Manlife
 
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TRAILER



 

about THE FILM


At 90-years-old, Merle Hayden has a lot to do. As the last crusading member of the utopian movement Lawsonomy, he works tirelessly to spread the gospel and preserve the legacy of his Commander, Alfred Lawson. Lawson invented the United States’ first passenger airliner, but his company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Dismayed by the policies at work, Lawson created the Direct Credits Society, an economic-reform movement against what Lawson called “the one percent,” which advocated for “justice for everybody that harms nobody.” Thousands joined. Yet once the Depression ended, many members left Lawson and returned to gainful employment, but not Merle. Merle stuck with Lawson through the creation of the University of Lawsonomy and its closure at the hands of the IRS. Nearly 60 years after Lawson’s death, Merle continues distributing Lawson’s writings hoping to find new followers.

Merle’s high school sweetheart, Betty Kasch, feels differently. As a teenager, Betty rejected Lawsonomy, and so Merle rejected her—left her to join the organization fulltime. She checked for letters every day but did not hear from him for over 60 years. Although Betty and Merle picked up where they left off romantically, Merle's commitment to Lawsonomy continues overshadowing the life she would like them to share. She believes it is getting to be too much for him; in truth, it is too much for her.

Originally a story of a leader and his most devoted follower, Manlife blends Merle and Betty’s story with a vast collection of Lawsonian artifacts to tell their tale alongside Lawson’s. Together, they examine the history of a fringe utopian movement, the memory of which Merle believes will cease to exist when he does lest he find another student to carry on the crusade.

 
Official poster for Manlife made by Randy Walker 

Official poster for Manlife made by Randy Walker 

 


THE FILMMAKERS


 
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DIRECTOR - RYAN SARNOWSKI

Ryan Sarnowski directed the feature Passing the Baton and produced over 100 documentary shorts, including the “Cream City Soundcheck” music series, while Co-Director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s doc|UWM. He is currently Editor of the Emmy-award-winning series Wisconsin Foodie and owner of Threshing Media, a production company that tells stories of uncommon lives and overlooked subjects. Ryan holds an MFA from UWM and a BFA from Florida State University.

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Producer - Susan Kerns

Susan Kerns is an Assistant Professor at Columbia College Chicago and Co-Director of the Chicago Feminist Film Festival. She wrote the screenplay for Little Red, which won Best Feature awards at the Berlin Independent, Canada International, Great Lakes, and Driftless film festivals, and she has produced or directed numerous award-winning shorts. She previously was Education Director at the Milwaukee Film Festival, and she holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Producer - Terry Caddell

Terry Caddell is a freelance filmmaker. He began working with Ryan Sarnowski and Susan Kerns through doc|UWM while obtaining his BFA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He now resides in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

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Editor - Jessamy Meyer

Jessamy Meyer edited the award-winning feature documentary My Way Home, was Assistant Editor on the documentary Psychopath, and works as an Editor for About Face Media where she creates documentary content for national brands.

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Composer - Greg Peterson

Greg Peterson has toured the world with many very different bands—Batillus, The Scene is Now, Saint Thomas, to name a few—whose music ranges from heavy metal to “postmodern jug band” music. In addition to his guitar playing (called “triumphant post-rock radiance” by Pitchfork) he currently enjoys studying Haydn on his Wurlitzer electric piano and strumming on his old banjo for children's parties. Though he has self-released over thirty albums, this is his first soundtrack.

 


PRESS


 

"Manlife takes its title from one of Lawson’s books;  But the film’s title is also a play on words about the measure of a man’s life."

Duane Dudek Milwaukee Magazine - August 4, 2017
 

"a documentary that, like an optical illusion, is perpetually turning itself inside out, and like the best illusion, demands both our attention to its details and our focus on all it leaves behind."

Kian Bergstrom Cine-File - June 2, 2017
 
 

"a deeply touching documentary, and one of the best I’ve seen this year"

Jason Coffman Daily Grindhouse  - June 16, 2017
 

"MANLIFE IS a wonderfully universal tale...It shows one man who, at 90, just doesn’t quit."

Urban Matter  - June 9, 2017
 
 

"We are not surprised that “Manlife”, which sold out, won the Audience Award."

Screen Matters  - June 8, 2017
 

If you haven't heard of Lawsonomy... that's because the government doesn't want you to know"

Chicago Reader - May 24, 2017
 

ADDITIONAL PRESS



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UPCOMING SCREENINGS


 

SEPTEMBER 30th - 1:45 PM - Milwaukee Film Festival - Oriental Theater - MILWAUKEE, WI    
Filmmakers in Attendance

 
 

OCTOBER 3rd - 6:00 PM - Milwaukee Film Festival - Times CINEMA - MILWAUKEE, WI
 Filmmakers in Attendance

 
 

OCTOBER 12th - 1:00 PM - Milwaukee Film Festival - ORIENTAL THEATER - MILWAUKEE, WI

 
 

OCTOBER 29th - 2:00 PM - Doctober - Pickford Film Center, Bellingham, WA

 
 

NOVEMBER 2nd - 4:00 PM - Doctober - Pickford Film Center, Bellingham, WA

 

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MEDIA


Merle outside the University of Lawsonomy in Sturtevant, WI.

Merle outside the University of Lawsonomy in Sturtevant, WI.

Merle as a young officer in the Direct Credits Society. 

Merle as a young officer in the Direct Credits Society. 

Merle in his Direct Credits cap - then and now. 

Merle in his Direct Credits cap - then and now. 

Merle holding an issue of Lawson's paper - The Benefactor

Merle holding an issue of Lawson's paper - The Benefactor


Alfred Lawson with model of his first airliner, photo taken at the Wisconsin Cenntenial in 1948. 

Alfred Lawson with model of his first airliner, photo taken at the Wisconsin Cenntenial in 1948. 

Lawson's second airliner (aka the Lawson Midnight Liner) crashed in a field near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 9th, 1921.

Lawson's second airliner (aka the Lawson Midnight Liner) crashed in a field near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 9th, 1921.

Last large gathering of Direct Credits officers assembled in Springfield, IL, September 10th, 1939.

Last large gathering of Direct Credits officers assembled in Springfield, IL, September 10th, 1939.

All Nations Float designed by Direct Credit's Major General Alvira Haagsma, Cleveland, OH, September 16th, 1934.

All Nations Float designed by Direct Credit's Major General Alvira Haagsma, Cleveland, OH, September 16th, 1934.


Merle and Betty by their trailer at the 2009 EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

Merle and Betty by their trailer at the 2009 EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

Merle and Betty reminisce over old high school year books at Betty's home in Naples, Florida. 

Merle and Betty reminisce over old high school year books at Betty's home in Naples, Florida. 

Merle beside the billboard that sat along Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Merle beside the billboard that sat along Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Merle, in costume, delivering a recitation from one of Lawson's earliest publications - The Devil

Merle, in costume, delivering a recitation from one of Lawson's earliest publications - The Devil


Electronic Press Kit for Manlife

Electronic Press Kit for Manlife

 
    Original motion picture soundtrack for Manlife by Greg Peterson. 

 

 

Original motion picture soundtrack for Manlife by Greg Peterson. 

Timeline of Lawson's achievements and hope for the future. 

Timeline of Lawson's achievements and hope for the future. 


 

CONTACT THE FILMMAKERS:

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