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Nationlight Aims to Illuminate

Production co. aims for good art

Marc Erlbaum is intent on making films with a positive impact through his Nationlight Films, relying on his strong roots in Philadelphia and background in Jewish philanthropy to inform his projects.

The multi-hyphenate exec-produced Will Ferrell starrer “Everything Must Go,” made his directing debut with Elisabeth Moss starrer “A Buddy Story” and is now helming “Cafe.” He’s rolled his passions into what he calls filmanthropy — a push to create inspirational movie content. Based in suburban Philly, Nationlight Prods. focuses on projects with strong narrative and stories.

“Rather than preaching and moralizing, we feel that positive storytelling is the best way to convey ideas that are both palatable and impactful,” says Erlbaum, who points to the ideas of community, hope, and self-sacrifice brought up by the characters in his upcoming “Cafe” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Kennedy. “Every one of these people is struggling with similar issues.”

“There are people who would argue that art doesn’t have a responsibility to engender any kind of social consciousness, that it’s just there to make people emote,” he says. “It is our great honor, frankly, to be able to postively impact culture.”

The shingle got off to a good start when “Everything Must Go,” which it produced along with Temple Hill, was picked up at the Toronto Film Fest by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. Nationlight, which launched at Sundance in 2009, plans to lead-produce one or two pics per year.

While Nationlight will look at shooting locations outside Philadelphia, Erlbaum has made a pretty strong case for the area in his films. “A Buddy Story,” which he produced before starting Nationlight, and “Cafe” were both shot in the region, which Erlbaum says offers pastoral as well as urban landscapes.

“There are so many looks within such a short drive from Center City,” he says.

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