The trailer is above. The announcement is after the jump.
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“The Achievers: the story of the Lebowski fans,” a documentary based on the fanatical following of the Coen brothers cult-classic film “The Big Lebowski” has announced the official DVD release on August 18, to be distributed by K-Man Productions. The documentary, by director Eddie Chung, follows the intertwining lives and sub-culture of “Achievers” – fans of “The Big Lebowski.” The documentary made its official premiere with two sold-out screenings at the 2009 San Francisco Independent Film Festival and is set for a limited theatrical run this summer, as well as special screenings at upcoming Lebowski Fest dates.
In 2004, Chung, contacted the founders of the Lebowski Fest to get permission to document the festival. With camera in hand, he left for Las Vegas not knowing what to expect. “I started interviewing the founders but they were so busy setting up that it was hard getting them to sit down for an interview, so I started interviewing people who were in line waiting to get into the event. When I started this project I had no idea the popularity of ‘The Big Lebowski,’ but when I arrived to my first Lebowski Fest I was amazed to find a long line,” said Chung. One by one Chung started to discover a diverse cross section of people.
During the event he met a group of “Achievers” (fans of The Big Lebowski) who were avid members of the Lebowski Fest chat room know as the Forum. Members who chat daily have developed life long friendships not bound by geographical location. It is a favorite feature on the Lebowski Fest website, where Achievers share like minded ideas expressed primarily through the Lebowski language. This is where Chung concentrated his efforts, “I wanted to find out what it was about the film that pulled all these people together.” Year after year the festival began getting larger with attendees growing into the thousands while the original group of Forum members began getting tighter and used the festival as an annual meeting place.
With 136 hours of interviews and festival film, (including a performance of Jeff Bridges and his band at Lebowski Fest in Los Angeles singing to “a sea of Dudes” as Bridges describes,) Chung arranged a deal with Universal Studios to use footage of “The Big Lebowski” in his documentary. After four months of negotiations, Chung was granted use of clips from the movie in exchange for a 15 minute featurette about Lebowski Fest which was included as bonus material on the 10 year anniversary release of “The Big Lebowski.” The only thing left was to get the actors from “The Big Lebowski” to agree to be a part of the project. “The hardest part was getting the actor’s agents to pass on the info to their clients,” Chung states, “but once they knew of the project they were all happy to donate their time and work. Everything just fell into place, in spite of everything, it all came together.”
“The Achievers” features the real behind-the-scenes stories that gave inspiration to the Coen brothers and brought an authenticity to the characters in Lebowski. Considered to be the modern day “Rocky Horror” the Lebowski Fest propelled lesser known actors and non-actors to cultish status. James Hoosier, while leaving a bowling ally in Los Angeles picked up a flyer which was calling all bowlers to audition for an unnamed film. He made it to the final call backs and was chosen to play Jesus’ (John Turturro) side kick Liam O’Brien. Even though Hoosier did not have any lines and had never acted before, he has more screen time than Turturro. “He was he first actor from the film to come out to a festival and the fans loved him, he was signing autographs all night,” Will states. Robin Jones, the Ralph’s check out girl, has become a major highlight at the Lebowski Festival. Another actor who was propelled to stardom is Jerry Haleva, the consummate Saddam Hussein. He played Saddam in “Hot Shots Part Deux” with Lloyd Bridges (Jeff Bridges’ father), so when they need a Saddam in Lebowski, Jeff recommended Haleva for the roll. The ironic thing about Jerry is that he’s played, and continues to play, Saddam so many times, very few people realize that he is a Jewish Republican lobbyist for the state of California.
“The Achievers” official website: www.theachieversmovie.com