What happens when an impoverished, working-class town decides that its only hope for survival lies within the world of contemporary art? Can these two disparate worlds possibly benefit each other? And why would they even try?
Downside UP captures the beginnings of America’s largest museum of contemporary art, MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), and the re-birth of its host-city, North Adams. Told through the eyes of filmmaker Nancy Kelly and her family, who worked in the factory before it closed, Downside UP renders the subtle changes in the spirit of a region from the intimate view of the kitchen table.
Downside UP aired on the PBS Independent Lens series and in over 125 countries. The Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts supported an extensive Downside UP community engagement campaign.
Nancy Kelly is a Sundance Fellow and veteran filmmaker who most recently wrote, directed and produced REBELS WITH A CAUSE. Produced in partnership with KRCB North Bay Public Television, REBELS screened in many film festivals, and then received theatrical distribution in seventeen states, including a remarkable eleven-week run at the Rafael Film Center. Prior to REBELS, Nancy wrote, directed and produced a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art: TRUST: SECOND ACTS IN YOUNG LIVES, SMITTEN, and DOWNSIDE UP. She also directed and produced the acclaimed narrative feature film THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD, starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. She participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab with THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD and has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches screenwriting at City College of San Francisco.
Kenji Yamamoto is a Sundance fellow whose work has won many awards and screened worldwide. As part of Kelly+Yamamoto Productions, he produced and edited the environmental documentary REBELS WITH A CAUSE (APT), narrated by Frances McDormand, and a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art: DOWNSIDE UP (PBS INDEPENDENT LENS, internationally, ITVS TRUE STORIES: LIFE IN THE USA); SMITTEN, (PBS Primetime Special); and TRUST: SECOND ACTS IN YOUNG LIVES (PBS AMERICA REFRAMED). He produced and edited THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD (PBS American Playhouse series). THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD starred Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. Independently of Kelly+Yamamoto Productions, Kenji edited Rebecca Parrish’s RADICAL GRACE, Hot Docs 2015 Top 5 Audience Favorite., Jennifer Taylor’s NEW MUSLIM COOL, (P.O.V.) winner of the Al Jazeera International Film Festival Freedom Award, and Mark Lipman and Helen Cohen’s STATES OF GRACE, winner of audience awards at Mill Valley, Seattle Lesbian and Gay, and Napa Valley Film Festivals. Kenji participated in the Sundance Documentary Edit Lab with NEW MUSLIM COOL and the Sundance Screenwirter’s Lab with THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD.