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An engaging and sympathetic documentary, if not necessarily as revealing as it appears, Jeff Unay’s directorial feature debut stirred some buzz in its premiere screenings at the San Francisco festival.
–VARIETY (Apr. 2017)
The feature-length debut of director Jeff Unay, “The Cage Fighter” hails from a tradition of intimate cinema verité that encompasses so many details from the lives of its subject that it may as well be a scripted drama. (Grade: A-)
–INDIEWIRE (Apr. 2017)
A classic underdog story punctuated with some terrifying, poignant moments of triumph, defeat, and compassion, filmmaker Jeff Unay’s uncommonly cinematic documentary is a can’t-miss highlight of the festival.
–POPMATTERS (Apr. 2017)
The fights are brutal and the milieu is blue collar all the way. Yet, there is a nobility to Carman that always shines through. As a result, the experience of watching him over the course of three emotionally exhausting years is shockingly cathartic.
–UNSEENFILMS (Apr. 2017)
How Do You Find Distribution at a Film Festival? San Francisco’s New Launch Section Provides An Original Opportunity
The ideal for us is that these films get their best possible premieres. We want people to see all five of these screenings in the theaters while they’re here.
–INDIEWIRE (Mar. 2017)
These films have been carefully selected to both underline our commitment to exceptional cinema voices and serve as an experimental alternative to larger-scale film sales environments.
–SFFILM.ORG (Mar. 2017)
With the emotional force and power of a Bruce Springsteen song, Jeff Unay's cinema vérité portrait of Joe Carman packs an emotional wallop. A family man who has promised not to return to competitive mixed martial arts fighting, the dangerous sport that gives him the most complete sense of purpose he's been able to find, Joe risks everything for one more chance in the ring.
–HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (Mar. 2017)
True/False ’17 Dispatch #1: “Cage Fighter,” “Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?” and “All Good Things”
Shot with the dynamism and intimacy of recent boxing films “Creed” and “Southpaw” – director Jeff Unay apparently had to remove the sound of his lens hitting the cage – but inherently boasting the authenticity those films lust after, the profile of Joe, a mixed martial artist at the end of his career, is a familiar crowdpleaser made special by its details.
–THE MOVEABLE FEST (Mar. 2017)
The film evokes “The Wrestler” and “The Fighter” but with real-life stakes. The camera is invited into some pretty emotionally-charged arguments and intimate moments.
–THE COLUMBIA TRIBUNE (Mar. 2017)
DIRECTOR JEFF UNAY PROVIDES AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE CAGE FIGHTER's (WORKING TITLE "GREYWATER") PRODUCTION
Tell stories that means something to you personally – something that you connect with on a deeply emotional level.
–SEATTLE DOCUMENTARY ASSOCIATION (Jan. 2016)
THE CAGE FIGHTER TEAM (WORKING TITLE "GREYWATER") AWARDED SUPPORT BY SUNDANCE INSTITUTE DOCUMENTARY FILM PROGRAM
Overall the selections are characterized by risk, inclusion and innovation as well as addressing the most vital conversations of our time.
–SUNDANCE (Nov. 2015)
One of the strongest American projects … is Jeff Unay’s The Cage Fighter (working title "Greywater") on a 40-year-old father revisiting his past as a cage fighter.
–REALSCREEN (Nov. 2015)
"The Cage Fighter" (working title "Greywater") is a profile of Mixed Martial Arts fighter Joe Carman helmed by Unay, a director, cinematographer and VFX specialist, whose post-pro credits include “Avatar” and “King Kong.”
–VARIETY (Nov. 2015)
At first, the premise might seem to be one thing, about a guy who fights with MMA. But actually, the film is so much more.
–PENOBSCOT BAY PILOT (Sept. 2015)
“When I first heard Jeff’s pitch, it almost didn’t sound like a documentary to me, it sounded like you were pitching an indie drama and I think that really bodes well for it from a narrative perspective, and that coupled with the audience we know is out there for MMA content, this could potentially do well.”
–REALSCREEN (Sept. 2015)
DIRECTOR JEFF UNAY WINS POINTS NORTH PITCH COMPETITION WITH The Cage Fighter (working title "Greywater")
“He’s got incredible instincts as a storyteller and cinematographer. It’s really exciting to find a talent like that who can use the festival as a springboard for that film.”
–INDIEWIRE (Sept. 2015)
TFI, CIFF AND CNN FILMS INVITE The Cage Fighter (working title "Greywater") TO INAUGURAL FILMMAKER RETREAT
The Camden/TFI retreat – presented by CNN Films – will provide guidance to five U.S. documentary teams focused on creative and cinematic films exemplifying the theme of “American Stories.”
–REALSCREEN (June 2015)
“Sports is an entry point to tackle important societal issues and push forward social change … [and] ESPN is proud to shine a light on thoughtful new talent by sparking creativity, because we believe that if given the right voice, great stories have the power to change the world.”
–TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE (Jan. 2015)