Upcoming Doc On International FringeNYC Festival Asks The Question: What Does It Mean To Be Fringe?
Makers of "The Fringe", an upcoming feature-length documentary centered around FringeNYC, the infamous downtown NYC theatre festival and an exploration of what it means to be "fringe" in society both past and present, have launched a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign to complete post-production.
Founded in 1997, FringeNYC has gone from being a group of "crazy kids downtown presenting avant-garde theatre" to an institution of New York City's cultural scene, yet it continually faces obstacles to its very existence.
Directed and produced by Francis Kuzler for his own Brooklyn NY-based Dedalus VII "The Fringe" is a feature-length documentary that moves beyond simply chronicling the life of a cultural event but asks the questions: what does it mean to be on the fringe, an outlier in society looking in? How has what it means to be "fringe" changed over the past 20 years, and how has it influenced the mainstream?
The film heads into post-production with the help of the Kickstarter with a fundraising goal of $25,000 and target release date in early 2019. "The Fringe" addresses these questions through the lens of a downtown indie theatre festival that struggles to find its voice in the world, and through that journey has given voice to thousands of artists worldwide.
"The Fringe" examines the cultural space occupied by the festival, by those considered fringe (by choice or not), and by the ever-evolving nature of who is considered "fringe" in the world. The core of the film are the artists and volunteers, those who longed to share their unique voices and those dedicated to creating a platform for them. The festival has helped shine a light on the stories of its many participants, some now famous, and emboldened them to fulfill personal dreams or fight for greater social change.
According to Kuzler, the film aims to be more than just an historical documentary or chronicle of a 20-year old festival. "When we began this documentary in 2006, the intention was to tell a simple story of a NYC theatre festival celebrating what was then its 10-year anniversary, but the story that emerged was so complex that we had to keep shooting," he said. "We rolled year after year as artists and volunteers returned to face new obstacles and overcome them to get to the objective. We learned that fringe is about more than just artistic expression, it's a social and spiritual cause."
Kuzler, his team, and a host of disparate crew members have followed and filmed FringeNYC for 12 years, over half its lifetime. As the exclusive documentarian, Dedalus VII has access to all elements of the festival including shows, behind the scenes action, interviews with participants, volunteers, audience, archival footage, photos and more.
With over 1000 hours of footage and 15,000 archive photos, the story expands beyond a simple portrait of FringeNYC to become a complex film rich in the history of New York City, national culture and social identity. From Super-8 video, 16mm film to 4K, the tone and look of the film tells a story of history and change, drawing on a mixture of the raw and the polished; the eclectic and fast-moving.
Springing from the roots of NYC's independent theatre scene, the festival has grown to influence the foundations of the greater national theatre scene with hit Broadway shows like "Urinetown" (1999) having had their premiere there. The film shines a light on a festival that views the performing arts as a commentary on the changing world and has evolved each year as the world around it changes, itself becoming a commentary on social change.
FringeNYC has seen the world through 20 years of political upheavals, natural disasters, gentrification and changing social values. Some would argue that as New York has gentrified, the festival has grown in cultural prominence and to some degree followed the same path as the city it calls home. But the core of the festival remains those independent theatre artists who continue to fight hard to remain true to its original spirit based on the tenets of innovation, vibrancy and diversity.
More information is available on the Kickstarter page.
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