Heaven Adores You, the Nickolas Rossi-directed documentary about late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats on July 17th. In anticipation of that release, Rolling Stone presents an exclusive clip from the moving documentary, which features numerous interviews with more than 30 of Smith’s friends, family and collaborators, including Slim Moon of Kill Rock Stars and musician Jon Brion.
The above clip traces the quick rise of Smith’s career following the Oscar nomination for his song “Miss Misery” from Gus Van Sant’s 1997 film Good Will Hunting.
“I stood behind Elliott watching Elliott watch himself perform on television on [Late Night With Conan O’Brien],” Rob Sacher, owner of former NYC venue Luna Lounge, says after a clip of Smith’s television debut. “There was an intensity about him standing in front of me that was as intense as him performing by himself on that stool on television. At that moment, I realized that Elliott was going to be a star.”
From there, his friends and collaborators remark on the craziness of the time surrounding his Oscar nomination and subsequent performance on the awards show. “They were trying to get us to not walk down the red carpet,” his ex-girlfriend and date to the ceremony, Joanna Bolme, recalls. “We ended up walking down the red carpet behind Madonna, so there’s no footage of us.”
Rossi splices in audio from archived Smith interviews into the documentary, with the singer recalling how he lied to Celine Dion about his level of nervousness to allow the night’s Best Song winner to “say what she was gonna say.”
For many, the Oscars were the first time they understood the weight of Smith’s success. “It was a big win for music,” Rob Schnapf — co-producer of four Smith albums, including Either/Or and XO — offers over images of newspaper clippings noting the increased attention towards Smith and his sound.
Heave Adores You received its official theatrical release in May, four years after Rossi began a Kickstarter page to fund the film. Along with Smith’s well-known catalog, numerous unreleased tracks are featured in the documentary.