IFC Films is acquiring the North American rights to the documentary “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time” with plans for a release in the summer of 2021.
The deal was announced Wednesday to coincide with Vonnegut’s 98th birthday. IFC also released a teaser video for “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time,” containing a voicemail left by Vonnegut himself to the co-director of the film, Robert B. Weide.
“When I first approached Vonnegut to authorize this film in 1982, I envisioned a fairly conventional author documentary,” Weide said. “As the decades rolled by, fate stepped in, and what I wound up with was far from conventional. As my friendship with my literary idol grew, full disclosure was called for, and Don Argott came on to document the meta element of this story, as I continued to focus on Vonnegut’s biography. What we wound up with was a hybrid that combined our respective strengths as filmmakers and will hopefully be seen as a worthy tribute by Vonnegut’s fans and a compelling introduction for the uninitiated. I’m grateful to IFC for stepping up and bringing this lifelong passion project to the public.”
The film is produced by Whyaduck Productions and 9.14 Pictures. It covers the author’s upbringing through his childhood in Indianapolis, his experience as a Prisoner of War in World War II, his marriage and family, his early careers as a publicist for General Electric and a car salesman, and his years as a struggling writer before his popular 1969 anti-war novel “Slaughterhouse-Five.” “Unstuck in Time” is a reference to the protagonist of that book, Billy Pilgrim, arriving randomly at different moments of his life.
The film includes glimpses of Vonnegut over the years through the prism of his long-evolving friendship with Weide, who first discovered Vonnegut’s writing as a high school student, and wrote a letter to the author in 1982, asking for permission to make a documentary. Vonnegut agreed, and Weide began shooting footage of Vonnegut for the film in 1988. Vonnegut died in 2007.
The film includes whimsical interviews with Vonnegut, rarely-seen archival material and interviews with his children, his contemporaries and Weide himself. Weide’s credits as a director include documentaries on the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, and W.C. Fields. He wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film “Mother Night,” based on Vonnegut’s 1961 novel. He also won an Emmy for “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” on which he was principal director and executive producer for the first five seasons. Weide was nominated for a best documentary Oscar for “Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth.”
Co-director Don Argott has helmed or collaborated on several documentaries, including “Rock School,” “The Art of the Steal,” “The Atomic States of America,” “Framing John DeLorean” and Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Arianna Bocco of IFC Films said, “IFC Films has a proud history of supporting long-evolving film projects and we are thrilled to partner with Bob Weide on this 40-year journey of documenting the legacy of Kurt Vonnegut. The portrait that Bob and Don have created is an unparalleled look at an icon who has shaped modern culture and we are honored to bring that rare glimpse to audiences across the country.”
Watch the teaser below.
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