Movies

Artist Andrew Levitas Tackles Corporate Greed in Johnny Depp Starring ‘Minamata’

Andrew Levitas has carved out a unique place in the art world, having used his considerable skills across multiple creative platforms. A filmmaker, painter, sculptor, producer, writer, actor and photographer, Levitas is also the founder of Metalwork Pictures, a media production company that develops and produces original content, including his 2014 directorial debut, “Lullaby,” as well as “Georgetown,” “Last Moment of Clarity,” “The White Crow,” “Farming,” “Flower,” “At Any Price,” “Affluenza” and “The Art of Getting By.” When it comes to producing, Levitas says, “It’s purely about supporting other like-minded artists, specifically those who seek essential truth, and engage with their material in a very particular way.  Beyond that, joy of creation is essential.”

Levitas is currently in production on “Minamata,” pictured above, starring Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and Hiroyuki Sanada. HanWay is handling sales.  The film, set in 1971, follows Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith’s journey to the Japanese fishing village of Minamata to investigate the devastation of its townspeople by mercury poisoning caused by the Chisso Corporation, with nefarious assistance from the Japanese government and the yakuza.

“ ‘Minamata’ delves into corporate greed, social injustice and inequality,” says Levitas. “It’s also the story of one man and one woman who made a difference and how when we stand together to fight against darker powers, good wins out. It’s about giving voice to those who have none.”

The differences between Levitas’ first film and his latest are considerable. “ ‘Lullaby’ was an intimate look at personal trauma through the narrowest of lenses. ‘Minamata,’ conversely, while also based on a true story, is exponentially wider in scope and tone. This film lives in the incredible mind of W. Eugene Smith. It’s an incredibly exciting, unexpected, and important story,” says Levitas.

Levitas has a restless artistic spirit that drives him from project to project. “Sculpting and painting are personal and tactile. Filmmaking by nature is more than any one person, and a true collaboration in every sense of the word,” he says. Levitas also serves as a professor at New York University, and maintains studios in New York and London.

The future holds many opportunities for Levitas, but right now, he’s focused on completing “Minamata” before making any firm decisions about his next endeavor. “I have all forms of projects constantly ready to go, but as I’ve taken the year off from teaching to make this film, I’m most eager to get back to my students.”

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