Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

Creating a fiery atmosphere of communication, dance, sex, looseness and energy at the party, affecting people’s emotions only with the help of the right music – not an easy task. Disco jockeys or DJs are important people in every dance club, at every party and everywhere where music and drive are needed. The popularity of the best of these “crowd-pleasers” is comparable to that of the biggest stars in show business.

Every year, on March 9, the world celebrates DJ Day. Remember this date, and right after the movies about feminists on March 8, you can switch to music movies and rock the whole day!

We have gathered for you a small list of the best feature films about DJs, stories about the ambiguous underside of their work and destiny.

The Boat That Rocked

The Boat That Rocked
  • IMDB Rating – 7.3
  • Genre: Drama, comedy, music
  • Production: UK, France, Germany, USA / 2009
  • Budget: $50,000,000
  • World Box Office: $36,348,784
  • Director Richard Curtis
  • Starring: Tom Sturridge, Bill Nye, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Evans, Nick Frost, Kenneth Branagh, Jack Davenport, Talula Riley, Chris O’Dowd, Reese Darb

In the 1960s rock music became incredibly popular in Britain, but it was not recognized by official radio stations. Enthusiasts of the new trends spun music from pirate radio stations set aboard ships drifting on the high seas and inaccessible to the law.

The film is based on the true story of one such radio station, told from the point of view of 17-year-old Carl, godson of the head of the pirate broadcasting outlet Radio Rock. Through the struggles of officials and music pirates, who actively use popular DJs in their work, the story of Carl’s growing up unfolds.

The soundtrack to the film is released on two discs and includes many of the iconic rock hits of those years.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

It’s All Gone Pete Tong

It's All Gone Pete Tong
  • IMDB Rating – 7.2
  • Genre: Drama, music, comedy
  • Production: UK, Canada / 2004
  • Budget: $2,000,000
  • World Box Office: $1,591,879
  • Director Michael Downes
  • Starring: Paul Kaye, Beatrice Batard, Kate Magowan, Mike Wilmot, Neil Maskell, Monica Maya, Pete Tong, Ron Lloyd Hugh Elliston, Dan Antopolsky, Tim Plester

In the Russian box office, the film is also known by its second title: “It’s All Gone Pete Tong. This is a Cockney wordplay roughly referring to “it’s all gone bit wrong”. The film itself is a wonderfully uplifting drama with a totally hooligan beginning.

Frankie Wilde is a legend of club Mecca, the island of Ibiza, a rich and famous DJ with a huge house, a model wife, partying hard with drugs and sexy girls.

One day he goes bust and loses everything: his contracts, his wife, his fans. He has no choice but to try to live in the new realities, and he goes to a school for the deaf, starting on the road to his reincarnation.

The film was shot entirely in HD in Ibiza in the pseudo-documentary genre. Several real famous DJs take part in it.


Berlin Calling

Berlin Calling
  • IMDB Rating – 7.2
  • Genre: Drama, comedy, music
  • Production Germany / 2008
  • Worldwide box office receipts: $585,298
  • Director Hannes Ster
  • Starring: Paul Kalkbrenner, Rita Lendiel, Corinna Harfuh, Araba Walton, Peter Schneider, Rolf Peter Kahl, Henriette Muller, Udo Kroschwald, Megan Gay, Max Mauff

A German tragicomedy about the life of Martin Karow, one standard DJ nicknamed Ickarus. He travels around the world, performing in techno clubs with his girlfriend Matilda, and is actively working on a new album.

And one day he has a heavy drug-induced psychosis which puts him in a mental hospital. He agrees to stay for treatment and takes all his equipment to the hospital.

The work on the album is in full swing, but as he constantly breaks the regime, the doctor asks him to leave the ward. Martin decides to throw a farewell party here…

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 7.0
  • Genre: Drama, comedy
  • Production: Belarus, Germany, USA, Russia / 2018
  • Worldwide box office: $64,019
  • Directed by Daria Zhuk
  • Starring: Alina Nasibullina, Ivan Mulin, Yura Borisov, Svetlana Anikei, Ilya Kapanets, Lyudmila Razumova, Natalia Onishchenko, Vyacheslav Shkalido, Anatoly Golub, Artem Kuren

A stunning story from Darya Zhuk of Minsk, which takes place against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The main character is Evelina, simply Velya. This bright girl DJ with a law degree, who adores the musical style of Chicago house, dreams of going to America and become a famous DJ there.

While applying for papers, she turns in a purchased certificate of work at a crystal factory and accidentally gives the wrong phone number, and then she finds a creative solution to the problem – to find the real owners of the number and ask them to tell her when they call.

Velya goes to the village of Khrustalny and meets the family who owns the number. Purposely intruding into the lives of these people, who are preparing for a wedding, Velia plunges into a crazy, dystopian thicket from which there seems to be no way out.

