigy, Justin Kauflin, 23. Clark, now 93, mentored Miles Davis as a young musician and is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie's and Duke Ellington's bands. In Keep On Keepin' On, as Justin is invited to compete in an elite, international competition while battling terrible stage fright, Clark's health takes a critical turn for the worse. Over the course of filming, Clark loses his sight, which deepens his bond with Justin. As clocks tick, we are suddenly witness to two great friends tackling the toughest challenges of their interwoven lives. The film, from the producer of The Cove and Chasing Ice, captures the passing of the torch from a cultural icon to potentially his last student, inspiring viewers in climactic, cinematic fashion.

Find out more about the soon to be released film on 

Here are some further links to news items:

UPDATE 6 May 2014:
'Keep on Keepin' On' will premier in Australia at the Sydney Film Festival on Sunday 8th June at 8:45pm. There is a second viewing on Tuesday, 10 June at 2:15 pm.

Find more ticket information here:

The doco will probably be released for a general audience in about four months time.

Here’s a link to the Keep On Keepin’ official site:

Update: 9 June 2014

Attended the Australian premier of Keeping On Keepin’ On at the Events Cinema on George Street in Sydney last night.  It was a packed venue and the documentary film was followed by an interesting question & answer session. Real proud of the boys. 

Update 29 September 2014

Keep on Keepin’ On opened in LA theatres on 19 September 2014 with Justin Kauklin playing piano after the screenings.

Pete Hammond of Movieline wrote of the film, “Magnificent!...Not just one of the year’s best documentaries, it’s one of the year’s best pictures period”.

Stay tuned for more here: