EXCLUSIVE: Writer, director and award-winning journalist Julian Rubinstein’s anti-gang war documentary The Holly has tapped Oscar-winning filmmaker and Hyperobject Industries founder Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up) and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Todd Schulman (Borat) as executive producers ahead of its world premiere next month at Telluride’s Mountainfilm.
Executive producing alongside McKay and Schulman are Trygve Myhren, Kayvan Khalatbari, Chad Asarch, and K. Nicole Robinson Asarch, along with co-executive producer David Sirota (Don’t Look Up). The film is produced by filmmaker and theater company founder Donnie l. Betts (Music Is My Life), Sarah Dowland (The Crime of the Century) and Dia Sokol Savage (Finding Kendrick Johnson).
“I was completely blown away after seeing the rough cut of The Holly,” McKay said. “From income inequality, race, gun violence and corruption, this film is the macro of America in the micro.”
Based on Rubinstein’s New York Times Editor’s Choice pick The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood (FSG, 2021), The Holly takes place in the historic “Holly” neighborhood of Denver and highlights anti-gang activist Terrance Roberts. When the film starts, Roberts—whose anti-gang work won him grants and awards—is facing life in prison. In an incident that shocked the city of Denver, Roberts shot someone at his own peace rally. The shooting happened in the so-called “Holly,” a section of a neighborhood that was once at the center of Denver’s civil rights movement, and later became Roberts’ turf back when he was a gang member. The high-profile case becomes an unexpected window into the machinations of the gang war.
“After eight years of work, I’m honored that maverick thinkers and filmmakers like Adam McKay and Todd Schulman saw the significance of what we captured on camera,” Rubinstein said. “The Holly shines a light on the usually unseen connections between gentrification, strategic law enforcement efforts and street violence. As violence and activism in vulnerable communities rises, misconduct by informants and law enforcement’s questionable use of active gang members in undercover operations—demand public oversight and understanding. This is not only happening in Denver – we just had access to one such story as it played out in real time.”
The Holly will world premiere over the Memorial Day weekend at Telluride’s intimate Mountainfilm festival.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.