Donna Summer Documentary, ‘Love To Love You,’ Arrives

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The “Queen of Disco,” Donna Summer, is the subject of a new documentary on HBO. The film, Love To Love You, Donna Summer, from HBO Documentary Films, is directed by Oscar® and Emmy®-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (Life Animated, HBO’s The Apollo) and Summer’s daughter, Brooklyn Sudano. Described as an “unexpected and intimate portrait,” the documentary had its theatrical world premiere at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival. It made its television debut on May 20 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Max. The official trailer was released on April 28; watch it below.

Summer was in the right place at the right time when she teamed with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and had her first hit with the erotic international smash, “Love to Love You Baby,” in 1975 for Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records. (The full, moaning 17-minute version of the title track took up the entire first side of the album.) After a few missteps, she returned to the top of the charts with “I Feel Love.” More hits arrived in subsequent years: “Last Dance,” her shocking cover of the Jimmy Webb song, “MacArthur Park,” and “Heaven Knows.”

In its review, Variety wrote, “the woman who made ‘I Feel Love’ into an anthem lifted you to a place where you couldn’t help but feel it too.”

This photo of Donna Summer with Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart appeared in the July 1, 1978, issue of Record World

When the disco diva’s the two-LP set, Bad Girls, was released on April 25, 1979, the only surprise was why it took nearly two months to reach #1, which it did for the first of six weeks on June 16. Its three humongous pop and dance floor hits include the great #2 “Dim All the Lights” and a pair of #1s: the title track and “Hot Stuff.”

From the Feb. 3 announcement: Shaped by Summer’s own reflections, the memories of close family, friends and colleagues, and filled with the sounds of Summer’s songs, Love To Love You, Donna Summer is an in-depth look at the iconic artist as she creates music that takes her from the avant-garde music scene in Germany, to the glitter and bright lights of dance clubs in New York, to worldwide acclaim, her voice and artistry becoming the defining soundtrack of an era. A deeply personal portrait of Summer on and off the stage, the film features a wealth of photographs and never-before-seen home video footage – often shot by Summer herself – and provides a rich window into the surprising range of her artistry, from songwriting to painting, while exploring the highs and lows of a life lived on the global stage.

Summer died on May 17, 2012, of lung cancer, at just 63.

Related: Summer, of course, is included in our feature, 12 Disco Songs Even Rock Fans Enjoy

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2 Comments so far

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  1. Jas
    #1 Jas 29 April, 2023, 02:04

    Such a terrible loss when she passed so young. She really was the queen and had many wonderful hits not mentioned here. I still have all her records.

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  2. v2787
    #2 v2787 29 April, 2023, 09:06

    Donna Summer was probably the best singer that disco ever had. What a voice! She left us far too soon.

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