The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano
Project info

​Award-winning filmmaker Joshua Seftel’s (War, Inc., Taking on the Kennedys, This American Life) new documentary, The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano, will have its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at 9:30PM on Thursday, April 16th. The film will screen as part of the “NY - Daily Grind” shorts program.

In the film, Seftel follows NYC photographer Phil Toledano, who has recently become obsessed with his own future. While most people avoid thinking about any fears of the future at all costs, Toledano has decided to face his head on. Using ​DNA tests, fortune tellers, and a prosthetic makeup artist, Toledano immerses himself in the many dark possibilities that frighten him most, including obesity, desolation, stroke, isolation, suicide, and violent death. Over the course of three years, Toledano becomes dozens of characters and captures these bleak possibilities in a series of haunting photographs - despite his wife’s pleas to abandon the project. Her pleas fall on deaf ears, so she is forced to sit on the sidelines, worrying that this project will leave Toledano unable to ever imagine a positive future. Toledano’s obsession alters him and his family forever.

Director Joshua Seftel and photographer Phil Toledano first became friends 25 years ago when they both attended Tufts University. Seftel says, “a little over three years ago, I ran into Phil just after his father had died. My father had also just died. Phil talked about his new project with psychics and prosthetics. It resonated with me in part because of the passing of my dad, because I was grappling with a lot of the same things Phil was dealing with.” Toledano adds, “when Josh asked to film me, I agreed because I trusted him. That trust matters when you’re exposing the inner mechanism of your unfinished art.”

Seftel adds, “it’s disturbing to spend three years watching a friend and contemporary explore his demise over and over in graphic and horrifying ways. It definitely led to me having nightmares and general anxiety. But there’s something about staring this stuff in the face that made me smile and laugh a lot too. And that part is liberating."