Arts Documentary EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE Opens December 1 in LA


A Music-Fueled Journey Through Folk and Traditional Arts in America

Opening Los Angeles on December 1 at Laemmle's Music Hall
First Run Features is proud to announce the Los Angeles opening of Extraordinary Ordinary People, a sweeping celebration of the cultures of the world living and thriving in the United States. The feature-length documentary, directed by longtime filmmaker and folklorist Alan Govenar, opened in New York in September to terrific reviews.

At a time when the existence of the National Endowment for the Arts has never been more threatened, Govenar's documentary focuses on one of its least known and most enduring programs: the National Heritage Fellowship, awarded annually since 1982. Featuring a breathtaking array of men and women who have been awarded the fellowship, including musicians, dancers, quilters, woodcarvers and more, the film demonstrates the importance of the folk and traditional arts in shaping the fabric of America. From Bill Monroe and B.B. King to Passamaquoddy basket weavers and Peking Opera singers; from Appalachia and the mountains of New Mexico to the inner city neighborhoods of New York, the suburbs of Dallas, and the isolated Native American reservations of Northern California – each of the artists share exceptional talent, ingenuity, and perseverance.

Govenar began documenting the artists more than 35 years ago. The enormous breadth of his project, which also includes two 52-part radio series for NPR and three books, allowed him to explore in great detail the intersection of disparate cultures – many brought to our shores by immigrants over hundreds of years – with America itself. His film gives insights into how cultures endure, and how cultural expressions evolve but at the same time remain true to their roots in our 21st century connected world.

Some of the artists featured in the film include:

Sheila Kay Adams – Culture: Anglo; Tradition: Ballads, Musician, Singer, Storyteller 
Rahim Alhaj – Culture Iraqi; Tradition: Composer, Oud Player 
Loren Bommelyn – Culture: Native American Tolowa; Tradition: Artisan, Dancer, Musician 
Laverne Brackens – Culture: African American; Tradition: Artisan, Quilter 
Charles Carrillo – Culture: Hispanic; Tradition Santero 
Clifton Chenier – Culture: African American, Creole; Tradition: Accordionist, Musician, Zydeco 
Sidiki Conde – Culture: Guinean; Tradition: Dancer, Drummer, Musician 
Sonia Domsch – Culture: Czech; Tradition: Artisan, Lace Maker 
Qi Shu Fang – Culture: Asian, Chinese; Tradition: Peking Opera Performer, Musician 
"Queen" Ida Guillory – Culture: African American, Creole; Tradition: Zydeco, Accordionist
John Lee Hooker – Culture: African American; Tradition: Blues, Guitarist, Musician, Singer 
Wanda Jackson – Culture: Anglo; Tradition: Gospel, Musician, Rockabilly, Singer 
Dolly Jacobs – Culture: Anglo; Tradition: Circus Aerialist 
Flory Jagoda – Culture: Jewish; Tradition: Sephardic Musician 
"Flaco" JimĂ©nez – Culture: Mexican; Tradition: Accordionist, Conjunto, Musician 
Genoa Keawe – Culture: Native Hawaiian; Tradition: Musician, Singer, Ukulele Player 
B.B. King – Culture: African American; Tradition: Blues, Guitarist, Musician, Singer 
Narciso Martinez – Culture: Mexican; Tradition: Accordionist, Conjunto, Musician 
Lydia Mendoza – Culture: Mexican; Tradition: Musician, Singer 
Norma Miller – Culture: African American; Tradition: Dancer, Lindy Hop 
Bill Monroe – Culture: Anglo; Tradition: Bluegrass, Mandolin Player, Musician, Singer 
Alex Moore – Culture: African American; Tradition: Blues, Musician, Pianist, Singer 
Chum Ngek – Culture: Asian, Cambodian; Tradition: Musician 
Clarissa Rizal – Culture:Native American Tlingit; Tradition: Ceremonial Regalia Maker 
Earl Scruggs – Culture: Anglo; Tradition: Banjo Player, Bluegrass, Musician
Dan Sheehy – Folklorist & Former Director of NEA Folk & Traditional Arts; Mariachi Musician
Koko Taylor – Culture: African American; Tradition: Blues, Musician, Singer
Mike Vlahovich – Culture: Croatian; Tradition: Shipwright 
Albertina Walker – Culture: African American; Tradition: Gospel, Musician, Singer

**Filmmaker Alan Govenar will appear in person on opening weekend**

"Enjoyable and enticing! Govenar's knowledge and affection are contagious...he makes his case for the NEA by asking the simple question: What do we value? In his expansive view of American culture, that includes preserving native languages, recognizing the profundity of the blues, and honoring where we came from and what we've made in equal measure."          - Serena Donadoni, The Village Voice

"A celebration of art, survival, and the riches of human experience. This exuberant film makes each art sampled, from oud playing to basket weaving to bobbin lace making, feel indispensable." - Regina Weinreich, Huffington Post

"'Extraordinary Ordinary People' includes footage of some of the most significant artists of the past century, from bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe to bluesman B.B. King. With budgets for the arts in peril, it couldn't come at a more opportune time."                                      
-Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International