FX’s SPERMWORLD, a documentary feature directed by Lance Oppenheim, produced by The New York Times and Edgeline Films, and inspired by the Times’ article “The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand” by Nellie Bowles, will premiere on Friday, March 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX and stream the next day on Hulu.
SPERMWORLD is a road movie set inside the new wild west of baby making – online forums where sperm donors connect with hopeful parents.
Against the landscape of roadside motels, abandoned shopping malls and suburban bathrooms across the country, the film follows intimate encounters between donors and recipients as they exchange more than just genetic material.
SPERMWORLD examines how our fantasies about partnership and parenthood shape our deepest desires. What emerges in this new feature-length documentary directed by Lance Oppenheim is an incisive portrait of the search for human connection in an increasingly alienating world.
Kathleen Lingo of The New York Times serves as executive producer alongside Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman and Eli Despres for Edgeline Films. Lauren Belfer is producing. Oppenheim continues his collaboration with director of photography David Bolen, editor Daniel Garber, co-producer Christian Vazquez, and composer Ari Balouzian. It is his first collaboration with producer Lauren Belfer, a key creative force behind Venice-winning Thank You Very Much and Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue.
“In 2020, I received an email from journalist Nellie Bowles containing her ideas for a story about the online, unregulated sperm universe,” said Oppenheim. “As I read her notes, I started seeing her words in images. The tone of a movie began to emerge – strangers meeting to produce life in lonely places: strip malls at night, empty parking lots. I wanted to make a film that touched on modern loneliness and the quest to solve that feeling through the Internet, altruism and reproduction. I’m thrilled to have realized this portrait with partners as bold and supportive as FX, Edgeline Films and The New York Times.”
“Sperm donation is one of the latest industries to be disrupted by the internet,” said Lingo, the Editorial Director of Film and Television at The New York Times and the film’s executive producer. “This new online marketplace for sperm raises questions from the risks involved in sourcing from unknown donors to the very definition of family itself. This film deftly explores all of this and more through Oppenheim’s humane cinematic lens.”
Lance Oppenheim is a filmmaker known for blending nonfiction storytelling with heightened, cinematic formalism and flourishes of the surreal. His first feature, Some Kind of Heaven, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Magnolia Pictures and Hulu in 2021 to critical acclaim. His second feature, SPERMWORLD, and first television series, Ren Faire, will premiere on FX and HBO respectively in 2024.
SPERMWORLD is the second collaboration between FX and The New York Times, following the success of their investigative journalism docuseries The New York Times Presents (formerly The Weekly), now presenting its third series of documentary features. It is also the third documentary feature from FX, following AKA Jane Roe, director Nick Sweeney’s portrait of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” whose unwanted pregnancy led to the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade, and Hysterical, the feature documentary from director Andrea Nevins that journeys backstage and on the road with veteran comedians, rising stars and novices to discover how an intrepid group of boundary-breaking females are changing the game and exploring what it takes to become the voices of their generation and their gender.
FX, a division of Disney Entertainment, is a global multiplatform brand that develops, produces, commissions and markets original programming for Hulu and the FX and FXX linear channels in the U.S., and Star+ in Latin America and Disney+ in all other international territories. The FX brand mark appears above the title across its entire slate of originals. Over the past two decades, FX has been responsible for some the most-critically acclaimed and award-winning shows on television. Some of the brand’s current and legacy titles include the dramas American Horror Story, American Crime Story, The Americans, Damages, Fargo, Justified, Nip/Tuck, The Old Man, The Patient, Pose, Rescue Me, The Shield, Snowfall and Sons of Anarchy; the comedies Archer, Atlanta, The Bear, Better Things, DAVE, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Reservation Dogs and What We Do in the Shadows; and a growing slate of docuseries and documentary films including The New York Times Presents, Welcome to Wrexham and Dear Mama.
About The New York Times
The New York Times is a trusted source of quality, independent journalism whose mission is to seek the truth and help people understand the world. The Times is now extending its mission by producing nonfiction television and film. They have premiered five nonfiction television series: Diagnosis (Netflix); four-time News and Documentary Emmy® Award-winning The Weekly (FX/Hulu); The New York Times Presents (FX/Hulu), which featured the Primetime Emmy-nominated documentary, “Framing Britney Spears,” that helped launch a national conversation; the Emmy-nominated six-part series Empire of Influence: The Murdochs (CNN); and, most recently, the Emmy Award-winning series The 1619 Project (Hulu). The Times has also produced four feature documentaries: Time (Amazon), which was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature in 2021, Some Kind of Heaven (Magnolia Pictures), 2021 Emmy Award-winner Father Soldier Son (Netflix), and Sorry/Not Sorry, which recently premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and will be in theaters in 2024. How We Get Free, which played at Aspen ShortsFest, San Francisco Film Fest, Hot Docs, Palm Springs ShortsFest, DOC NYC and more, premiered on HBO in fall of 2023.
About Edgeline Films
Helmed by Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman and Eli Despres, Edgeline Films is a boutique documentary production company focusing on prestige film and television. Their TCA-award winning docuseries Couples Therapy — now in its fourth season for Showtime — has been heralded by critics “…as rich a snapshot of human behavior as you are going to find” and has been featured on over a dozen critics’ top 10 lists. Their feature films include The Fight, winner of the 2020 Sundance Jury Prize for Social Impact Filmmaking, and Weiner, winner of the 2016 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and short-listed for the Academy Award®. Edgeline has several exciting new projects in development and production with major networks and streamers, including an upcoming HBO documentary series following Jerrod Carmichael.
Editor-in-Chief | Seat42F, a leading source of entertainment news, information, television and movie resources.