In 2018, the film was nominated for an Oscar from Belarus.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

We Are Your Friends

We Are Your Friends
  • IMDB Rating – 6.1
  • Genre: Drama, melodrama, music
  • Production: UK, France, USA / 2015
  • Budget: $2,000,000
  • World Box Office: $11,122,090
  • Directed by Max Joseph
  • Starring: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratakowski, Johnny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Schaeffer, John Bernthal, Alicia Coppola, Wiley M. Pickett, John Abrahams

A bright, punchy young melodrama starring Zac Efron. This is a story about the road to a dream lined with thorns and hopes.

Coe is a young DJ from Los Angeles who dreams of conquering the heights of show business. He works tirelessly on his skills and tries to create a track that could blow up Hollywood.

And one day he meets the experienced and popular DJ James, who can open the way to the best clubs for Cole. However, a love affair mixes all the cards…

This film is Max Joseph’s directorial debut.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

Le défi

Le défi
  • IMDB rating – 5.4
  • Genre: Musical, drama, melodrama, comedy
  • Production France / 2002
  • Directed by Blanca Lee
  • Starring: Blanca Li, Amanda Lear, Benjamin Chaua, Sofia Butella, Marco Prince, Christophe Salengro, Fatiha Cherignyon, Beatrice Costantini, Carlos Da Silva, Paolo De Barrosch

A rousing French tale of generational conflict, a film about motherhood, dance and music.

By his 18th birthday, DJ David already knows what he wants out of life – to win a break-dance battle at a world competition in New York City. He drops out of school and dreams of running away from home, away from his conflicted relationship with his overprotective mother Elena.

Finals are approaching to determine which team will go to New York. To get her son back, Elena, who doesn’t want to grow old and loves dancing, goes to the team competing with David’s group and shares her dancing secrets with them, weaving classics into hip-hop and increasing their chances of winning.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 5.4
  • Genre: Drama, Detective
  • Production Germany / 2000
  • Director Matthias Glasner
  • Starring: Nicolette Krebitz, Moritz Bleibtroy, Richie Muller, Corinna Harfuh, Lars Rudolf, Il-Young Kim, Volker Spengler, Sebastian Munster, Christian Hahn

A funny German crime tragicomedy about a DJ, Sonny, who was once too popular and slipped into drugs and crime. After serving time in prison, he is released and, pretending to be blind, gets a job as a DJ in the nightclub of the brutal drug dealer Lupo.

There Sonny meets the owner’s girlfriend, the petite beauty Shirley, who dreams of a modeling career, and then goes on the run with her, not knowing that in the stolen car there is a load of drugs Lupo.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

Sympathy for Delicious

Sympathy for Delicious
  • IMDB Rating – 5.6
  • Genre: Drama
  • USA production / 2010
  • US box office estimate: $13,826
  • Director Mark Ruffalo
  • Starring: Christopher Thornton, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, Orlando Bloom, Noah Emmerich, James Karen, John Carroll Lynch, Robert Wisdom, Dov Tiefenbach

In the center of the plot of the mystical drama “Compassion for the Beautiful” is a once popular DJ from Los Angeles nicknamed “Tasty Dean”. Career, fame, money – he had it all until an accident, after which Dean is left paralyzed.

Trying to cope with despair, he tries many ways, dreaming of a cure and becoming a rock star, and suddenly discovers in himself the gift of healing. However, this gift does not help him himself, and he would give it up just for one opportunity to go on stage and light up the dance floor…

This film is a mystical-religious experiment by American actor Mark Ruffalo.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 6.4
  • Genre: Drama, biography, music
  • France production / 2014
  • U.S. box office: $65,460
  • Director Mia Hansen-Løve
  • Starring: Felix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macken, Hugo Konzelmann, Zita Anro, Roman Kolinka, Hugo Bienvenu, Vincent Lacoste, Arnaud Azoulay

“Eden” is a French nonfiction story about deejaying from female director Mia Hansen-Leuve. Student Paul Vallee loves raves and teams up with his friend Cyril to create a DJ duo. After a while, the guys gain fame and are invited to New York to perform at MoMA PS1.

The friend refuses to go, preferring to work on his graphic novel. Paul goes there alone, and upon his return learns that Cyril has committed suicide by completing his novel. This breaks Paul’s heart. He still keeps afloat for a while, but his career as a DJ goes downhill, turning to debt, drug addiction and ruined relationships with his family.

The film’s script is based on the fate of the director’s brother, a French deejay known by his stage name, Sven Love.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 6.4
  • Genre: Drama
  • US production / 2019
  • Directed by Chris Robinson
  • Starring: Khalil Everage, Ewan Jay Simpson, Ashley Jackson, Ahmad Nicholas Ferguson, Uzo Aduba, Megan Souza, Jeremy Phillips, Ariana Burks, Skye Sparks, Anthony Anderson

This American musical drama is not to be confused with the British film with the identical title Beats, released the same year. The film’s protagonist is 17-year-old August, a self-taught DJ and a real musical prodigy who raves about the hip-hop scene. He suffers from agoraphobia after a traumatic incident and is secretly in love with his girlfriend Nia.

