2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: LORENA

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Joshua Rofé investigates the notorious case of Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Sundance Program Description:

Lorena Bobbitt became a household name in 1993, when accounts of a mutilation dominated headlines: she cut off her husband’s penis, and the country collectively gasped.

Twenty-five years later, Joshua Rofé excavates the scandalized case through a modern cultural lens. Each episode of this four-part docuseries, executive produced by Jordan Peele, builds upon the last, exposing the issues surrounding the couple and their criminal trials – Lorena’s then-husband, John Wayne Bobbit, for marital sexual assault, and Lorena for malicious wounding. In unearthing the long-term abuse that precipitated the infamous night, Rofé dives into a wider discussion about the lack of support for domestic-violence victims, the power and fragility of the word penis, John’s increasingly unpredictable life post-recovery, and how the public’s insatiable appetite for the Bobbitts’ story paved the way for the 24-hour news cycle. Rofé’s re-examination restores depth to a woman reduced to parodies and caricatures and prompts us to reconsider our preconceptions.

Some Background:
Director/Executive Producer:

  • Joshua Rofé

    Rofé has previously produced two feature documentaries, SWIFT CURRENT and LOST FOR LIFE.


  • M Elizabeth Hughes

    Hughes most notably co-produced SHORT TERM 12. She also line produced Sundance fiction feature alum SAVE THE DATE.


  • Cory Lanier

    Lanier is VP, TV series and digital, for Sonar Entertainment. This marks his first Sundance project.

Associate Producers:

  • David Holthouse

    Holthouse is an Anchorage-based alt-weekly journalist and documentary filmmaker. This is also his first Sundance credit.

  • Katie Le Dain

    Le Dain also makes her Sundance debut with this project. She has also produced series for Showtime and A&E.

Executive Producers:

  • Steven J Berger
    Past Sundance docs:


    Number 19’s Berger also previously produced Sundance fiction short SPOONFUL.

  • Jordan Peele

    The Oscar-winning Peele debuted his acclaimed fiction feature debut GET OUT at Sundance.

  • Win Rosenfeld

    Rosenfeld is president of Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions. This is his first Sundance credit.

  • Sonar Entertainment’s Thomas Lesinski and Jenna Santoianni

    This is also the Sundance debut for Sonar’s CEO and EVP, TV series, respectively.

Co-Executive Producer:

  • Andrea Harner

    This is also Harner’s first Sundance credit. Her husband is Jonah Peretti, founder/CEO of Buzzfeed, and her sister-in-law is Chelsea Peretti, a stand-up comic, actress, writer, and wife of Jordan Peele.


Supervising Editor:

  • Jason Rosenfield

    The Emmy-winning Rosenfield cut the Sundance fiction feature alum COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN and Rofé’s previous docs.

Why You Should Watch:
Through his reframing of Lorena Bobbitt’s story, Rofé goes beyond the surface of a media spectacle to examine how and why the incident became sensationalized, as well as societal perceptions of domestic violence and sexual assault, and how they’ve shifted over time. The entire series will be presented at the festival, while audiences outside of Park City will have to wait until its release on Amazon Prime on February 15.

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

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

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