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One For All: The DJ Chris Villa Story

average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Jan 27, 2023

Film Reviews
One For All: The DJ Chris Villa Story
Directed by:
Jeremy A. Lopez
Written by:
Jeremy A. Lopez
Chris Villa, Terra Villa, Katherine Villa

One For All: The DJ Chris Villa Story is, unsurprisingly, the story of DJ Chris Villa. This feature length documentary from director Jeremy Lopez explores the duality of a humble, introverted father of two who possesses the power to electrify even the most raucous of crowds – and his journey to be recognised as one of America’s top DJs.


The film features a mixture of interviews with Villa himself, as well as his friends and family, with archive footage of his journey from a junior DJing prodigy, to developing his skills at radio stations, all the way to playing for packed out raves. Villa’s humble and quiet nature is explored as being at odds with the lifestyle of chaos and partying that DJing as a profession is intertwined with, and his dream of competing in the ‘3style’ world championship looms large over the young man’s career. Live footage of his entry overtakes the final third of the film – as the art of DJing takes centre stage.


Much like its starring subject, One For All: The DJ Chris Villa Story is a likeable and honest documentary that is intensely and unapologetically fixated on the art, lifestyle and culture of DJing. So much so that the film does regularly fall foul of the old adage that a great documentary can make viewers with no knowledge of its topic invested. One For All is really ‘One for the DJing fans’ – given its extended scenes of Villa and Co’s freestyling performances which can end up feeling overlong to viewers without a prior passion. Artistry and complexity is brilliantly demonstrated in such scenes – but for a feature length film to spend so much of its runtime relying on the performance footage, those primarily invested in Villa’s actual life and story are at risk of tuning out. The length of some of the earlier, archival scenes also end up being slightly detrimental to the epic closing set that forms the film’s conclusion, and undermine the viewer’s appreciation for Villa at his best – given that patience with long scenes of mixing may have already been expended.


Villa himself is a conundrum, and the documentary certainly succeeds in capturing the dichotomy that sits at the heart of his life. His savant-like mixing skills and adulation of peers who embrace the debauchery DJing offers are presented hand in hand with friends and family who glowingly praise a quiet, family man from humble beginnings. That is not to say Villa’s life lacks drama, and the film carefully peels back his layers to maximise the audience’s investment and empathy in his goal – to represent the US at the world DJing championships. A particularly touching scene – in which Villa freestyles an epic, club level mix whilst his daughter crawls mischievously in his eyeline – is just one example of the innovative and engaging manner in which the heart of the film is represented.


Whilst some of the archival footage is overlong, it is lovingly and impressively presented and realised to look modern and crisp, whilst maintaining a sense that it is a glimpse into a past world – for both Villa and the DJing scene. Family footage of Villa and his brothers draws viewers closer into the family and Villa’s story. And Villa’s momentous performance that crescendos the film manages to capture the energy of live music as best as can be imagined – no small task for a music genre that benefits enormously from live performances.


A more stringent edit of One For All would probably have landed it in that sweet spot of brilliance and wide appeal. As it is, some overlong performance scenes do somewhat drag down what is otherwise an engaging and uplifting film. For fans of DJing however? A must-see. And you can probably end the conversation for soundtrack of the year right now too.

Watch the official trailer here.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Theatrical Release, Digital / DVD Release, Documentary
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