Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

An illustration from "Moon Man," a children's book by Tomi Ungerer, the subject of FAR OUT ISN'T FAR ENOUGH: THE TOMI UNGERER STORY, a film by Brad Bernstein. A First Run Features release. Photo by Sam Norval / Corner of the Cave Media.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

Executive Producer:
Co-Executive Producer:
Executive Alien:
Additional Editing:
Stills Photographer:
  • Sam Norval
  • Vincent Edmond Louis Poitout
Production Company:

* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (2013)

Opened: 06/14/2013 Limited

Lincoln Plaza06/14/2013 - 06/27/201314 days
The Nuart06/21/2013 - 06/27/20137 days
IFC Center06/21/2013 - 06/27/20137 days
Kendall Square...07/12/2013 - 07/18/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Genre: Biographical Documentary

Rated: Unrated

Not Since Crumb Has A Documentary Captured Such A Wildly Fascinating Artist


One man's wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art, Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story combines traditional documentary storytelling with original animation culled from eight decades of art from the renegade children's book author and illustrator.

Using a historical palette of 20th century events to paint an artist's epic yet controversial life story, the film offers a retrospective of Ungerer's life and art, and ponders the complexities and contradictions of a man who, armed with an acerbic wit, an accusing finger and a razor sharp pencil, gave visual representation to the revolutionary voices during one of the most tantalizing and dramatic periods in American history.

Coming of age under the German occupation of France in World War II, Tomi Ungerer produced some of the most iconic imagery of the 1960s and '70s. From his striking visual commentaries protesting American involvement in Vietnam to the many beloved characters of his children's books, he is admired worldwide for the influence his work has had on a variety of art forms, and for his contribution to children's literature. "No one, I dare say, no one was as original," Maurice Sendak says in the film. "Tomi influenced everybody." Yet the same factors that vaulted him to meteoric success -- fearless creativity, absolute outspokenness, fierce independence -- also made him a lightning rod for controversy and the object of intense malice.

In Far Out, we meet an artist who creates boundary-exploring erotica and provocative political art, while penning best-selling children's literature with mischievous wit and childlike innocence. He arrives on American shores eager for economic opportunities and new creative freedom, and he leaves having offended even the tolerant and open-minded as he pushes past the limits of propriety. He becomes a broadly appealing artist and Madison Avenue success story, a singular artist steeped in piquant ideas and thoughts, yet even his most recognized books are now out of print. While Ungerer is by no means a victim, he is an early casualty of the so-called cultural wars--a man who didn't fit neatly into the left or the right, and who managed to offend and fascinate people of all political and cultural persuasions. Once the most famous children's book author in America, Tomi Ungerer became persona non grata in this country, exiled to the professional abyss, never to be heard from again.

The film also explores Ungerer's life post-America, when he retreated to Nova Scotia in the hopes of finding himself. We see an artist "dropping out" and reinventing himself by adopting an agrarian lifestyle. Ultimately, his search leads him to Ireland, where he discovers this island's natural beauty and its resilient people, and through both finds a degree of inner peace, not to mention renewed critical and commercial success late in life.

Ungerer's artwork, drawn from an archive of thousands of original images, is the beating heart of the film's visual style. What makes Far Out innovative is how the archive is used as a narrative tool. Through a number of techniques, from stop motion to 3D animation, the filmmaking team animated hundreds of images from this trove to help tell the story, bringing his childhood sketches, advertising campaigns, anti-War posters, cartoons, works of erotica and children's books into motion. In addition, archival footage and photographs are selectively interspersed throughout the film, providing historical context but never dominating Ungerer's original imagery.

While Tomi's on-camera interviews provide the backbone of the film's narrative, writers, critics and other artists from various fields are interviewed to put his words and actions under a discerning microscope. Secondary interviews include: the late, great Maurice Sendak, legendary children's book author and close friend; Jules Feiffer, syndicated Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and friend; Patrick Skene Catling, British children's book author and critic; Michael Patrick Hearn, American literary scholar specializing in children's literature and its illustration; Steven Heller, art director, journalist and critic for the New York Times Book Review; Burton Pike, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center, former Fulbright student and long-time friend; and others.

