Adam Bhala Lough

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Adam Bhala Lough
Born (1979-05-09) May 9, 1979 (age 36)
Occupation Film director, screenwriter
Years active 2002–present

Adam Bhala Lough is an American film director, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker from Fairfax, Virginia.[1] Known for his ability to authentically dramatize subcultures and popular youth cultures, several of Lough’s films have been selected as part of the Sundance Film Festival, and he holds the distinction of being the only filmmaker to have a feature film and a documentary in the film festival, as well as a screenplay selected for the annual Sundance Screenwriter's Lab.[2]

Early life[edit]

Adam Lough was born in New York and raised in Fairfax, Virginia. In his teenage years, Lough spent his time restocking shelves at Blockbuster, where he was inspired by the independent cinema of the early 1990s. Armed with a borrowed Panasonic VHS Camcorder, Lough shot several short films with his friends, and edited them tape to tape at the local public access television station.[3]

Lough parlayed his early films into an admission to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied film. While in school, Lough created the short films Roundest Wheel, as well as Jes One. Jes One, an adaptation of Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", retold in the 1980s New York graffiti scene, served as Lough's thesis film, and would inspire his first professional film.[4]


Feature films[edit]

In 2002, Lough expanded his NYU thesis project to create Bomb the System, starring Mark Webber, Gano Grills, and Jaclyn DeSantis. With a budget of $500,000 and a crew composed mostly of Lough's fellow recent graduates, Bomb the System was shot in New York City. The film garnered the then 23-year-old Lough a Best First Feature nomination at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards,[5] as well as several accolades at film festivals across the United States.[6] Bomb the System was released by Palm Pictures in 2005.[7]

In 2007, Lough wrote and directed Weapons starring Nick Cannon and Paul Dano and a host of upcoming young actors and actresses.[8] Weapons was an experiment in non-linear storytelling tackling the problem of youth violence, and premiered in competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.[9] Featuring a score from DJ Screw, Weapons was released on DVD by Lionsgate Films in 2009.

Documentary work[edit]

In 2005, Lough served as editor on Lay Down Old Man, a documentary that shed light on the history between the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles.[10]

In 2007 and 2008, Lough spent a year on the road with Lil Wayne, shooting what would become The Carter. The documentary was shot in the time before and shortly after the release of Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. The film was critically acclaimed and premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival where indieWire dubbed it the "best film of the festival",[11] but raised controversy when Lil Wayne attempted to block the release of the film due to its depiction of his marijuana and cough syrup use. The case was eventually thrown out of court by a judge,[12] but the film never received a proper release and remains shrouded in mystery.

In 2008, Lough premiered The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee "Scratch" Perry, a documentary following Lee "Scratch" Perry, at the SXSW Film Festival.[13] Named after Perry's 1969 album of the same name, the film played in dozens of film festivals worldwide, and was screened across the globe in nearly 100 theaters in 2011. The film is equally devoted to thirty years of Jamaican music and culture, and was narrated by Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro.[14]

In 2009, Lough served as a producer and writer on the documentary Red Apples Falling, directed by Higbee and produced by Damon Dash. The film is an uncensored look at the life of platinum-selling rap artist Jim Jones and his Dipset ByrdGang.[15]

Lough's documentary feature The Motivation premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in late April 2013.[16] The film follows eight of the best professional skateboarders in the world including Ryan Sheckler, Nyjah Huston and Paul Rodriguez III.[17] The Motivation opened #1 on iTunes documentary charts for 13 days straight.

Future projects[edit]

At Sundance 2012 it was announced Lough will be directing Panarea, a drama starring Mark Webber and Chloë Sevigny.[18] The script was penned by Adam Mansbach and the film will be executive produced by Jim Jarmusch.

Lough is also working with producers Edward R. Pressman and David Gordon Green on a horror film titled Splatter Sisters.[19] The film will be the first of the "Skinemax" movement, coined by Lough as an homage to the T&A and gratuitously violent cable TV fare of his youth.[19]

In early 2013 it was announced WWE Studios is teaming with producer Edward R. Pressman and Jason Blum's Blum-Hanson-Allen films to develop Cruisin' for a Brusin', an action comedy to be written and directed by Lough.[20]


Year(s) Title Director Producer Writer Festival Premiere
2002 Bomb the System Yes No Yes Tribeca Film Festival
2007 Weapons Yes No Yes Sundance Film Festival
2008 The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee "Scratch" Perry Yes Yes Yes SXSW Film Festival
2009 The Carter Yes Yes N/A Sundance Film Festival
2009 Red Apples Falling No Yes No NY Latino Film Festival
2013 The Motivation Yes Yes N/A Tribeca Film Festival


Year Award Category Title Result
2003 Anchorage International Film Festival Best Feature Bomb the System Won[21]
2003 Athens International Film Festival Audience Award Bomb the System Won[21]
2003 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Director Bomb the System Won[21]
2004 Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Bomb the System Nominated[21]
2004 San Francisco Indiefest Best Feature Bomb the System Won[21]
2007 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize WEAPONS Nominated[21]


  1. ^ "Adam Bhala Lough on his Lee "Scratch" Perry movie". May 13, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ "2014 Festival Films will be public in December". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bomb The System Director: Adam Bhala Lough Interview". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
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  21. ^ a b c d e f Adam Bhala Lough awards, IMDb.

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