2021 Sundance Docs in Focus: PHILLY DA

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Yoni Brook


PHILLY DA
Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar follow an outspoken district attorney as he attempts to reform a broken criminal justice system, in this preview of the first two episodes of their new docuseries for Independent Lens.

Festival Section:
Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

For 30 years, civil rights attorney Larry Krasner called out policies that caused Philadelphia to become the major city in America with the most incarcerations. More than 75 times, he sued police officers who perpetuated corruption and brutality. This made him an unlikely candidate for district attorney, but in 2017 he launched an election campaign that promised to reform the system. Passionate in his beliefs, and buoyed by activists committed to ending mass incarceration, Krasner set out to revolutionize his city’s criminal justice system from the inside.

Directors Ted Passon and Yoni Brook rigorously bring to life the people impacted and incensed by the failings of the system, as well as those fighting to maintain the status quo. Tracking an election with shocking turns and a first term full of unprecedented moves, Passon and Brook smartly keep Krasner as their fulcrum. But after establishing a truly radical platform, Philly DA asks, can this controversial figure actually implement meaningful change?

Some Background:

Creators/Directors/Producers:
Ted Passon
First Sundance credit. Co-founder, All Ages Productions. Passon is a past Sundance Creative Producing fellow, and participated in the Sundance Catalyst Forum with this project. In addition to his film work, Passon has a background in children’s television, commercials, and music videos.

Yoni Brook
Brook is an Independent Spirit and Gotham-nominated filmmaker who previously produced and shot Sundance fiction feature alum MENASHE and shot alum VALLEY OF SAINTS. He participated in the Sundance Catalyst Forum with this project. As a director, Brook’s past work has screened at Berlin, IDFA, and Tribeca, among other notable events. He has a background as a photojournalist at both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Creator/Producer:
Nicole Salazar
First Sundance credit. Salazar is a documentary filmmaker and journalist, whose past work includes producing Democracy Now!, as well as programs for Al Jazeera, Investigation Discovery, and Topic.

Producers:
Josh Penn
Past Sundance docs:
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS (2020)
A THOUSAND THOUGHTS (2018)
WESTERN (2015)

Producer, Department of Motion Pictures. Penn received an Oscar nomination for BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, one of several Sundance fiction feature alumni projects he has produced or executive produced, including WENDY, FAREWELL AMOR, MONSTERS AND MEN, and PATTI CAKE$. He has been a past advisor to the Sundance Institute’s Stories of Change Convening and Creative Producing Lab. Penn also produced 2021 Sundance US Documentary Competition title USERS.

Michael Gottwald
Past Sundance docs:
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS
WESTERN

Producer, Department of Motion Pictures. Gottwald also was nominated for the Oscar for BEASTS OF THE SUMMER WILD, and executive produced Sundance fiction feature alumni WENDY, FAREWELL AMOR, PATTI CAKE$, and PING PONG SUMMER.

Executive Producers:
Dawn Porter
Past Sundance docs:
TRAPPED
GIDEON’S ARMY

Founder, Trilogy Films. Porter is an attorney turned Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Both of her previous Sundance titles picked up awards at the festival. Porter directed and produced three features this past year: Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain, The Way I See It, and John Lewis: Good Trouble.

Patty Quillin
Past Sundance docs:
ON THE RECORD (2020)
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS (2020)
ALWAYS IN SEASON (2019)
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS (2019)
THE DEVIL WE KNOW (2018)
INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
THIS IS HOME (2018)
BENDING THE ARC (2017)

Quillin is a philanthropist and a past creative advisor to Sundance’s Catalyst Forum. She also executive produced 2021 Sundance US Documentary Competition title REBEL HEARTS via the Meadow Fund, as well as World Cinema Documentary Competition title WRITING WITH FIRE. Quillin’s husband is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Sally Jo Fifer
Recent past Sundance docs:
WORDS FROM A BEAR (2019)
ALWAYS IN SEASON
BEDLAM (2019)
ONE CHILD NATION (2019)
MINDING THE GAP (2018)
THE FORCE (2017)
MOTHERLAND (2017)
QUEST (2017)

President/CEO, ITVS. Fifer is also executive producer of 2021 Sundance US Documentary Competition titles AILEY and TRY HARDER!. She has received multiple Emmys for the ITVS-produced PBS series Independent Lens.

Lois Vossen
Recent past Sundance docs:
ALWAYS IN SEASON
BEDLAM
ONE CHILD NATION
THE FORCE

Executive Producer, ITVS. Vossen also executive produced this year’s TRY HARDER!. She has received multiple Emmys for the ITVS-produced PBS series Independent Lens.

Ryan Chanatry
Past Sundance docs:
Broken Orchestra (short, 2020)

General manager, Topic. Chanatry previously held positions at Topic’s parent company, First Look Media, and at Netflix.

Gena Konstantinakos
First Sundance credit. VP, originals, Topic. Konstantinakos previously produced programs for, among others, VICE, ABC News, and MTV, for which she received an Emmy.

Jeff Seelbach
Past Sundance docs:
PAHOKEE (2019)

Director, nonfiction programming, Topic. Seelbach is a News & Documentary Emmy nominee who previously held positions at AJ+ and PBS’s Wide Angle.

Co-Executive Producers:
Nion McEvoy
Past Sundance docs:
FEELS GOOD MAN (2020)
THE FIGHT (2020)
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA (2020)
SPACESHIP EARTH (2020)
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
US KIDS (2020)
ALWAYS IN SEASON
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS
RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS (2019)
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (2018)
INVENTING TOMORROW
CHASING CORAL (2017)
CHASING CORAL: THE VR EXPERIENCE (VR short, 2017)
UNREST (2017)

McEvoy is the chairman and CEO of publishing giant the McEvoy Group. His philanthropic work, together with his partner, Leslie Berriman, focuses on art, film, photography, and music, including the Smithsonian, SFMoMA, and SFJAZZ.

Leslie Berriman
Past Sundance docs:
FEELS GOOD MAN
THE FIGHT
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA
SPACESHIP EARTH
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
ALWAYS IN SEASON
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS
RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
INVENTING TOMORROW
UNREST

Berriman is a philanthropist and executive editor at textbook publisher Pearson Education. Her partner is Nion McEvoy.

More Info:
Website

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

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