FILMBUFF TO RELEASE WNYC STUDIOS’ INAUGURAL FILM
“THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH”
Opening in Theaters and On Demand Platforms in Fall 2016
Theatrical Debut Appears on Friday, September 23 at the Metrograph in New York City
(NEW YORK, NY – September 7, 2016) – FilmBuff announced today that it has licensed worldwide rights to distribute THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH, the first original production from venerable New York media institution and leading podcast producer WNYC Studios.
FilmBuff will release THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH in select theaters – including the Metrograph in New York City – on Friday, September 23, followed by a digital release on all major On Demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu, on Friday, October 7. WNYC’s award-winning radio host and producer and Emmy Award-winning film editor Sara Fishko, the director of the film, will be on hand to do a live Q&A after the evening show at the Metrograph.
The film, a follow-up to Fishko’s Jazz Loft Radio Series, as well as author Sam Stephenson’s book, The Jazz Loft Project, brings hundreds of photographs by acclaimed LIFE Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith to the screen for the first time, as well as some of the 4,000 hours of audio he recorded, The film features commentary by musicians Steve Reich, Carla Bley, Jason Moran, Ronnie Free, and many others on this fascinating chapter in jazz, photography, and New York City history.
In the 1950s, dozens of jazz musicians jammed night after night in a dilapidated New York loft building, not realizing they were all being captured in sound and pictures by Smith, who lived in the loft space next door. Thelonious Monk stopped by to rehearse; drummer Ronnie Free got hooked on hard drugs; Smith began to tape-record his own phone calls; the ‘50s gave way to the ‘60s. In a layering of interviews, vignettes and powerful music, Fishko recreates these stories of the vibrant culture of New York’s mid-century jazz era, resurrecting some of the characters captured in Smith’s evocative photographs.
In tandem with the film’s release, WNYC Studios will make available an updated version of the original award-winning Jazz Loft Radio Series – which takes listeners on a deep-dive into the music, voices, and sound Smith captured on audio tape – as a 10-episode podcast series on www.wnyc.org, iTunes and other places where podcasts are available.
“Jazz is an integral part of the fabric of New York City culture, so we’re excited to bring THE JAZZ LOFT to audiences in our hometown and beyond,” said FilmBuff’s Jake Hanly. “It’s a fascinating time capsule of an historic moment in our city, and FilmBuff is excited to be partnering with WNYC, a quintessential New York institution, on their first original production.”
“What gets us excited every day is the chance to tell stories that inform while delighting. And we’re always looking for new ways to do that,” said Dean Cappello, Chief Content Officer of WNYC Studios. “THE JAZZ LOFT project started as a radio series that showcased the incredible and unheard Gene Smith recordings. The chance to bring these characters to the screen with FilmBuff in WNYC Studios’ first film feels like the best way to honor these musicians and artists in a way that audiences will love.”
“We’re still not sure exactly what Gene Smith was trying to create in the loft,” said Fishko. “But he did remarkable work there, and his pictures by the tens of thousands and stacks and stacks of audio tape reels tell us things about community, music-making, obsession and art that we couldn’t learn in any other way.”
THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH screened at Cleveland International Film Festival 2016, Full Frame Festival 2016, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema 2016, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016, Copenhagen Jazz Film Festival 2016, DOC NYC 2015, and New Orleans Film Festival 2015.
The film was written, produced and directed by Sara Fishko, edited by Jonathan J. Johnson and photographed by Tom Hurwitz, ASC. Producers include Calvin Skaggs for Lumiere Productions and Sam Stephenson. The deal was negotiated by Jake Hanly of FilmBuff with John Chao of WNYC.
THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH is funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Oliver Kramer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.