Film director Dave Wooley has known and worked with the legendary Dionne Warwick for two decades, and the only thing about her greatness that surprises him is that major studios still haven’t come calling to distribute the new, award-winning documentary about the star’s life, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.”
“We are looking for a major distributor for the film,” Wooley told the Black Press of America during an appearance on the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) live morning news program “Let It Be Known.”
“When [developing] the film, you realize you have to call Bill Clinton, you have to call Snoop Dogg, and Gladys Knight, and others,” Wooley remarked. “It’s like, ‘wow!”
Recently, the film earned “First Runner Up” honors in the documentary category of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) People’s Choice Award.
Warwick, whose bevy of hits include “That’s What Friends Are For,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” and “Don’t Make Me Over,” Received the TIFF Special Tribute Award for her legendary career and work.
The documentary chronicles the Grammy Award-winning singing legend’s life and career and “is based on love,” Wooley stated.
“It was indeed a labor of love,” added Wooley, who produced, wrote, and co-directed the documentary.
Wooley also co-authored Warwick’s autobiography, “My Life: As I See it.”
“Working on this documentary is a dream come true,” Wooley explained. “It took me five years to produce this film. While a project like this will have its ups and downs, especially given the time it took to complete the documentary, to see the movie come to fruition, and most importantly, for Ms. Warwick to receive such accolades during her lifetime is gratifying and made it all well worth it.”
The director insisted that the audience reaction to “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” at the Toronto International Film Festival amazed him and Warwick.
“We received two standing ovations after the documentary was seen, and the audience continued to cheer on afterward,” Wooley said.
“Keep in mind that the First Runner Up honors in the festival’s People’s Choice Awards are voted by folks in Canada who viewed the movie. We were competing against great films produced by major distributors, so the competition bar was high.”
“Don’t Make Me Over” counts as the first theatrical documentary feature film based on the singing legend’s life. “I wanted to focus on how Ms. Warwick has been a transformational leader,” Wooley continued.
“Her followers have become leaders. She has been at the forefront of change in culture throughout the decades. First, we focus on her work and commitment to Civil Rights in the 1960’s – especially when she and other folks of color toured the South during that time. Then we move on into the 1980s and 1990s with the AIDS epidemic and her ambassadorship on the US commission to address this matter, which led to Ms. Warwick prompting then-President Ronald Reagan to speak on the issue. And now here we are in 2021, and Ms. Warwick is a game-changer on social media as the ‘Queen of Twitter.’”
The next stop for “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” is the Montclair NJ Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 23.