Dons of Disco excavates a little-known (at least in America) corner of 80s Europop — ItaloDisco — by following the infighting between two halves of the ItaloDisco superstar act, Den Harrow. In the 80s, Den Harrow was beating out acts like Michael Jackson, George Michael and Duran Duran for top spots on the European pop charts. Virtually unknown here in the States, they were superstars in Europe, playing throughout discos in the West, and even in the USSR. Their biggest hits,  “Future Brain,” “Bad Boy,” and “Don’t Break My Heart,” are super catchy and synth-y, and accompanied by the kind of fog-and-fire-filled 80s music videos one would expect.

Then someone on the internet discovered that Den Harrow is the Milli Vanilli of Italy — a manufactured pop band basically put together by producers who matched a young, hungry singer/songwriter (Tom Hooker) with a good-looking club kid (Stefano Zandri), and fused them into Den Harrow. The voice was by Tom Hooker, an American photographer with the passion for music but not the right look to become a star. Hooker hasn’t gotten his royalties for a couple decades, and he’s not shy about letting everyone know that he’s been the “secret voice” behind the project. Director Jonathan Sutak, intrigued by the story, travels to Italy, Germany, and Las Vegas to uncover the biggest lip-sync scandal since Milli Vanilli.

Directed by Jonathan Sutak. USA. 86 mins. 2019.


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