Glen Zipper ’00 won the Academy Award for the best feature-length documentary film, “Undefeated,” which he produced. Zipper produced the documentary for Spitfire Pictures, a division of Exclusive Media and Zipper Brothers Films, a production and financing entity he established with his brother Ralph. The film also won best documentary at the Chicago Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the DOC NYC Festival.
“Undefeated” tells the story of three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis who come from broken homes and troubled backgrounds and the volunteer coach who tries to “help them beat the odds on and off the field,” Zipper said. “It was an opportunity to tell an intimate coming of age story through the prism of a football season.”
One of the first texts and congratulatory calls Zipper received on Oscar night was from Superior Court Judge Donald Venezia of Bergen County N.J., who had encouraged Zipper to pursue his dream of filmmaking a decade earlier. Zipper had clerked in his office from 2000-2001 after graduating from Brooklyn Law School. He then went on to work in the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office from 2001-2004 before moving to Los Angeles.
Also awaiting Glen at the Zipper Brothers party in Los Angeles immediately after the Oscars was long-time friend and BLS graduate, Adrian Kuzycz ’99. “This journey from Brooklyn Law School to the Oscars would not have been possible without Adrian’s support,” said Zipper. “He’s always challenged me to dream big when it came to my cinematic ambitions.”
“Undefeated” was acquired by The Weinstein Company at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival. Sean P. Diddy Combs saw the film and came aboard as an executive producer, and is now working with Zipper and the Weinstein Company to adapt the documentary into a scripted feature film.
Of winning the Oscar, Zipper said, “It’s an amazing experience and I’m incredibly honored. But, as “Undefeated”’s coach Bill Courtney told me, ‘If winning an award is the best thing that happens to you in life, you better take a close look at yourself in the mirror.’”