Lucy Walker (director)
Lucy Walker has twice been nominated for an Academy Award, and is best known for directing five feature documentary films: Devil's Playground (2002), Blindsight (2006), Waste Land (2010), Countdown to Zero (2010), and The Crash Reel (2013), as well as short films notably The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011) and The Lion's Mouth Opens (2014).
On 25 January 2011 she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature for Waste Land, which she directed, and the following year on 24 January 2012 she received a second Academy Award nomination, this time in the Best Documentary Short category for The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, which she directed and produced. In 2006 Walker's film Blindsight was among the fifteen films competing for the Academy Award nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 79th Academy Awards however it did not get nominated. On December 3, 2013 it was announced that The Crash Reel was one of 15 films short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the 86th Academy Awards.
She has also been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, a Gotham Award, and an Independent Spirit Award and her films have won many awards.
On June 12, 2012 she was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). She is also a member of the British Academy (BAFTA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the International Documentary Association (IDA), the Writers' Guild (WGA), and the Directors' Guild (DGA).
Walker was born in London, started directing theatre in high school and continued as an undergraduate at Oxford University. The first play she directed and produced there, Querm, swept the prestigious Oxford University Dramatic Society Cuppers awards. Walker was the Artistic Director of theatre group New Company and her original outdoor musical productions of The Jungle Book and Tintin and the Broken Ear were considered cult hits. After graduating from New College, Oxford with a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Oxon) starred first-class honours in Language and Literature she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the graduate film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where she won a contest to direct a video for Cowboy Junkies, directed three award-winning short films and received an MFA. Walker was engaged to former Labour Cabinet minister, James Purnell.
As a DJ she appeared frequently at the Soundlab and all over New York City as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Europe, performing mostly solo and also as a member of experimental illbient ensemble Byzar, for whom she also directed a suitably avant-garde video for the track "Phylyx" which opened MTV's AMP episodes 116, 122 and 124.
She later used Moby's music for the soundtrack of her films Waste Land and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom and, instead of working with traditional film composers, she prefers to license and remix tracks by her favorite artists to create her films' soundtracks.
Lucy was inspired to make "The Crash Reel" when she met Kevin Pearce (snowboarder) while mentoring at a retreat intended to inspire action sports athletes to use their platform for social change at the invitation of David Mayer de Rothschild, who had created the event. "The Crash Reel" premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013 as the Opening Night Gala film (out of competition). The film is described as a jaw-dropping story of one unforgettable athlete, Kevin Pearce; one eye-popping sport, snowboarding; and one explosive issue, traumatic brain injury. Through 20 years of sports and verite footage, “The Crash Reel” chronicles the epic rivalry between Kevin and Shaun White which culminates in Kevin's life-changing crash and a comeback story with a difference. The film also showcases the remarkable Pearce family, including Kevin's father renowned glass-blower Simon Pearce and Kevin's brother David C. Pearce who is particularly eloquent about his struggle to accept his Down Syndrome. The film also premiered at the X Games on 23 January 2013 in Aspen as the first ever movie to play as a featured part of the event. The film is currently screening at top festivals including Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Miami, True/False, Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Ashland, Full Frame, Silverdocs, Cleveland, Dallas, Sarasota, MountainFilm Telluride and has won awards including the SXSW Audience Award and will be released in theaters and broadcast around the world in 2013 and 2014.
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is described as "a visual haiku for Japan" documenting the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the survivors' struggle to survive and continue, and as a personal, poetic film about the ephemeral nature of life, and the process of healing after grief and loss. Walker was originally planning to be in Japan during the sakura cherry blossom season as she had always wanted to visit Hiroshima and had always loved photographing cherry blossoms and she had been invited to visit Japan for a press junket to support Countdown to Zero, which was being released by Paramount Pictures. However due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster the release of that film was postponed and the press junket cancelled. Initially Walker was concerned that it would be too difficult to film at that time, but then decided that it was a more important time than ever to make a film in Japan and to express solidarity and support for Japanese people and culture at such an extremely challenging time, and so she traveled to Japan with longterm collaborator cinematographer Aaron Phillips to shoot in March and April 2011, mostly in the devastated Tōhoku region, as well as in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. The film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2011 and went on to screen at festivals including BFI London Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival, DocNYC, and at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded both the Women In Film National Geographic All Roads Award and the Short Film Jury Prize: Non-Fiction on the same day that its Academy Award nomination was announced. It was also honored with two Emmy nominations for Best Continuing Coverage of a News Story - Long Form and Best Documentary.