While Far Out Isn't Far Enough is his theatrical directorial debut, Brad Bernstein is a writer, producer and director who has spent the last fourteen years creating long-form documentary production for TV. He is currently the staff writer for VH1's Emmy Award winning doc series Behind The Music and has also produced and written five episodes of the series, a sixth of which (Ludacris) is currently in production through his production company Corner of the Cave Media (Miami, FL). Brad is also co-director and writer of Real Change: Artists For Education, a one-hour special airing nationally on CBS O&O's on April 23rd, 2013 that includes interviews and performances with Pitbull, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Antebellum, Jason Mraz, Quincy Jones, Matthew Morrison and LMFAO. Brad is also currently directing and producing a ten-camera, live concert and documentary adaption called Jazz and the Philharmonic which features Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Dave Grusin and Terence Blanchard that will air nationally on PBS in January, 2014. Brad's shop, Corner of the Cave Media, is co-owned by Far Out co-producer and editor Rick Cikowski, and Far Out editor/animator Brandon Dumlao.

Selected Quotes

"Easily the most wildly fascinating artist profiled in a documentary since Crumb." -- Movies.com

"Thoroughly entertaining!" -- The Hollywood Reporter

Director's Statement

On July 27th of 2008, I was in my office in Coconut Grove, Florida sifting through sections of the New York Times when, instantly, my life changed. There on the front of the Times' Arts section was an article -- really a character sketch -- of an Alsatian artist who seemed to have been through it all: Nazi occupation, the fight for civil rights and the American cultural wars of the 1960's, the golden age of magazine illustration, the sexual revolution, shame and exile. Yet here he was, as prolific as ever, set to be republished in the United States after a forty-year hiatus. I felt compelled to write Tomi Ungerer a letter, pitching him on an idea to make a documentary on his life and career.

Just over two weeks later, I got home from work to find a letter in my mailbox. But this was no ordinary letter: a cat was penning the words with one paw and drinking a glass of wine with the other! Mr. Ungerer agreed to participate, in his own unique way. We arrived in West Cork, Ireland ready for what was planned to be twelve days of intensive shooting. Excited, optimistic and ready to get to work, my crew and I spent three hours lighting Tomi's studio. When we were set-up, I invited my subject to the interview chair and rolled tape. One could never have expected what came next: Tomi refused to answer a single question. After watching us set up for three hours, taking apart his studio to create the shot look we desired, he lost it emotionally and physically. We completely altered his reality and, like a child, his mind shut down and he refused to cooperate. There was nothing I could do; here we were, caught up in one of Tomi's infamous anxiety attacks.

The good news is that we were rolling tape during the entire exchange and, ultimately, Tomi was able to bring himself back from his darkest depths. But what's more, he then set to explaining the root of his anxiety. And I learned an invaluable lesson about my subject: his personal history has truly marked him, for better and for worse, and while he has moments of extremely unusual behavior, he is also complex and intellectual enough to be able to explain the causes behind both his failings and his genius. And that, as far as a documentary is concerned, is what translates into a great film, which is what I hope people think we have with FAR OUT ISN'T FAR ENOUGH: The Tomi Ungerer Story.

About the Crew

Brad Bernstein (Writer/Director/Producer)

Brad Bernstein is a writer, producer and director who has spent the last fourteen years in long-form documentary production. His current documentary is a 98-minute theatrical that he directed, produced and wrote entitled Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story about the subversive and perverse Alsatian illustrator and author Tomi Ungerer. Paris-based Le Pacte is handling French distribution and International sales and First Run Features (New York) scooped up North American distribution rights.

