Dawn Porter (filmmaker)

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Dawn Porter
DAWN PORTER HEADSHOT HiRES 4256x2832pixels.jpg
Porter on January 3, 2014
Education Swarthmore College
Georgetown University Law Center
Occupation Film director
Employer Trilogy Films
Website http://www.trilogy-films.com

Dawn Porter is an American documentary filmmaker and founder of production company Trilogy Films.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Porter is a graduate of Swarthmore College in 1998 and Georgetown University Law School. Trained as an attorney, she became a filmmaker and financed her first film with assistance from the Ford Foundation.[2]


Porter started her film career by working as executive producer for various films. In 2009, she executive-produced director Jon Bowermaster's Terra Antartica, Re-Discovering the Seventh Continent, a 49-minute documentary exploring the Antartica Peninsula and its evolution. In 2009, she also co-executive produced two other films: Serious Moonlight, and What Would Darwin Think? Man v. Nature in the Galapagos. In 2011, she co-executive produced The Green, a romantic drama feature film directed by Steven Williford.

Porter's directorial debut was the 2013 documentary film Gideon's Army,[3] about three black public defenders working in the South America. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, where it won the festival's "Documentary Editing Award".[4] The film also won the Creative Promise Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[5] Gideon’s Army premiered on HBO in July 2013,[6] and was later nominated for an Emmy Award,[7] and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film also won the Ridenhour Award for best documentary film in 2014.

Porter's second film project was Spies of Mississippi,[3] which debuted on PBS in 2014. It is 53-minute documentary shot in black and white colour about Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) efforts to preserve segregation during the 1950s and 1960s, including the use of an extensive spy network and violent cover-ups.[8] The film was written by Rick Bowers and directed by Porter.

Trapped, Porter's latest film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016. It shows the impact of anti-abortion laws on abortion providers in the South along with chronicling the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi.[9] Porter says she decided it was her duty to make this film, after witnessing there was only one abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi.[10] The title of the documentary was derived from the term TRAP Laws ("Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers"), which have led to the closure of hundreds of southern US clinics mainly in areas that service poor women and women of color.[11] Due to the film's potent subject matter on abortion, police were hired to stand guard outside of screenings, and checking for weapons at the door.[3]

She also produced a biography of Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli for the Cooking Channel.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Trilogy Films". 
  2. ^ "Dawn Porter '88". Swarthmore College. 2011. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Houston, Shannon M. "10 Black Directors to Watch in 2016". Paste. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Gideon's Army". Sundance. 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  5. ^ "Awards". 
  6. ^ "Gideon's Army". HBO. 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  7. ^ "Nominees announced for the 35th annual news and documentary Emmy awards". Emmy Online. 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  8. ^ Spies of Mississippi: Filmmaker Dawn Porter Tells Shocking Story February 7, 2014 by Craig Phillips Independent Lens, PBS
  9. ^ ""Trapped": New film follows providers who are fighting to keep abortion accessible in the South". Democracy Now. 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  10. ^ "1 abortion clinic". 
  11. ^ "Abortion providers secretly arrive at Sundance to support the documentary Trapped". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2016-02-26.