2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY

author jtNext up in my Sundance preview: AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY, Jeff Feuerzeig’s revisitation of the infamous literary sensation.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

New York magazine’s October 2005 issue sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” wunderkind JT LeRoy, whose tough prose about his sordid childhood had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was dreamed up by 40-year-old San Francisco punk rocker and phone sex operator, Laura Albert.

AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY takes us down the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert – like a Cyrano de Bergerac on steroids – breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade. Albert’s epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a mysterious sensation. As she recounts this astonishing odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy performance still infuriates many; but for Albert, channeling her brilliant fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression.

Some Background:
Director: Jeff Feuerzeig
Feuerzeig has previously been at Sundance with THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON (2006), for which he won the Documentary Directing Award; and as a screenwriter for the fiction film THE LIE (2011).

Producers: Jim Czarnecki, Danny Gabai, Molly Thompson, and Brett Ratner
The film’s producers represent Vice (Czarnecki and Gabai), A&E IndieFilms (Thompson), and RatPac (Ratner), and all have past Sundance affiliations. Czarnecki’s include the doc BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER* (2008) as well as narratives HOUNDDOG (2007) and LOVE LIZA (2002), while Gabai counts fiction alum FISHING WITHOUT NETS (2014) among his producing credits. Thompson’s alumni credits are extensive, going back to AMERICAN TEEN (2008). In addition to fellow 2016 title LIFE, ANIMATED (2016), her most recent titles include CARTEL LAND (2015), BEING EVEL (2015), DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD (2015), and HAPPY VALLEY (2014). Veteran Hollywood filmmaker Ratner’s past Sundance doc credits include CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (2015) and CATFISH (2010).

Executive Producers: Eddy Moretti, Shane Smith, Robert Sharenow, Robert DeBitetto, James Packer, and Marie Therese Guirgis
In addition to executive producing FISHING WITHOUT NETS, Vice’s Moretti and Smith both served as coproducers and screenwriters for WHITE LIGHTNIN’ (2009); A&E’s Sharenow and DeBitetto share many of their colleague Molly Thompson’s earlier Sundance alumni credits; RatPac’s Packer served as EP for CHUCK NORRIS; while the company’s Guirgis most recently produced fiction alum KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (2012), with past doc alum EP credits including UNKNOWN WHITE MALE (2005) and TARNATION (2003).

Why You Should Watch:
The stranger-than-fiction – and very public – nature of the JT LeRoy persona has engendered an enduring curiosity, and despite previously yielding another provocative documentary, THE CULT OF JT LEROY, which debuted at DOC NYC last year, presents ample room for further exploration, as demonstrated in Feuerzeig’s fascinating treatment here. His film is marked by the intimate participation of Albert herself, a complex, mercurial figure who provides the definitive behind-the-scenes perspective on the life and death of her storied creation.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

Presently, the film does not have a website, Facebook page, or trailer. Should this change before the festival kicks off, I’ll update that information here.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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

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