Waste Land premiered at Sundance 2010 and is the first film ever to win the Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin, as well as more than 50 other awards, the International Documentary Association's Best Documentary and Pare Lorentz Awards, and a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. On 3 December 2010, at the International Documentary Association Awards, presenter Morgan Spurlock handed Walker the Pare Lorentz Award and the Best Documentary Feature Award for WASTE LAND inside a garbage bag Previously Walker had worn a black garbage bag to the New York theatrical premiere of WASTE LAND on 26 October 2010. Waste Land is the uplifting story of Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and a lively group of catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, who find a way from the world's largest garbage dump in Rio de Janeiro to the most prestigious auction house in London via the surprising transformation of refuse into contemporary art. It was released theatrically in the USA by Arthouse Films, in Canada and in the UK by E1 Entertainment, and in Australia and New Zealand by Hopscotch Films.
Blindsight premiered at Toronto and won further Audience Awards at Berlin, Ghent, AFI and Palm Spring film festivals and nominations for Best Documentary at the 2007 Grierson Awards and British Independent Film Awards. It was released in theaters in several countries including and was short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Blindsight follows the emotional journey of six blind Tibetan teenagers who climb up the north side of Mt. Everest with their hero, blind American mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer, and their teacher, Sabriye Tenberken, who founded Braille Without Borders, the only school for the blind in Tibet. Both Waste Land and Blindsight won the Panorama Publikumspreis (Audience Award) at the Berlinale, making Walker the only filmmaker to have won the Audience Award at Berlin with two different films.
Devil's Playground, Walker's first feature documentary, examined the struggles of Amish teenagers during their period of experimentation (rumspringa). It premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win awards at the Karlovy Vary and Sarasota film festivals, three Emmy Award nominations for Best Documentary, Best Directing and Best Editing and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Documentary.
Countdown to Zero, an exposé of the present-day threat of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, also premiered at Sundance 2010 a day after the world premiere of Waste Land – the first time a director has had two feature documentaries in one year at this festival. It also played in the Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival before being released in the US by Magnolia Pictures, and being broadcast in the USA on The History Channel. In the UK it was released by Dogwoof, and in Japan it was released by Paramount and this release was postponed due to the disaster of 11 March. It was Executive Produced by Global Zero (campaign) and Jeff Skoll's Participant Media and contributed to the debate building to the ratification of the New START Treaty. Walker and her collaborators were nominated for 2010 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year for raising public awareness and understanding of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons in the 21st century and helping mobilize support for practical steps to reduce those danger.
She was named one of the "Top 25 New Faces In Independent Film" by Filmmaker and called "the new Errol Morris" by The Hollywood Reporter. Variety has profiled her as a notable "Femme Filmmaker", praising her ability to connect with audiences.
There have been two retrospectives of Walker's films, one at the DC Environmental Film Festival, and one at London's BFI Southbank as part of the "Made in Britain" season, both in 2012.
