Searching for Mr. Rugoff

No Longer Available

Film Info
Section:Valley of the Docs
Running Time:94 min.
Director:Ira Deutchman
Producer:Ira Deutchman
Cinematographer:Peter Gilbert
Cast:Lina Wertmüller
Robert Downey, Sr.
Evangeline Peterson
Note Writer:Elliott Breeden


Screening note: This digital screening is available to view between 12:01am PT on Friday, October 9, and 11:59pm PT on Sunday, October 18, and is available to ticket buyers and passholders within the state of California.


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A mercurial movie baron who became a heavily influential figure in independent cinema, Donald Rugoff came to languish in relative obscurity. In Ira Deutchman's enthralling Searching for Mr. Rugoff, the ghost of this once-legendary figure is resurrected to ensure that Rugoff and his inestimable contributions to the world of art films are not forgotten. Deutchman, himself a producer of such American independent films as Alan Rudolph’s Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and John Sayles’ Matewan, paints an evocative portrait of his once-mentor through an array of colorful interviews with family, former employees, and directors like Costa-Gavras, Lina Wertmüller, and Robert Downey, Sr. Rugoff began as an exhibitor with the theater chain Cinema 5, which grew to be a deeply innovative distribution company responsible for releasing classics from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Andy Warhol's Trash. Rugoff's fearless championing of art films and inventive marketing was an industry game-changer, forging a foundational legacy for independent production, distribution, and exhibition today.


See also: State of the Industry Panel: A Pivotal Year

Additional Information

Ira Deutchman has been making, marketing, and distributing films since 1975, having worked on more than 150 films, including some of the most successful independent films of all time. He was one of the founders of Cinecom, and later created Fine Line Features—two companies built from scratch and, in their respective times, helped to define the independent film business. He was also a co-founder of Emerging Pictures, the first digital projection network in the United States and a pioneer in delivering live cultural events into movie theaters. Currently Deutchman is an independent producer, and a consultant in marketing and distribution of independent films. Searching for Mr. Rugoff is his feature directorial debut.