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Press Kit

Logline

ORTHODOX STANCE is a portrait of Dmitriy Salita, a Russian immigrant, professional boxer and religious Jew, and the seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support his rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title.

Short Synopsis

Dmitriy Salita is a Russian immigrant, professional boxer and a religious Jew.  ORTHODOX STANCE portrays Dmitriy's maturation in each of these disparate communities, and the seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support his rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title.  In the end the film is about more than just boxing and religion, but about a young man's search for meaning in life.

Full Synopsis

For the last 60 years, the term "Jewish boxer" has been an oxymoron.  But Dmitriy Salita, a 24 year-old Russian immigrant is making history as a top professional boxer and a rigorously observant Jew.  While providing an intimate, 3-year long look at the trials and tribulations faced by an up and coming professional boxer, ORTHODOX STANCE is a portrait of seemingly incompatible cultures and characters working together to support Dmitriy's rare and remarkable devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title.

The film travels with Dmitriy from his home in the Russian section of Brooklyn to a dilapidated Orthodox synagogue, from a Black and Hispanic amateur gym in the projects to boxing's biggest stages in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Puerto Rico.  Intimate verite scenes of torah study, prayer, and keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath on the road are juxtaposed with training, weigh-ins, business negotiations and locker room and fight footage.  In so doing, the film reveals a first-of-its kind insider's view of professional boxing and a first-of-a kind professional boxer.

Along the way, we meet the many colorful characters that teach and guide Dmitriy, and the tension of balancing boxing and Judaism.  Rabbi Zalman Liberov teaches Dmitriy how to be a good Jew and sees him as a model of religious conviction in a secular world.  Bob Arum and his company Top Rank see a talented prospect with great marketing potential.  And after 10 years of educating Dmitriy about boxing and life, and a prominent career dedicated to amateurs, his 80 year-old Black trainer Jimmy O' Pharrow has his last, best chance to produce a professional champion. 

The film offers behind the scenes access to Dmitriy and his crew for 3 critical years, tracing his maturation in the gym, with the press, at fights, business meetings and speaking engagements.  At the same time, it explores important aspects of Dmitriy's identity and back-story--how Jimmy's boxing gym gave him sanctuary as a young immigrant, how Dmitriy found God through boxing, became observant after his mother died, and how she asked Jimmy to look after her son for her.  Jimmy's age will force him to delegate responsibility to other trainers and as Dmitriy matures, Jimmy teaches him to be his own boss.  Dmitriy will find additional trainers to learn from, leave Bob Arum for a New York based promoter in order to grow his fan base, and will guide the negotiations for a new long-term contract. 

As he fights in New York in front of Russian immigrants, Hasidic Jews and hard-core boxing fans, Dmitriy's celebrity grows and he is ultimately invited to the White House for President Bush's Hanukkah party.  Through his uncompromising devotion to boxing and Judaism, and comfort and confidence with who he is, the film shows how Dmitriy is part of these very different worlds on his own terms, in ways that feel both true to him and new to us.

After 4 years and 22 professional fights, the film culminates with Dmitriy fighting for his first professional title in front of a rabid crowd of boxing fans and Orthodox Jews at Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom.  The Hasidic Reggae singer Matisyahu sings Dmitriy to the ring and Dmitriy rewards the crowd with a knockout victory.  As Dmitriy exits the ring, he has solidified his credentials as a professional boxer and a modern day Jewish sports hero.  ORTHODOX STANCE tells a universal story of a young man's search for meaning in life and will enable viewers to understand and appreciate boxing and boxers like never before.

Director's Statement

My parents live in the DC area and in September 2002 my mother clipped an extensive article on Dmitriy from the Washington Post Style Section. Because I had been a highly competitive Jewish athlete myself and had recently moved to Brooklyn, she thought I'd be interested in the article. It mentioned that Dmitriy was affiliated with a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Brooklyn so I called the Chabad Rabbi I knew from college and asked if he would contact Dmitriy's Rabbi for me.

