Doug Pray's LEVITATED MASS Premieres at Landmark's Nuart Theater Tonight
First Run Features announces the worldwide theatrical premiere of Doug Pray's latest documentary, Levitated Mass, at Landmark's Nuart Theater in Los Angeles, tonight, September 5, 2014. Produced by Jamie Patricof and Electric City Entertainment (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines), Levitated Mass will follow its Los Angeles opening with runs in New York and other cities.
Levitated Mass is the story behind the monumental artwork of the same name by Michael Heizer, which is now installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. First conceived in 1968 but not technologically possible until 2012, this two-story tall, 340-ton granite boulder was moved from its desert quarry over 105 miles on a custom-built, 206-wheeled tractor trailer to its permanent home at the world-renowned art museum.
Pray's documentary follows the boulder's historic journey, which caused an international media sensation as it challenged the imagination of hundreds of thousands of spectators over the ten nights it crawled through the streets of Los Angeles, defiantly provoking the question, 'is that a multi-million dollar work of art or just a big rock'? Pray captures the spectacle of it all, as well as the reactions-ranging from awe to outrage-from the crowds of people who watched it journey through LA's depressed inner city as well as through neighborhoods filled with million dollar homes.
Pray interviews construction workers, people in the street, art curators, and the reclusive and intense Heizer himself, weaving together the dramatic story of an iconic artist whose oeuvre includes the well-known desert sculpture Double Negative (1969). Pray also speaks to MoMa Director Glenn Lowry, who says, "There were a number of artists in the sixties and early seventies who really felt that they had to move away from the commercial gallery, from urban environments, and make art that had a different kind of connection to the landscape, and actually to the world. Michael Heizer was definitely one of the most important of those. He was maybe even the progenitor of what has come to be called land art today."
Levitated Mass is an important artwork for LACMA's Director Michael Govan: "We live in the most creative city on the planet, with more artists living here now than any city in human history. California-born artist Michael Heizer created a landmark for our own time and place-made from a California rock, and with the collaboration of contemporary skilled engineers and builders."
Doug Pray's exuberant portraits of subcultures and maverick individuals include the Emmy Award-winning Art & Copy, a film about creativity and advertising; Surfwise, the amazing odyssey of the Paskowitz surfing family; Big Rig, a 40,000 mile road film about independent, long-haul truck drivers; Infamy, an intense journey into the lives and art of six notorious graffiti writers; Scratch, a celebration of hip-hop DJs and turn-tablism; and his first film, Hype!, which told the story of the emergence and explosion of the early '90s Seattle grunge music scene, and remains on Rolling Stone's Top 10 list of Best Rock DVD's of All Time. Doug has directed dozens of commissioned short films and documentary-style commercials for a wide range of major clients, including an AIDS awareness campaign, which also won him his first Emmy. He lives in Los Angeles where he is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Directors Guild of America.
Pray writes: "At first, it was all about the rock. My father is a geologist, so I grew up running around in quarries, and I'm a big fan of boulders and natural structures of the Southwest. The mere idea of being able to film a two-story tall rock rolling by a Southern California drive-thru was enough. But as I learned about Michael Heizer's artwork, his intentions for Levitated Mass, and a bit about his "western maverick" character, the film gained momentum. As a filmmaker, I've always been drawn to people and subcultures that seem misunderstood by mainstream society, and Heizer fit that interest. Plus, the basic, "can they do it?" story about the physical challenges of the sculpture's construction and the inordinate bureaucratic and logistical hurdles that LACMA-along with the construction, engineering, and transport companies-had to overcome to make it happen. The whole enterprise, on some level, seemed so absurd to so many people, and it seemed the movie might be able to ask again the eternal question of "What is art?" in a large-scale, very public arena. Heizer doesn't happen to be the kind of artist who likes to talk about his art or his past. More than anyone I've ever met, he lets his artwork speak for itself. In an age of Non-Stop media noise, I respect and admire this trait. Heizer did, however, give us rare access to his process and thoughts during the making of his Levitated Mass, and that forms an essential part of the film."
Levitated Mass is produced by Jamie Patricof, a co-founder of Electric City Entertainment. Patricof has made a series of films with actor Ryan Gosling including his first feature Half Nelson, which won the Spirit and Gotham Awards, as well as an Oscar nomination for Gosling; Blue Valentine, also starring Michelle Williams; and The Place Beyond the Pines. His latest feature project, Mississippi Grind, stars Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn and Sienna Miller.
Patricof's documentary projects include Confessions of a Superhero and ESPN 30 for 30's Straight Outta L.A., directed by Ice Cube. He has also executive produced VH1 specials on rap star Ludacris and a tribute to the seminal hip-hop group Run DMC and Jam Master Jay. Prior to that, he produced the Emmy-Nominated The Life, a 32-episode ESPN behind-the-scenes series documenting athletes' lives off the field. Patricof was also an executive producer for the The Rachel Zoe Project on Bravo.