Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 17:15


Ira Deutchman
Introduced by

Gian Luca Farinelli


Film Notes

Don Rugoff was one of those film-business visionaries who turned passion into compulsion; he succeeded, and failed, as a result. Yet he had a dream, and Searching for Mr. Rugoff is an infectious salute to what that dream was: a place where cinema could live.

Owen Gleiberman, “Variety”, 23 November 2019

When I graduated from college in 1975, I was looking for a job. […] I landed a job at company called Cinema 5. It was a company I was familiar with, having been a fan of films such as Endless Summer, Elvira Madigan, Putney Swope and Z when I was in high school and in college. What I didn’t know was that it was run by a notoriously difficult man by the name of Donald S. Rugoff – or ‘Mr Rugoff’, as he was known to employees. Over the next three years, I learned an enormous amount about the film business from this crazy genius. Much of what I learned is not only still relevant but has proven to be the DNA for just about everything that is considered common practice in the contemporary independent film world. And most of it was invented by this man, now a virtually forgotten figure. It was many years before I realized the impact that Rugoff had made on my own career or on the trajectory of what we now call ‘independent film’. But, over all that time, I was telling hundreds of stories about the man – mostly trading on the humor regarding his quirks, his disheveled physical presence, his inability to stay awake during screenings and in meetings, and his unappetizing eating habits. I also equated his eccentricity with the fact that he supported so many off-the-wall films that no one else would have taken on, some of which turned out to be far more successful than anyone would have predicted. […] With the hindsight of my own 40-plus-year career in the film business, I hope to not only bring this colorful and important character to life, but to connect his story to the larger stories of the cyclical nature of the independent film business, the personal hubris that is a common theme among people who work in the industry, and the incredible showmanship necessary to get audiences to pay attention. It’s also the tragic story of someone very gifted whose personal issues eventually destroyed him. 

Ira Deutchman 

Cast and Credits

F.: Peter Gilbert. M.: Brian Gersten. Mus.: Leo Sidran. Int.: Ira Deutchman, Costa- Gavras, Robert Downey Sr., Jerome Gary, John Goldstone, Annette Insdorf, Lina Wertmuller. Prod.: Ira Deutchman. DCP.