After reading the article and meeting Dmitriy, it wasn't the anomalous "religious Jewish boxer" or the "will he become the next Jewish champ?" angles that attracted me, but rather, the diverse and wholly original characters and cultures that intersect at Dmitriy -- an elderly African-American trainer, a Hasidic Rabbi, a Las Vegas boxing promoter; as well as the diversity of Dmitriy's experience -- a Russian immigrant, a religious Jew, a top boxing prospect. As a verite filmmaker, I shoot what I'm interested in learning about. I had no idea what the film would be like, I just knew I wanted to see how Dmitriy experiences these very different worlds, and one day share that experience with an audience.

After meeting Dmitriy in October 2002, I jumped into production without money or a timeline, devoting the next several years to keeping up with the story as it played out in New York, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Anaheim, Washington, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. After a few years of shooting, I began to think about a satisfying ending. I didn't want to make a generic sports film because for me the film is about Dmitriy learning how to navigate the professional boxing world as a religious Jew, not whether he wins the big fight.

The junior title fight at the Hammerstein Ballroom ultimately provided the perfect ending. The grand venue, the atmosphere, Matisyahu -- it was the natural culmination of that journey. Dmitriy says it best, just before the credits roll, "It's the closing of a certain chapter in my life. As a kid you have dreams. And with hard work, faith and determination, dreams come true, and they're coming true a little at a time." As in life, one chapter ends and a new one begins.

Filmmaker's Biographies

Jason Hutt, Director/Producer/Cameraman/Editor

Jason Hutt grew up in Potomac, Maryland where he excelled as a student and soccer player, captaining Churchill High School to three undefeated seasons and state championships between 1992 and 1994. While studying at Harvard University, Mr. Hutt transitioned from athlete to artist, as his passion for sports was redirected from competition to storytelling. After seeing a few of Frederick Wiseman and DA Pennebaker's films in film classes, Mr. Hutt was immediately drawn to cinema verite filmmaking. In his first film, SAUSAGE HERE, a short documentary about the colorful Fenway Park street vendors, Mr. Hutt was able to capture the language, look and feeling that make sports characters and cultures so special.

After graduating with honors in 1999, and participating in the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium, Hutt worked in Hollywood as an assistant to Academy Award-nominated director/producer Mike Tollin on sports related feature films such as SUMMER CATCH, HARDBALL and READY TO RUMBLE. In 2001 Mr. Hutt returned to non-fiction filmmaking to make BREEZEWOOD, PENNSYLVANIA, a verite' portrait of a bustling truck stop town at the crossroads of two US interstate highways. BREEZEWOOD premiered as the opening night film at the Georgetown Independent Film Festival in August 2002 where it won Best Cinema Verite'. After additional US and international film festival screenings it was broadcast by PBS affiliates in Spring 2004.

In ORTHODOX STANCE, Hutt has drawn on his passion for sports to create a portrait of a different kind of cultural crossroads: Dmitriy Salita, a Russian immigrant, professional boxer and religious Jew, and the diverse characters supporting Dmitriy's devotion to both Orthodox Judaism and the pursuit of a professional boxing title.

Michel Negroponte, Producer

Michel Negroponte is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker with such directing credits as SPACE COAST, SILVER VALLEY, JUPITER'S WIFE, NO ACCIDENT, and W.I.S.O.R. In addition to his own work, he recently co-produced the feature documentaries MANHATTAN, KANSAS by Tara Wray, BOOKWARS by Jason Rosette, FASTPITCH by Jeremy Spear, and the Academy-Award nominee and Sundance award winner CHILDREN UNDERGROUND by Edet Belzberg. Michel's last film METHADONIA premiered at the 2005 New York Film Festival and was broadcast by HBO in October 2005.

