“The Art of Dissent,” a feature documentary film produced by University of Nebraska–Lincoln historian James Le Sueur, will debut Oct. 5 on major cable television and internet video on-demand platforms, including iTunes and Amazon.
The film is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios Company, as a result of a licensing agreement with NUtech Ventures, the university’s technology commercialization affiliate. It is now available for pre-order purchase on iTunes, ahead of its Oct. 5 launch.
Huskers can purchase the film at a discount from Sept. 16-19 here.
“I’m thrilled that Gravitas Ventures, the largest distributor in the United States, has taken our film,” said Le Sueur, Samuel Clark Waugh Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of History. “This is a very difficult achievement, because very few finished feature films go to market, and I’m grateful for NUtech Ventures’ hard work on this distribution agreement.”
NUtech owns the rights to the film’s intellectual property, serves as an executive producer — in addition to FRMOL Production in Prague — and has helped navigate legal agreements related to archival footage and music from foreign countries.
“This is an incredible milestone for an independent university filmmaker,” said Arpi Siyahian, senior technology manager at NUtech Ventures, who led the film’s licensing process. “By partnering with Gravitas Ventures, we’re looking forward to bringing this film to audiences across the United States. That’s our goal — bringing campus innovation to market, where it is accessible to more people.”
“The Art of Dissent” explores the role of artistic activism during Czechoslovakia’s communist takeover and nonviolent transition from communist power. It includes rare archival footage, interviews with prominent dissidents and music that was written, directed and produced by faculty and undergraduate musicians at Nebraska.
“Our film uses art and archives to communicate the urgency and beauty of the dissident movement,” Le Sueur said. “Ultimately, it celebrates the courage of dissent, which created a tolerant civil society.”
Le Sueur received NUtech Ventures’ 2020 Creative Work of the Year, an award that recognizes an individual who has developed a creative innovation, such as a film, that is typically protected under copyright.
The film has been shown at a dozen international film festivals worldwide and received multiple awards, including the Social Spotlight Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Best Documentary Feature Film at New York’s Blackbird Film Festival. For more information on the film, click here.
The Blackbird Film Festival’s 10-star review called it an “archival masterpiece,” with “momentous skill and attention to detail” from director Le Sueur.
“The festival circuit was surreal,” Le Sueur said. “We had a good showing for any year, but given the pandemic, it was extraordinary.”
Le Sueur is now working on a second feature documentary film, “Four Seasons of COVID,” which he started filming in March 2020. It chronicles how the pandemic has unfolded in Nebraska and includes interviews with doctors at Nebraska Medicine.