January 24, 1960 |
|Occupation||Filmmaker and philanthropist|
|Known for||Pray the Devil Back to Hell|
|Parent(s)||Roy E. Disney|
Abigail E. Disney (born 1960) is an American documentary filmmaker, scholar, philanthropist and activist known for her documentary films focused on social themes. She is the Executive Producer and Director of the film The Armor of Light, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
Abigail Disney was raised in North Hollywood, California and was educated at Yale (BA), Stanford (MA, English Lit), and Columbia (PhD, English Lit). She is the daughter of Patricia Ann (née Dailey) and Roy E. Disney and granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company with his brother Walt Disney.
She turned to the family business of filmmaking with a documentary film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Academy Award-nominated, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Gini Reticker. Pray the Devil Back to Hell brought to light the work of Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee by telling the story about the critical role women played in bringing peace to war torn Liberia. Pray the Devil Back to Hell won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008, and screened in 60 countries around the world on all seven continents.
In 2007, she and Gini Reticker founded Fork Films, a New York-based production company that seeks to shed light, evoke compassion, stir action and build peace. She is the President and CEO, and Reticker is the Chief Creative Officer.
In 2009, Fork Films and Film Sprout partnered together to create Pray the Devil Back to Hell’s Global Peace Tour, a nine-month grassroots screening tour that culminated on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21, 2009. In total, the tour brought the film to 31 foreign countries, 45 U.S. states and 235 U.S. cities. The film is broadly credited with highlighting the bravery and sacrifice of its lead figure, Leymah Gbowee, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
The response to Pray the Devil Back to Hell led Disney to work on the five-part special series for PBS, Women, War & Peace, which aired in 2011 and was the winner of the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award, a Gracie Award, a Television Academy Honor and the America Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award (for I Came to Testify). This series created and executive produced by Abigail Disney, Pamela Hogan and Gini Reticker looked at the role of women in war in the modern age, not just as victims of conflict, but as active agents for peace in their communities. Also in 2011, Disney received an Athena Film Festival Award for her extraordinary use of film for social change.
Disney executive produced The Trials of Spring (2015), a major documentary event that includes a feature-length documentary, six short films, articles by award-winning journalists, and an ongoing robust social media conversation about women and their unwavering quest for social justice and freedom. The feature film, directed by Gini Reticker, chronicles the story of 21-year-old Hend Nafea, who sets out on a search for freedom and justice in a country gripped by a dangerous power struggle where there is little tolerance for the likes of her. The six short films were featured on The New York Times homepage in the six days leading up to the world premiere of The Trials of Spring at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City in June 2015.
Abigail Disney made her directorial debut with The Armor of Light, which follows pro-life Evangelical minister Rev. Rob Schenck and Lucy McBath, the mother of teenager Jordan Davis, who was gunned down in Jacksonville, Florida in November 2012. Davis was unarmed at the time of his death, and his story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws in the US. The film follows Rev. Schenck as he meets McBath, a pro-choice Christian, leading to the question: is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life? The Armor of Light premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015 before opening theatrically on October 30, 2015.
Community activism and philanthropy
In 2008, Disney launched Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that inspires action through media and live events that spotlight women leaders on the frontlines of peacebuilding worldwide. The organization’s mission is to generate a groundswell of people committed to building a culture of peace. Disney serves as the Founder and President.
Disney has made several overseas trips with fellow peace activists, including Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. The two traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2011 to spend a week working with women peace activists and to explore ideas for building peace in their country. The following year, they visited Sri Lanka, where women activists launched the Sri Lankan Women’s Agenda on Peace, Security and Development, inspired by Gbowee’s legacy.
In 2012 she renounced her share of the profits from the Disney family investment in the Ahava cosmetics company whose factory is located in a West Bank settlement. She stated "I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the 'plunder' or 'pillage' of occupied natural resources...” For legal reasons she could not withdraw her investments and therefore donated the investments and profits "to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation."
In May 2015, Disney joined Gbowee and 28 other international women peacebuilders to cross the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea in an act of solidarity with Korean women and to call for an end to the Korean War. The peacebuilders headed international peace symposia in Pyongyang and Seoul, where they listened to Korean women and shared experiences of mobilizing women to end conflict.
