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Synopsis: Phil Waterhouse is a successful white documentary filmmaker with a thriving career, brilliant girlfriend, and lovely suburban home. His last film – The Price of Brothahood – was a rousing critical and commercial hit. During its making, though, the film’s subject – babyfaced Harlem teenager Malcolm – was murdered. An act Phil caught on tape. He is haunted by Malcolm’s death, watching his footage over and over again. Journalists, who once lauded him, hound him about his responsibility in Malcolm’s murder. Now, while shooting a new doc series for a major network, someone stalks Phil, filming his every move. He is unnerved being the subject of someone else’s movie, especially when it threatens his idyllic life.


Not Rated


English, Spanish

Run Time

119 minutes


Jason Biggs (Phil)
Aunjanue Ellis (Leslie)
Anabelle Acosta (Jess)
Carra Patterson (Marley)
Nile Bullock (Malcolm)

Directed by

Lanie Zipoy

Written by

Chisa Hutchinson

Executive Producer

Megan Kingery

Edited by

Sofi Marshall


Darren Joe

Prod. Company

Prochaine Films, LLC

Director's Statement

In The Subject, teenager Malcolm encourages Phil, a documentary filmmaker, to make the film they are shooting “more than a movie.” Movies that are “more than a movie” have always been my favorite movies. Films that stay with you long after you’ve seen them. Films that encourage late-night discussions. Films that make you grapple with your soul. Films that you can’t shake, even if you want to.

When I finished reading Chisa Hutchinson’s incisive, layered script, I was absolutely breathless. Here was a powerful story that was also “more than a movie” as it navigates racial issues in nuanced ways that we rarely see on screen.

The Subject is America 2020. America 2014. America 1992. America 1968. America 1919. America 1865. America 1619. Chisa wrote this screenplay in 2010, and we made the film a year ago. Yet, The Subject finds its way in the world at a time when the themes it unpacks–Black Lives Matter, interrogation of white saviorhood and white supremacy, and the ethics/responsibilties of artists–are central to conversations and protests around the United States.

The Subject adds to those conversations and will encourage thoughtful debate around these issues at a time when thoughtful debate is most needed.

The film also turns the tables on power–who is behind the camera, shaping what’s seen. It questions through which lens are stories told. As Malcolm says to Phil, “you would be nothing without all the mes in the world.” In other words, a documentary filmmaker needs his or her subjects to exist.

We shot The Subject on four different cameras–one for the documentary about Malcolm, one for Phil’s new documentary footage, the narrative camera and a consumer camera that is used to record Phil. Each camera offers a different viewpoint on the world, coalescing into a film that asks us how exactly we belong to each other in this fractured world.

Director's Bio

Lanie is a Memphis-born, Brooklyn-based director and producer. The Subject marks her feature film directorial debut. The film has won top honors at the two festivals it has screened: Lighthouse International Film Festival and the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, where it also took home Outstanding Feature Director and Outstanding Feature Performance (Aunjanue Ellis). Upcoming festivals include the Bentonville Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival, Breck Film, Catalina Film Festival, Harlem International Film Festival, RSF Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, San Antonio Film Festival and more.

Lanie co-directed the short film Kid Sister as well as the play, which starred Zazie Beetz (Joker, Atlanta) and Dominique Fishback (The Deuce, The Hate U Give) in their first roles. Her other directing projects include short films 17 Things I Wish I Could Tell You Since You Died and Simone; art installation videos for Theaterlab and commercials, including for Monument (London). She has also produced indie narrative and documentary features, including legendary producer Ben Barenholtz’s directorial debut Alina.

A Bessie- and Lortel-nominated theater producer, Lanie’s credits include Bethany, starring America Ferrera, and Voices Inside/Out, a prison theatrical exchange program, which featured Michael Shannon, Ashlie Atkinson, and Ron Canada. With critically-acclaimed Recent Cutbacks, she has developed a new project for Audible Originals. Lanie is a Time Warner Foundation Fellow of the 2012-2014 Lab at WP Theater.


Lighthouse International Film Festival - United States - 2020

Best Narrative Feature (Film)

The Art of Brooklyn - United States - 2020

Outstanding Narrative Feature (Film)

The Art of Brooklyn - United States - 2020

Outstanding Feature Director (Crew - Lanie Zipoy)

The Art of Brooklyn - United States - 2020

Outstanding Feature Performance (Cast - Aunjanue Ellis)


BronzeLens Film Festival - United States - 2020

Best Feature Film

BronzeLens Film Festival - United States - 2020

Best Actress - Aunjanue Ellis

Official selection

Lighthouse International Film Festival - United States - 2020

The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival - United States - 2020


"4.5 Stars. Highly Recommended. [Jason] Biggs is well cast, playing against type." - David Duprey, That Moment In

Country of Origin

United States

Production Year


Official Website



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