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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
  • Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune

    Directed by Kenneth Bowser • Documentary • With Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Tom Hayden, Christopher Hitchens, Sean Penn, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow • 2010 • 97 minutes

    As our country continues to embroil itself in foreign wars, PHIL OCHS: THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE is a timely and relevant tribute to an u...

  • Algren

    Directed by Michael Caplan • Documentary • 2021 • 85 minutes

    The new feature documentary ALGREN is a journey through the gritty world, brilliant mind, and noble heart of Nelson Algren. Exploding onto the national scene in 1950 after winning the first-ever National Book Award for The Man with the...

  • Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams

    Directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki • Documentary • 2019 • 94 minutes

    Baseball is life for the die-hard competitors in the 100th annual Koshien, Japan's wildly popular national high school baseball championship, whose alumni include U.S. baseball star Shohei Ohtani and former Yankee Hideki Matsui. But...

  • Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman

    Directed by Herb Stratford • Documentary • 2021 • 68 minutes

    Gustav Stickley is one of the most recognizable names in American furniture. A visionary designer, he was the key driving force in bringing the Arts and Crafts movement to America in the early 1900s. His furniture work included what ha...

  • Eat This New York

    Directed by Andrew Rossi • Documentary • With Daniel Boulud, Sirio Maccioni, Keith McNally, Danny Meyer, Drew Nieporent, Ruth Reichl, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tim Zagat • 2004 • 85 minutes

    Featuring culinary luminaries Daniel Boulud, Sirio Maccioni, Keith McNally, Drew Nieporent, Jean-Georges ...

  • The Last Season

    Directed by Sara Dosa • Documentary • 2014 • 78 minutes

    Amid the bustling world of Central Oregon's wild mushroom hunting camps, the lives of two former soldiers intersect. Roger, a 75 year-old sniper with the US Special Forces in Vietnam, and Kouy, a 46 year-old platoon leader of Cambodia's Khm...

  • A Chef's Voyage

    Directed by Remi Anfosso • Documentary • With David Kinch, Christine Muhlke, Jenny Yun, Kristofer Lord, Mitch Leinhard • 2020 • 90 minutes

    A Chef's Voyage follows the celebrated American Chef David Kinch and his team from Manresa, their 3 Star Michelin restaurant in California, for a one-of-a-ki...

  • Seadrift

    Directed by Tim Tsai • Documentary • With The Nguyen, Bang "Cherry" Nguyen, Steve Pham, Ron Galloway, Diane Wilson, Beth Aplin-Martin • 2019 • 69 minutes

    In 1979, a Vietnamese refugee shoots and kills a white crab fisherman at the public town docks in Seadrift, TX. What began as a dispute over f...

  • Fidelio

    Directed by Lucie Borleteau • Drama • With Ariane Labed, Melvil Poupaud, Anders Danielsen Lie, Pascal Tagnati, Jean-Lous Coulloc'h • 2014 • 97 minutes

    Thirty-year-old Alice is a sailor about to embark on a journey she will not soon forget. Leaving her fiancé Félix ashore, she joins the crew of a...

  • The Trials of Henry Kissinger

    Directed by Eugene Jarecki • Documentary • With Henry Kissinger, Brian Cox, Amy Goodman, Alexander Haig, William Safire, Seymour Hersh • 2002 • 80 minutes

    Featuring previously unseen footage, de-classified documents, and revealing interviews with Kissinger supporters (Alexander Haig, Brent Scowc...

  • Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America

    Directed by Rodrigo H. Vila • Documentary • With Mercedes Sosa, Pablo Milanes, Leon Gieco, Chichi Sosa, Chico Buarque, Elba Bustelo, David Byrne • 2013 • 93 minutes

    Journey into the world of Argentina's most famous musical artist in Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America. Over a career that ...

  • Street Fighting Men

    Directed by Andrew James • Documentary • With James "Jack Rabbit" Jackson, Deris Solomon, Minister Malik Shabazz, Derionna Watkins, Lorraine Ray • 2020 • 101 minutes

    In a rapidly changing America where mass inequality and dwindling opportunity have devastated the black working class, three men f...

  • 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 Borden • Drama • 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 America t...

  • 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 ...