- As executive producer
- Sergio (Co-Executive Producer) (2009)
- Playground (2009)
- Family Affair (2010)
- Secrets of the Tribe (2010)
- !Women Art Revolution (Co-Executive Producer) (2010)
- Return (2011)
- Mothers of Bedford (2011)
- Sun Come Up (2011)
- Women, War and Peace (2011)
- The Queen of Versailles (Co-Executive Producer) (2012)
- The Invisible War (2012)
- This is How I Roll (2012)
- Sexy Baby (2012)
- The Iran Job (2012)
- Alias Ruby Blade (2012)
- Citizen Koch (Co-Executive Producer) (2013)
- Open Heart (Co-Executive Producer) (2013)
- The Only Real Game (2013)
- Hateship Loveship (2013)
- Seeds of Time (2013)
- Land Ho! (Co-Executive Producer) (2014)
- Split (Co-Producer) (2014)
- Food Chains (2014)
- Vessel (2014)
- 1971 (2014)
- Out in the Night (2014)
- She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (Co-Producer) (2014)
- Hot Girls Wanted (2015)
- The Mask You Live In (2015)
- From This Day Forward (2015)
- The Babushkas of Chernobyl (Co-Executive Producer) (2015)
- Drawing the Tiger (2015)
- Tocando La Luz (2015)
- Buffalo Returns (2015)
- As producer
- As writer
- As director
- The Armor of Light (2015)
Awards and recognition
- The Women's Image Network Awards (2015) Woman of the Year Honoree 
- Epic Awards (2008) presented by the White House Project, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
- Global Women’s Rights Awards (2009) presented by the Feminist Majority Foundation, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
- Auburn Lives of Commitment Award (2009), presented by Auburn Theological Seminary
- 1st Annual Media Awards (2009), presented by Women’s Media Center, with Gini Reticker
- Crystal Award (2009), presented by The Victor E. Ward Educational Fund, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
- 2009 Auburn Lives of Commitment Award (2009), presented by Auburn Theological Seminary
- Visionary Leader Award (2010), presented by Korean American Family Services Center
- Mercy Center Honoree (2010), presented by Mercy Center
- 2010 Honoree (2010), presented by Girl Scouts of America
- Phoenix Award (2010), presented by New York Asian Women’s Center
- Visionary Social Change Award (2011), presented by African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF)
- Athena Award (2011), presented by Barnard College, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Athena Film Festival, with Gini Reticker
- International Advocate for Peace Award (2011), presented by Cardozo Law School’s Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution
- 2012 Gracie Award for Outstanding Producer-News/Nonfiction for Women, War & Peace (2012), presented by The Gracie Awards
- The James Park Morton Interfaith Award (2012), presented by the Interfaith Center of New York, with Leymah Gbowee
- Global Award for Media Leadership (2013), presented by Womensphere
- Vanguard Award (2013), presented by Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
- 2013 Honoree (2013), presented by YWLN
- Leadership in Women’s Philanthropy Award (2013), presented by The Dominican Women’s Development Center
- Morton Deutsch Award for Social Justice (2014), presented by the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
- Legacy Award (2014), presented by Women for Afghan Women
- Public Health Change Champion Award (2014), presented by The Public Health Institute
- IWMF (International Women's Media Foundation) Courage in Journalism Awards: Leadership Honoree (2015), presented by IWMF
- Lawrence University, Doctor of Humane Letters (2010)
- Iona College, Doctor of Humane Letters (2010)
- Cedar Crest College (2013)
- The New School (2014)
- Current board member of Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, the Fund for the City of New York, Search for Common Ground, Shining Hope for Communities, Peace is Loud and the Peace Research Endowment.
- Former board member of The New York Women's Foundation, The White House Project and the Global Fund for Women.
- "The Armor of Light | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribecafilm.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- UCR Newsroom: Award-winning Filmmaker to Speak at UCR. Newsroom.ucr.edu (April 27, 2011). Retrieved on 2012-03-28.
- Abigail Disney Isn't Interested In Cinderella Stories. Forbes.com (August 19, 2010). Retrieved on 2012-03-28.
- "Women, War & Peace ~ About the Producers : Wide Angle". Pbs.org. 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Pray the Devil Back to Hell". Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "About". Fork Films. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Pray the Devil Back to Hell | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- LLC, Fork Films. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Filmmakers". praythedevilbacktohell.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "About". Fork Films. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- LLC, Fork Films. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Global Peace Tour". Praythedevilbacktohell.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "Women, War and Peace". PBS. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "February 18-21, 2016 New York City". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "About |". Trialsofspring.com. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
- "About". Daphne Foundation. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "Our Team". Peace is Loud. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "Women Peacebuilders in the DRC – Nobel Women's Initiative". Nobelwomensinitiative.org. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "A Local Girl with a Global Platform: Leymah Gbowee and Sri Lanka". Africa.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Disney heir renounces profits from Ahava", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 16, 2012.
- "WomenCrossDMZ Peace Walk 2015". Womencrossdmz.org. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- "Abigail Disney, Ph.D Candidate, Weds Pierre Norman Hauser 2d at Columbia". NYTimes.com. 1988-10-09. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- [dead link]
- "NPA 5th Birthday with Abigail Disney". Nationalpeaceacademy.us. 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Women’s Image Network Announces Abigail Disney Woman of the Year Honoree | PRLog". www.prlog.org. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- "Abigail Disney, Irena Medavoy Honored at Women's Image Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
-  Archived October 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Intl. Women's Media Foundation Honors Disney, Deutsch". EDGE Media Network. Retrieved 2015-10-21.