Brad's television work is also focused on documentaries. He is currently a writer for VH1's Emmy Award winning doc series Behind The Music and has also produced and written five episodes of the series, the most recent of which (Nicole Scherzinger, Pussycat Dolls) was produced, written & edited through his company Corner of the Cave Media (Miami, FL). Along with Cave partner Rick Cikowski, Brad is currently Executive Producer of Real Change, a one-hour, nationally syndicated television special that will air on April 23rd, 2013, that includes interviews and performances with Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Lady Antebellum, Miley Cyrus, Matthew Morrison, Jason Mraz and Quincy Jones.

Brad was 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; was a producer on In Focus, a 36-part Fox Sports documentary series hosted by esteemed broadcaster Dick Enberg; 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; and was producer and writer of MSG Profiles, an 8-part biography series on the New York Knicks and Rangers. His shop, Corner of the Cave Media, is a full service production and post-production facility based in Miami's Art and Design district and offers the entire spectrum of video, digital and interactive services.

Rick Cikowski (Co-Producer/Editor)

Rick Cikowski is a video editor and interactive media designer and the co-founder of Corner of the Cave Media, along with partners Brad Bernstein and Brandon Dumlao. He is currently Executive Producer and lead editor on Real Change. Cikowki's editing credits include lead editor on RECORDING: The History of Recorded Music. His internationally-aired work has led him as far afield as Russia and India where he worked with the Dalai Lama on HBO's Little Monk. He has also cut shows for various networks such as Amazing Animal Inventions for Animal Planet, Dangerous Beauty for MSNBC, History's Mysteries for History Channel, and La Esquina, a weekly series for with hip hop star Pitbull. He has collaborated with numerous recording artists from Boyz N Da Hood on MTV Makes A Video to Iron & Wine's music video for Naked As We Came. He also contributed editing and graphic work to Paul Simon's Children Health Fund. Cikowski's talents have made him a key resource for HBO, CBS, Fox, MTV, Travel Channel, The History Channel, ESPN, PBS, and Showtime.

Cikowski's interactive media design includes websites for Royal Caribbean, JAZZ ROOTS and The Discovery Channel. He has created interactive web based games for movies such as I am Legend, Pink Panther 2, Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs and Body of Lies, and has produced web-based interactive content for Carib Beer, The Miami Heat and recording artist Pitbull. Cikowski recently produced the highly regarded "Planet Pit" ROBA App that is currently for sale on iTunes.

Kevin Rich (Executive Producer

Kevin Rich is a Corporate Bond Trader currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Political Science. Kevin is an avid golfer and enjoys reading and travel.

Jim O'Donnell (Director of Photography)

Jim O'Donnell is a 2-time Emmy Award winning Director of Photography and has been nominated numerous times, most recently for Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Photography, Spring '07. Over the last 22 years, JOD has built his reputation working in both film & television. He is considered a pioneer in the world of High Definition Television, as one of the first DP's to work in the new medium as early as 1986. O'Donnell's close collaboration with Rebo Studio (the first HDTV production company in the USA) during the eighties and nineties makes him one of the few DP's that has worked with every generation of HD camera since its inception. The scope of his work includes Documentary, Commercial, Reality, Children's Television, & Independent films. JOD has been involved with numerous award winning childrens shows including Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, Bear In The Big Blue House, Between The Lions, The Wubulous World Of Dr. Seuss, Out of the Box, and the new Electric Company due to start airing later this year. JOD is currently shooting 4 documentary projects including RECORDING: The History of Recorded Music, and a documentary on Jacob's Pillow -- the 75 year old famous summer dance festival / workshop that is host to the most acclaimed dance companies throughout the world.

Brandon Dumlao (Animation Supervisor)

Brandon Dumlao is a Director, Editor and Cinematographer and a co-founder of Corner of the Cave Media. His rhythmic style and creative eye can be seen in music videos featuring Akon, Young Jeezy, Young Joc, Snoop Dog, Freddy Jackson, Talia, Ivy Queen, Daddy Yankee, Winston and Yandel, Alex and Fido, Toby Love, Trick Daddy and Trina. He has directed domestic and international campaigns for brands including Johnson & Johnson, HP, Esserman International and Ford and has edited the feature documentary Party Animals for HBO, and boxing special De La Hoya vs. Mosley for HBO Boxing.

