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Producer and entrepreneur Alex Lieberman has launched Bright West Entertainment, a new film finance and production company with a special focus on backing documentary content.
The company is making a big splash this month. Three of its next feature documentaries — “On the Line: The Richard Williams Story,” “Subject” and “Rudy! A Documusical” — are set to world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, which kicks off on Wednesday.
“I’m focused on financing interesting stories and trying to serve as a catalyst to help projects get made,” Lieberman tells Variety. “I don’t have a brand filter or a set type of story that I’m interested in making. It’s not original to say this, but I love human stories.”
Filmmakers who have worked with Lieberman say he’s committed to giving them the resources they need to get their projects finished and praise him for understanding the difficult road that non-fiction films often have to travel before they are completed.
“I call him the soccer mom of documentaries,” says Camilla Hall, one of the filmmakers behind “Subject.” “He’s the guy who packs the extra hand sanitizer in his bag. He’s there to help out if there’s a problem or a crisis.”
“Rudy! A Documusical” producer Ross Dinerstein adds: “Alex is such a smart guy, and he’s sympathetic to the needs of producers. Independent documentary filmmaking is a grind, and Alex completely understands the unpredictability that goes with the territory and rolls with the punches.”
All three of the Tribeca releases are hoping to score distribution deals out of the festival. There’s “On the Line,” which Bright West backed and which features a first-hand account from Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, as he retraces his family’s journey from the courts in Compton to the top of the tennis world. The film is directed by Stuart McClave and produced by Chavoita LeSane, who is Williams’ son.
Then there’s “Subject,” the new film from Lady & Bird, the same filmmaking and producing team behind Rita Baghdadi’s “Sirens,” which Lieberman also helped finance. It explores the transformative experience of sharing one’s life on screen by looking at the subjects of five previous documentaries.
And perhaps most form-busting is “Rudy! A Documusical.” That one is directed by Jed Rothstein (“WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn”) and produced by Dinerstein’s Campfire Studios and Forbes Entertainment. It focuses on the controversial life and career of American politician, lawyer and Donald Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, who has been a public figure for more than five decades. But interspersed with that rise and fall saga are staged musical performances from Broadway actors.
In addition to its Tribeca premieres, Bright West has upcoming projects with production companies such as Soledad O’Brien Productions, Film45 and multiple films with Campfire Studios, as well as feature documentaries from filmmakers including Christopher Charles Scott (“Class Action Park”), Patrick Conway (“Black and Missing”), Jessie Deeter (“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”) and Steven Robillard (“Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles”), among others.
“From an investment standpoint, I don’t have a set range,” says Lieberman. “It’s all about giving the filmmakers the support they need. Sometimes that’s finishing funds of $50,000 and sometimes it’s fully financing a film for well over $1 million. The goal is to help artists to stop worrying about cobbling together fundraising.”
Bright West Entertainment has also become the official partner and sponsor of Camden International Film Festival’s Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, an initiative launched by CIFF in 2020 to compensate the festival’s participating filmmakers of both features and shorts. In previous years, Camden has offered a percentage of the festival’s virtual box office, but Bright West’s partnership for the 2022 fund guarantees that all of this year’s filmmakers will be receiving payment upon invitation to the festival. The fund aims to make the festival process easier and less stressful for entrants by alleviating any financial burden that may otherwise prevent them from exhibiting their work.
Prior to launching Bright West, Lieberman oversaw west coast development for Optomen Productions. Before that, he worked in unscripted development at MGM and Stick Figure Productions.