|Born||Joel Sion Gilbert
April 15, 1964 (age 49)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
|Alma mater||University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies
London School of Economics
George Washington University
|Organization||Highway 61 Entertainment|
He is known for his Bob Dylan tribute band and for his documentaries on that musician, as well the mockumentaries Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison (2010) and Elvis Found Alive (2012). His most recent project was a film called Dreams from My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception which, among other things, alleges that President Barack Obama's real father was Chicago Communist Frank Marshall Davis.
Gilbert is the CEO of his film production company Highway 61 Entertainment, which is located in Hollywood, California. Its name is derived from Dylan's iconic album Highway 61 Revisited. It was founded in 2005.
Gilbert's full name is Joel Sion Gilbert. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee when a child. He graduated from the University of London where he studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics, earning a BA in 1986. He graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1991 earning an MBA.
Gilbert is founder and lead singer of the Bob Dylan tribute band "Highway 61 Revisited Band". He was inspired to become a professional musician after receiving a Bob Dylan album while in high school in the mid-1980s and teaching himself to play Dylan songs.
- Bob Dylan: World Tours 1966–1974 (Through The Camera Of Barry Feinstein) (2004)*
- Bob Dylan: 1975–1981 (Rolling Thunder and The Gospel Years) (2006)*
- Bob Dylan: 1966 World Tour (The Home Movies) (2003, 2006)*
- Bob Dylan: The Unauthorized Documentaries (2006) [A repackaging of Gilbert's first three films]*
- Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran, and The Revolt of Islam (2007)**
- Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born... Again! (2008)*
- Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Diaries: Drummer Winston Watson's Incredible Journey (2009)*
- Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War For Islamic Revival And Obama's Politics of Defeat (2010)**
- Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison (2010)***
- Bob Dylan Revealed (2011)*
- Elvis Found Alive (2012)***
- Dreams from My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception (2012)**
(*) Music History Films (**) Political Documentaries (***) Spoofs/Mockumentaries
Reviewing Joel Gilbert's 2004 film Bob Dylan World Tours 1964–1974, Glide Magazine noted that Dylan's career during those 9 years was "significant for any Bob Dylan fan". The magazine commented that it was a huge project for the director which focused on Dylan through the work of Barry Feinstein, Dylan’s chief photographer during the film's time-frame. It criticised the film for not having the greatest production values, interviews sometimes became boring, and the sheer amount of information within the film "might overwhelm". However, it applauded the director's efforts and love for music history: "His passion for music in general is displayed in every scene."
In a review of Bob Dylan – 1975–1981 Rolling Thunder and The Gospel Years, which Gilbert released in 2006, DVD Talk noted the film was "clocking in at a staggering four hours" and intended "for, and only for, the diehard Bob Dylan aficionado". They commented that while the film was "exhaustive and exhausting," it was "an obvious labor of love," and concluded that despite its scope, it was "an unexceptional, sometimes amateurish, video production."
Of Gilbert's 2008 documentary Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born Again, DVD Talk noted that while the film was an "examination of the period from 1978 to 1981 where Dylan shook off his Jewish heritage and became a born-again, Evangelical Christian," they expanded that the it was amateurish and that viewers would "be hard-pressed to find a more irritatingly edited project."
Glide Magazine commented that Gilbert's 2011 film Bob Dylan Revealed "features an abundance of anecdotes certain to satisfy some of the most hard-core Dylan fans", but concluded that the film was marred by "questionable choices in the editing and production", creating "something you’ll want to watch, but probably not watch again."
