Films

Barbie Wilson

Barbie Wilson

Films tell stories at 24 frames a second or in spooling pixels, and some of the best take us inside the lives of people we would otherwise never have met. I often felt when I was making documentary films that I crossed an invisible but very real border between one country and another, from the country of those of us who don’t worry about where our next meal is coming from, to the country-within-our-country where food and shelter and safety are daily concerns and loss is at the center of every story.

One fifth of American children live in poverty, and its predictable wreckage marks them early. I saw many young children in the neighborhoods I filmed in already convinced of their unworthiness; they understood exactly where they stood in society. And they blamed themselves. By adolescence, many had come to believe they deserved their fate; that is, they had given up hope, they had surrendered to a future someone else had imagined for them.

No Place Like Home is a film I made about a ten-year-old girl, Barbie Wilson (above), while she was living with her family in hotels and homeless shelters in Seattle. No Place Like Home was broadcast nationally on PBS, as part of the prestigious POV series, and screened at the Venice Film Festival and festivals in Cork, Lisbon, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris, and St. Petersburg, Russia, among others. It won film festival awards in Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta.

Jamil at 14

Jamil at 14

Take This Heart is a feature documentary that chronicles the stories of a handful of young boys living in foster care and documents their struggle to make sense of their harsh fates. Take This Heart seeks to illuminate the dark sense of loss and emptiness borne by these children. The film was broadcast on PBS and received the Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism.

F I L M O G R A P H Y
Take This Heart, feature documentary
For Generations to Come, five-part documentary series
No Place Like Home, documentary, Emmy Award
Teiko Tomita, documentary, Emmy Award nomination
Queen of the Market, documentary
New Treatments for Breast Cancer, documentary