2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: FEELS GOOD MAN

FEELS GOOD MAN | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kurt Keppeler and Christian Bruno

FEELS GOOD MAN
Arthur Jones traces the unpredictable development of an influential Internet meme.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

When Matt Furie first created Pepe the Frog, a character in his indie comic Boy’s Club, Matt was an easygoing San Francisco artist and Pepe was a chill frog dude. Through a series of unforeseen events and bizarre connections driven by the internet, Pepe came to be a symbol of hate for the far right. How that exactly happened is a wild journey into the heart of online life today and the memeification of our shared collective culture, where the meanings of images change moment to moment and cannot be controlled even by their creators.

Furie decides to fight to take back Pepe from the dark forces that have turned him from a silly comic-book character into their own symbol. But is it already too late? Debut director Arthur Jones takes us through a modern-day saga of the internet that must be seen to be believed or understood. FEELS GOOD MAN shows us how a character meant to provide joy and fun can slowly morph into something else – but just maybe can change again.

Some Background:

Director/Producer:

  • Arthur Jones

    This marks Jones’ directorial debut. He has a background as an animator, designer, and illustrator, working on documentary features as well as projects for The New York Times, Vice, Google, and Netflix. Jones provided motion graphics for Sundance alumni doc HAL (2018).

Producers:

Producer/Editor:

Wickenden is a leading nonfiction editor, for which he’s received multiple Emmy nominations as well as other accolades.

Co-Producer:

  • Caitlin Ward
    Past Sundance docs:

    PAHOKEE (2019, assistant editor)

    This is Ward’s first producing credit.

Executive Producers:

  • Jenifer Westphal
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
    THE INFILTRATORS (2019)
    INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
    THIS IS HOME (2018)
    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
    SEMBENE! (2015)

    Wavelength Productions’ Westphal also executive produced 2020 Sundance fiction feature FAREWELL AMOR, as well as Sundance fiction alumni titles SELAH AND THE SPADES and NIGHT COMES ON.

  • Joe Plummer
    Past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
    THE INFILTRATORS

    Plummer is the lead producer for Westphal’s Wavelength Productions. He also produced FAREWELL AMOR.

  • Steve Cohen
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE INFILTRATORS
    306 HOLLYWOOD (2018)
    TROPHY (2017)
    INEQUALITY FOR ALL (2013)
    HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (2012)
    HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2011)

    Cohen is an attorney and co-founder/board chair of Chicago Media Project. He has helped finance numerous documentary projects as a member of Impact Partners. Cohen is also an executive producer for fellow 2020 Sundance US Documentary Competition title SPACESHIP EARTH.

  • Paula Froehle
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE INFILTRATORS
    306 HOLLYWOOD
    TROPHY

    Froehle is co-founder and CEO of Chicago Media Project, which facilitates philanthropic support of social impact documentaries. She also executive produced this year’s SPACESHIP EARTH, and co-executive produced Sundance fiction feature alumni LAND HO!.

  • Susan Morrison

    Morrison is a philanthropist with a background as an advertising executive. She serves as a vice-chair of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films and is a member of Chicago Media Project. This is Morrison’s first producing credit.

Co-Executive Producers:

  • Leslie Berriman and Nion McEvoy
    Past Sundance docs:

    ALWAYS IN SEASON (2019)
    RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS (2019)
    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    UNREST (2017)

    Berriman is executive editor at textbook publisher Pearson Education, while her partner McEvoy is the chairman and CEO of publishing giant the McEvoy Group. Their philanthropic work focuses on art, film, photography, and music, including the Smithsonian, SFMoMA, and SFJAZZ. They are also executive producers on SPACESHIP EARTH and, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS.

  • Nancy Blachman
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE INFILTRATORS
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    THE BAD KIDS (2016)

    Blachman is a mathematician, computer scientist, and philanthropist through the Desjardins-Blachman Foundation, supporting progressive causes, STEM education, and film and media.

  • Lou Buglioli
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE INFILTRATORS

    Buglioli is the chairman/CEO of financial services and tech company Viewpointe. He has also invested in numerous past Sundance titles, and is co-executive producer of 2020 Sundance title THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, in Documentary Premieres.

Editors:

  • Drew Blatman

    This is Blatman’s first Sundance credit. He previously cut OWNED.

  • Katrina Taylor
    Past Sundance docs:

    AWAVENA (2018, VR short)

Why You Should Watch:
Jones conducts a fascinating investigation into one seemingly insignificant, innocuous piece of Internet ephemera that has had – and still continues to have – an unexpectedly significant role in politics and culture, not just in America, but far beyond. Providing audiences with a crash course in meme culture and the dark fringes of the online world, the film offers surprising insight into how and why we make meaning.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile
Website

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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