DVD Talk disliked Gilbert's 2010 work Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison for its postulating of a series of conspiracy theories to explain that after an argument with John Lennon, Paul McCartney died in a 1966 car crash, only to be replaced by MI5 with lookalike contest winner in order to "stave off any mass suicides of young girls all over the world should they find out that Paul had died in a car crash." The film further claims that John Lennon's own 1980 death was an assassination instigated by his desire to finally tell the truth about Paul's demise. DVD Talk found that the pieces of the alleged conspiracy "hold zero weight", and "not one element of the conspiracy theory holds up to factual scrutiny, and quite clearly and most obvious of all, McCartney is still around as living proof of the absurdity of the hoax." Film Threat noted that an "audience’s ability to suspend practical thought and accept the most outlandish concepts imaginable" was "stretched far beyond the fraying point" by Gilbert’s film and its "insistence that George Harrison left behind audio recordings that confirmed the late 1960s urban legend of Paul McCartney’s automobile accident death and secret replacement by a ringer." They concluded that while Beatles fans might enjoy the film sharing "vintage news footage and photographs", and while conspiracy theorists would enjoy the film for is sharing the intricacies of a government subterfuge, the film had holes in logic and consistency large enough to be driven through by the Magical Mystery Tour bus.
Confessions of an Overworked Mom, a reviewer at Blogcritics, called Gilbert's 2010 project Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War For Islamic Revival And Obama's Politics "an eye-opening political documentary", and Esa Linna of Finnish source Elitisti, while giving the film 1 and a half stars out of five, wrote that the film did provide a thorough overview of Islam and the Middle East.
Conversely, Gilbert's 2012 political film Dreams from My Real Father was more poorly received, receiving negative press for its many unsubstantiated allegations toward President Obama's birth and background. Slate offered that the film "peddles a conspiracy theory so convoluted that more traditional birthers must be envious of its creativity". Jerome Corsi wrote in WorldNetDaily that the film was claimed by its director to have been based on two years' worth of research, Both Corsi and The Hollywood Reporter stated that, among other things, the film makes unsubstantiated allegations that President Barack Obama lied about being the son of a Kenyan Goat Herder, that Obama's real father was Chicago Communist Frank Marshall Davis, and that Obama's mother posed for nude photography. In expanding on the filmmaker Gilbert's allegations toward Ann Dunham, The Hollywood Reporter wrote "It's about the lowest thing you can do to accuse, with no evidence, the opposition candidate's mother of being a porn star".
- "Taking Bob Dylan at faith value". The Washington Times. October 24, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Miller, Jay N. (February 4, 2010). "Dylan tribute band apes him down to the growl". Patriot Ledger. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Schlansky, Evan (October 30, 2009). "Bob Dylan’s Shadow: An Extended Interview With Joel Gilbert". American Songwriter. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Joel Gilbert filmography". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Gonulsen, Jason (April 21, 2005). "DVD review: Bob Dylan World Tours 1966–1974". Glide Magazine. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Bacharach, Phil (April 3, 2006). "DVD review: An unexceptional, sometimes amateurish, video production, don't expect to be wowed. Heck, a tripod and camera appear behind a handful of interview subjects.". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Bailey, Jason (October 18, 2008). "DVD review: Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born Again". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Rodriguez, Nathan (May 5, 2011). "DVD review: Bob Dylan – Revealed". Glide Magazine. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Mavis, Paul (August 30, 2010). "DVD review: Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Hall, Phil (July 11, 2010). "DVD review: Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison". Film Threat. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Confessions of an Overworked Mom (January 2, 2010). "DVD Review: Atomic Jihad". Blogcritics. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Linna, Esa (July 1, 2010). "Review: Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War for Islamic Revival and Obama's Politics of Defeat" (in Finnish). Elitisti. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Marcotte, Amanda (September 28, 2012). "Conservatives Stoop To Slut-Shaming Obama's Dead Mother". Slate. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Corsi, Jerome R. (September 17, 2012). "MSNBC trashes 'Dreams' documentary on Obama". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- staff (September 28, 2012). "New Anti-Obama Film Claims His Mother Posed for Nude Photos". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Corsi, Jerome R. (October 7, 2012). "Swing-state stunner: 'Dreams' mailed to 2.7 million". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved December 23, 2012.