Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: Biopic of Children’s Author Tomi Ungerer

“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story” is an original feature documentary depicting the life and times of the best-selling children’s author and illustrator, Tomi Ungerer.

This French artist’s wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art and biting social satire is fully explored in this entertaining, 98-minute film which will have its North American premiere at TIFF 2012.

“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough” is the directorial feature debut of Brad Bernstein (also writer and producer), who weaves Ungerer’s epic life story into an illustrated tapestry of the seminal events of the 20th Century-using Ungerer’s own artwork. From his striking visual commentaries protesting American involvement in Vietnam to the many beloved characters of his children’s books, Ungerer is admired worldwide for the influence his work has had on a variety of art forms, and for his contribution to children’s literature. Yet the same factors that vaulted him to success–fearless creativity, absolute outspokenness, fierce independence–also made him a lightning rod for controversy and the object of intense malice.

Bernstein takes us on a striking emotional and visual journey through Nazi-occupied France during World War II, Ungerer’s subsequent move to America and his Madison Avenue successes (The Village Voice, New York Times) in the late 50’s during the Golden Age of Magazine Illustration, his immediate influence on children’s literature in the 1960’s (Crictor, Moon Man, The Three Robbers), and the anti-Vietnam war and sociological poster art that made him iconic (Eat, Kiss For Peace, Black Power/White Power). Yet despite all of his monumental visual achievements and the successes of his children’s books in the 60’s – which would, later in life, earn him the coveted Hans Christian Andersen Award – Tomi Ungerer is virtually forgotten in North America, with even his most recognized books now out of print.

What led to this man’s freedom of expression being suppressed? What led to his demise? What forced him into obscurity on this side of the pond?  Through interviews with the late Maurice Sendak (Where The Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen), Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrator and author Jules Feiffer (Feiffer, Carnal Knowledge), New York Times Book Review columnist Steven Heller, children’s literature scholar Michael Patrick Hearn and others, “Far Out” explores Ungerer’s self-destruction and subsequent departure from America.

To this end, Bernstein and his creative partners & collaborators at Corner of the Cave Media – Rick Cikowski and Brandon Dumlao – have attempted to present the story in the most visually compelling way possible, laboriously combing through thousands of pieces of Ungerer’s artwork from his museum in Strasbourg, France. With the use of a variety of motion graphics techniques, they have taken almost 80-years worth of Ungerer’s art and brought it to life, animating his childhood sketches, ad campaigns, anti-Vietnam War posters, cartoons, children’s books and erotica.

Ungerer will be at The Beguiling in Toronto for a book signing on Saturday, September 8.

Director Biography:

Brad Bernstein is a writer, producer and director who has spent the last thirteen years in long-form documentary production for television. He is currently a writer for VH1’s Emmy Award winning doc series “Behind The Music” and has also produced and written four episodes of the series, a fifth of which is currently in production through his company, Corner of the Cave Media.

He recently served as Supervising Producer on an original, six-part documentary series called “Saved” for Animal Planet that aired in Fall 2011. He was also Supervising Producer on “Recording: The History of Recorded Music,” an 8-part documentary series shot in high-definition that traces America’s history since Thomas Edison invented the first sound recording device in 1877 to the Internet. The Executive Producers include Impresario Quincy Jones and legendary record producer Phil Ramone, and contains interviews with Phil Spector, Billy Joel, Norah Jones, Chuck D, Clint Eastwood, BB King, Flea, Paul Simon, Smokey Robinson and many other musicians and artists.

 Brad was Coordinating Producer on ESPN’s highly acclaimed documentary series “Rites of Autumn: The Story of College Football,” a 10-hour production narrated by Burt Reynolds; he was a producer on “In Focus,” a 36-part Fox Sports documentary series hosted by esteemed broadcaster Dick Enberg, and was a producer on “Between the Lines,” a four-hour original series for A&E hosted by Robert Downey, Jr. that featured President Jimmy Carter, Priscilla Presley, Martin Sheen and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. His shop, Corner of the Cave Media, is a full service production and post-production facility based in Miami’s Art and Design district that specializes in documentaries, but also offers the entire spectrum of video, digital and interactive services, including iPhone and iPad Apps.