The filmmakers

Bob Hercules-Director

Bob Hercules is an award-winning producer/director and co-owner of Media Process Group, a Chicago-based production company. Over his 26-year career, Hercules has filmed around the world and his work has been seen on PBS, the Discovery Channel, IFC, The Learning Channel and through television syndication nationwide.

His two new films both deal with the subject of dance: a film about famed choreographer Bill T. Jones, entitled A Good Man (for the PBS series American Masters), and Joffrey: Mavericks of American DanceA Good Man premiered  in April 2011 at the Full Frame Film Festival and will be broadcast on PBS November 2011.

His 2009 documentary, Radical Disciple: The Story of Father Pfleger, chronicles the iconoclastic priest, Mike Pfleger, whose confrontational methods to fight racism have put him in direct conflict with the Catholic hierarchy.  The film premiered at the 2009 Black Harvest Film Festival and was named Best Documentary at the 2010 Big Muddy Film Festival.

Hercules directed the 2006 documentary Senator Obama Goes to Africa, chronicling the then-Senator’s diplomatic trip to Africa (including an emotional visit to his late father’s village in Kenya).  The film was broadcast in over 100 countries and is currently in home video distribution from First Run Features.  Hercules also directed Obama’s Presidential launch and biography videos at the start of his historic Presidential campaign.

Also in 2006, his acclaimed documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, winning Special Jury Prize and the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival. The film tells the remarkable story of Auschwitz survivor and former ‘Mengele twin’ Eva Mozes Kor, whose decision to forgive the perpetrators as an act of self-healing sparked a firestorm of criticism. It is currently in home video release from First Run Features.

Producing Team

The film was born through the friendship of legendary mulit-hyphenate actor-producer-director-writer Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Analyze This and SCTV) and first time producer Jay Alix.   Fans of the Joffrey, they both saw the need to interview Gerald Arpino before he passed. When they discovered that no documentary had ever been made of this legendary company, they decided now was the time.

Harold Ramis, Executive Producer –Harold Ramis is a screenwriter, director and actor whose films include some of the most popular and influential comedies of our time – Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Back to School, Groundhog Day, Multiplicity, Analyze This, Bedazzled, Analyze That, The Ice Harvest and Year One. Among his numerous professional honors and awards, Ramis is the recipient of the American Comedy Award, the British Comedy Award, the BAFTA (British Academy) award for screenwriting (Groundhog Day), and The Just for Laughs Lifetime Achievement Award.  Four of his films were listed among the American Film Institute’s “100 Funniest Movies” and Groundhog Day was recently chosen one of the “101 Greatest Screenplays” by the Writers Guild of America. Harold Ramis has also directed several episodes of television’s acclaimed series The Office.

Jay Alix, Executive ProducerJay Alix is new to the documentary film industry.  Having completed many private and corporate documentary projects, this film is his production debut for public distribution.  On the road to getting here, he was the Founder, past Chairman and President of AlixPartners, an internationally recognized firm of corporate turnaround, restructuring, performance improvement, and financial advisory professionals. He was also Co-Founder, Chairman and past President of Questor Partners, a $1.2 billion investment fund focused on investing in turnarounds, underperforming and distressed companies, as well as special situations.  Alix was intrigued when he learned of the rich history of the ballet company and arranged to have its co founder, Gerald Arpino, record video interviews of recollections before his passing in 2008. Those interviews provided the inspiration for this feature length documentary.

Una Jackman, Producer – Una Jackman founded the Detroit Friends of the Joffrey Ballet in 2000, an organization that has brought the Joffrey to perform at The Detroit Opera House for the past ten years and continues to have a presence in Detroit each year. Jackman was first introduced to Gerald Arpino and The Joffrey Ballet in 1980, but while serving as a board member of Dance with Altitude in Telluride from 1995 to 2000 where The Joffrey enjoyed a summer residency for five years, she developed a closer friendship with Arpino and the two conceived of the Detroit Friends organization. The making of this documentary, particularly doing the final interviews with him, is her way of paying tribute to Arpino’s life’s work and to the Company he co-founded.

Erica Mann Ramis, Producer- Erica Mann Ramis is a poet and writer who has spent most of her life in and around the film industry. Her connection with the Joffrey began fifteen years ago when she met Gerald Arpino. Ms. Ramis’ lifetime love of ballet and modern dance came to fruition when she and husband, filmmaker Harold Ramis, connected with Jay Alix and Una Jackman, and they resolved to document Arpino’s life and the history of The Joffrey Ballet.

Melissa Sterne, Editor-Melissa Sterne is a Chicago based editor who began working in documentaries as an assistant editor on the award winning Hoop Dreams. Her recent work includes Radical Disciple: The Story of Father Michael Pfleger, which premiered to overflowing crowds at the 2009 Black Harvest International Film Festival, won Best Documentary at the Big Muddy Film Festival,  aired on PBS, and has shown at film festivals throughout the world.  Melissa co-produced and edited documentaries Senator Obama goes to Africa and Choices for the Future, a cinema verité documentary that follows 3 grade school students as they progress through the school year in Chicago Public Schools.  Currently, Melissa is editing Mixing It Up: The Redevelopment of Cabrini Green, which spans 15 years of a community in turmoil during the city of Chicago’s transformation of public housing.

Michael “Swanny” Swanson, Cinematographer-Michael Swanson (aka ‘Swanny’) brings more than a decade of experience to the film including D.P. work at TeamWorks Media and as a photographer at Orbis Broadcast Group. He was one of the D.P’s of “Oprah’s Australian Adventure” which aired on the Oprah show in 2011.

He has lensed documentaries The Team That Changed the World and Disco Demolition: 25th Anniversary as well as corporate videos and commercials for the Big 10 Conference, Wilson Sporting goods, University of Chicago, Metra, the American Heart Association (or American Society of Plastic Surgeons) and Crown Imports.