Exclusive: Trailer Unveiled for 'The Penny Black', "Documentary Noir" Premiering at Slamdance Film Festival
Joe Saunders' investigative thriller centers on estranged son of a conman, entrusted with a multi-million dollar collection
Mystery pervades the story told in The Penny Black, the investigative thriller set to make its world premiere next week at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Why would a shady Russian guy ask a neighbor he barely knows to hold onto a multi-million dollar stamp collection for him? Why would Will, the neighbor, agree? What is the deal with Will anyway--an inscrutable fellow who's the son of a conman and may have inherited some of his dad's dodgy traits? And how did a big portion of the valuable cache suddenly turn up missing?
These tantalizing questions cohere in the "documentary noir" directed by Joe Saunders and produced by Alexander Greer. The title, as any dedicated philatelist can tell you, comes from one of the rarest and most prized of stamps, first issued in the U.K. in 1840.
He's the kind of guy that you never know if he's laughing with you or at you. But you like him.
"I first met Will through [my producer] Alex," Saunders explains in a director's statement. "He was charming and smart, and always needed to be one step ahead of you. He's the kind of guy that you never know if he's laughing with you or at you. But you like him. So when he told an outlandish story of a Russian giving him a million dollar stamp collection, it sounded like he was challenging the table to believe him so that he could later mock us for doing so."
Saunders continues, "I, of course, took the bait. Either the story is real, and it’s fascinating on its own, or the story is fake, and it’s fascinating to watch this son of a con artist spin a web of lies to a table of friends."
The trailer for The Penny Black premieres today in this Nonfictionfilm.com exclusive. Watch it below.
The Penny Black debuts Saturday, January 25 at Slamdance headquarters at the Treasure Mountain Inn, with an encore screening set for Tuesday, January 28.
Saunders' documentaries have appeared on HBO, Fox, ABC, CBS, ESPN, the NFL Network and the BBC. His credits include Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound, Coach Snoop and the Emmy-winning Big Charlie's, produced by NFL Films.
"The aim of this documentary was not to pursue a journalistic truth or to catch Will in a lie," Saunders notes of The Penny Black, "but rather to present the events of his world as they came to light. Will was ultimately the one steering the ship on this journey, so we as filmmakers were left to follow his path, however slippery or deceptive it might have been.”
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.