Doc “Sorry/Not Sorry” asks if Louis CK was really canceled – The Hollywood Reporter

In 2017, filmmaker Caroline Suh, like many Louis CK fans, wasn’t sure what to make of the sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian, which were detailed in a New York Times Story. The report included accounts from female comics about how CK exposed himself to them, which he admitted to and led to FX, Netflix and CK’s management company 3Arts dropping him.

“I watched his show with great devotion,” says Suh. “And when the article came out, I was surprised and honestly thought, ‘Is it really that bad that he’s being banned?’ I didn’t really know how to think about it.”

Nearly six years later, after CK sold out Madison Square Garden and won two Grammys for his comedy albums, Suh and her co-director Cara Mones interrogate questions of sex and power raised by the downfall and comeback of the film in their new documentary were raised by comedians, I’m sorry/I’m not sorry.
The JustThe film he produced, which premieres at TIFF on September 10, features interviews with women who have spoken about CK, including writer and producer Jen Kirkman, comedians Abby Schachner and Megan Koester, and male colleagues of his ilk Parks and Recreation Co-creator Mike Schur and Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman. Suh and Mones also comb through archival footage of CK’s performances and of other people talking about him, including a notable moment at a question-and-answer session in May 2016 when a University of Chicago student asked Jon Stewart about comedy at the time The allegations against CK that were circulating in circles were not yet widely known. Witness Stewart’s dismissive reaction, which resurfaced online after the Just The story, which ran 17 months later, is like seeing a time capsule of pre-#MeToo customs. “The hope was to show people’s reaction in real time,” Mones says, “to follow how this story unfolded.”

Suh, who directed the 2023 series “Obamas” for Netflix Work: What we do all day and the 2020 film Blackpink: Light up the sky, started I’m sorry/I’m not sorry after meeting in 2020 with The New York Times, which has expanded its journalism to non-fiction films and television projects Timethe 2021 Oscar-nominated Amazon documentary and this year’s Emmy-nominated Hulu series The 1619 Project. “I was obsessed with the story, so I approached it as something that would interest me and they immediately agreed,” says Suh. She recruited Mones, who produced her Blackpink film, “because I’m a Gen Xer,” Suh says. “And I knew that maybe I had some sort of calcified thoughts about what normal behavior is.” Millennial Mones says she was “terrified” by the idea. “When she asked me to join in, I asked myself, ‘What’s in it for us to pay more attention to Louis?’ “, she remembers. “And as I began to really understand Caroline’s vision for the film, I realized how much had been missing from the conversation and how little I had known.”

The film details the backlash women who spoke publicly about CK faced, from online harassment to dwindling job opportunities. Schachner, who said that Just about CK masturbating on the phone when she invited him to one of her shows, talked about CK because, as she says in the film, she wanted to know about him herself. Kirkman, who was not featured in the original Times piece but alluded to CK’s treatment of women in her podcast without mentioning him by name, says in the film that she is participating because nothing has changed in the six years since Just Story was running.

One of the filmmakers’ biggest challenges was getting industry people involved in discussions about CK. “People just see it as a threat to their careers and don’t want to be in the line of fire,” Suh said. CK wasn’t involved in the documentary, but the filmmakers used clips of his work, including a stand-up routine in which he talks about his misbehavior as “my thing” and suggests it’s a harmless, if embarrassing, fetish, to expose yourself. “As we were making the film, we realized that he was reframing it from something that related to power dynamics to his sexual orientation,” says Suh. “That was a revelation for us. And as a fan, I had a lot of questions like, “Oh, what exactly does he say?”

At one point, I’m sorry/I’m not sorry was founded at Showtime under the cable network’s then Docs boss, Vinnie Malhotra. When Showtime restructured earlier this year, Malhotra left to become president of the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions and Showtime, and the filmmakers parted ways. Now Suh and Mones are looking for a distribution partner at TIFF.

As for audiences, “It was always the hope that the film would appeal to both sides,” says Suh, meaning both CK fans and people angry with him.

The filmmakers say their biggest concern heading into the festival is the women who participated in “Sorry/Not Sorry,” none of whom will be at TIFF. “We’re really nervous on their behalf,” Suh says. “The biggest concern with the film right now is what impact it will have on them.”

As for her own opinion on CK since she first read this Just Story in 2017: “My thinking has definitely evolved,” Suh says, declining to say more. “We try to ask a lot of questions about it to get people thinking.”

This story first appeared in the September 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to login.

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