A Special Entertainment Film
Starring William Shatner
William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet is a documentary about legendary choreographer Margo Sappington’s quest to create a ballet set to the music of William Shatner’s critically acclaimed album Has Been. The album was produced and co-written with Ben Folds and features guest appearances by Aimee Mann, Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins, Brad Paisley, and Adrian Belew.
Joe Leydon of Variety said that the film “adroitly intercuts between scenes of dance preparation and performance, interviews with Folds and others involved with the original album — and, most important, earnestly expressed recollections and recitations by Shatner himself. During the pic’s unexpectedly moving final scenes, Shatner comes across as at once playful and pensive, amused and unguarded.” The film also features Ben Folds, Henry Rollins, Margo Sappington, and members of the Milwaukee Ballet.
In a recent interview Shatner spoke about the unique experience he’s had working on the film, “It was an odd idea when I was approached by Milwaukee to make the ballet, and then it seemed to me a good idea to record it on film … and lo and behold, there was this oddity that I titled Gonzo Ballet. And I’m out there pushing it on the film circuit, which I’ve never done before. It’s all a curious experience.”
The World Premiere was mentioned in The New York Times and took place at the 40th Anniversary of the Nashville International Film Festival. The sold-out show received a standing ovation and extremely positive reviews from local and national media, as well as winning the 2009 NaFF President’s Impact Award. Special Entertainment and production partner Big Screen Entertainment Group were on the red carpet for the premiere, along with Shatner, his wife Elizabeth, Ben Folds, and Sheryl Crow.
The film screened at the Marbella International Film Festival in Spain, where it won the Best Documentary award. Shatner traveled to Spain to attend the festival and accept the award. In 2012 the film won a Silver Telly Award in the film category. The film has also screened at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival, DocFest Stratford, and many others.
Gonzo Ballet was made by Special Entertainment and Big Screen Entertainment Group in association with Shatner’s Melis Productions. The world television premiere was a multi-platform release through EPIX, a joint venture between Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, and MGM. The film will soon be available on DVD.