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A Gray State

Spotlight Documentary

World Premiere

USA | 93 MINUTES | English |


In 2010 David Crowley, an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics, began production on his film Gray State. Set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government, the film’s crowd funded trailer was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning online community of libertarians, Tea Party activists and members of the nascent alt-right. In January of 2015, Crowley was found dead with his family in their suburban Minnesota home. Their shocking deaths quickly become a cause célèbre for conspiracy theorists who speculate that Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government concerned about a film and filmmaker that was getting too close to the truth about their aims.

Directed by Grizzly Man producer Erik Nelson and Executive Produced by Werner Herzog, A Gray State combs through Crowley’s archive of 13,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of home video, and exhaustive behind-the-scenes footage of Crowley’s work in progress to reveal what happens when a paranoid view of the government turns inward — blurring the lines of what is real and what people want to believe.

—Jason Gutierrez


Directed by Erik Nelson

Erik Nelson is the producer of Werner Herzog's award-winning documentaries Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World, Into the Abyss and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. His work as a director includes the Harlan Ellison documentary, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which premiered at SXSW in 2008.
Erik Nelson
David Crowley, Thomas Kaufman
Lara Andre
David Crowley
Executive Producer
Molly Thompson, Robert Sharenow, Elaine Frontain Bryant
Amy Briamonte, Erik Nelson
Supervising Producer
Peter Hankoff


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A&E IndieFilms
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