Award-winning filmmakers, director Cheryl Furjanic (?Sync or Swim?) and producer Will Sweeney (?The Royal Tenenbaums?), announced today their feature-length documentary film ?Back on Board: Greg Louganis? will make its world premiere at the AFI DOCS Film Festival on Friday, June 20th at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
?Back on Board? is an intimate, present-day portrait of the private struggles and public triumphs of trailblazing openly gay Olympic champion, Greg Louganis. The filmmakers have been working closely with Louganis since 2011 on the production of the film. A refreshingly candid documentary, ?Back on Board? follows Louganis over the past three years as he struggles with financial security and reunites with the sport he once dominated but never felt entirely welcome in. The threat of losing his house forces Louganis to re-evaluate the choices, relationships, and missed opportunities of his career.
?What the public saw during the Olympics was pretty powerful. But, what was going on behind the scenes, I think was even more incredible,? said Greg Louganis. ?This documentary captures that. It also captures what life is life for elite athletes long after their last competitions.?
With unprecedented access ?Back on Board? reveals the complicated life of an athlete whose grace, beauty, and courage sparked a worldwide fascination with diving. It chronicles Louganis? rise from a difficult upbringing to nearly universal acclaim as the greatest diver ever, and from pioneering openly gay athlete with HIV to an overlooked sports icon. ?Back on Board? is the engrossing story of an American
legend as he re-emerges on the world stage to combat prejudice, promote tolerance, and return to the diving world after a long period of absence to act as a mentor to the next generation.
?Before Jason Collins, before Michael Sam, Greg Louganis was blazing trails. His story is touches on so many important moments in American history including the Olympics, the AIDS epidemic, the gay rights movement, and even the recent home foreclosure crisis ? said producer Will Sweeney. ?Greg?s return to diving gave us a natural way to tell his unique story and explore his enduring legacy.?
?As an openly gay filmmaker, I?ve always admired Greg and I saw this as an opportunity to reintroduce his story to the world; he has seen life?s highest highs and lowest lows and his incredible resilience has so much to teach us all,? said director Cheryl Furjanic.
All distribution rights are currently available for ?Back on Board?. Diana Holtzberg from East Village Entertainment is representing the film.
There will be two screenings of ?Back on Board? at the AFI DOCS Film Festival.
AFI DOCS Film Festival
Friday, June 20th ? 4:45pm
Smithsonian ? The National Portrait Gallery Theatre
The Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
Eighth and F Streets NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Saturday, June 21st ? 1:45pm
AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center
8633 Colesville Road?Silver Spring, MD 20910
?Back on Board? will also screen at FRAMELINE 38, San Francisco?s LGBT Film?Festival on Wednesday, June 25th at 4:00pm at the Castro Theater.
FRAMELINE Film Festival
Wednesday, June 25th ? 4:00 PM
429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
About Greg Louganis?
Four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis is widely considered the greatest diver in history. The only male to sweep both the 3m and 10m diving events in consecutive Olympic Games (?84 and ?88), Greg earned a total of 5 Olympic medals, 5 World Championship titles and 47 national titles (more than anyone in U.S. history).
A pioneer as one of the first openly gay athletes, Greg demonstrated incredible courage and strength by competing while HIV positive in the 1988 Olympics. Often remembered for the shocking moment when he struck his head on the springboard, Greg revealed his remarkable courage and tenacity when he returned to the board shortly after and performed the best dive of the competition. The next day, he won the gold and secured his legacy.
In 1984, Greg received the AAU?s James E. Sullivan Award for outstanding achievements. The following year, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1987, he won the Jesse Owens Award. In 1993, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. And in 1994, he was presented with the U.S. Olympic Committee?s Robert J. Kane Award. His 1995 autobiography, ?Breaking the Surface? spent five weeks as the New York Times #1 best seller.
Currently, Greg is a mentor for the US Olympic diving team, a judge for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Tour, a dog agility expert, and a motivational speaker.
