Emmy award and Grammy award winning filmmaker Thom Zimny and Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Oren Moverman are co-directing the Blackbird Presents and Sight Unseen Pictures docuseries Willie Nelson and Family. Production is already underway in Austin, Maui, Nashville, Los Angeles and New York.
The seven-decade career country singer and his family and friends are providing exclusive participation and access to his archives.
The multi-part docuseries was developed by longtime Nelson manager Mark Rothbaum and Blackbird Presents Founder & Chief Creative Officer Keith Wortman, who have previously teamed on several film, television, and music projects. The duo selected Zimny and Moverman as uniquely suited to direct the series, along with Moverman’s award-winning production company with Julia Lebedev and Eddie Vaisman, Sight Unseen, as a producing and financing partner. EPs are Keith Wortman, Mark Rothbaum, Annie Nelson, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman, and Leonid Lebedev.
“Telling Willie’s story has been a lifelong dream of ours, and we feel privileged to realize this dream with Thom, Oren, and Sight Unseen”, said Rothbaum and Wortman.
“Words like ‘honored,’ ‘excited,’ and “humbled’ don’t come close to describing the way we feel about being entrusted with telling Willie’s story. And what a story it is! We are celebrating the music, the career, the long road, the family, friends, and history. But, more than anything, we are piecing together a narrative — one never before seen in its entirety — about an extraordinary man with a unique ability to bring people together; folks of all races, orientations, genders, political ideologies, and musical leanings. These days, we sure could use the healing powers of Willie Nelson,” said Zimny and Moverman in a statement.
Nelson at 88 continues to be a vibrant performer. During the pandemic, he led online concert fundraisers for Farm Aid and the Austin Community Foundation. He was also the voice of 13 major sports leagues as part of the Ad Council’s national ad campaign on vaccination awareness. Nelson released a No. 1 album of new recordings, That’s Life, where he paid homage to his favorite Frank Sinatra songs, released his latest book Willie Nelson’s Letters to America and performed and was celebrated in a once-in-a- lifetime music special Willie Nelson: American Outlaw on A&E. He will soon announce his concert and festival dates for 2021.
Moverman made his directorial feature debut in 2009 with The Messenger, which was nominated for two Oscars including Best Screenplay. Moverman wrote and directed: Rampart, Time Out of Mind, The Dinner with additional writing credits on: Love & Mercy, Human Capital, and I’m Not There – among others.
Zimny recently directed Bruce Springsteen’s latest Apple TV+ feature Letter to You which documents the E Street Band in the studio recording their latest album. Zimny has worked with Springsteen for the past 20 years, he co-directed Western Stars for Warner Bros. and won a 2019 Emmy for his work on Springsteen on Broadway for Netflix. Other credits include: The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley: The Searcher. He has also directed music videos for Bob Dylan, The Low Anthem and many others.
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