Charles Bradley: Soul of America

  • Poull Brien
  • United States
  • 2012
  • 74 min
  • IDFA Competition for Music Documentary, IDFA DOC U Competition
Director Poull Brien must have rubbed his hands with glee: while he was shooting his documentary, Charles Bradley was just another James Brown impersonator working towards his debut album. But during the film's post-production, Bradley's No Time for Dreaming was so successful that Rolling Stone chose it as one of the best 50 albums of 2011. It is to Brien's credit that he focuses not on that success, but on the road to it. The documentary starts with Bradley onstage on his 62nd birthday. The wig, the music, the dance moves, the clothes: he's all James Brown. But these layers are peeled off one by one for the album, and Bradley can at last appear onstage as himself, for the first time in his life. Footage from rehearsals and concerts is intercut with scenes from Bradley's day-to-day life. Always broke, sometimes homeless, yet eternally optimistic, he's always dreaming of a singing career. He doesn't complain about his tough life but rather enjoys it to the fullest. In the end, he becomes successful as himself - even if his infectiously joyful dances do still echo James Brown's moves.


  • 74 min
  • color
  • video
  • Spoken languages: English
  • Subtitles in: English
Poull Brien
Alexander Brough for Sum of Us, LLC
Stuart McCardle
Poull Brien, Adriana Pacheco, Stuart McCardle
Emilie Jackson, Mitchell Bahr, Spencer Moore, Austin Paley

IDFA history

IDFA Competition for Music Documentary
IDFA DOC U Competition

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