TEDDY PENDERGRASS - IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME Documentary Tells The Inspiring Story Behind 'Soul's Sexiest Superstar'
Teddy Pendergrass - If You Don't Know Me, the powerful and moving story of R&B star Teddy Pendergrass, who was on the brink of global super-stardom when tragedy struck, is following its triumphant premier on the closing night of October's Philadelphia Film Festival, with a screening at DOC NYC on November 9. It has also been selected to screen at the 19th, annual Sound Unseen music/film/art festival taking place from Nov 14-18, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN.
A compelling tale with surprising twists and turns, the film is an intimate portrait of one of the greatest singers of his generation. It also tells how Teddy fought for the rights of African-American artists in a 1970s music industry prejudiced against black performers and reveals how, aged just 31, Pendergrass overcame terrible tragedy to get back on stage against all the odds.
The film was conceived, researched and directed by BAFTA award-winner, Olivia Lichtenstein. It reveals Teddy's meteoric RISE from his tough ghetto childhood in Philadelphia to become the lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. His was THE VOICE of worldwide hits, Don't Leave Me This Way and If You Don't Know Me by Now.
Olivia recalls: "I grew up listening to soul music and I'd just started listening to Teddy again when I saw a documentary about Shep Gordon, the legendary artist manager who worked with everyone from Blondie to Alice Cooper - and Teddy. It included a little bit about him working with Teddy Pendergrass and it made me realise that I didn't know what had happened to him. I had a really strong sense that I had to make a film to tell his story."
Olivia contacted Shep Gordon, who agreed to join the project as an executive producer. A short trailer was enough to sell the idea to BBC Films, who stepped in to co-finance the production. The 105-minute documentary includes magical and rarely seen original footage of Teddy's performances as well as intimate and candid interviews with co-performers, friends and family. They include Teddy's ex-wife Karen and mother Ida - now 100-years-old, all of whom co-operated fully with the production.
Adds Lichtenstein, who is a partner and director of Storyvault Films, which produces programmes for all major UK broadcasters and the top digital channels: "This is an extraordinary, human story that feels almost Shakespearian - it's much more than just a music biopic, it's an intimate portrait both of Teddy and of the extraordinary times in which he lived. We really get to know him because we hear from so many people who were close to him. It almost feels as if he comes back to life to let the world hear him sing again."
Following the Festivals screenings, Teddy Pendergrass - If You Don't Know Me will air on Showtime in the US in 2019 and then go on to debut in cinemas, on Sky and on the BBC in the UK. Kew Media Distribution, part of Kew Media Group, has secured International rights to the feature documentary.