First Run Features was founded in 1979 by a group of
filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film. Under the
leadership of the late film pioneer, Fran Spielman, First Run Features
quickly gained a reputation for its controversial catalog of daring
documentaries and fiction films. Today First Run remains one of the
largest independent distributors in North America, releasing between
15-20 films a year in theaters nationwide and an additional 30-40 films
annually to schools, libraries and other educational institutions; to television broadcasters including PBS, Free Speech TV, and Pivot (all nonprofits); and online
through a diverse group of innovative digital partners.
The First Run legacy includes films by such notable
directors as Spike Lee, Michael Apted, Peter Jackson, Alex Gibney, Joe
Berlinger, Allen Miller, Rose Troche, Sven Nykvist, Jane Campion, Ross
McElwee, Michael Winterbottom, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Barbara
Kopple, Dariush Mehrjui, David O. Russell, Lizzie Borden, Michael
Verhoeven, Claude Chabrol, Jan Svankmajer, Claire Denis, Benoit
Jacquot, Marleen Gorris, Radley Metzger, Mark Kitchell, Deborah
Shaffer, Victor Nunez, The Brothers Quay, George Sluizer, Monika Treut
and Satyajit Ray.
Over the years, First Run Features has survived everything from FBI surveillance to the demise of so many of its competitors. First Run proudly celebrated its 30th Anniversary in August 2009 with a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2001 we were honored with a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.