Nearly four and half years ago, Jeff Unay met Joe Carman and began shooting what he thought would be a short film following Joe’s re-entry into MMA fighting as a middle-aged man with a family. This weekend, feature documentary The Cage Fighter is playing in select theaters including LA’s Arena CineLounge and New York’s IFC Center with upcoming engagements at Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe and Baltimore’s Parkway Theater and more. The film is also available to rent or buy on iTunes, Amazon, VUDU and other platforms. For the full list of screenings as they get announced, click here.
Back in October when The Cage Fighter screened at the Camden Film Festival in Maine, Jeff wrote a thoughtful piece for Indiewire about those years in between—and how the film went from a solo effort that absorbed Jeff’s nights and weekends, to a feature film project with funders and a team who were solidly behind Jeff’s vision and Joe’s story.
The Cage Fighter, says Jeff, “owes much of its existence to the ongoing support of the team at Points North Institute,” the organization that puts on the Camden Film Festival each year, and also runs artist development initiatives including pitching forums, retreats, residencies, workshops and fellowships that nurture nonfiction storytellers. Read Jeff’s piece for an instructive and inspiring timeline of how The Cage Fighter started out “with no prior connections to anyone in the documentary industry, with no upfront funding in place” and became a celebrated feature-length film with a long festival life and distribution through IFC Films/Sundance Selects.
The Cage Fighter was executive produced by Andrea Meditch, (Dangerous Acts, Man on Wire), edited by David Teague (Cutie and the Boxer, Life Animated), and produced by James Orara (Industrial Light+Magic). The film was made in association with Cinereach, receiving grant support and a loan.