One day he meets Romelo, a former producer who is eager to get back into the world of show business. The two find in each other a chance to make their dreams come true when August composes a real hit.

The film was shot entirely in Chicago and released on Netflix on June 19, 2019.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 4.7
  • Genre: musical, sci-fi, drama
  • Produced by USA, Canada / 1996
  • Directed by Michael Pacerneck
  • Starring: James Marshall, Christina Applegate, Faye Grant, Paige Turco, Scott Cohen, Bruce Altman, David Burke, Stephen Keats, Shane Butterworth.

90s techno-dance in the upbeat Canadian-American drama known by its second title, Cyberstorm. At the center of the plot is rock music star T.J. Cray. One day he gets into a car accident and loses his hands, making his future career impossible.

After coping with despair, he creates himself from scratch. Cray trains with cyber prosthetics, designs a steel-colored suit and appears on the rave scene as a DJ nicknamed “Cyberstorm,” mysterious, bright and unusual, quickly gaining insane popularity.

Each take of the scene where T.J. is begging on the street brought the crew an amusing profit – passersby tossed change to the beggar, unaware that the movie was being filmed here.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

Music of the rooftops

Music of the rooftops
  • Genre: Melodrama, Drama
  • Production Russia / 2021
  • Worldwide box office receipts: $3,802
  • Director Andrei Scherbinin
  • Starring: Ilya Korobko, Tatiana Struzhenkova, Anton Mamin, Irina Sycheva, Anna Kuchaeva, Farrukh Zhumaev, Ivan Arkhipov, Ksenia Arkhipova, Anna Kristal, Elena Semenova

A Russian lyrical film about despair, hope, and love. Alex, a morning radio DJ, takes calls with music orders, with complaints, bragging rights, and saying hello. But one day he finds himself in a very difficult situation.

He gets a call from a girl, Masha, who asks him to play her favorite track one last time. The girl is standing on the roof of a high-rise and is about to commit suicide because the man she loves betrayed her. Between Masha’s life and death turns out to be only the cynical DJ Alex, and the music playing over the rooftops of St. Petersburg…

The soundtrack of the drama “On the Roof” was written by the band Dabro, long before the film was made.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

Kevin & Perry Go Large

Kevin & Perry Go Large
  • IMDB Rating – 5.6
  • Genre: Comedy, music
  • Production UK / 2000
  • Budget: £2,000,000
  • World Box Office: $15,932
  • Director Ed Bye
  • Starring: Harry Enfield, Kathy Burke, Rhys Evans, Laura Fraser, James Fleet, Louise Rix, Tabitha Wady, Paul Whitehouse, Natasha Little, Anna Shillinglaw

This carefree, light-hearted young comedy is about two teenage buddies, Kevin and Perry, who have little in their heads except sex and music – that’s their age. The boys dream of one day going to Ibiza and becoming famous DJs to get beautiful and available groupies.

Parents don’t mind such a trip, as long as the boys pay for it themselves. The friends are looking for an opportunity to make some easy money, and they meet Paul, a club DJ and producer, who begins to exploit the teenagers and then gives them an unexpected chance at fame.

The mix that the main characters made in the film was created by DJ Judge Jules, and was released as a separate single after the premiere.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs


  • IMDB Rating – 5.3
  • Genre: Drama, music
  • Produced by USA / 2016
  • Director Christopher Louis
  • Starring: Sarah Hyland, Graham Phillips, Brett DelBuono, Hayley Kiyoko, Colin Woodell, Chris D’Elia, Ian Anthony Dale, Ryan Hansen, LaMonica Garrett, Brianna Howie

This light and rhythmic tragic comedy from Netflix tells the story of six people who don’t know each other as they head to XOXO, a major club festival dedicated to electronic music. They will experience incredible adventures during one romantic night filled with lights, dancing and music.

Ethan Shaw is the guy whose track has garnered over a million views on YouTube. He wades through a crowd of thousands for his chance at fame. Meanwhile, naive Crystal, who loves to dance, believes the festival will get her to meet her soul mate…

This film is the feature debut of British actor Christopher Louis as a director.

Pump Up the Beat: 15 Movies About the Life and Work of DJs

True Vinyl

True Vinyl
  • IMDB Rating – 5.0
  • Genre: Drama, melodrama, music
  • Production USA / 2004
  • Director: Scott Falconer, Scott Hatley
  • Starring: Eric Shmanda, Bree Turner, Romani Malko, Sticky Fingaz, Za Kari A. Usher, Carlton Wilburn, Amy Carey, Slick Rick, Brian David Cohen, Vince Grant

Cute inspirational movie about love and deejaying. Billy Thompson is the simple son of a Nebraska farmer whose mother died when he was young. But from her he picked up his love for rousing rhythms and dreams of opening his own studio.

Billy goes to Los Angeles to take part in a DJ contest with a prize fund of 50 thousand dollars. Here he finds a great friend, a strong opponent, and true love.

Several famous dancers and DJs starred in the film.

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Анна Румянцева

Author, editor and filmmaker.

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