Film and TV

AZ Filmmaker Lee Storey Scores Big Win for Documentary Industry in Tax Court Ruling

Lee Storey has a brand new reason to smile 'til it hurts.

A Phoenix-based water rights attorney with Ballard Spahr LLP, Storey earned a spot as one of our 2011 Big Brain Finalists for her debut feature documentary, Smile 'Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story

The film tells the complicated tale of the Up with People program, which sent large casts of singing, dancing, turtle-necked youth around the world in the 1960s and '70s to represent American exceptionalism with a smile. As ambassadors from the land of peace and love (with, in this case, a distinctly conservative bent), the Up with People performers - like Glenn Close and Storey's husband, William - shared surreal meetings with world leaders as they spread their homespun values during the Cold War era.

Completed in 2009, the documentary earned praise from audiences and critics alike and a spot in film festivals across the country, winning the Special Jury Prize at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival. What it didn't earn - yet - were financial profits. Storey had claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from her work on the film during the years 2006-08, but in an audit the Internal Revenue Service denied those deductions and charged Storey $259,842 in back taxes.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amanda Kehrberg
Contact: Amanda Kehrberg