- Devil's Playground (2002) 76 minutes
- Blindsight (2006) 104 minutes
- Countdown To Zero (2010) 89 minutes
- Waste Land (2010) 100 minutes
- The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011) 39/53 minutes
- The Crash Reel (2013) 107 minutes
- David Hockney IN THE NOW (in six minutes) (2013) 6 minutes
- The Lion's Mouth Opens (2014) 15 minutes
Film awards and nominations
- Lifetime Achievement Awards
- Lifetime Achievement Award for Inspirational Filmmaking, Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival 2013
- Rogue Award, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2013
- The Crash Reel
- premiered as Opening Night Gala film, Sundance Film Festival 2013 (out of competition)
- Audience Award, SXSW South By Southwest Film Festival 2013
- Rogue Award - for The Crash Reel and career recognition honor, Ashland Independent Film Festival 2013
- Audience Award, Dallas International Film Festival 2013
- Audience Award, Berkshire International Film Festival 2013
- Top Ten Audience Favorite, Hot Docs Film Festival 2013
- Best Documentary Special Jury Award, Seattle International Film Festival 2013
- "Making Movies that Matter" Award, MountainFilm in Telluride 2013
- Audience Award, Melbourne International Film Festival 2013
- Audience Award, Berkshire International Film Festival 2013
- Best Documentary Grand Jury Award, Port Townsend Film Festival 2013
- Granny Award for Best Documentary, New Hampshire Film Festival 2013
- Best Documentary - nomination, Gotham Awards 2013
- Grand Prize, Kendal Mountain Festival 2013
- Best Mountain Culture Film Award, Whistler Film Festival 2013
- EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, 2013
- International Ski History Association Film Award 2014
- Audience Award - nomination, Cinema Eye Honors 2013
- Best Nonfiction Film for Television Award, Cinema Eye Honors 2014
- "The Unforgettables" Award for documentary subjects Kevin and David Pearce, Cinema Eye Honors 2014
- Make Haste Slowly (documentary short)
- Favorite Documentary Short, Napa Valley Film Festival 2013
- Secrets of the Mongolian Archers (documentary short)
- Special Jury Award, Arica Nativa Film Festival 2013
- Waste Land
- premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2010
- nomination for Grand Jury Award for Best World Cinema Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award Panorama Publikumspreis for Best Film, Berlin International Film Festival 2010
- Amnesty International Award, Berlin International Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award for Best Film, Full Frame Film Festival 2010
- HBO Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, Provincetown International Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary, Maui International Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award for Best Film, Paulinia Film Festival 2010
- Jury Award for Best Film, Paulinia Film Festival 2010
- Best Documentary, Dallas International Film Festival 2010
- $25,000 Target Filmmaker Award, Dallas International Film Festival 2010
- Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award, Seattle International Film Festival 2010
- Best Documentary, Durban International Film Festival 2010
- Audience Choice Best Film, Durban International Film Festival 2010
- Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, Durban International Film Festival 2010
- Crystal Heart Best Documentary Award, Heartland Film Festival 2010
- Human Spirit Award, EcoFocus Film Fest 2010
- Audience Award for Best Feature Film, EcoFocus Film Fest 2010
- Best Documentary, Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2010
- Jury Award, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival 2010
- Roger's People's Choice Award, Vancouver International Film Festival 2010
- Prêmio Itamaraty for Best Documentary Feature, São Paulo International Film Festival 2010
- Special Jury Prize for Best Feature, Amazonas Film Festival 2010
- Audience Award, IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2010
- Audience Award, Stockholm International Film Festival 2010
- IDA Pare Lorentz Award, International Documentary Association Awards 2010
- Best Documentary, International Documentary Association Awards 2010
- Grand Prix du Festival, International Environmental Film Festival 2010
- Jury Award, Frozen River Film Festival 2011
- Best of Festival, Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2011
- Best in Festival, Princeton Environmental Film Festival 2011
- Best Documentary, Movies For Grownups Awards 2011
- Best Documentary Feature Film Audience Choice Award, Sedona International Film Festival 2011
- Keen Hybrid Life Filmmaker Grant, Boulder International Film Festival 2011
- Audience Award (tie), Environmental Film Festival at Yale 2011
- Best Film, Investigation section, Levante International Film Festival 2011
- Best Editing, Investigation section, Levante International Film Festival 2011
- KEEN Hybrid Life Filmmaker Grant, Boulder International Film Festival 2011
- Best Documentary, Sedona International Film Festival 2011
- Audience Award, Freezone Belgrade Film Festival 2011
- Green Fire Award, American Conservation Film Festival 2011
- Audience Award, Addis Ababa International Film Festival 2012
- Best Documentary Feature, Grande Premio do Cinema Brasileiro 2012
- Best Documentary Editing - Pedro Kos, Grande Premio do Cinema Brasileiro 2012
- Best Documentary nomination, British Independent Film Awards 2006
- Peace Film Award - Unabhaengige, Filmfest Osnabrueck 2010
- Humanitas Award for Best Documentary - nomination, Humanitas Awards 2010
- Best Documentary, Grierson Award for Best Documentary - nomination, London Film Festival 2010
- Best Documentary - nomination, British Independent Film Awards 2010