Rachel Kittner, Editor/Associate Producer

Rachel Kittner started her career at Maysles Films and went on to work on Michael Moore's television series THE AWFUL TRUTH. She has since worked as an editor and associate producer on numerous award-winning documentary and narrative feature films such as STREET FIGHT, SINGAPORE DREAMING, RUTHIE & CONNIE and RISK/REWARD.

Nick Fraser/BBC Storyville, Executive Producer

Led by commissioning editor Nick Fraser, Storyville is the BBC's flagship international documentary strand. Storyville is world famous for commissioning and acquiring the best in feature and standard length documentaries such as Spike Lee's WHEN THE LEVEE BROKE and ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER. Storyville films have been awarded Oscars, Griersons, Peabodys and Emmys and they currently broadcast around 40 international documentaries a year.

Cactus Three, Executive Producers

Cactus Three is a partnership that was founded by Julie Goldman, Caroline Stevens and Krysanne Katsoolis. For the past 15 years, they have developed an expertise in all aspects of production, co-production and acquisition, as well as theatrical, broadcast and video distribution. Recent award-projects executive produced by Cactus include the documentary feature films SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY, ONCE IN A LIFETIME and LOUDQUIETLOUD, and the HBO documentary series FAMILY BONDS.

Photos

The following photos are available as high resolution, print-quality JPGs.

NOTE: To download any of the photos, RIGHT-CLICK (PC) or CONTROL-CLICK (MAC) the links below and save the file to your computer. (Some web browsers might have have trouble displaying CMYK images on screen.)



Orthodox Stance Official Poster / One Sheet

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (9" x 13.5" @ 300dpi) [10.2 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (9" x 13.5" @ 300dpi) [5.5 MB]





Dmitriy Salita in the ring
photo credit: David Lincoln

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (10" x 6.6" @ 300dpi) [5.9 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (10" x 6.6" @ 300dpi) [3.1 MB]






Dmitriy Salita in the ring, pre-fight
photo credit: Alex Tehrani

> hi res color (GRAYSCALE) JPG (11.5" x 7.7" @ 300dpi) [3.3 MB]






Dmitriy Salita in the gym
photo credit: Alex Tehrani

> hi res color (GRAYSCALE) JPG (11.5" x 7.7" @ 300dpi) [4.3 MB]






Dmitriy Salita prays
photo credit: Alex Tehrani

> hi res color (GRAYSCALE) JPG (11.5" x 7.7" @ 300dpi) [3.9 MB]






Dmitriy Salita with punching bag
> low/web res (GRAYSCALE) JPG






Dmitriy Salita and trainer Jimmy O' Pharrow
photo credit: Jason Hutt

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (11" x 7.3" @ 300dpi) [7.3 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (11" x 7.3" @ 300dpi) [3.8 MB]






Dmitriy Salita, manager Israel Liberow, and trainer Jimmy O' Pharrow
photo credit: Alex Gorokhov

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (7.5" x 4.85" @ 300dpi) [3.9 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (7.5" x 4.85" @ 300dpi) [1.9 MB]






Manager Israel Liberow, Dmitriy Salita, and trainer Jimmy O' Pharrow
photo credit: Jason Hutt

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (11" x 7.33" @ 300dpi) [7.4 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (11" x 7.33" @ 300dpi) [4 MB]






Manager Israel Liberow, Dmitriy Salita, and trainer Jimmy O' Pharrow
photo credit: Jason Hutt

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (11" x 7.33" @ 300dpi) [8.4 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (11" x 7.33" @ 300dpi) [4.6 MB]






Dmitriy Salita and manager Israel Liberow
photo credit: Jason Hutt

> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (11" x 7.3" @ 300dpi) [7.9 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (11" x 7.3" @ 300dpi) [4.2 MB]







Director Jason Hutt
> hi res color (CMYK) JPG (4" x 3" @ 300dpi) [1.3 MB]
> hi res color (RGB) JPG (4" x 3" @ 300dpi) [800 kb]



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