Exclusive: Acclaimed documentarian Lisa Cortes has entered into a first-look development deal with the Museum of New York City, which aims to produce documentary IP based on the museum’s exhibits.
News of the deal — spearheaded by producer John Secrist — follows the Sundance world premiere of Cortés’ recent critically acclaimed feature doc, Little Richard: I am everythingwhich was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the US Documentary Competition and sold to Magnolia Pictures.
Cortés will now look to build a creative pipeline from MCNY’s 100 Years of Exhibition to Screen, with plans for projects on food, social justice, music and more. The first under contract is based on a docuseries Gingerbread NYC: Great Borough Bake-OffA showcase that invites bakers from each borough to design New York City-inspired gingerbread creations.
Cortes will develop and produce all projects through his New York-based production company Cortes Filmworks in partnership with Blue Ant Studios, with which the filmmaker has a pre-existing deal.
“Great Borough Bake-Off inspired our first collaboration with MCNY,” Cortes told Deadline. “Cortez Filmworks is very excited to launch a. Borough bake-off series to celebrate the global food heritage of our five boroughs and the singular personalities behind the bakers.
Continued Cortes: “As a longtime New Yorker, I know this city produces the best stories in the world. MCNY, with a 100-year legacy of capturing the city’s most vibrant qualities – from its street life and struggle for liberation to its grand artistic triumphs – is the ideal partner to develop content that will entertain and inspire.”
“The Museum of the City of New York has been NYC’s storyteller for nearly a century. With a wealth of incredible content, we’re excited to begin this new venture,” added MCNY Vice President Cheryl Victor Levy. “Cortes Filmworks is a perfect fit as our partner in expanding MCNY’s mission and content beyond museum walls. Lisa’s talent as a storyteller, and our His unwavering commitment to exploring the hidden histories that shape lives, guarantees that the museum’s legacy is in the right hands.”
Cortes is an Emmy-winning producer and director of documentaries Little Richard: I am everything, on the transgressive rock ‘n’ roll icon of the same name, opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film tells the story of the black queer origins of rock ‘n’ roll, exposing the inventor – the originator – Richard Penniman, exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Among other upcoming projects from Cortés EBONY EMPIREwhich explores the black publishing powerhouse that changed American culture forever.
Cortes previously co-directed and produced the Emmy-nominated voter suppression doc All In: The Fight for Democracy, released on Prime Video. Additional credits as producer or EP include Roger Ross Williams’ Emmy-winning HBO documentary ApolloDoc invisible beauty On fashion revolutionaries Bethan Hardison and Lee Daniels valuableTo name a few.
Cortes began working with Blue Ant Studios in April last year to develop and produce scripted and unscripted properties that include documentaries, music, history and biographies and narratives. His company, Cortés Filmworks, is committed to telling complex, powerful stories from new perspectives and promoting talent often overlooked by the mainstream.
Named “Best Museum” in Time Out New York’s “Best of the City 2021”, The Museum of the City of New York aims to understand the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. The museum, which has also won multiple American Alliance of Museums awards, engages visitors by celebrating, documenting and interpreting the city’s past, present and future.
Cortes was replaced by Black Box Management.