Films & Schedules

  • Who Do You Love

  • Jerry Zaks

90 minutes

Production Company:
Check Productions, LLC/Alexander/Mitchell Productions, LLC
Executive Producer:
Gideon Amir, Dennis Brown
Les Alexander, Jonathan Mitchell, Andrea Baynes
Peter Wortmann, Bob Conte
Production Designer:
Carey Meyer
David Franco
Scott Richter
Budd Carr, Nora Felder
Jeff Beal
Principal Cast: Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Chi McBride, Jon Abrahams, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Keb' Mo'

International Sales Agent:
William Morris Independent

Thursday September 1109:30PM ROY THOMSON HALL Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1209:00AM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1311:45AM VARSITY 8 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Leonard Chess changed the face of modern music, and he did so without playing a note. A Jewish man living in Chicago just as the city was exploding with new blues sounds, he heard what few others did at the time: the universal passion in the music. Etta James, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley all rose to fame thanks to Chess. At first with a nightclub and then with his legendary record label, Chess earned his place in American cultural history. This is his story, and it rocks.

Directed by multiple Tony Award-winner Jerry Zaks, Who Do You Love begins with Leonard and Phil Chess, two immigrant brothers running a Chicago junkyard in the forties. In his off hours, Leonard is drawn to the Chicago nightclub scene, where blues musicians from further south are showing off their stuff. Smitten with the music, Leonard convinces Phil to invest their savings and open their own club. From there, it is only a small jump to putting artists like Muddy Waters on record. And the list grew. Leonard Chess's ear for musicianship led him to Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf. And it was both his ears and his eyes that guided him to Etta James; Who Do You Love faces the long-standing rumours about their affair head on.

Alessandro Nivola (also appearing this year in $5 a Day) plays Leonard Chess as a complicated and driven man. He was hard on both his family and his musicians and known for exacting harsh terms in the contracts he signed with artists.

Who Do You Love is suffused with a real love for some of America's greatest music, which can be felt both in Zaks's direction and in the performances. Beyond Nivola, cast standouts include Chi McBride as Willie Dixon, Megalyn Echikunwoke as the achingly beautiful but tragic singer Ivy, and David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland) as the great Muddy Waters. Last but not least, watch for Keb' Mo' as Muddy's guitarist Jimmy Rogers.

Jerry Zaks was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and studied arts at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, as well as at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. One of the most successful directors on Broadway, he has won multiple Tony Awards for best direction, including those for The House of Blue Leaves in 1986, Lend Me a Tenor in 1989, Six Degrees of Separation in 1991 and Guys and Dolls in 1992. He has also directed the feature films Marvin's Room (96) and Who Do You Love (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award