Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

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Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee (born 1979 in London, England) is a British filmmaker, a composer, and a Naqshbandi Sufi teacher. Emmanuel is the son of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi mystic and lineage successor in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order.


Vaughan-Lee attended Berklee College of Music in Boston to pursue musical studies in improvisation and composition.[1] After graduating from Berklee in 2001, Vaughan-Lee performed and recorded with numerous artists including Mary Stallings, Lionel Loueke, Dayna Stephens, Ferenc Nemeth, Rhiannon and Ambrose Akinmusire.[2] He recorded and released two albums under his own name – Previous Misconceptions (2001 – Emanjazz) and Borrowed Time (2005 – Fresh Sound New Talent).[3]

He has directed and produced numerous films and virtual reality experiences that have played at festivals including: New York Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW Film Festival Thessalonioki Documentary Film Festival, Hot Docs, San Francisco Intl Film Festival and Sheffield Documentary Film Festival. His films have been featured and distributed on PBS, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Outside, Within, and exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum and London Barbican.

In 2012, Vaughan-Lee's debut feature film, Elemental, made its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival.[4] Variety called the film "inspiring".[5] The New York Times wrote the following review about Elemental – "This sensitively scored film complicates the typical missionary's progress arc by acknowledging its would-be heroes' weaknesses and the day-to-day obstacles to doing good."[6] The film went on to play at more than 50 film festivals internationally with theatrical distribution handled by The Film Collaborative.[7] and digital and non theatrical by Cinema Guild.[8]

In collaboration with composer H. Scott Salinas, he composed music for his films Elemental and Laugh Clown Laugh.[9]

In 2013, Vaughan-Lee's documentary Yukon Kings,[10] exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was also featured in National Geographic.

In 2014, Vaughan-Lee's documentaries Isle de Jean Charles,[11] and Marie's Dictionary,[12] were featured on The New York Times Op-Docs.[13] His documentary Soleá was featured in The New Yorker.[14]

In 2016, Vaughan-Lee produced Welcome to Canada,[15] which premiered at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and screened at the Seattle International Film Festival,[16] and was featured in National Geographic.[17]

In 2017, Vaughan-Lee's virtual reality (VR) film, Sanctuaries of Silence,[18] premiered at the New York Film Festival,[19] and in 2018, it was selected to screen at a number of festivals worldwide, including SXSW Film Festival,[20] Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival,[21] Seattle International Film Festival,[22] Telluride Mountainfilm,[23] AFI DOCS, and was nominated for the VR Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

In April 2018, Vaughan-Lee's film Earthrise premiered at Tribeca Film Festival,[24] and won the Audience Award at AFI DOCS.[25] and was nominated for an Emmy Award in the short documentary category. The film was distributed by PBS's POV and The New York Times Op-Docs.

In March 2019, Vaughan-Lee's virtual reality (VR) film, The Atomic Tree,[26] premiered at SXSW Film Festival,[27] and was nominated for the VR narrative award at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

He is currently the executive editor of Emergence magazine,[28] a National Magazine Award nominated and Webby winning online publication, with an annual printed edition exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture and spirituality.


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Slambrouck, Paul (1 March 2010). "Fimmaker's videos show the underlying bonds of humanity". The Christian Science Monitor.
  3. ^ "Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Edition.html, San Francisco Magazine". Sanfranmag.com. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  5. ^ Harvey, Dennis, Variety Magazine, 29 October 2012
  6. ^ Rapold, Nicolas The New York Times, 16 May 2013
  7. ^ "Elemental". Thefilmcollaborative.org. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  8. ^ "ELEMENTAL - Cinema Guild Non-Theatrical". Store.cinemaguild.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Laugh Clown Laugh". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Yukon Kings". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Isle de Jean Charles". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Marie's Dictionary". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  13. ^ Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel The New York Times, 2 June 2014
  14. ^ Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel The New Yorker, 11 November 2014
  15. ^ "Welcome to Canada". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  16. ^ [2][dead link]
  17. ^ "For Syrian Refugees, He Is a Friendly Face in a Strange New Land". Video.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Sanctuaries of Silence". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Sanctuaries of Silence". Filmlinc.org. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  20. ^ [3][dead link]
  21. ^ "Sanctuaries of Silence". Boxoffice.hotdocs.ca. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  22. ^ [4][dead link]
  23. ^ "VR: Sanctuaries of Silence". Mountainfilm.org. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  24. ^ "Earthrise | 2018 Tribeca Film Festival". Tribecafilm.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  25. ^ "Announcing the AFI DOCS 2018 Audience Award Winners". Afi.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  26. ^ "The Atomic Tree". IMDb.com. Retrieved 9 August 2020. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  27. ^ [5][dead link]
  28. ^ "Emergence Magazine". Emergencemagazine.org. Retrieved 9 August 2020.

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