2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE FIGHT

THE FIGHT | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Sean McGing

Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres profile several ACLU attorneys as they challenge the Trump administration’s assault on civil liberties.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Seven days after President Trump’s inauguration, the country’s airports and courthouses were clogged with protesters fighting to protect immigrants facing deportation due to the administration’s “Muslim ban” policy. It was to be the opening salvo of a relentless attack on civil liberties – and a tsunami of lawsuits waged against the Trump administration.

What must it be like to be an ACLU lawyer in this day and age?

THE FIGHT is an inspiring, emotional insider look at how these important battles are fought and the legal gladiators on the front lines fighting them. Directors Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres capture the rollercoaster ride of the thrill and defeat in these deeply human battles. When a mother is separated from her child, a soldier is threatened to lose his career, a young woman’s right to choose is imperiled at the pleasure of a government official, and the ability to exercise our basic right to vote is threatened, the consequences can be devastating to us and to future generations. THE FIGHT celebrates the unsung heroes who fiercely work to protect our freedoms.

Some Background:


  • Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman
    Past Sundance docs:

    WEINER (2016)

    Steinberg and Kriegman’s first Sundance collaboration, WEINER, won the Sundance US Documentary Grand Jury Prize and was Oscar shortlisted. The most recent project for the Edgeline Films filmmakers was the Showtime docuseries COUPLES THERAPY.


  • Eli Despres
    Past Sundance docs:

    WEINER (co-writer/editor)
    BLACKFISH (2013, co-writer/editor)

    Edgeline Films’ Despres also produced and directed COUPLES THERAPY.


  • Maya Seidler
    Past Sundance docs:

    CITY OF GHOSTS (2017)

    Seidler was an associate producer of COUPLES THERAPY, and also served as production coordinator for the first season of Matthew Heineman’s Sundance alumni docuseries THE TRADE (2018).

  • Peggy Drexler
    Past Sundance docs:

    ASK DR RUTH (2019)

    Peggy Drexler PhD is a research psychologist and author focusing on sex and gender. As an investor in Impact Partners, she contributed to the funding of Sundance alums WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? and OF FATHERS AND SONS.

  • Kerry Washington

    This is the first Sundance producing credit for the multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress best known for the TV series SCANDAL. She produces under her Simpson Street banner.


  • Sean McGing
    Past Sundance docs:


    Edgeline Films’ McGing also serves as the film’s cinematographer.

Executive Producers:

  • Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman

    Bow and Arrow Entertainment’s Perniciaro and Sherman also serve as executive producers of fellow 2020 Sundance titles THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, and producers of OMNIBOAT: A FAST BOAT FANTASIA, in Next. They previously produced or executive produced Sundance fiction feature alumni JOSHY, THE LITTLE HOURS, PERSON TO PERSON, GOLDEN EXITS, MADELINE’S MADELINE, SKATE KITCHEN, and NATIVE SON.

  • Florence Sloan and Harry Sloan

    Global Eagle’s Harry Sloan is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and studio executive behind New World Entertainment, SBS Broadcasting, MGM, and Lionsgate Films. His wife, philanthropist Florence Sloan, has a background as a children’s book author, lifestyle writer, and film producer in partnership with Wendi Murdoch. The Sloans previously executive produced Sundance fiction series alumni DELHI CRIME.

  • Pilar Savone

    The Oscar-nominated Savone is the head of development for Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street production company.

  • Maria Zuckerman

    Zuckerman is EVP of Topic Studios, following two decades at HBO Films. She also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance title THE NOWHERE INN, in the Midnight section.


Why You Should Watch:
The Edgeline Films team have done an exemplary job of identifying four timely lawsuits challenging the administration’s reactionary policies and the hardworking lawyers leading the good fight. Expertly balancing the various threads, and keeping the proceedings moving at a brisk pace, the film is hopeful, enraging, and saddening in different measures, and a vital reminder of the importance of the need to protect our basic human liberties.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile

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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