Cynthia Wade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cynthia Wade
Born United States
Occupation Film director, producer, cinematographer
Years active 1993–present
Spouse(s) Matthew Syrett
Relatives John Orr Young, Ali Benjamin, Whitney Tilson

Cynthia Wade is an American television, commercial and film director, producer and cinematographer based in New York City. She has directed documentaries on social issues including Shelter Dogs in 2003 about animal welfare and Freeheld in 2007 about LGBT rights as well as television commercials and web campaigns. She has won over 40 film festival awards, won an Oscar in 2008 and was nominated for her second Oscar in 2013.


Wade was born and raised in the New York City area.

She is the great-granddaughter of John Orr Young, the founder of Young & Rubicam.[1] She attended Smith College where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree, and Stanford University where she received a master's degree in Documentary Film Production.[2] During college, Wade attended the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, where she studied directing.

In 1999 she married Matthew Syrett.[1]

She taught advanced digital cinematography[3] and film production in the graduate certificate program in Documentary Media Studies[4] at The New School and runs a film production company, Cynthia Wade Productions, Inc.[2][5] She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.[2]


In 1999, Wade’s personal documentary Grist for the Mill aired on Cinemax.

In 2003, Wade directed and produced Shelter Dogs, a documentary about the animal welfare system in the United States and the ethics of animal euthanasia.[6][7] [8] For this film she won the Grand Prize at the Director's View Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Newport International Film Festival, the Best of the Fest award at the Northampton Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Orinda Film Festival.[9][10] It was the 2004 debut special for HBO's series America Undercover.[11][12]

In 2007, Wade directed and shot Freeheld, a documentary telling the story of terminally ill New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester. Hester came to public attention when she appealed to her local authorities to change the policy that prevented her female domestic partner from receiving pension benefits on Hester's death. While filming Freeheld, Wade spent time living with Hester and her partner Stacie Andree in New Jersey.[5] The film won 16 film awards including the Special Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, a Special Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Boston Independent Film Festival, the Audience Award at L.A. Outfest.[13] Wade and Producer Vanessa Roth won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008.[14][15]

In 2008 and 2009 Wade directed the documentary Living the Legacy: The Untold Story of Milton Hershey School at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania,{ one of several films she has made for schools and non profit organizations.[6][16] It aired on the Sundance Channel and the Independent Film Channel.[6]

In January 2010, Wade’s documentary Born Sweet, about a Cambodian boy who is poisoned with arsenic, had its World Premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded Honorable Mention; it won 14 additional film festival awards, including prizes at Aspen, Palm Springs and the Hamptons Film Festivals.[17] [18] [19][20]

In 2011, Wade was Documentary Director for the Prime Time Emmy-Winning Sesame Street TV special "Growing Hope Against Hunger", about food insecurity in America, as told through four children's eyes in different parts of the country.[21][22]

In 2013, Wade was nominated for her second Academy Award for her HBO documentary Mondays at Racine. The documentary won 4 festival awards and an IDA Award Nomination.[23] [24][25]

In 2014, during an event at the Sundance Film Festival, Wade released her short film "Selfie" in conjunction with the Sundance Institute and Dove (soap) dealing with how social media is changing the way women define beauty. "Selfie" is an installment of the 'Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. [26][27] The Selfie project went viral and captured over 7.1 million views worldwide. It was awarded a Clio in 2014 for Best Short Form Film.[28]

In 2015, Wade directed and cast #EndMommyWars,[29] a 7-minute documentary for Similac as part of their #EndMommyWars campaign. The film followed real new moms over the course of a day, where they talked about how they judged other mothers and felt judged themselves.[30] [31]

In 2015, the feature film "Freeheld", based on Wade's 2007 documentary, was released by Lionsgate. Wade served as a lead producer on this film, which stars Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. It is directed by Peter Sollett.




