First Run Features

First Run Features

First Run Features was founded in 1979 by a group of filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film. Under the leadership of the late film pioneer, Fran Spielman, First Run Features quickly gained a reputation for its controversial catalog of daring documentaries and fiction films. Today First Run remains one of the largest independent distributors in North America, releasing between 15-20 films a year in theaters nationwide and an additional 30-40 films annually to schools, libraries and other educational institutions; on home video on DVD and Blu-Ray; to television broadcasters; and online through a diverse group of innovative digital partners.

Over the years, First Run Features has survived everything from FBI surveillance to the demise of so many of its competitors. First Run proudly celebrated its 30th Anniversary in August 2009 with a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2001 we were honored with a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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First Run Features
  • 56 UP

    Directed by Michael Apted • Documentary • With Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Basset, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Suzanne Dewey, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Susan Sullivan, Tony Walker, Charles Furneaux • 2012 • 138 minutes

    ”Give me the child ...

  • After Stonewall

    Directed by John Scagliotti • Documentary • With Melissa Etheridge, Mike Carney, Barney Frank, Dorothy Allison, Peter Tatchell, Barbara Gittings, Karla Jay • 1999 • 88 minutes

    In 1969 the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of ...

  • American Socialist: Eugene Debs

    Directed by Yale Strom • Documentary • With Eugene Victor Debs, Amy Madigan, Richard Wolff, Dr. Frances Fox Piven, Dr. Nick Salvatore • 2018 • 97 minutes

    Bernie Sanders inspired a generation – but who inspired him? Yale Strom's new documentary traces the history of American populism by exploring...

  • Antarctic Edge: 70° South

    Directed by Dena Seidel • Documentary • 2015 • 72 minutes

    A thrilling journey to one of the world's most perilous environments, Antarctic Edge: 70° South follows a team of scientists as they explore the West Antarctic Peninsula.

    In the wake of devastating climate events like Superstorm Sandy an...

  • Backyard

    Directed by Ross McElwee • Documentary • 1984 • 40 minutes

    The result of McElwee turning his camera on his family and their neighbors, the film is a humorous and poignant look at odd moments in a genteel Southern town.

    "Backyard is equal parts Samuel Beckett, Jean-Luc Godard and Werner Herzog."...

  • Ballerina

    Directed by Bertrand Norman • Documentary • With Diana Vishneva, Svetlana Zakharova, Ulyana Lopatkina, Alina Somova and Evgenia Obraztsova. • 2006 • 77 minutes

    In the grand tradition of the Ballets Russes comes a portrait of five Russian ballerinas from the Mariinsky Theatre (also known as the K...

  • Ballet Boys

    Directed by Kenneth Elvebakk • Documentary • With Lukas Bjorneboe, Syvert Lorenz Garcia, Torgeir Lund • 2014 • 72 minutes

    Billy Elliot meets First Position in Ballet Boys, a documentary that follows, over four years, the struggles, set-backs and accomplishments of three friends and hopeful futu...

  • Before Stonewall: Restored Edition

    Directed by Directed by Greta Schiller; Co-Directed by Robert Rosenberg • Documentary • With Rita Mae Brown, Ann Bannon, Martin Duberman, Allen Ginsberg, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Audre Lorde, Harry Hay • 1984 • 87 minutes

    In 1969 the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenw...

  • Bidder 70

    Directed by Beth Gage and George Gage • Documentary • 2012 • 73 minutes

    In 2008, as George W. Bush tried to gift the energy and mining industries thousands of acres of pristine Utah wilderness via a widely disputed federal auction, college student Tim DeChristopher monkey-wrenched the process. B...

  • Born in Flames

    Directed by Lizzie Bordon • Documentary • With Honey, Adele Bertaei, Jeanne Satterfield, Flo Kennedy, Ron Vawter, Eric Bogosian • 1983 • 80 minutes

    The movie that rocked the foundations of the early indie film world, this provocative, thrilling classic is a fantasy of female rebellion set in Ame...

  • Bright Leaves

    Directed by Ross McElwee • Documentary • With Ross McElwee, Allan Gurganus, Paula Larke, Marilyn Levine, Emily Madison, Charlleen Swansea, Adrian McElwee, Tom McElwee • 2005 • 105 minutes

    McElwee family legend has it that the Hollywood melodrama Bright Leaf starring Gary Cooper as a 19th century...

