The Weekly's October 2008 cover story "Rock Angel" detailed the challenges Garden Grove filmmaker David Di Sabatino faced making a documentary on the late "Father of Christian Rock Music," Larry Norman.
It didn't get any easier after the film Fallen Angel was in the can. Di Sabatino has been berated by Norman's fans and threatened with legal action by Norman's family.
But today, all is quite well on the Fallen Angel front.
Di Sabatino might even be tempted to say, "Somebody up there likes me."
After Fallen Angel made its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose in February-March, the Norman estate filed a copyright infringement lawsuit. The legal wrangling caused Di Sabatino to pull the documentary from its scheduled screening slot on the last day of April's Newport Beach Film Festival.
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Di Sabatino's lawyers responded by petitioning the courts to judge whether the filmmaker had fairly and legally used the materials in the film. Di Sabatino not only prevailed, but he discovered much of what the family contested wasn't even owned by them.
But more heartening than the legal victory has been the interest distributors have shown toward the project. Details are still being worked out, but the front-runner appears to be documentary niche-marketing specialist Abramorama, whose roster has included Anvil: The Story of Anvil and We Live in Public. According to Di Sabatino, Abramorama wants to show Fallen Angel to a number of theaters in early 2010.
Until then, interested viewers will have to do with a "festival copy" of the film available at FallenAngelDoc.com and Amazon.com. "It will change a great deal before it screens in 2010, but the storyline will stay the same," says the filmmaker, who has been "humbled" by the reception his film has received from mainstream distributors.
"Part of my goal in doing these films was to stand alongside anything that was being put out, and I have accomplished that goal with Frisbee, finding favor at KQED (PBS), and now with a viable film company backing Fallen Angel for a theatrical run," writes Di Sabatino in an email to his friends and supporters. "It is still very much an uphill climb, always learning from one's mistakes and trying to elevate my game every time out. But I think I might be on to something. We'll see."