Matt Tyrnauer revisits the meteoric rise and crushing fall of the legendary NYC nightclub.
Sundance Program Description:
Studio 54 was the epicenter of ’70s hedonism – a monumental magnet for beautiful stars, casual sex, and mounds of cocaine, a den of excess that defined its own rules and enshrined the ostracized, queer, and fabulous. Matt Tyrnauer (VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR) chronicles the rise and fall of this nightclub’s founders: two best friends from Brooklyn, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, who conquered New York City only to have it crumble before their eyes.
With rare footage, a parade of colorful patrons and staff, and brutally honest interviews with Schrager himself, STUDIO 54 is a riveting study in contradictions. Inside the palatial theatre-turned-disco, the crowd reveled in an atmosphere of total acceptance, whether drag queen, octogenarian, waiter, or celebrity. Yet outside, a frenzied, excluded mob yearned to be noticed by the doorman and ushered into the sanctum of pulsating love. Schrager and Rubell’s glittering creation sprang from carefree naïveté and unbridled ambition – yet those same instincts managed to destroy it. This bracing story reveals how even the most culturally potent and transformative phenomena can be vulnerable and fleeting.
Tyrnauer has a background in journalism, beginning under Graydon Carter at The New York Observer before moving over to Vanity Fair in 1992, where he now is a contributing editor. His directorial debut, VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, premiered at Toronto and was shortlisted for the Academy Award. His most recent feature docs, CITIZEN JANE: BATTLE FOR THE CITY and SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD both also debuted at Toronto. This is his first Sundance project.
Recent past Sundance docs:
LEGION OF BROTHERS (2017)
WE ARE X (2016)
DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD (2015, executive producer)
CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (2015, executive producer)
LISTEN TO ME MARLON (2015)
Reeser is Tyrnauer’s partner at Altimeter Films, which they founded together. Prior to Altimeter, he produced creative content at Herzog and Company. This too marks his first Sundance project.
O’Toole has a background producing for series, including Sundance narrative alum 11.22.63.
Benjamin co-produced Tyrnauer’s SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD and CITIZEN JANE. High associate produced SCOTTY… and worked on the crew of CITIZEN JANE. Both also worked at Herzog and Company. This is their first Sundance credit.
Schnapp was also an associate producer for SCOTTY… and worked at Herzog and Company. This marks her first Sundance project.
Combined past Sundance docs:
CITY OF GHOSTS (2017)
LIFE, ANIMATED (2016)
AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY (2016)
CARTEL LAND (2015)
BEING EVEL (2015)
HAPPY VALLEY (2014)
DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD
THE IMPOSTER (2012)
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES (2012)
CORMAN’S WORLD (2011)
MAGIC TRIP (2011)
THE TILLMAN STORY (2010)
THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (2009)
AMERICAN TEEN (2008)
Sharenow is A&E’s president of programming, Bryant is the network’s EVP and head of programming, and Thompson is SVP of A&E IndieFilms.
Past Sundance docs:
WE ARE X
LISTEN TO ME MARLON
CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM
WE ARE THE GIANT (2014)
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012)
PROJECT NIM (2011)
THE TILLMAN STORY
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC (2009)
MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (2007)
Oscar-winner Ruhemann is the founder and CEO of Passion Pictures.
Lewis co-edited and co-produced CITIZEN JANE. This is her first Sundance project.
This is Hanner’s first Sundance project.
Past Sundance docs:
THE HISTORY OF COMEDY (2017)
Why You Should Watch:
Tyrnauer expertly captures the highs and lows of Studio 54’s story through judicious use of remarkable archival footage and revealing new interviews, resulting in a definitive profile that’s at once fun and sobering at the same time.
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.