  • Carmen and Geoffrey

    Directed by Linda Atkinson & Nick Doob • Documentary • With Carmen de Lavallade, Geoffrey Holder, Ailvin Ailey, Lester Horton, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker • 2006 • 80 minutes

    Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder, two living legends in the world of American dance, are the subjects of this ...

  • Chasing Portraits

    Directed by Elizabeth Rynecki • Documentary • With Eilzabeth Rynecki, Alex Rynecki, Shula Eliaz, Volettoa Bachur, Moshe Wertheim • 2018 • 78 minutes

    Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943) was a prolific Warsaw-based artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered at Majdanek co...

  • Come Undone

    Directed by Sebastien Lifshitz • Drama • With Jeremie Elklaim, Stephane Rideau, Marie Matheron, Dominique Reymond • 2000 • 97 minutes

    The sensual gay classic Come Undone explores a young man's homosexual awakening and the turbulence of first love in a small French seaside town.

    Mathieu, a quiet...

  • Cuban Food Stories

    Directed by Asori Soto • Documentary • With Ernesto Perez Medina, Migdalia Armas Rieche, Gilberto De Armas Rieche, Lazaro Yohan Machin, Felix "Felito" Manuel Berenger • 2018 • 82 minutes

    From director Asori Soto and the executive producers of Jiro Dreams of Sushi comes a unique film about food, ...

  • Dancing Dreams

    Directed by Anne Linsel & Rainer Hoffman • Documentary • With Pina Bausch, Jo-Ann Endicott, Bénédicte Billiet • 2010 • 89 minutes

    Two years ago, world-famous dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch selected 40 teenagers who had never heard her name to be part of her dance piece Contact Zone. For 1...

  • Dark Diamond

    Directed by Arthur Harari • Drama • With Niels Schneider, August Diehl, Hafed Benotman • 2016 • 115 minutes

    Dark Diamond is a thriller about a man who, out of retribution, tries to destroy his family's diamond business. 

    Pier blames his extended diamond-dealer family for his father's tragic lif...

  • Early Works of Cheryl Dunye

    Directed by Cheryl Dunye • Documentary • With Cheryl Dunye, Zoie Strauss, Paula Cronan, Wanda Freeman, Shu Leah Cheang, • 1994 • 80 minutes

    Vilified by conservatives in Congress, defended by major newspapers, and celebrated by audiences and festivals around the world as one of the most provocati...

  • Eastern Boys

    Directed by Robin Campillo • Drama • With Olivier Rabourdin, Kirill Emelyanov, Daniil Vorobyov, Edea Darque, Bislan Yakhiaev • 2013 • 128 minutes

    Arriving from all over Eastern Europe, the men who loiter around the Gare du Nord train station in Paris are scraping by however they can, forming gan...

  • Every Three Seconds

    Directed by Dan Karslake • Documentary • 2014 • 100 minutes

    In a society where materialism reigns, what is the real secret to happiness? Award-winning filmmaker Daniel Karslake (For the Bible Tells Me So) tells the unforgettable stories of five regular folks—a boy, a college student, a thirty-so...

  • Forgiving Dr. Mengele

    Directed by Bob Hercules & Cheri Pugh • Documentary • With Eva Mozes Kor, Sami Adwan, Dan Bar-On, Michael Berenbaum, Albert H. Friedlander • 2007 • 82 minutes

    Eva Kor and her twin sister were victims of the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who conducted sadistic experiments on human beings at...

  • Girl Model

    Directed by David Redmon & Ashley Sabin • Documentary • With Ashley Arbaugh, Olivia Arben, Rachel Blais, Tigran Khachatrain, Nadya Vall • 2012 • 77 minutes

    Girl Model explores how young girls are discovered in obscure corners of the globe and initiated into the high stakes modeling industry. Thi...

  • Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here

    Directed by Amei Wallach • Documentary • With Ilya Kabakov, Emilia Kabakov, Igoris Markovas, Andrei Monastrysky, Oleg Vassiliev • 2013 • 103 minutes

    Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here portrays two of Russia’s most celebrated international artists, now American citizens, as they come to terms wi...

  • Last Cab to Darwin

    Directed by Jeremy Sims • Drama • With Michael Caton, Jacki Weaver, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Emma Hamilton, Mark Coles Smith • 2014 • 123 minutes

    Rex is a cab driver who has never left the mining town of Broken Hill in his life. When he discovers he doesn’t have long to live, he decides to drive t...