After reading newspaper articles about Greg Louganis? return to diving, Producer Will Sweeney knew that Greg?s story would make a great film. He thought of Director Cheryl Furjanic immediately. Cheryl is no stranger to making films about decorated Olympians. ?Will and Cheryl reached out to Greg in the spring of 2011 and they began shooting with Greg in May 2011.
CHERYL FURJANIC (Director/Producer/Co-Writer)?is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have screened at 100+ festivals worldwide and on television. Her first feature documentary,??Sync or Swim??(2008), received numerous awards including a Billie Award for Journalism from the Women?s Sports Foundation. Cheryl holds a BFA in Film & Television production from NYU?s Tisch School of the Arts and a Masters from NYU/Tisch?s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). She has been teaching documentary production at New York University for over a decade. She has yet to attempt diving or synchronized swimming.
WILL SWEENEY (Producer/Co-Writer)?is a writer, producer and director based in New York City.? Will was a producer on the award-winning?The Royal Tenenbaums??and has worked in production and development at Miramax Films and Walt Disney Pictures. With an emphasis on story and character development, Sweeney has worked on dozens of major motion pictures including ?Rounders?, ?Cider House Rules?, and ?The Squid and the Whale?.? Will also is active as a strategist in several progressive and grassroots political campaigns in New York City including marriage equality, expanding open space, and reforming immigration. Will graduated from the New York University-Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Film & Television production.
KAREN K. H. SIM (Editor/Co-Writer/Co-Producer)?won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Editing Award for??Watchers of the Sky?. She began her documentary filmmaking career as an editor on Maro Chermayeff?s Juilliard, a 2-hour special for the PBS series American Masters. She then further honed her skills in storytelling by working with Frontline producer/director Ofra Bikel, editing a number of her films, including the Emmy award winning ?An Ordinary Crime? and ?The Burden of Innocence?. Since then, she?s edited ?Saint Misbehavin?: The Wavy Gravy Movie? and has worked with Liz Garbus as her producer and editor on a number of projects, including ?Shouting Fire: From the Edge of Free Speech? which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and most recently, a Focus Forward Films short documentary, ?Robot? which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
DIANA HOLTZBERG (Executive Producer)?has been with Films Transit International, one of the longest running (since 1982) renowned and respected agencies specializing in the worldwide release and marketing of high profile, unique theatrical and TV documentaries and miniseries, since 2001. In addition to her acquisition, festival strategy and sales work, Diana acts as executive producer / creative producer on a select number of film projects each year. Some examples: Bert Stern: Original Madman; Genius Within: The Inner Life Of Glenn Gould; The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale ? for which she won an Emmy Award in 2009 in the Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming category; End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones; Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust; Open Secret; Loving & Cheating; and Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives Of Women Over 65. Based in New York, Diana has her own company, East Village Entertainment for independent projects, including Design Is One: Lella and Massimo Vignelli ? currently in theatrical release; Money For Nothing: Inside The Federal Reserve ? successful theatrical release in the US and upcoming in Canada, broadcast on Al Jazeera America; Broken Heart Land, funded by ITVS, will premiere on America Reframed June 2014; and currently in production Mr Gaga; Growing Up Coy, and Back on Board: Greg Louganis.
Greg Louganis waits for the competition to begin at London 2012. Photo by: Cheryl Furjanic.
Greg Louganis waits for the divingcompetition to begin at London 2012.Photo by: Meghan Thompson.
Greg Louganis watches the divingcompetition at London 2012. Photo by: Meghan Thompson
Greg Louganis at USA Diving?s Olympic Performance Squad camp – May 2012. Photo by: Gabriel Miller.
Back on Board Director of Photography Nicolas de Miranda (L) shoots with Greg Louganis on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Photo by: Cheryl Furjanic.
Back on Board Director of Photography Nicolas de Miranda (L) shoots with Greg Louganis in Times Square. Photo by: Cheryl Furjanic.
Greg Louganis points to Olympic coach Ron O?Brien?s display at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Photo by: Cheryl Furjanic.
Greg Louganis shows his 1988 Gold Medals to Back on Board?s Kira Kelly. Photo by: Cheryl Furjanic
Photo by: Nancy Hines
Photo by: Nancy Hines
Photo by: Nancy Hines