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Original "A Mystery to Me" Documentary Series From Sarofsky Pictures and Director Ben Strang Set For World Premiere at 2020 Chicago International Film Festival
- Thursday, Sep. 24, 2020
"A Mystery to Me," a new documentary series that aims to raise awareness of the rare neuromuscular disease Myasthenia Gravis (MG), will premiere its first episode at the 2020 Chicago International Film Festival.
Produced by Chicago's Sarofsky Pictures and Director Ben Strang ("BEAST"), in association with Kartemquin Films ("Minding the Gap") and Museum + Crane ("Feels Good Man"), the series features three stories of individuals with a rare, chronic autoimmune disease that causes debilitating and potentially life-threatening muscle weakness in individuals of all ages, many of whom are unaware of the disease and unable to be accurately diagnosed or get help. "A Mystery to Me" is intended to both reflect the lives of those who suffer from MG (and their loved ones) and speak to anyone struggling with an unchosen, life altering circumstance.
While Sarofsky is well known in the commercial and entertainment fields for its colorful contributions to high-profile ad campaigns and title sequences for TV series and numerous Marvel Studios blockbusters, this new initiative is the company's first documentary project produced entirely in-house. In the hands of SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning filmmaker Ben Strang, the incredibly moving stories of three brave individuals diagnosed with MG are rendered powerfully and thoughtfully, often using their own words to help viewers understand the challenges they face, and ultimately, embrace hope.
At the upcoming 56th Chicago International Film Festival, running Oct. 14-25, the series' first installment (focusing on Vanetta Drummer-Fenton, a vibrant woman who is a personal trainer) will screen in the Documentary Short Film Competition. For "A Mystery to Me" showtimes and tickets, please visit https://www.chicagofilmfestival.com.
"I'm thrilled that the Chicago International Film Festival has recognized our work by accepting it into the 2020 Short Documentary FIlm Competition, and I am honored to be having our world premiere there," said Sarofsky's Principal and Executive Creative Director, Erin Sarofsky. "Over the past 11 years, we have built a legacy in Chicago by running a business here, and being a fierce advocate for local production. This acknowledgement is a prized career moment for me and everyone at Sarofsky. Not only is it an acknowledgement of the fine work we have created, it feels like a warm hug from the city we love."
Production-wise, Strang and the Sarofsky team were thrown a curve-ball by COVID-19. National travel and filming restrictions were issued on the eve of production, jeopardizing the entire project. Through ingenuity, the filmmakers hit on the idea of providing their subjects with cameras and sound recorders they could use themselves.
Right away, each subject was sent a Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Digital Camera as part of their kit. Strang then spoke with the series' subjects regularly, discussing what was happening in their lives and conceptualizing shots. With Strang's direction and each subject's hands-on assistance, Director of Photography David Bolen was able to operate the cameras remotely.
"What surprised us the most is how excited our incredible subjects were to participate in the production in such a tactile way," Strang explained. "No documentary is possible without great subjects, and this production is a testament to the immense enthusiasm and persistence of Vanetta Drummer-Fenton, Teresa Hill Putnam and Glenn Phillips. They were as much a part of the film crew as they were subjects, and we're so proud of the subtle moments we all collectively captured together."
The entire "A Mystery to Me" series is slated for its virtual premiere on Nov. 17, 2020, at MG-United.com, a digital lifestyle resource for people with MG.
Complete project credits are available upon request. To learn more and access media materials, photos and more, please visit https://sarofsky.com/amysterytome.
Director, creative director and designer Erin Sarofsky kick-started Sarofsky in 2009 with a small group of extraordinarily talented makers who provide their services to leaders in the advertising and entertainment industries worldwide. Today, Sarofsky's makers use animation, visual effects, motion design and live-action to collaborate with customers from concept to delivery, producing work that is visceral, innovative and diverse. With artistry that encapsulates in-house long format, sublime commercials, brand films, title sequences and much more, Sarofsky's reputation for breakthrough design, its proven multi-media production expertise, and its fabulous Olson Kundig-designed studio in Chicago's West Loop all constitute key components of the attraction. Learn more at https://www.sarofsky.com.
Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Kartemquin's films have received four Academy Award® nominations, and won six Emmys® and three Peabody Awards, among several more major prizes. In 2019, Kartemquin was honored with an Institutional Peabody Award for "its commitment to unflinching documentary filmmaking and telling an American history rooted in social justice and the stories of the marginalized." Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary. Learn more at https://kartemquin.com.
About Museum + Crane
Museum + Crane is a documentary production company based in Los Angeles that was founded by Caryn Capotosto, an award-winning documentary producer known for "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" (2018), "Ugly Delicious" (2020), and "Feels Good Man" (2020). Museum + Crane focuses on the development and production of non-fiction features, shorts and series inspired by art, culture and the pressing social issues of our time. Learn more at https://www.museumandcrane.com.
Sarofsky Pictures presents "A Mystery to Me," in association with Kartemquin Films and Museum + Crane.
Directed by Ben Strang. Cinematography is by David Bolen. Original music by Casey Trela and Bobak Lotfipour. Editor is Manuel Crosby. Consulting Producers are Gordon Quinn and Tim Horsburgh. Producers are Erin Sarofsky, Caryn Capotosto and Karen Carter. Executive produced by Steven Anderson.