THIN LINE: Dons of Disco Faces the Music

Published on: Wed, Mar 20, 2019

“If something is a lie, it isn’t a question of fairness. It’s a question of truth.” James Arena, Author of Europe’s Stars of 80s Dance Pop

It’s interesting that regardless of the time period or the topic, events of the past connect to things that still happen in the modern day. Whether it’s a celebrity feud between pop divas, a lip-sync revelation, or a storm on social media, pop culture finds a way to repeat itself.

Dons of Disco perfectly captures the repetitive nature of pop culture, while still managing to seem fresh and original. The film tells an enthralling tale drenched in 80s nostalgia, and even if you don’t like disco, you’ll like this flick.

Take yourself back to the height of discotheque in Italy. Den Harrow is one of the largest stars in almost all of Europe. But  just as his star was skyrocketing, it was revealed that he didn’t write or sing any of his songs. Harrow was essentially a character who lip-synched to vocals recorded by a number of other singers. In fact, a man named Tom Hooker from America was responsible for all of his music.

This documentary dives deep into the larger scope of the situation. In 2019, it feels like the modern pop documentary is a dime a dozen, but what makes this particular film stand out is how it explores the controversy. You get intimate perspectives from fans of the music, experts in music production and the actual production team responsible for the music. The Dons team delves into the lives of the two artists embroiled in the debate, asking important questions about artistry and ownership.

Dons of Disco is as much a character piece as it is a disco doc. You learn about the petty drama and competition that is pervasive in the music scene, but you also discover that there are so many hidden layers to the human condition. Director Jonathan Sutak effortlessly balances comedy, drama, and a diverse cast of characters, and the dance he pulls off is much more impressive than a disco. In a way, the feud between the pop boys of yesterday sounds old hat, but the film masterfully guides you through the decade that created their fame and the wave that took it away. In the end, you may even miss the days of disco a little bit. And if that’s not movie magic, I don’t know what is.


Dons of Disco runs 86 minutes and will be shown Friday, April 12 at 9 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse as part of Thin Line Film Festival. To register for Thin Line Fest or to purchase a premium registration, click here.

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