Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project is the documentary Running from Crazy, which examines the personal journey of writer, model and actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her complex family history. The film will be showing theatrically in the fall, premiered at Sundance in 2013, and screened at Tribeca and many other festivals. Other recent projects include Fight To Live, which through the eyes of terminal patients and their advocates tells the story of the struggles many with rare and orphan diseases face in choosing their preferred therapies through the roadblocks imposed by the current FDA approvals process. A Force of Nature, which celebrates the life and work of journalist and philanthropist Ellen Ratner, following her from her home base in Washington, DC, to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi to war-torn South Sudan; Gun Fight, which explores the place of guns in US culture, profiling victims of gun violence and proponents on both sides of the gun debate; The House of Steinbrenner, part of ESPN’s Emmy nominated “30 for 30” series, which received a 2010 Peabody Award as well as the International Documentary Association Award for Best Continuing Series; and the Emmy-nominated, Woodstock: Now and Then, a look back at the legacy of the historic music festival, 40 years later. Well known for her work on US labor issues, Barbara directed Steamfitters Local Union 638 in 2007 for HBO’s acclaimed Addiction Series. The New York Times likened this short documentary to “crisp tonic with lime.” This program was awarded the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences Governor’s Award.
Barbara produced and directed Harlan County USA and American Dream, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. In 1991, Harlan County USA was named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress and designated an American Film Classic. Harlan County USA was recently restored and preserved by the Women’s Preservation Fund and the Academy Film Archive, and was featured as part of the Sundance Collection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. The Criterion Collection released a DVD of Harlan County USA in 2006.
Barbara produced and directed Shut Up and Sing, which tells the story of the Dixie Chicks and their personal and creative response to the political fallout they faced after making comments critical of President Bush on the eve of the Iraq War; A Conversation with Gregory Peck, a film portrait of the career and family life of the actor; The Hamptons, a four-hour mini-series for ABC; My Generation, which examines the Woodstock legacy and Generation X; and Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing. She directed the feature nonfiction film Wild Man Blues, about the European tour of Woody Allen and his New Orleans-style jazz band, for which she won the National Board of Review Award for Best Documentary. Barbara also produced the HBO documentary American Standoff, which chronicled an 18-month strike of the Teamsters Union against Overnite Transportation, and the A&E documentary Bearing Witness about female war correspondents working in Iraq. Barbara was a member of the Winter Soldier Collective, which created the film Winter Soldier.
Other nonfiction films include The DC Sniper’s Wife, a documentary that takes a look at the life of Mildred Muhammad, ex-wife of the infamous DC sniper, John Allen Muhammad; High School Musical: The Music in You, a film following students in Fort Worth, Texas performing a stage adaptation of “High School Musical.”; No Nukes, a "rockumentary" shot during five days of concerts at Madison Square Garden and distributed by Warner Brothers; Defending Our Daughters, an investigation into women’s human rights issues in Bosnia, Pakistan and Egypt and winner of a Voices of Courage Award; With Liberty and Justice For All?, a short documentary made for the Alliance for Justice, which explores the issue of immigration law. Barbara also directed a series of specials for the Disney Channel, including Friends for Life: Living with AIDS, the first show about AIDS to air on that network. She also co-created, produced and directed I Married…, a series for VH1 about the spouses and families of rock stars.
Barbara directed the narrative feature Havoc, starring Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips and Freddy Rodriguez and written by Stephen Gaghan, about a group of wealthy teenagers coming of age and searching for an identity in Los Angeles. She also directs episodic television and commercial spots. Her television work includes episodes of OZ on HBO and Homicide, for which she won a DGA Award for Outstanding Direction. Barbara has directed spots for companies such as Sprint, Applebee’s, Dove, Intel, Target, The Tiger Woods Foundation, Pearl Vision and the Children’s Defense Fund.
Barbara has been awarded the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, the SilverDocs/Charles Guggenheim Award, New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award, the Maya Deren Independent Film and Video Award, the Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award, Women in Film & Video of Washington, DC Women of Vision Award, the White House Project’s EPIC Award, the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Filmmakers Trophy & Audience Award. The Paley Center for Media has named Barbara a 2007 "She Made It Honoree.” She recently served her tenth year on the board of trustees for the American Film Institute and continues as an advisory board member for the American University Center for Social Media and Independent Feature Project’s Filmmaker Labs. In 2010, Barbara received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from American University. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.