- Cinema for Peace Award for Most Valuable Documentary of the Year, Cinema For Peace Awards 2011
- Winner, London Film Awards 2012
- Best Documentary Feature - nomination, The 83rd Annual Academy Awards 2011
- The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (documentary short)
- premiered at Toronto International Film Festival Documentary Conference 2011 (out of competition)
- Non-Fiction Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival 2012
- Women In Film National Geographic All Roads Award, Sundance Film Festival 2012
- Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film – The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, DC Environmental Film Festival 2012
- Laurissilva Award for Best Film, Madeira Film Festival 2012
- Audience Award for Best Short Film, Florida Film Festival 2012
- Best Documentary, Nevada City Film Festival 2012
- Best of the Fest, Nevada City Film Festival 2012
- nomination for Best Documentary Short nomination, The 84th Annual Academy Awards 2012
- nomination for Emmy Award for Best Documentary, 34th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards
- nomination for Emmy Award for Best Continuing Coverage of a News Story, Long Form, 34th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards
- Audience Award for Best Film, Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival 2013
- Countdown to Zero
- premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2010 (out of competition)
- Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2010 (out of competition)
- Best Documentary nomination, International Press Academy Satellite Film Awards 2010
- International Green Film Award nomination, Cinema For Peace Awards 2011
- Arms Control Person(s) of the Year - nomination for Writer-Director Lucy Walker and her collaborators, Arms Control Association 2010
- premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2006 (out of competition)
- Audience Award Panorama Publikumspreis for Best Film, Blindsight, Berlin International Film Festival 2007
- Audience Award for Best Film (tie), American Film Institute, AFI Film Festival 2006
- Audience Award for Best Documentary, Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007
- Audience Award for Best Film, Ghent Film Festival 2007
- Devil's Playground
- premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2002 (out of competition)
- Best Documentary, AFI DV Fest 2001
- Grand Prize Best Film, AFI DV Fest 2001
- Audience Award for Best Film, Sarasota International Film Festival 2002
- Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary, Karlovy-Vary International Film Festival 2002
- Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction in a Documentary - nomination, News & Documentary Emmy Awards 2003
- Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing in a Documentary - nomination, News & Documentary Emmy Awards 2003
- Emmy Award for Best Documentary - nomination, News & Documentary Emmy Awards 2003
- Best Documentary - nomination, Independent Spirit Awards 2003
- Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues
- nomination for Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series - Daytime Emmy Awards 2001
- nomination for Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series - Daytime Emmy Awards 2002
- Hernandez, Eugene (15 November 2006). "15 Films Selected for Oscar Short List in Doc Feature Category". IndieWire.com.
- "15 Documentary Features Advance in 2013 Oscar® Race". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
- "Academy Invites 176; Terrence Malick, Lucy Walker, Michel Hazanavicius and the Dardennes Make the Cut | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". Indiewire. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Matt Wells. "Purnell's progress | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "Who is James Purnell? | News | The Week UK". Theweek.co.uk. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- Prime Minister (22 July 2008). "Written Ministerial Statement 22 July 2008 Official Hospitality Chequers" (PDF). London: Guardian UK. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- Jackie Ashley (2008-03-17). "Is James Purnell Blair's true heir? | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "The Illbient Ambience". [[The Wire (magazine)|]], #154. December 1996.
- "the AMP lists". My.execpc.com. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- Sound Unbound, Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Paul d. Miller (ed.). MIT Press, 2008.
- "Generation Change: Lucy Walker". Dazed Digital. 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "Director’s Notes: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom | Jackson Hole Fire Festival". Jhfirefestival.org. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, nominated for the 2012 Oscar Documentary Short". Cinema Without Borders. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Smith, Nigel M. (5 December 2010). "Honor Roll 2010 - “Waste Land” Director Lucy Walker". IndieWire.com
- McNary, Dave (3 December 2010)"IDA honors 'Waste Land'". Variety.
- "When a trashy chick is cool". The Fallout Girl blog. 27 October 2010.
- "Vote for the 2010 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year". armscontrol.org. 2010.
- Salemi, Michelle (2010-09-30). "Lucy Walker: Instructively engaging". Variety. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- Lucy Walker at the Internet Movie Database
- personal website: http://www.lucywalkerfilm.com
- personal twitter: http://twitter.com/lucywalkerfilm
- Facebook public fan site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucy-Walker/108589852498729
- latest film The Crash Reel: http://www.facebook.com/Thecrashreel and http://www.thecrashreel.com and http://twitter.com/thecrashreel