North Philly's "Quest” Rainey featured in riveting documentary, national rollout set

11/25/2017 10:03 am ET

A sponsored project of Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the largest and oldest not-for-profit dedicated to independent film, artist and documentary filmmaker, Jonathan Olshefski, and First First Run Features are set to theatrically release QUEST, a moving documentary chronicling a close knit, American family.

For nearly a decade epically capturing a family living in a neighborhood besieged by inequality and neglect, in an intimate and nuanced manner, Olshefski captivates and honors the lives of Christopher “Quest” Rainey, his wife Christine’a “Ma Quest,” and their children. Working substandard jobs while supporting Christine’a’s son, William, who is undergoing cancer treatment and caring for his baby son, Quest and Ma Quest are also concerned for the future of their daughter, PJ.

“I make films to make friends and it was been amazing to meet so many cool new people and to go deeper with partners that have been a part of this journey for a long time,” said Olshefski, named as one of 25 New Faces in Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine and mentioned in the New York Times as one of “The 9 New Directors You Need to Watch.”

Premiering in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, QUEST will make its theatrical debut in Philadelphia on December 1 at the Ritz at the Bourse.

<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">QUEST</a> is an intimate documentary film tha
QUEST is an intimate documentary film that captures eight years in the life of an African American family living in North Philadelphia. The film’s theatrical release is set for December 1 in Philadelphia. The QUEST Team at the 46th Edition of New Directors/New Films held earlier this year at the Museum of Modern Art. L-R: Jonathan Olshefski and The Rainey Family. | Photo by GODLIS.

“I hope that, beyond building an initial connection with viewers, the film will spark real commitment to support and embrace communities like North Philadelphia,” said Olshefski, a Temple University alum and Radio, TV, and Film Associate Professor at Rowan University.

“We are developing an impact and engagement campaign around the film to create a context for this to happen and we are looking for individuals and organizations to partner with us in this effort.”

Quest, and Ma Quest battle hardships and societal challenges daily, yet find energy to nurture a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio, a safe space where all are welcomed.

The feature-length documentary begins at the dawn of the Obama presidency, following the professionally-psychologically traumatized patriarch in intimate and nuanced ways that captivates, while simultaneously acknowledging and honoring the plight of a Black man in America.

Vividly illuminating the issue of race and class in one of the country’s most impoverish cities, with “vérité intimacy” Olshefski artistically produces a piece of art that highlights the profound testament to love, healing and hope.

“By far, one of the most moving documentaries I’ve ever seen, and vital viewing that somehow captures the past 10 years of the American experience better than the family or director Olshefski could have ever imagined,” said Vox Film Critic, Alissa Wilkinson.

With the support of First First Run Features, founded by a group of filmmakers to advance the distribution of independent film, Olshefski joins a legacy alongside such notable directors including Spike Lee, Michael Apted, Peter Jackson, and Alex Gibney.

Employing a production process that emphasized collaboration, dialogue, and relationship to amplify Quest and members of his family voices, Olshefski (also known as Peter Parker) somehow is able to reflect their points of view in an artful way.

“Every independent film needs champions to get made and I am so grateful to everyone who made this film possible. Now we need champions to help us get the word out so that we can bring this important story to more people.


Philadelphia ||| December 1 ||| Ritz at the Bourse

New York ||| December 8 ||| Quad Cinema

Los Angeles ||| December 15 ||| Laemmle Monica

Pittsburgh ||| January 5, 2018 ||| Regent Square Theater


Winner: Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival ||| Winner: Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival ||| Winner: Grand Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary - Dallas International Film Festival ||| Winner: Grand Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary - RiverRun International Film Festival ||| Winner: Les Blank Award: Grand Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary - Ashland Independent Film Festival ||| Winner: People's Voice Award - Fist Up Film Festival ||| Honorable Mention: Grand Jury Prize Documentary Feature - Cleveland International Film Festival ||| Honorable Mention: Grand Jury Prize Documentary Feature - Nashville Film Festival ||| Winner: Audience Award - Camden International Film Festival ||| Winner: Best Documentary Feature - Baltimore International Black Film Festival ||| Winner: Best U.S. Documentary - Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival ||| Winner: Documentary Jury Award - Milwaukee Film Festival ||| Winner: Silver Gateway Award for Second Best Film - Mumbai Film Festival ||| Honoree: Unforgettables List - Cinema Eye Honors ||| Official Nominee: Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking - Cinema Eye Honors ||| Official Nominee: Outstanding Achievement in Editing - Cinema Eye Honors ||| Official Nominee: Audience Choice Prize - Cinema Eye Honors


Jonathan Olshefski is an artist and documentary filmmaker. In 2017, he was named one of the “25 New Faces in Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, and was listed in the New York Times as one of “The 9 New Directors You Need to Watch.” QUEST is his debut feature documentary and premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Olshefski strives to tell intimate and nuanced stories that honor his subjects’ complexity by employing a production process that emphasizes collaboration, dialogue, and relationship to amplify their voices and reflect their points of view in an artful way. He has an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and is an Associate Professor of Radio, TV and Film at Rowan University. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon is an award-winning documentary producer, editor and director. She is the co-producer and editor of Documented (2013), about Pulitzer Prize-winning undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’ fight for immigration reform, and of Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Gordon's directorial debut, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez (2015), for which she is also the editor, was nominated for an Emmy and won Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color at the African Diaspora International Film Festival. She is a Women at Sundance Fellow and is on the faculty at Columbia University and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Lindsay Utz edited the award-winning documentary Bully, which was released nationally in 2012 and shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Her other documentary credits include the TIFF award-winning First Position (2011), the Sundance-supported In Country (2014), an Emmy-nominated episode for PBS Frontline (2015), and multiple shorts for the New York Times. In 2012, Utz was named the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellow in honor of Errol Morris’ late editor.

Todd Griffin has composed music for over 30 films with at least one represented at Sundance every year since 2009. Notable titles include multiple festival award-winners Life, Animated, The Overnighters and Welcome to Leith. Griffin has worked with musical luminaries including Patti Smith, Vic Chesnutt and members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi. He was a fellow at the Sundance Composer's lab in 2008 and has been nominated twice for Cinema Eye Honors.


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