‘Searching for Mister Rugoff’


Documentary film Searching for Mr Rugoff. (Photo courtesy of Ira Deutchman
Documentary film Searching for Mr Rugoff. (Photo courtesy of Ira Deutchman

“Searching for Mr. Rugoff” is a documentary film about a man who’s taste in film contributed to shaping the culture of the 1960s and 70s. However, this is also a story how a once powerful individual can fall almost instantly into obscurity.

Rugoff was responsible for distributing and promoting  Elvira MadiganZ,  The Sorrow and the PityPutney SwopeTrashMarjoeGimme Shelter,  Scenes From a Marriage Swept AwayMonty Python and the Holy GrailThe Man Who Fell to Earth or Pumping Iron to name a few.

If these are familiar to you it is probably at least in some part due to the decisions and possibly the “P.T. Barnum” tactics of film distributor Donald Rugoff.

Producer / Director Ira Deutchman provides a peek at the inner workings of the business of film distribution and how one person like Rugoff can make decisions that influence each of us subtly or even in direct and profound ways.

Deutchman acquaints us with the role of the film distributor as having the responsibility of introducing new films to moviegoers and is thereby charged with creating the needed momentum that will ultimately lead to a film’s monetary success or not. It is at this point that many worthy films live or die.

If you are unfamiliar with these titles I can assure you that they each in their own way either expressed  or reflected back to the audience images of the counter-culture and for many provided a virtual roadmap of changing values and shifts in social discourse.

“Searching for Mr. Rugoff” is obviously a labor of love, or at least a labor of deep appreciation and respect for the man who Deutchman describes as his mentor. He says Rugoff taught him everything he knows about film distribution.

The release of the 94 minute film was delayed due to COVID and is now enjoying  a limited screening schedule at the Music Box Theater on Southport.

Alternatively it can be downloaded at musicboxdirect.com for streaming online at home. For more viewing options nationwide visit Mrrugoff.com and to learn more about the producer / director. To see outtakes from the film visit iradeutchman.com.

Reno Lovison