Directors statement

I grew up in New York City, which at the time felt like a city filled with artists and colorful, intellectual, people. My father was an artist and a filmmaker, my mother, a Broadway costume designer. When I met the Laemmle family, they felt very familiar to me—their caring for one another, their openness and curiosity, their shared passion for art, music and culture, and their recognition that those things make life richer.

It was always the Laemmle family that drew me to this story.

Raphael Sbarge


Our plan was to highlight the Laemmle family’s unbelievable legacy and impact on the motion picture industry and set it against the slowly changing landscape. What we didn’t realize was the extent to which we were poised to witness history unfold. Not long after we started, we realized the story was much bigger than we had imagined.

We ended up following the family for over two-and-a-half years, during which the Laemmle story became a microcosm of the macrocosm. The question was, where was it all headed?

Multiple generations of a family had built a business on the core principle of celebrating artists. There was something so innate, so essential about the Laemmle family mission, which was ever more remarkable in a world that often undervalues artists, even though artists help us see the world, interpret it, and give it meaning. 

“In a world fraught with corporate values and shareholders, this was a family business that wasn’t driven only by money, but by people who understood the importance of planting a tree for the next generation

We feel quite privileged to have been there, during what was the most tumultuous 24-month period in the theater’s history. We found ourselves quite suddenly in the “hot part of the flame,” witnessing the Laemmle’s’ challenges, which were echoed over and over by theaters around the country and around the world 

Raphael Sbarge