Prior to his 80th birthday in 2014, Leonard Cohen approved the production of the documentary Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song. Produced and directed by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine (The Galapagos Affair), the film, out July 1, explores the Canadian singer, songwriter and poet’s journey in songwriting and other evolutions, from exploring life as a Zen monk to touring again later in his life, all through the lens of his seminal 1984 hit.
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In making the film, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 12, Geller and Godlfine, along with executive producers Morgan Neville and Jonathan Dana, had access to never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust, including journals and personal notebooks, photographs, rare audio recordings and interviews as well as performance footage.
The late Hal Willner served as music producer for the film, and John Lissauer provided the original score.
The documentary, also inspired by the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah by Alan Light, pulls together several chapters of Cohen’s life and art, from his rejection from labels to “Hallelujah” becoming a chart-topping hit with appearances by Clive Davis, along with longtime collaborator Judy Collins, Rufus Wainwright, Brandi Carlile, Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer, Eric Church, and more artists who have all recorded their own versions of iconic song.
Cohen’s long-time artistic collaborator Sharon Robinson also appears in the film, in addition to John Lissauer, who produced and arranged of the original version of “Hallelujah,” and Larry “Ratso” Sloman, a longtime interviewer of Cohen’s who shares never-before-heard, unedited tapes of interviews recorded with Cohen between 1974 and 2005.
A musical tribute to Cohen, who died in 2016, will take place at the Beacon Theatre in New York City following the Tribeca screening, featuring performances by Judy Collins, Amanda Shires of The Highwomen, Cohen’s writing collaborator Sharon Robinson, and Why Don’t We’s Daniel Seavey, who shared his rendition of “Hallelujah” during season 14 of American Idol.
Photo: Matt Kent