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Nuclear Family


NUCLEAR FAMILY follows filmmaker Ry Russo-Young as she turns the camera on her own past to explore the meaning of family. In the late '70s/early '80s, when the concept of a gay family was inconceivable to most, Ry and her sister Cade were born to two lesbian mothers through sperm donors. Ry’s idyllic childhood was threatened by an unexpected lawsuit which sent shockwaves through her family’s lives and continues to reverberate today. An exploration of love, loyalty, loss and the immutable power of family in all its configurations, NUCLEAR FAMILY eloquently examines the dynamics that enrich and complicate the bonds of love.

The Filmmakers

Ry Russo-Young Director

Writer/Director/Producer Ry Russo-Young has established herself over the last decade as a thoughtful, sophisticated filmmaker, bringing to life stories full of humanity from a modern feminist perspective. Ry’s films have premiered and won awards at numerous international film festivals including Sundance, Stockholm, Torino, SXSW and TriBeCa, and her work has been praised by The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Vanity Fair and The New York Times, among many others.  She has received accolades from the New York State Council on the Arts, TriBeCa Film Institute, the LEF Foundation, the Sundance Institute and Creative Capital.

Last year, Ry helmed The Sun is Also A Star, a collaboration between Warner Brothers and MGM. Her fifth feature film, this beautiful New York-set love story was a Tracy Oliver-adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s 2016 NY Times Bestseller and starred Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton with Alloy Entertainment producing.

Before I Fall (2017) was Ry’s first wide-release feature, an emotional drama based on the best-selling Lauren Oliver novel that follows a high school senior (Zoey Deutch in a breakout role) who is forced to live the last day of her life over and over again. Open Road released the film, which was produced by Awesomeness Films and Jon Shestack.  More recently, Ry collaborated once again with Lauren, as the pilot director and Executive Producer for the Amazon series “Panic,” based on the best-selling book of the same name.  Other television credits include Starz’s “Sweetbitter”, Facebook Watch’s “Sorry For Your Loss” and Netflix’s “Everything Sucks!”.

Other films include Nobody Walks (2012), co-written with Lena Dunham and starring John Krasinski, Rosemarie Dewitt, and Olivia Thirlby, that won a special Jury Prize at Sundance and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures.  As well as the soulful and dynamic You Won’t Miss Me (2009) starring Stella Schnabel and a cast of New York eccentrics, it premiered at Sundance and won a Gotham Independent Film Award.

Ry grew up in New York City, studied film at Oberlin College, and now lives in Los Angeles. 

She is repped by CAA, Mosaic, and Sloane Offer.

Dan Cogan Producer

Dan Cogan is one of the most prominent non-fiction producers working today. Both an Academy Award®- and Emmy Award®-winner, Dan founded Story Syndicate with Liz Garbus in 2019.As the founding Executive Director of Impact Partners from 2007 to 2019, Dan oversaw the financing of over 100 films, including: Icarus, which won the 2018 Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; The Apollo, which won the 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Documentary; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which won the 2019 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary; Of Fathers & Sons, which was nominated for the 2019 Academy Award® for Documentary Feature and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival; Dina, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was named Best Feature by the International Documentary Association; The Eagle Huntress, which was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA Award for Best Documentary; How to Survive A Plague, which was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award® for Documentary Feature; The Queen of Versailles, which won the U.S. Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Hell and Back Again, which was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award® for Documentary Feature and won the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Awards at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; and The Cove, which won the 2010 Academy Award® for Documentary Feature. In 2013, Cogan co-founded Gamechanger Films, the first for-profit film fund dedicated exclusively to financing narrative features directed by women. Its films included The Tale and Land Ho!

Warren Fischer Producer

Warren Fischer has been a musician, director, and producer for over 15 years. Fischer started his professional career as a violinist and composer. Co-founder of music-based art project Fischerspooner, he has mounted over 100 shows and installations in a wide variety of galleries and museums. 

As a film producer, he has worked on the last three films by Ry Russo-Young, The Sun is Also a Star, Nobody Walks, and Before I Fall, garnering a Jury Prize at Sundance and a wide theatrical release respectively, as well as her upcoming projects, Replica, with Paramount and The Family Movie. Fischer also produced the Claire Carre feature Embers, which garnered dozens of festival awards and earned best science-fiction feature of the year on Indiewire. Fischer also produced Aaron Fisher-Cohen's feature Active Adults, and Susan Johnson's To All the Boys I've Loved Before for Netflix. As a director, Fischer has directed a short film and countless global commercials from brands ranging from Samsung, Exxonmobil to Ford, and has established himself as an A-list commercials director for over a decade, co-founding the film production company BUNKER to handle this work on behalf of himself and 10 other directors. 

Fischer is repped by ICM.


NUCLEAR FAMILY to premiere on HBO on September 26th!


The 3-part documentary series, directed by Ry Russo-Young, will air on HBO on Sundays, beginning September 26th, and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

Festivals & Awards

Telluride Film Festival


Ry Russo-Young and her sister were raised by their lesbian moms at a time when society was not ready to accept queer families. As a young child, Ry was caught in the middle of a landmark legal case: the sperm donor who helped make her, gay civil rights lawyer Tom Steel, sued her parents for paternity and visitation rights. Ry’s complex and courageous three-part documentary series, 20 years in the making, is a deeply personal work, as she comes to terms with the emotional tumult of her childhood. It also provides a remarkable history, tracking how the case became a flashpoint
for a fractious culture war, at a time when gay partnerships—gay existence, really—remained taboo and when the legal system was stacked against their community. Shimmering in sensitivity and power, NUCLEAR FAMILY is a clear-eyed look at the intricate bonds that make a family. 

- Mara Fortes

+ Festival Website