Filmworker, a documentary film directed by Tony Zierra about Stanley Kubrick’s long-time assistant Leon Vitali, will open at the Metrograph in New York on May 11th, and at the Nuart in Los Angeles on May 18th, followed by a national rollout. The film world premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and went on to screen at numerous international film festivals including Telluride, the New York Film Festival and the AFI Fest.
It’s a rare person who would give up fame and fortune to dedicated himself to someone else’s creative vision. Yet, that’s exactly what Leon Vitali did after his acclaimed performance as ‘Lord Bullingdon” in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. After appearing in Barry Lyndon, prestigious job offers poured in from film, television and stage, but Leon turned them all down to take on the role of assistant to the master filmmaker. It would prove to be an extraordinary, intense, often arduous journey that would push Leon to his limit and beyond. The young actor surrendered his thriving career to become Kubrick’s loyal right-hand man.
For more than two decades, Leon played a crucial role behind-the-scenes helping Kubrick make and maintain his legendary body of work. In Filmworker, Leon’s candid and often funny experiences in the company of the notoriously private Kubrick are woven together with rich and varied elements including previously unseen photos, videos, letters, notebooks, and memos from Leon’s private collection of Kubrick artifacts. Insightful, emotionally charged anecdotes from actors, family, crew members, and key film industry professionals who worked with Kubrick and Leon add an important layer of detail and impact to the story.
On what would turn out to be Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut, Leon was stretched to the limit carrying out double duties. Not only did he attend to countless production tasks, he also gave a stellar performance as the imperious ‘Red Cloak’. Kubrick’s sudden death in the midst of putting the final touches on Eyes Wide Shut left chaos in its wake. Without Kubrick’s unassailable leadership, confusion reigned. Exhausted, ill, and grief-stricken over the loss of the man whose dynamic presence had been his driving force for decades, Leon threw himself into a tough and constant battle to keep Kubrick’s uncompromising standards alive.
Filmworker enters the world of Leon Vitali and Stanley Kubrick from a unique perspective that highlights the nitty-gritty of the creative process. By experiencing Leon’s journey we come to understand how the mundane gives rise to the magnificent as timeless filmmaking is brought to life at its most practical and profound level. Leon’s story is uniquely his own, but this chronicle of one artist who chose to serve another stands as a testament to the legions of unsung heroes whose names shine for a brief moment as the credits roll.