Radio stations all over the country were inundated with disco hits in the 70’s ranging from Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty,” but none of those artists can touch the ginormous impact made by Donna Summer when “Love to Love You, Baby” hit the airwaves.
Currently streaming on HBO MAX, Love To Love You, Donna Summer is an in-depth look at the iconic artist as she creates music taking her from an avant-garde music scene in Germany, to the glitter and bright lights of dance clubs in New York, to worldwide acclaim becoming the defining soundtrack of an era.
Produced and co-directed by her daughter Brooklyn Sudano and Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, the film reveals a deeply personal portrait of the singer on and off the stage through a wealth of photographs and never-before-seen home video footage. Most of this footage shot by Summer herself providing a rich window into the surprising range of her artistry while exploring the highs and lows of a life lived on the global stage.
What will you find out that we don’t already know? Summer wrote and produced a good portion of her biggest hits, was an amazingly gifted painter, yet, her proudest achievement was being a Mom. Motherhood was her most challenging role, as it became nearly impossible to straddle demands of being a hit recording artist with a harmonious family life. Somehow, she succeeded due to having a village of relatives who made sure her daughters (Mimi Sommer, Brooklyn and Amanda Sudano) were able to thrive as young girls and ultimately successfully grounded women.
Ironically this strong willed, angelic-voiced Grammy winner, would lose her battle to lung cancer leaving her forever young and vibrant in the minds of legions of fans.
Love to Love You, Donna Summer succeeds most in the disco nostalgia invoked through footage and photos. Understandably, it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate a life this large in just a few hours. If this doc falls short, it would be in those moments where her career and life are on speed dial. Don’t get me wrong, many issues are addressed, but just slightly glazed over. There is more time spent on the abusive behavior of men in her life, while her daughter Brooklyn pieces together the past of a mother she realizes she barely knew .
Regardless, myself and disco lovers globally will go crazy for this documentary as it places them right back into the discotheques, clothing and style that defined a generation, era and the essence of Donna Summer – The Queen of Disco. Williams Sudano ultimately provide a documentary filled with heart, honest and a respectful picture of a iconic talent gone far too soon.