  • 1995: Almost Home
  • 1999: Grist for the Mill
  • 2003: Shelter Dogs
  • 2006: Gender Rebel
  • 2007: Freeheld
  • 2012: Mondays at Racine
  • 2015: The Gnomist
  • 2015: Freeheld (2015)



  1. ^ a b "Cynthia Wade and Matthew Syrett", The New York Times, 1999-09-19, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  2. ^ a b c Cynthia Wade Productions (2007). "Filmmaker Profile". Official site. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  3. ^ "Bio". 
  4. ^ "AND THE OSCAR GOES TO…". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  5. ^ a b "Oscar nomination for documentary about lesbian cop", Pink News, 2008-01-23, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  6. ^ a b c Dunkle, David N. (2009-08-09), "A conversation with director Cynthia Wade", The Patriot-News, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  7. ^ Daniel, Jeff (2004-01-25), ""SHELTER DOGS" IS MORE ABOUT ETHICS THAN AN EXPOSE", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pp. F6 
  8. ^ Diamond, Wendy (2004-01-20), ""SHELTER DOGS": AN UNDERCOVER DOCUMENTARY OF THE UNWANTED", Animal Fair Magazine, pp. F6 
  9. ^ "Shelter Dogs (2003)". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  10. ^ "Shelter Dogs Awards". Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  11. ^ Gorman, James (2004-01-27), "Life And Death Decisions About Four Legged Prisoners", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  12. ^ Parker, James (2004-01-27), "'Shelter Dogs' unleashes painful facts about strays", The Boston Globe, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  13. ^ "L.A. Outfest",, 2008-01-23, retrieved 2015-12-07 
  14. ^ Finn, Robin (2008-03-07), "A Filmmaker Triumphant, A Film About Triumph", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  15. ^ "Story of lesbian cop's pension struggle wins Oscar", Pink News, 2008-02-25, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  16. ^ Dunkle, David N. (2009-08-05), "Oscar winner directs documentary about Milton Hershey School", The Patriot-News, retrieved 2009-08-11 
  17. ^ Born Sweet (2010) - Awards,, retrieved 2014-01-20 
  18. ^ Sondhi, Jason (2013-09-15), Short of the Week,, retrieved 2014-01-20 
  19. ^ Tehrani, Bijan (2010-03-25), Cynthia Wade Talks About BORN SWEET,, retrieved 2014-01-20 
  20. ^ Koughuell, Ray (2014-09-22), Q&A with Cynthia Wade: Death and Fate in a Cambodian Village, Voice of America News, retrieved 2015-11-29 
  21. ^ Aumer, Christy (2011-06-30), Sesame Street Films in Vineyard Haven, Patch News, retrieved 2015-11-29 
  22. ^ Hacker, Pam (2011-10-04), Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley and the Sesame Street Muppets help families cope with hunger, PBS Sesame Workshop Press Release, retrieved 2015-11-29 
  23. ^ Cynthia Wade Awards,, retrieved 2015-12-07 
  24. ^ BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY MONDAY’S AT RACINE (2013), Irvine Film Festival, retrieved 2015-12-07 
  25. ^ MONDAYS AT RACINE -American Film Showcase, American Film Showcase, retrieved 2015-12-07 
  26. ^ Kelly, Samantha Murphy (2014-01-20), Dove Short Film Embraces 'Selfies' to Redefine How We Perceive Beauty, Mashable, retrieved 2014-01-20 
  27. ^ Oster, Erik (2014-01-22), Recommended Media’s ‘Selfie’ for Dove Leaves Us a Bit Verklempt, Media Bistro, retrieved 2014-01-22 
  28. ^ Oster, Erik (2014), Clio Awards - Dove Selfie, Clio Awards, retrieved 2015-12-07 
  29. ^ Bolonga, Caroline (2015-10-22), If You've Ever Been Judged As A Mom, This Video Is For You, Huffington Post, retrieved 2015-10-22 
  30. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca (2015-10-22), This New Ad Will Convince You Never Again To Judge a New Mom, Mashable, retrieved 2015-10-22 
  31. ^ Cullers, Rebecca (2015-10-23), Feeling Judged? Judging Others? This Heartfelt Similac Film Hopes To End The Mommy Wars, AdWeek, retrieved 2015-10-23 

External links[edit]