Mavis! is the first feature documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. From the freedom songs of the ’60s and hits like I’ll Take You There in the ’70s, to funked-up collaborations with Prince and her recent albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mavis has stayed true to her roots, kept her family close, and inspired millions along the way.
Featuring powerful live performances, rare archival footage, and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, and more, MAVIS! reveals the struggles, successes, and intimate stories of her journey. At 75, she's making the most vital music of her career, winning Grammy awards, and reaching a new generation of fans. Her message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.
The Staple Singers
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER / Jessica Edwards
Jessica has a broad background in the film industry as a director, producer and publicist. Her award-winning short documentary Seltzer Works premiered at SXSW and went on to screen at Hot Docs, Full Frame, Silverdocs (now AFIDocs) and many other festivals around the world before airing on the prestigious PBS documentary series POV in 2010. Her subsequent film, Tugs, screened at SxSW, Full Frame, Silverdocs and BAMCinemafest in Brooklyn in 2011. Her short film The Landfill, which she co-directed with Gary Hustwit, premiered at Sundance in 2012.
In 2013, Edwards edited and self-published Tell Me Something: Documentary Filmmakers, a book of advice from documentary filmmakers. The 128-page hard cover book features advice from Al Maysles, DA Pennebaker, Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris, Michael Moore, Barbara Kopple, and over 50 more international filmmakers. The book was lauded in the New York Times, Documentary Magazine, Filmmaker Magazine and others.
Edwards has a BFA in Cinema from Concordia University in her native Canada and a Masters Degree in Documentary Studies from The New School in New York City.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / Gary Hustwit
Gary is an independent producer and filmmaker based in New York and London. He worked with punk label SST Records in the late 1980s, and was subsequently involved in a wide range of projects in music and book publishing before he started Plexifilm in 2001. Created as a DVD label with a focus on music-related films, Hustwit expanded the company in 2003 to include producing original documentaries. The first film he produced was the award-winning documentary about the band Wilco, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. Other music documentaries included Moog, about the music inventor and godfather of electronic music Bob Moog; Oddsac, a film collaboration with the band Animal Collective, and Drive Well Sleep Carefully about the band Death Cab for Cutie, among many others.
In 2007 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the beginning of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about industrial design and product design following in 2009, and Urbanized, about the design of cities in 2011. Collectively the trilogy has screened in hundreds of cities around the world and has been broadcast on PBS, BBC, HBO, ARTE, YLE and dozens of other television outlets. Hustwit was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Helvetica, and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.
CINEMATOGRAPHER / Keith Walker
Keith Walker is a cinematographer and producer who has shot numerous award-winning documentaries including Head Games by Steve James, A Good Man and Forgiving Dr. Mengele by Bob Hercules, and Catching Hell by Alex Gibney.
Walker has filmed interviews with Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama, Sidney Poitier, Eddie Murphy, Paul Newman, President Bill Clinton, Sean Penn, Deepak Chopra, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur and many many more. He has shot hundreds of broadcast segments for shows like “60 Minutes,” “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” “Dateline,” and “HBO Real Sports,” as well as television documentaries for PBS, CBS and HBO.
PRODUCER / Rachel Mills
Rachel started her career in filmmaking running the much lauded, Edit Center, selecting and shepherding documentary and narrative films through their award-winning workshop process. Some of the films she oversaw during her tenure include: Winter's Bone, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, and Garbage Dreams. In 2010, Rachel produced A Matter of Taste, a feature documentary that profiles famed chef Paul Liebrandt. After premiering on HBO, the film won a James Beard Award and soon after received an Emmy nomination. In 2011, Mills left The Edit Center to travel the country as she field-produced one of cable television’s top-rated docu-series, American Pickers for the History Channel. In 2013, Rachel partnered with award winning filmmaker, Joshua Zeman of Cropsey, to produce and co-star in Killer Legends, a documentary investigating the crossroads of urban legend and true crime. Killer Legends went on to simultaneously hold the #1 spot in Horror and Documentary film on iTunes in the summer of 2014.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR / Maya Tippett
Maya Tippett is a freelance editor and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Mavis! (HBO) is her first feature film working as associate editor. She is currently in production co-directing a short documentary film with Rachel Mills (Mavis!, A Matter of Taste). Maya graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in film/video in New York City. Her thesis short documentary film Worse than the Demon premiered at the prestigious BAM theater in 2013.
EDITOR / Amy Foote
Amy Foote is a freelance documentary editor and co-producer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her editing credits include; 1964 (PBS American Experience) the Emmy-nominated film, A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt (HBO, BBC); For Once In My Life, (PBS Independent Lens, SXSW Audience Award 2010, IDA Best Music Documentary); The Least of These: Family Detention In America (SXSW/Snag Films); and the Emmy-nominated film, Finishing Heaven (HBO). Her co-production credits include A Matter Of Taste and Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman.