Emily Kunstler

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Emily Kunstler is an activist and a documentary filmmaker. Kunstler grew up in New York City's West Village neighborhood.


Kunstler attended the Little Red School House (New York, New York) and the United Nations International School. She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA and Honors in Film and Video in 2000. She previously attended Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, NY where she focused in Film and Africana Studies. She was a studio art fellow with the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2004.


Kunstler is the daughter of left-wing radical lawyers William Kunstler and Margaret Ratner Kunstler and is the sister of lawyer and filmmaker Sarah Kunstler, Karin Kunstler Goldman and Jane Drazek.

Off Center Media[edit]

In 1999, Emily Kunstler co-founded Off Center Media with her sister Sarah Kunstler. Off Center is a documentary production company that exposes injustice in the criminal justice system through the creation and circulation of media. At Off Center Media, Emily has produced, directed and edited a number of short documentaries, including Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War (2003), which won Best Documentary Short at the Woodstock Film Festival, and was instrumental in winning exoneration for 35 wrongfully-convicted people in the small town of Tulia, Texas, and Getting Through to the President (2004), which has aired on the Sundance Channel, Current TV, and Channel Thirteen/WNET.

Other notable Off Center Media projects include A Pattern of Exclusion: The Trial of Thomas Miller-El (2002), a documentary about racism at the trial of Miller-El, who had been on death row in Texas since 1985, see Supreme Court case Miller-El v. Dretke; The Norfolk Four: A Miscarriage of Justice (2006), about four young men in Norfolk, Virginia, who falsely confessed to a rape-murder that they did not commit, see the Norfolk Four Website; and Executing the Insane: The Case of Scott Panetti (2007), see Supreme Court case Panetti v. Quarterman. These films have contributed to campaigns to secure pardons, stay executions and convince decision makers to reopen cases.

Emily Kunstler completed a documentary about her father entitled William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. The film is a co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and aired on the award-winning PBS series P.O.V. on Jun 22, 2010 as that year's season opener. The film was an official selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has since screened at over 35 festivals. Arthouse Films released the film theatrically in over 25 cities in North America in November 2009, to considerable critical acclaim.

It also received a 2008 grant from the Foundation for Jewish Culture's Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film.

Other Film/Video Work[edit]

Kunstler is currently the video archivist and co-founder of the Kent State Truth Tribunal, along with Laurel Krause whose sister Allison Krause was killed in the 1970 Kent State Shootings by National Guardsmen. The Tribunal works to help to heal those involved, establish cause and effect, and shed light on responsibility for the events that transpired on May 4, 1970. In May, 2010 the Tribunal was streamed live with help from Michael Moore and archived at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives.

Kunstler worked as a video producer for Democracy Now!, an independent national television and radio news program that broadcasts on the Pacifica Radio Network and on public access and satellite television.

Kunstler worked for the Documentary Campaign where she worked on Alison Maclean’s Persons of Interest (Sundance, 2004). Kunstler's short film Getting Through to the President (2004) was produced in association with the Documentary Campaign.

Kunstler has also been a videographer for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) traveling with NLG delegations to the West Bank, Lebanon, and Venezuela as part of fact finding missions.


Emily Kunstler and her sister Sarah Kunstler were recipients of the L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth "Vision" Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and Best New Documentary Filmmaker(s) Award at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival (2009).


In 1989, at age 11, Emily Kunstler appeared on the PBS children's show Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton on an episode called "Mummies Made in Egypt," doing a book review for Robert B. Pickering's "I Can Be an Archaeologist."

In 1998 Kunstler became a certified emergency medical technician and worked with both the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Central Park Medical Unit.




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