Fresh off a debut at SXSW, the documentary on dance music’s quintessential machine is set to debut in Chicago this April 17.

808 The Documentary, the film about the ubiquitous drum machine that powered House Music, synthpop, hip hop, New Wave and a dozen splintered genres from them, is one of the featured documentaries to be shown as part of this year’s CIMMfest, the 7th Chicago International Movies & Music Festival.

Directed by Alexander Dunn, 808 The Documentary features iconic personalities from Afrika Bambaataa to Arthur Baker and, closer to home for us, House Music icons A Guy Called Gerald, Todd Terry, Francois K and Jellybean Benitez, each of whom was pivotal in the evolution of dance music from tape-recorded drums to machine-driven beats as the percussionist-in-a-box 808 leapt species and infected every genre imaginable like some malicious Von Neumann machine gone mad.

808 will be shown at Chicago’s Logan 1 Theater; tickets are $12 from CIMMfest without a festival pass.

Watch the trailer above, read the description below and fall in love with the film’s newly unveiled poster, which I want to buy right now.


In 1980, a Japanese electronics manufacturer unwittingly unleashed one of music history’s most important instruments upon the world: The Roland TR-808. More than just a drum machine, the 808 became the backbone of countless hip-hop and R&B tracks before injecting itself into nearly every genre imaginable. From Afrika Bambaataa and LL Cool J to Marvin Gaye and Phil Collins, musicians from all walks of life wanted that iconic 808 sound. Director Alexander Dunn immerses you in the story of this iconic instrument, as told through the eyes (and ears) of some of the most influential artists of the past four decades.



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