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James Kicklighter Directs Documentary THE SOUND OF IDENTITY

In the spotlight of global media coverage, Lucia Lucas, the first ever transgender woman to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera, makes her historic debut.

James Kicklighter Directs Documentary THE SOUND OF IDENTITY

Director James Kicklighter spent the first 18 years of his life in Bellville, Georgia, population 123. Since then, he has gone on to become a multi-award winning Los Angeles-based film director and producer of narrative films, documentaries and advertising. His work has been featured by the world's press including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India and FilmInk Australia. Kicklighter has served as a panelist at the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and Director's Guild of America, taught filmmaking courses as an educator on, and his interview series with the popular YouTube channel Film Courage has over 250,000 views.

To kick off Pride Month, Shout! Studios is proud to present on digital and on demand platforms starting June 1st, Kicklighter's groundbreaking feature documentary "The Sound of Identity," winner of the 2020 OUTShine Film Festival's Programmers Award for Excellence. In the spotlight of global media coverage, Lucia Lucas, the first ever transgender woman to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera, makes her historic debut in an unexpected place...Tulsa, Oklahoma. The New York Times says " her booming, powerful baritone ricocheted off the walls, Ms. Lucas, 38, became the (Don Giovanni) character..." Kicklighter chooses to tell a personal story about identity, not transition, to push the boundaries of what audiences expect from this type of documentary. Working with his collaborator since freshman year in college, Director of Photography Jonathan Pope ("The Social Dilemma"), the two use interview techniques and carefully curated locations that visually connect audiences to each person on film, an artistic expression that fuses art with the progress of humanity. The film's cinematography deploys a narrative-esque approach that emulates the poetic world of opera, rather than utilizing a handheld, gritty style of filmmaking. The documentary is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick and Andy Kinslow ("Boomtown: An American Journey," "Unlikely Family") and executive produced by Golden Globe®-winner and Academy Award®-nominated Josh Bachove ("Minari," "The Little Hours").

"Our work as artists is both informed by our life experiences, and the times we live in," says Kicklighter. "In profiling the professional journey of Lucia Lucas, I believe I have also made the most personal film of my own career, a universal story of all the experiences that make up the people we choose to become. Through telling the story of Lucia today, in an era where trans visibility is unprecedented, we examine the strides that have been made, but also, the long road ahead for this marginalized community. Intertwined with the man who hired her, legendary opera composer Tobias Picker, 'The Sound of Identity' explores the creative process through identity in our personal and professional lives. I hope that you'll walk away asking yourself - who are you?"

Kicklighter is currently in post-production on his multi-year documentary, "The American Question" filmed from December 2016-February 2020. Following ordinary citizens in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, the film examines the root of American polarization. Guided by an all-star lineup of experts, including Amy Chua ("Day of Empire"), Colin Woodard ("American Nations"), Yuval Levin ("The Fractured Republic") and Yascha Mounk ("The People vs. Democracy"), the film examines the broader arc of history and discovers new revelations about the shared values system that binds society together. Kicklighter directs with a creative team that includes producer Guy Seemann, an international political consultant, and editors J.D. Sievertson ("The Story of God with Morgan Freeman") and Carlos Puga, the Emmy-award winning producer of MTV's "True Life," and recent SXSW Jury Award Winner and Sundance Jury Nominee.

Working back-to-back on both "The Sound of Identity" and "The American Question," though very different, had been an incredibly challenging, yet rewarding experience for Kicklighter who says: "In the midst of these unprecedented times, I have been very fortunate to work with an incredible team of collaborators, delivering years of our efforts to audiences. Working in film since I was 16, it is gratifying for me personally to find myself here today. As a director, all you can do is focus on the work and hope that audiences will be there to support it."

Kicklighter previously produced, edited and co-wrote the directorial debut of youth advocate and novelist Jim St. Germain ("A Stone of Hope"), "Every 9 Hours" (2019), a modern-day exploration of skin color and identity in society. Starring Philip Smithey ("Switched at Birth"), Elizabeth Ferrera ("Lethal Weapon"), Kahyun Kim ("American Gods") and Danny Trejo ("Predator," "Machete") the film debuted at numerous film festivals across the country before streaming on Amazon Prime Video. He also directed the short "Angel of Anywhere" (2018), the story of an empathetic stripper who plays therapist to his many damaged clientele and co-workers. It stars Briana Evigan ("Step Up Movie 2: The Streets"), Ser'Darius Blain ("Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle") and introduces Axel Roldos as Angel. Streaming on multiple platforms, the film screened at over a dozen global festivals, including the Oscar qualifying Hollyshorts and Sidewalk Film Festivals, winning Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Macon Film Festival. It was distributed domestically by Hewes Pictures on ShortsTV, and was picked up by Omeleto, where it has over 300K views.

His first feature film, "Desires of the Heart," was released theatrically across India in 2015. Kris Sharma (Val Lauren, "Sal") leaves a budding romance with an artist (Alicia Minshew, "All My Children") in Savannah for a marriage arranged by his parents in India. Shot in Savannah and Rajasthan, India, the film was an official selection of numerous festivals across the United States and around the world, including the Cannes Marché du Film and was the winner of Best Foreign Film at the Los Angeles Femme Film Festival. He was the filmmaker for Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential Campaign in Virginia, directing content featuring Sen. Tim Kaine, Sean Astin, Lena Dunham ("Girls"), Kate Walsh, ("Grey's Anatomy") Bellamy Young ("Scandal"), Constance Wu ("Crazy Rich Asians"), Miley Cyrus, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, among many others.

Kicklighter volunteers with AMBITION, a Los Angeles-based program that teaches entrepreneurial skills to low-income students. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, his alma mater. He was chosen out of over 30,000 living graduates to be listed on the inaugural "40 Under 40 Alumni," selected for "impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors."

Watch the trailer here:

Photo Credit: Casey Nelson Photography

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