From Muhammad Ali hitting the speed bag with fellow heavy weight champion Lennox Lewis, to laying on a patch of ice documenting seals in the sub zero waters near Newfoundland, his work as a cinematographer has allowed him to work with living legends and travel the world. Brandon has also been lead editor on shows for Discovery Channel, Science Channel, A&E, ID and HBO, and post production supervisor for the successful "Shark Week" series "Day of the Shark" for Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

Jason Schmidt (Editor)

Jason Schmidt is a freelance editor with 15 years of broadcast experience. He has edited over 150 shows for nearly 30 series on 14 networks. In 2008, he won an Emmy for the HBO documentary "Brooklyn Dodgers: Ghosts of Flatbush" and has been nominated on 5 other occasions, proving the old adage that you can't win 'em all! Jason also was awarded a 2002 Peabody Award for the CBS documentary "9/11? and a 2006 Peabody Award for the HBO documentary "Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer." In 2007, he earned an Edward R. Murrow Award for the CBS News feature "Uphill Battle." Jason has edited 6 programs for the legendary PBS documentary series "Frontline," including 2 season premieres. Controversy from his latest effort, "WikiSecrets", led to a hacker revolt and eventual shutdown of the PBS website in protest.

Jason has also cut scores of segments for the prestigious programs "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" (HBO) and "Sunday Morning" (CBS) and has edited 4 episodes of the venerable VH1 series "Behind The Music," along with a dozen other shows for MTV Networks. His other clients include Sundance Channel, A&E Biography, 48 Hours, Nova, History Channel, TLC and Discovery, among others. In 2011, he worked with director Brad Bernstein on the pilot for the upcoming Animal Planet series "Saved." Jason holds a Master's Degree from Boston University and is an Avid Certified Instructor (ACI). He has international experience teaching editing platforms and served as an adjunct professor at New York University. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter. A new coming attraction -- a second daughter -- will appear this fall at a hospital near him.

Kristi Burns (Clearance Coordinator)

Mom by day, clearance and footage/stills researcher by night (and during nap time.) The various projects she has worked on have required her to find everything from spontaneous human combustion stills to the early commercials of comedian Jeff Dunham. She is convinced she is the only person to have worked for both Morgan Spurlock (reality series, 30 DAYS) and Ronald McDonald (she got his lunch.) Producers for series on A&E, Biography, Discovery Channel, FX, The History Channel, Lifetime Television, NBC as well as DVD BTS producers call on KdB to assist with their research and clearance challenges. That's how she landed in Brad Bernstein's list of contacts.

Recent credits include: consulting for the Experience Music Project in Seattle for the initial worldwide debut of the multimedia exhibitions, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE EXHIBITION and AVATAR: THE EXHIBITION; Clearance Supervising the sixth series of the longest running celeb reality series to date, GENE SIMMONS' FAMILY JEWELS (and keeping the legendary KISS' frontman's marriage proposal secret!). She is the co-founder and former director of CLEAR, an association of clearance and research professionals. All that and she does a great time clock voice over for IRON CHEF AMERICA, as well as read you the news on the ipad app, THE DAILY.

Sam Norval (Still Photography)

Sam Norval was born and raised in Cape Town, the artistic and cultural melting pot of Southern Africa. Feeling the need for creative growth, he moved to London, England, to pursue his passion for photography. During the years he lived in London, he was fortunate to work with some of the most talented and inspirational photographers in Europe. Feeling he needed a new avenue to explore, Sam packed his bags once more and moved to the city of his childhood dreams, New York City. From 2007-2009, Sam joined Brad, Rick and Jimmy on RECORDING: The History of Recorded Music, capturing iconic still imagery of Les Paul, Harry Belafonte, Clint Eastwood, Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Rick Rubin, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, Phil Spector, Norah Jones, Stephen Sondheim and many other interviewees.