This film was part of the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

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Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars

“CLAPTON IS GOD”. With these words graffitied across London, Eric Clapton became the ultimate guitar hero. He is undoubtedly one of the most iconic figures in music – the only three-time-inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an 18-time Grammy Award winner, and widely renowned as one of the greatest performers of all time.

This unflinching documentary, directed by Academy Award winner Lili Fini Zanuck and edited by Chris King (Amy, Senna, Exit Through The Gift Shop), gives audiences a rare insight into a deeply personal story encompassing the dizzying highs and extreme lows of his private and public life, made even more intimate by Clapton’s voice-over narrative assembled from historic and newly recorded interviews along with similar contributions from his close collaborators, friends and family. Incorporating exclusive access to Clapton’s extensive personal archive, including his most famous performances, backstage footage, home movie footage, iconic and private photos, handwritten letters and personal diary entries, audiences will see the sheer raw talent and ambition that was blighted by personal tragedy, sacrifice and addiction.

At the emotional core is Clapton’s traumatic childhood. Growing up in a “house of secrets”, the revelation of a startling cover-up by his biological mother, left him with a self-destructive anger and bitter mistrust towards the world. Eric’s damaged emotional psyche follows him throughout his life, informing his art, obsessions, personal and professional friendships.

But Clapton is a born survivor who strived to escape the harsh realities of the world with an unwavering commitment to the Blues. He was forever searching for a meaningful expression to shape and grow his musical talent, often surprising fans as he constantly quit successful bands from the groundbreaking Yardbirds to super-group Cream. We experience this professional journey in the context of the musical landscape of the time. Precious few artists could say they influenced the lives of so many other great musicians as Clapton, who performed with The Beatles, jammed with Aretha Franklin, became infatuated with George Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd and hung out with Jimi Hendrix, who called him “the fairest soul brother in England”.

However personal tragedy was never far from Clapton. Following his addictions to cocaine and heroin, he then went cold turkey only to find sanctuary in alcohol. In Clapton’s own words: ‘In my lowest moments, the only reason I didn't commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn't be able to drink anymore if I was dead’. Not long after, Eric faced the greatest tragedy of his life when he lost his son in a heart-breaking accident. Miraculously he emerged from this to record his most successful album ever, which included one of his most personal and cathartic songs.

This tragic moment proved a catalyst for a new phase of his life, and instead of turning to drugs and alcohol, he found strength and solace in his music, sobriety and a healthy and happy relationship. Now at 71, Clapton, a loving father and husband, continues to perform to sell-out crowds and remains one of the most iconic and enduring figures in music.

Film Details

Title: Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars
Year: 2017
Director: Lili Fini Zanuck
Producer: Scooter Weintraub, Larry Yelen, John Battsek
Country: Canada
Runtime: 135 mins
Category: Features

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