Break Thru Films is the production company headed by Emmy nominated directors, writers, and producers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.
Established in 1990, Break Thru Films’ productions include: “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work” which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it won the US Documentary Prize for Best Editing; the 2008 Emmy nominated documentary feature “The Devil Came On Horseback;” and the 2007 Emmy nominated feature “The Trials of Darryl Hunt.”
Ricki and Annie are the executive producers and directors of “The Fashion Fund,” a new six part series airing on Ovation in 2014. “The Fashion Fund” goes inside the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund which rewards emerging American design talent and features Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenberg and other industry icons. They also created the companion digital series “Inside the Fashion Fund with Rag & Bone” for the Vogue channel.
Annie and Ricki are well known for producing and creating critically acclaimed documentaries and are sought after for their experience in directing dynamic personal journeys close to home, as well as mounting large international productions in challenging locations.
Their most recent film, “In My Father’s House” premiered in competition at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and is currently touring the festival circuit.
Other recent films include the Emmy nominated “Burma Soldier” which premiered on HBO in May 2011. The film tells the story of a former junta member and Burmese soldier who risks everything to become a pro-democracy activist. “Burma Soldier” was nominated for a 2011 Irish Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, and premiered as a centerpiece screening at the 2011 Full Frame Festival in North Carolina, where Ricki and Annie received the 2011 Career Achievement Award.
“Knuckleball!” (an MLB co-production) is a classic sports story that recounts the 2011 journey of the last professional knuckleball pitchers: Tim Wakefield, a 17-year Red Sox veteran, and Mets up-and comer R.A. Dickey – who was honored with the Cy Young award in 2012. Together with just four other living knuckleball they shine a light on their remarkable brotherhood and the shared pursuit of honor and craftsmanship. “Knuckleball!” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 followed by theatrical release and Showtime broadcast. The film is now available on iTunes and Netflix.
Other recent productions include a two-hour special for The History Channel, and they are expanding their work into multi-part series and commercial projects, including shorts for Kenneth Cole and others.
Accomplished writers and directors in their own right, Ricki and Annie are the leading creative forces behind Break Thru Film’s productions and are known for crafting deft and cinematic journeys through unexpected territory. Each project tracks new landscape – from criminal injustice in the American South, to Darfur, to stand up comedy and celebrity culture – but all are centered on unforgettable people and their most human experiences.
In 2009, Annie and Ricki received a Sundance/Skoll “Stories of Change” production grant to support a new documentary about the innovative education and anti-poverty program YouthBuild. Their new short for the Sundance Institute / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is soon to be released as part of the BMGF focus on the United Nations’ Millennium Goals. They have been recognized with the Best Female Filmmakers Award-San Diego Film Festival, Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award and Lena Sharpe/Women in Cinema Persistence of Vision Award–Seattle International Film Festival.
Annie and Ricki’s most recent feature documentary “In My Father’s House” premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
Ricki’s additional credits include directing and producing “In My Corner” for POV/ PBS, Emmy nominated “Neglect Not The Children” (PBS) and as producer on HBO’s series “Autopsy I, II, III” and “Murder 9 to 5.” Ricki is the author of a children’s book series “Beryl Bean: Mighty Adventurer of the Planet” published by HarperCollins.
Annie was a director and supervising producer on the HBO 2009 series “Brave New Voices” and she developed and produced the feature film “Tully,” nominated for four 2003 IFP Spirit Awards. Additional directing and producing credits include a four part special on the Mayo Clinic for Discovery (2004) and the 1996 Academy Award and Emmy winning “One Survivor Remembers,” a co-production of HBO and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Winning Project: The Devil Came On Horseback