TYPE: Documentary Feature
STATUS: In Distribution
She’s beautiful, artistic, rich, loved¬¬—and can’t stand to be alive. RULES TO LIVE BY traces the fascinating life and mental illness of my sister Ruth and my struggle to come to terms with her suicide.
In December 2008, my sister Ruth Litoff decorated her Manhattan loft like a beautiful stage set with fifteen suicide notes and gifts for her closest friends, her hundreds of markers in rainbow order. The police officer said to me, “I have never seen anything like this.” The film begins on the day I found Ruth dead and follows my journey as I come to know Ruth in death in a way I was never able to know her in life.
The tone will be like Ruth’s own perspective on life--witty, sad, often outrageous and even funny. I will give Ruth her voice through her own written words and art.
I will let my discovery process dictate how the story unfolds and express with raw honesty my feelings as I sift through her belongings.
My hope is to be as courageous and artistic as Ruth was – to experiment with animation and other visualizations of Ruth’s state of mind - to create a spectacularly artistic film.
Hope Litoff - Director
HOPE LITOFF has been editing films for 20 years. She began her career assisting filmmakers such as Ken Burns and Stephen Ives on THE WEST, as well as MISS AMERICA, dir. Lisa Ades (PBS) and BLUE VINYL dir. Judith Helfand and Dan Gold (HBO). Later film credits include: KEEPER OF THE COHEN dir. David Gaynes, COLLEGE BOYS LIVE, Dir George O’Donnell, and SEEING SALLY dir. Peter Goodman. RULES TO LIVE BY is Litoff’s directorial debut.
Beth Levison - Producer
BETH LEVISON is an independent producer/director and the recipient of two Emmy Awards and three Peabody’s. She produced THE TRIALS OF SPRING, a feature documentary and six shorts about women human rights activists in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. Her documentary feature debut LEMON, EP’d by Impact Partners and Russell Simmons screened at some 40 festivals worldwide and was broadcast on PBS. In addition to her doc work, Levison is a producing instructor at SVA.
Dan Gold - Director of Photography
DANIEL B. GOLD won the 2002 Sundance Excellence in Cinematography Award for his work on BLUE VINYL. Gold subsequently co-directed, produced, and shot EVERYTHING’S COOL (Grand Jury Prize nomination, Sundance 2007). Gold is currently DP for several feature docs: UNTITLED GUN FILM, Dir. Cynthia Wade, THE AMICHAI FILM PROJECT, Dir. Sandi Dubowski, and LOVE AND STUFF, Dir. Judith Helfand. Previous work includes: LIFE IN PICTURES, AMERICAN TEACHER: THE GREATER GOOD, and others.
Toby Shimin - Editor
TOBY SHIMIN began her picture editing career in 1988 when she cut the Academy Award nominated film, THE CHILDREN'S STOREFRONT. She has since edited numerous Sundance premiering films including MARTHA AND ETHEL, A LEAP OF FAITH, OUT OF THE PAST (Audience Award), EVERYTHING'S COOL, BUCK (Audience Award), and most recently, HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO for HBO. Additional projects include: INDIAN POINT, AIDS WARRIORS and SEABISCUIT. Toby is a principal of Dovetail Films and teaches at major universities.
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