Adam Bhala Lough

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Adam Bhala Lough
Born (1979-05-09) May 9, 1979 (age 39)
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 is the only filmmaker with a feature film and a documentary in the 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, submitting one to the film school program at New York University.[3]


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 2003 Independent Spirit Awards.[4] Bomb the System was released by Palm Pictures in 2005.[5]

In 2007, Lough wrote and directed Weapons starring Nick Cannon and Paul Dano and a host of upcoming young actors and actresses.[6] 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.[7]

Documentary work[edit]

In 2007 and 2008, Lough transitioned into documentary when he 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",[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

Lough's first sports documentary The Motivation premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in late April 2013.[12] The film follows eight of the best professional skateboarders in the world including Ryan Sheckler, Nyjah Huston and Paul Rodriguez III.[13]

He collaborated on a documentary/narrative hybrid with music producer and internet phenomenon Hot Sugar, titled Hot Sugar's Cold World, that premiered at the 2015 South by Southwest.[14] It received an honorable mention at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.[15]

In 2017, Lough profiled uncompromising millennial radicals from the U.S. and the U.K. attacking the system through dangerous technological means. The documentary film, titled The New Radical, premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and featured Cody Wilson, Amir Taaki, Julian Assange and others. IndieWire called it "A real life Mr. Robot," in reference to the popular television series.[16]


Year(s) Title Director Producer Writer
2002 Bomb the System Yes No Yes
2007 Weapons Yes No Yes
2008 The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee "Scratch" Perry Yes Yes Yes
2009 The Carter Yes Yes N/A
2009 Red Apples Falling No Yes No
2013 The Motivation Yes Yes N/A
2015 Hot Sugar's Cold World Yes Yes Yes
2015 Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story Yes Yes N/A
2017 The New Radical Yes No Yes


  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.
  4. ^ "Film Independent Spirit Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  5. ^ "Palm Store: Bomb The System". Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  6. ^ "A Conversation With Adam Bhala Lough (WEAPONS) – Hammer to Nail". 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  7. ^ "Weapons | Archives | Sundance Institute". Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  8. ^ "Sundance Film Festival 2009 : 2009 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SHINES NEW LIGHT ON ROCK LEGENDS: Festival to Feature Emerging Talent, Prominent Composers and Icons of Rock in Film and Live Performances" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  9. ^ Ditzian, Eric (April 22, 2009). "Lil Wayne's Lawsuit Against 'Tha Carter' Doc Rejected". MTV. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  10. ^ "2008 SXSW Film Festival Official Line-Up". Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  11. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (2011-05-13). "Adam Bhala Lough on his Lee "Scratch" Perry movie - @TBD Arts". Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  12. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (March 12, 2013). "Kevin Connolly Hockey Doc Leads Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "A Film By Adam Bhala Lough". The Motivation Movie. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  14. ^ Yoshida, Emily (March 26, 2015). "Talking to Heems about Eat Pray Thug, spiritual tourism, and skipping his SXSW panel". The Verge. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  15. ^ Punter, Jennie (May 1, 2015). "'The Closer We Get' Takes Top Award at Hot Docs". Variety. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  16. ^

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