Exploring NYC Cinema Past in ‘Searching for Mr. Rugoff’ Doc Trailer
by Alex Billington
June 24, 2021
“There was an element of madness in him.” The official trailer has debuted for an indie documentary film titled Searching for Mr. Rugoff, which may not seem that interesting from the title alone – but this is for anyone who loves cinema and cinemas. The film is about a cinema owner in NYC named Donald Rugoff. He was the “crazy genius” behind Cinema 5, the mid-century theater chain and film distribution company. But not that likeable. The story is told through the eyes of former employee Ira Deutchman, who sets out to find the truth about the man who had such a major impact on his life, and to also understand how such an important figure could have disappeared so completely. Deutchman on this finally releasing: “My original intention was to highlight the majesty of the theatrical experience in an entertaining way, but given where we are right now, the story has become all the more poignant. Independent art houses need our support to survive.” This does indeed look like an enthralling film about a very peculiar part of cinema history in NYC.
Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Ira Deutchman’s Searching for Mr. Rugoff, direct from YouTube:
The feature documentary Searching for Mr. Rugoff tells the story of Donald Rugoff, who was the crazy genius behind Cinema 5, the mid-century theater chain and film distribution company. Rugoff was a difficult (some would say impossible) person but he was also the person who kicked art films into the mainstream with outrageous marketing schemes and pure bluster. His impact on cinema culture in the United States is inestimable, and his influence on the art film business—from the studio classics divisions to the independent film movement to the rise of the Weinsteins—is undeniable. Yet, mysteriously, Rugoff has become a virtually forgotten figure. The story is told through the eyes of his former employee Ira Deutchman, who sets out to find the truth about the man who had such a major impact on his life, and to understand how such an important figure could have disappeared so completely. Searching for Mr. Rugoff is directed by New York filmmaker Ira Deutchman, directing his first feature film after years of making, marketing & distributing films. This first premiered at the 2019 DOC NYC Festival. Deutchman’s Searching for Mr. Rugoff will open in select theaters (NY & LA) starting on August 13th, 2021. Visit the official site.