Nelson Algren Documentary Fundraiser

Chicago filmmaker launches kickstarter campaign to fund ambitious new documentary

Beginning Monday June 6th, fans of celebrated Chicago legend of the written word Nelson Algren will have the opportunity to help fund a documentary about his life and interests, Algren. The creators of Algren will launch a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter beginning Monday June 6th and ending Monday July 11th, 2011. Kickstarter.com is a social funding website that provides a way for the public to financially support creative ideas and endeavors. The campaign aims to raise $25,000 to complete the documentary. Donors can receive a variety of incentives including a DVD copy of the completed film, a digital download of the film, exclusive t-shirts featuring various Algren book covers, a numbered limited edition silk-screened print of the movie poster, signed books from Algren friend and photographer Art Shay, and production credit in the film when they donate at:
Algren is the first feature length documentary that spotlights the creative legacy of one of the most underrated American writers of the twentieth century, Nelson Algren - recipient of the first National Book Award for Man With a Golden Arm (1950), Simone de Beauvior’s “Chicago Bohemian” lover, a Beat writer before the Beats, and a forerunner of the Gonzo movement. Algren will focus on Nelson Algren’s tremendous but overlooked contribution to American culture, and the influence his work has always had on American literature, music, theatre, film, photography, painting and politics. The film will push Algren, champion of the marginalized, out from the margins.

Through interviews with internationally known artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers, the film will reestablish Algren’s place in America’s urban fiction, while also revealing his impact on today’s literary and creative artists. Among Algren champions interviewed to date are photographer Art Shay, legendary Chicago journalist Rick Kogan, film directors William Friedkin and Philip Kaufman, writer Barry Gifford, Algren expert Bill Savage, Chicago writer Joe Meno, the musician Wayne Kramer, the painter Robert Guinan, and personal friends Jan Herman and Bruce Jay Freidman. Future interviewees include: the writer Russell Banks and Stuart Dybek; filmmakers Andy Davis, John Sayles, and Michael Mann; musicians Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Henry Rollins.

The film is directed by independent film director and educator Michael Caplan, owner of Montrose Pictures, and produced by Gail H. Sonnenfeld and Nicole Bernardi-Reis. Caplan’s most recent film, A Magical Vision, is a documentary that spotlights Eugene Burger, a magician, philosopher, and guru of the magical arts. The film premiered at the Gene Siskel Theatre in Chicago in 2008 and was an award winning film at international film festivals. Caplan also directed Stones from the Soil, a personal documentary that showed on national PBS in 2005 through 2007.

As a producer, he has produced three critically acclaimed feature films, including The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, which was critically acclaimed by The New York Times as “praiseworthy, intense, frenetic, frank, and touching… preserving not just a performance but the spirit of a time.” He is an Associate Professor and an Associate Chair of the Film & Video Department at Columbia College Chicago.

“I grew up in working and middle class neighborhoods, first on the far Southeast Side of Chicago and later in West Rogers Park. When I read Man With The Golden Arm, I was eighteen years old and it was like I was seeing a different Chicago than I had ever known. It was vivid, it was dark, and it was fascinating. More importantly, it was compassionate,” says Caplan. “Nelson Algren brings you into these worlds of the dispossessed, the people who have nothing to lose. He doesn’t elevate them, or look at them with pity. Rather, we see their humanity, both good and bad. Algren reminds us that we need to pay attention to the world around us. If we don’t, we risk losing our humanity.”


For more information or to arrange for media interviews with director Michael Caplan, please contact Jennifer Lizak at jenniferlizak@gmail.com / 708-707-1503.