Acclaimed documentary WALT & EL GRUPO, a festival favorite in Rome, Rio, San Francisco, Palm Springs and Seattle, is set to begin its theatrical run with limited releases in Los Angeles and New York on September 11, 2009.

© Copyright Disney

© Copyright Disney

The film, from writer/director Theodore Thomas (“Frank and Ollie”) and producer Kuniko Okubo, is also scheduled to run for a week in Seattle starting September 25th and will debut in additional markets soon after.

In New York, the film will open at the Quad Cinema. In Los Angeles, the film will release on two screens, at the Landmark’s Regent Theater in Westwood and the AMC Downtown Disney 12 in Anaheim. For more information on the film, check out the official website at, become a fan on Facebook, or follow the film on Twitter.

WALT & EL GRUPO chronicles the amazing ten-week trip that Walt Disney and his hand-picked group of artists and filmmaking talent (later known as “El Grupo”) took to South America in 1941 at the behest of the U.S. Government as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. Within just three short years after the phenomenal success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the Walt Disney experienceStudiosd a chain of financial challenges that ultimately led to the infamous animators strike. Also during this time, the Roosevelt administration had growing concerns about Nazi and Fascist influence in Latin America, and the rest of the world was slipping further into war. In stark contrast to these trying times, Disney and his colorful group of artists found themselves on a lively trip full of hope and discovery as they explored various South American cities, spending the majority of their time in the countries of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The group was saddled with an unusual assignment – while gathering story material, immersing themselves in the culture, befriending local artists, meeting political leaders and attending countless functions, their journey was also a de facto diplomatic mission, and as a result, the studio produced the classic films “Saludos Amigos” and “The Three Caballeros.”

Shot on film in five countries, WALT & EL GRUPO is a tale that still resonates on both sides of the equator. The film time travels in Walt Disney’s footsteps through the use of personal letters and stunning artwork from the trip, remembrances by descendants and survivors, and extraordinary never-before-seen footage. WALT & EL GRUPO brings together an intertwined story of art and politics, the poignancy of a bygone age, and a legendary artist during one of his most trying times.

A Walt Disney Pictures release presented by Walt Disney Family Foundation Films, in association with Theodore Thomas Productions, WALT & EL GRUPO was written and directed by Theodore Thomas, produced by Kuniko Okubo and executive produced by Walter E.D. Miller.


Walt Disney Family Foundation Films is the theatrical arm of The Walt Disney Family Foundation. The Walt Disney Family Foundation promotes scholarly research, education and publication of information on subjects relating to Walt Disney and the time during which he lived. The Foundation was established in 1997 by Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and members of her immediate family. Walter E. D. Miller, grandson of Walt Disney, is the Foundation’s President.


The creative team of Theodore Thomas and Kuniko Okubo has received critical praise and audience recognition worldwide for film work in diverse formats and genres. Among their films are the award-winning children’s fantasy WHERE THE TOYS COME FROM, the National Geographic evergreen THE GRIZZLIES, and the acclaimed feature documentary FRANK AND OLLIE.