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
  • 11 Flowers

    Directed by Xiaoshuai Wang • Drama • With Jingchun Wang, Wenqing Liu • 2011 • 115 minutes

    One of China's foremost directors, Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, Shanghai Dreams) has created a moving coming-of-age tale set in the final days of China's Cultural Revolution.

    11-year-old Wang lives w...

  • Deserted Station

    Directed by Alireza Raisian • Drama • With Leila Hatami • 2002 • 90 minutes

    In this lyrical and intimately nuanced story conceived by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Leila Hatami (from Dariush Mehrjui's Leila), a photographer and his young wife are stranded in a remote Iranian village after their ...

  • Leila

    Directed by Dariush Mehrjui • Drama • With Leila Hatami, Ali Mosaffa • 1999 • 125 minutes

    Reza and Leila, an attractive and affluent young couple deeply in love and recently married, discover that Leila is unable to conceive. Invoking tradition, Reza's mother convinces her daughter-in-law that R...

  • Aberdeen

    Directed by Hans Petter Moland • Drama • With Lena Headey, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard • 2000 • 103 minutes

    Kaisa (Lena Headey), a beautiful and feisty Scottish woman, finally has her life together...at least until her mother (Charlotte Rampling) asks an enormous favor: to bring back t...

  • Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island

    Directed by Heidi Hutner • Documentary • 2023 • 77 minutes

    In this thrilling feminist documentary, indomitable women fight back against the nuclear industry to expose one of the worst cover-ups in U.S. history.

    RADIOACTIVE: The Women of Three Mile Island is an award-winning film about the 1979 ...

  • Glow

    Directed by Gabriel Baur • Documentary • With Irene Staub, Ursula Rodel • 2017 • 100 minutes

    Meet Irene Staub, aka Lady Shiva, one of the greatest of all Swiss divas – a top model as well as a singer in a legendary underground band. This enchanting new documentary reveals her remarkable life in ...

  • The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg

    Directed by Jerry Aronson • Documentary • With Joan Baez, William F. Buckley, William S. Burroughs • 2005 • 84 minutes

    This documentary chronicles the life of American beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Born and raised in New Jersey, Ginsberg attends Columbia University alongside fellow beats Jack Keroua...

  • Scrap

    Directed by Stacey Tenenbaum • Documentary • 2022 • 78 minutes

    Discover the vast and strangely beautiful places where things go to die and meet the people who collect, restore, and recycle the world’s scrap. SCRAP is a love letter to the things we use in our daily lives. This cinematic documenta...

  • Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera

    Directed by Kristin Atwell Ford • Documentary • With Peter Coyote • 2020 • 82 minutes

    Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera follows a classically trained composer as he adapts a dime novel masterpiece into a grand opera. In 1912, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage flew off ...

  • A Life's Work

    Directed by David Licata • Documentary • With Jill Tarter, Paolo Soleri • 2021 • 90 minutes

    What’s it like to dedicate your life to work that won’t be completed in your lifetime? 15 years ago, filmmaker David Licata focused on four projects and the people behind them in an effort to answer this ...

  • Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan's War on History

    Directed by Miki Dezaki • Documentary • 2019 • 120 minutes

    One of the most heated issues in Japan and Asia today is over something that occurred 80 years ago: the Japanese Imperial Army's sexual enslavement of an estimated tens of thousands of Korean women and others in military brothels during ...

  • Unmarked

    Directed by Brad Bennett, Chris Haley • Documentary • 2021 • 40 minutes

    Throughout the South, vast numbers of African-American gravesites and burial grounds for enslaved persons have been lost or are disappearing through neglect and nature reclaiming the solemn tombstones and markers. Recently, ...

  • Concrete Love: The Bohm Family

    Directed by Maurizius Staerkle Drux • Documentary • With Gottfried Bohm, Elisabeth Bohm, Stephan Bohm, Peter Bohm, Paul Bohm • 2016 • 88 minutes

    Pritzker Prize laureate Gottfried Böhm is widely regarded as Germany’s preeminent architect. The son of a master builder of churches, he’s also the pat...

  • From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China

    Directed by Murray Lerner • Documentary • 1979 • 84 minutes

    This Oscar-winning film chronicles with affection and intelligence the great violinist’s 1979 visit to China. Stern was supposed to attend a rehearsal and give one recital but instead wound up playing a formal concert, touring two citie...

  • Venus Boyz

    Directed by Gabriel Baur • Documentary • With Mo B. Dick, Diane Torr, DRED, Bridge Markland • 2002 • 104 minutes

    Club Casanova, home of the legendary Drag King Night in New York City, is the point of departure for an iconic gender odyssey, where women become men – some for a night, others for a ...

  • Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy

    Directed by Rauzer Alexander • Documentary • With Oscar Isaac, Laura Linney, Michael Stuhlbarg • 2019 • 76 minutes

    What do Jessica Chastain, Kevin Kline, Viola Davis and Anthony Mackie all have in common? They are but a few of the extraordinary actors who have studied under the renowned acting t...

  • The Celluloid Bordello

    Directed by Juliana Piccillo • Documentary • With Annie Sprinkle, Carol Leigh, David Henry Sterry • 2021 • 86 minutes

    Since the dawn of cinema, sex workers have served as muses to movie-makers. From the early white slavery pictures like The Girl Who Went Astray from 1900 to countless dramas and ...

  • For the Bible Tells Me So

    Directed by Daniel Karslake • Documentary • With Eugene Robinson, Imogene Robinson, Brenda Poteat, Tonia Poteat, Randi Reitan, Jake Reitan, Richard Gephardt, Chrissy Gephardt, Mary Lou Wallner • 2007 • 96 minutes

    Does God really condemn loving homosexual relationships? Is the chasm separating Ch...

  • Carmo Hit the Road

    Directed by Murilo Pasta • Drama • With Seu Jorge • 2010 • 100 minutes

    Carmo would do anything to escape the hellhole of a Brazilian border town where she lives. So when a lonesome, wheelchair-bound low-life named Marco arrives on the scene, she jumps at the chance to help him transport a shipme...

  • My Fuhrer

    Directed by Dani Levy • Drama • With Ulrich Mühe, Sylvester Groth • 2009 • 92 minutes

    The bastard love child of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Mel Brooks’ The Producers, My Führer is a wildly provocative and laugh-out-loud satire about Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

    December 1944: ...

  • Dedalus

    Directed by Jonah Greenstein • Drama • With Alexander Horner, Thomas Jay Ryan, Ashley Robicheaux • 2020 • 92 minutes

    DEDALUS is a fiction triptych portraying community, love, and loss.

    In rural Iowa, a grocery cashier watches helplessly as classmates conceal their act of sexual violence against...

  • When Jews Were Funny

    Directed by Alan Zweig • Documentary • With Shecky Green, Howie Mandel, Shelley Berman, Gilbert Gottfried, David Steinberg, David Brenner, Marc Maron • 2013 • 89 minutes

    Insightful and often hilarious, When Jews Were Funny surveys the history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt ...

  • How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?

    Directed by Norberto López Amada & Carlos Carcas • Documentary • With Norman Foster, Buckminster Fuller, Cai Guo-Qiang, Anish Kapoor, Richard Rogers, Richard Serra • 2010 • 80 minutes

    Born in Manchester, England, on the wrong side of the tracks, Norman Foster rose from a humble working class bac...

  • Dark Circle

    Directed by Judy Irving, Christopher Beaver & Ruth Landy • Documentary • 1982 • 82 minutes

    It’s been 75 years since the start of the Atomic Age, with the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, but its trail of destruction has never ended.

    Dark...