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Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Dawn Porter, the Filmmaker Behind Luther: Never Too Much

12/02/2024

By Lucy Spicer

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there's always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our ongoing series: Give Me the Backstory!

Wherever you are, the opening refrains of Never Too Much' make a room fill with joy, says filmmaker Dawn Porter. She's not wrong. Luther Vandross, the man with the velvet voice, that charismatic crooner who brought the world such R&B hits as Here and Now, Power of Love/Love Power, and Dance with My Father, has the ability to make just about anyone feel something, whether it's the urge to dance or cry - even close to 20 years after his death. The persistent joy in Vandross' music was what prompted Porter to make a documentary about the iconic singer. But there was so much of his story I never knew, she adds. It was one continual surprise after another.

Screening in the Premieres section at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, Luther: Never Too Much follows Vandross' musical career, from his time singing backup for the likes of Roberta Flack and David Bowie to the performances that cemented his status as one of the greats. But the documentary also paints a portrait of the man behind the voice - a man who was a dedicated artist and beloved friend, but also one who lived with loneliness and unwanted media attention regarding his personal life.

Esteemed Sundance alum Porter brought the Institute-supported Gideon's Army to the Festival in 2013, followed by Trapped in 2016. Luther: Never Too Much is just as insightful as these two sobering documentaries, which focus on public defenders and TRAP laws respectively, but Luther is also built around that distinct uplifted feeling that accompanies great music. When asked how she wants people to feel after they see the film, Porter replies, Joyful.

Discover more from Porter below, including her favorite interviews from Luther, challenges she faced while making the film, and why she believes in the importance of filmmaking.
LINK: https://www.sundance.org/blogs/give-me-the-backstory-get-to-know-dawn-...
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