The principals of LA-based commercial production company Nonfiction Unlimited have announced the addition of 2018 Sundance Film Festival award-winning filmmaker Bing Liu to the company's exclusive roster of documentary directors.
On Jan. 27, Liu was presented with Sundance's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking for his feature-length documentary film, "Minding the Gap" (http://www.mindingthegapfilm.com
). Liu developed the film over the past several years in collaboration with Chicago-based Kartemquin Films, and as a co-production of POV and ITVS.
Liu is the director, DP, co-producer (along with Diane Moy Quon), co-editor (along with Joshua Altman of "Fresh Squeezed"), and co-star of "Minding the Gap." In the film, Liu and his two friends - fellow skateboarders Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson – bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Facing adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship. Cinema documentary specialist Dogwoof in London picked up the film for international distribution in January, and recently showcased it at the European Film Market in Berlin.
In a review for "Minding the Gap" published on FirstShowing.net, Alex Billington writes, "Bing is the real deal, and he has made one of the most refreshingly original, engaging docs about growing up in today's America."
A 2017 Film Independent Fellow and Garrett Scott Development Grant recipient, Liu is also a segment director and director of photography for director Steve James' "America to Me" 10-part docuseries, another Kartemquin Films project that made headlines at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Produced in partnership with Participant Media, "America to Me" was picked up for distribution by Lionsgate's Starz network ahead of the series' Sundance debut.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world's greatest documentarians and currently nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail," Steve James is among the three executive producers behind Liu's highly personal "Minding the Gap." James was also the very first director signed by Nonfiction Unlimited partner and executive producer Loretta Jeneski in 1995 when she established the company. Inspired by Liu's work and knowing about his ongoing collaborations with James, Jeneski jumped at the chance to add Liu to Nonfiction's roster.
"We take a lot of pride in the opportunities we are given to work alongside leading creatives and brand marketers to create breakthrough commercials, content and films," Jeneski began. "After seeing Bing's film at Sundance, I knew he belonged with us. He has a very fresh style; his blend of artful, character-driven verite storytelling with beautiful cinematography is really special and totally engaging, and I anticipate it being in high demand beginning very soon."
"What attracted me to Nonfiction Unlimited was LJ's enthusiasm for my creative voice and her willingness to work with me to develop it for the commercial realm," Liu explained. "It was also comforting to know that she has an understanding of my scattered schedule as a filmmaker actively working on and developing new projects. She has worked with my trusted advisor Steve James since his 'Hoop Dreams' days. With his introduction and recommendation, LJ and I are now off and running."