2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON

drunk stonedDocumentary Premieres continues with a look at comedy history: Douglas Tirola’s DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON.

Sundance Program Description:

Amid the seismic cultural shift of the 1970s, American comedy got a sharper edge when a newly minted magazine named National Lampoon stuck its middle finger up at the establishment. Spawned at an Ivy League school by the wonderfully warped minds of Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard, National Lampoon rose from a counterculture rag to a revered comic institution. Bound by a passion for the absurd and a mistrust of authority, Lampoon‘s irreverence spanked nearly every available social taboo from weak-kneed politics to heated racial tensions. This unique cocktail of high satire and gallows humor exploded onto America’s cultural consciousness attracting visionary talents such as Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase, whose comedic force helped expand the magazine’s spirit to stage and film. Director Douglas Tirola unearths never-before-seen archival footage and brilliantly weaves it together with the magazine’s beautiful and often shocking art, reliving National Lampoon‘s meteoric rise from go-to magazine of the counterculture to a brand synonymous with Hollywood’s biggest comedies. Energetic, revolutionary, gently perverted, and often hilarious, DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD elevates nostalgia to a roof-raising experience.

Some Background:
Douglas Tirola counts three previous documentaries among his directorial credits, most recently the SXSW-premiering HEY BARTENDER, as well as numerous producing credits, including the work of Robert Greene (ACTRESS, FAKE IT SO REAL, KATI WITH AN I, and OWNING THE WEATHER). Tirola also executive produced Sundance fiction film alum KILLING TIME (2002). Joining him as this project’s producer is his 4th Row Films’ colleagues Susan Bedusa and co-producer Danielle Rosen, who also worked on Greene’s films and others produced by 4th Row. Their executive producers are no strangers to Park City: John Battsek, also bringing CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM and LISTEN TO ME MARLON to this year’s festival, and most recently produced last year’s CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART, THE GREEN PRINCE, HAPPY VALLEY, and WE ARE THE GIANT; and A&E IndieFilms/History Channel’s Molly Thompson, also represented this year by CARTEL LAND, BEING EVEL and LILA & EVE, with recent past credits including HAPPY VALLEY and UNDER AFRICAN SKIES (2012). Editors include Joseph Krings, who cut alum 28 HOTEL ROOMS (2012), and G Jesse Martinez, HEY BARTENDER’s editor.

Why You Should Watch:
Fans of American comedy, particularly of the 1970s and 1980s, immediately should be drawn to this rollicking profile of the influential, satiric magazine, brought to life by Tirola through still-impactful – if at times disturbing – artwork, irreverent themes, and, most gloriously, rarely-heard radio show broadcasts and even more rarely-seen behind-the-scenes video footage. The inclusion of this archival footage is a particular coup, helping the project do double duty by becoming something of a backdoor, unofficial history of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

More Info:
For more information, visit the film’s Facebook page and Tirola’s Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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