Godfrey Reggio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Godfrey Reggio
Reggio in 1995
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter

Godfrey Reggio is an American director of experimental documentary films.


Reggio was born in New Orleans in 1940 to a Catholic family. He left home at age 14 to join the Catholic Christian Brotherhood. He became a monk, and spent 14 years in silence and prayer during his training.[1][2]

During the 1950s and 60s, Reggio worked as a social activist with Chicano street gangs with the Brotherhood in New Mexico. One of the brothers introduced him to the film, Los Olvidados, by the Spanish-French-Mexican surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel which influenced him greatly. He also acknowledges Artavazd Peleshyan, a documentary-poet, who was a mentor and friend.[1]

Early work[edit]

Reggio helped found the Institute for Regional Education in Santa Fe, New Mexico,[3] a non-profit foundation. He became a founder of La Clinica de la Gente[4] a facility providing medical care and service to 12,000 community members in northern New Mexico's barrios,[5][6][1] as well as founding the Young Citizens for Action, a project aiding juveniles in the street gangs of Santa Fe.[2]

Reggio worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico in 1972, to develop a media campaign dealing with the loss of privacy and the rise of surveillance, as well as the militarization of police in the U.S. during the post-Vietnam War era. The media campaign was presented on television, radio, billboards and in major newspapers.[1]


Reggio is widely known for his wordless filmography, especially the trilogy of Koyaanisqatsi: “Life Out of Balance”; Powaqqatsi:Life in Transformation”; and Naqoyqatsi:Life as War”. The film titles are taken from the Hopi language. His short film Evidence explores the effect of cinema on the minds of children, and his documentary Anima Mundi, is a montage of images of over seventy animal species. His film Visitors, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, consists for the most part of extended slow-motion closeups of people's faces, looking directly into the camera.[1]

Reggio’s latest film, Once Within a Time,[7] was produced by Steven Soderbergh & Alexander Rodnyansky and had its world premiere at Santa Fe International Film Festival (SFiFF) in October 2022. The festival awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award.[8]

For many years, he has collaborated with the composer Philip Glass on the musical and orchestral soundtracks that augment Reggio’s wordless films. He also collaborates with Jon Kane, a fellow filmmaker.[8]

In 2014, Reggio was recognized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City with a full career retrospective titled Life with Technology: The Cinema of Godfrey Reggio.[9][10]

The bulk of Reggio's cinematic records, manuscripts, papers, photographs, film rolls, over forty years, have been acquired by Harvard University's Houghton Library, and the Harvard Film Archive.[11]


Reggio's approach to filmmaking is influenced by what came before him. In an interview with Revus et Corriges, he stated that he was particularly influenced by the work of experimental filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren. Like these filmmakers, Reggio uses film as a medium for exploring the boundaries of perception and consciousness, using the camera as a tool for capturing the unseen and the intangible.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Since the 1960s, Reggio has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[8]


Year Name Director Writer Producer Notes
1982 Koyaanisqatsi Yes Yes Yes a.k.a. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance
1988 Powaqqatsi Yes Yes Yes a.k.a. Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation
1989 Patricia's Park Yes Songlines video segment; short
1992 Anima Mundi Yes Yes a.k.a. The Soul of the World; short
Fated to Be Queer Yes Short
1995 Evidence Yes Short
1995 The Many Adventures of Diecast Yes
2002 Naqoyqatsi Yes Yes Yes a.k.a. Naqoyqatsi: Life as War
2013 Visitors Yes Yes Yes
2018 Awaken Executive
2023 Once Within a Time Yes Yes Yes


  1. ^ a b c d e Patterson, John (27 March 2014). "Godfrey Reggio: 'My Che Guevara was Pope John XXIII'". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Biography – Godfrey Reggio" (PDF). Global Arts Live.
  3. ^ "Institute for Regional Education, Santa Fe, NM".
  4. ^ "La Clinica de la Gente".
  5. ^ "Koyaanisqatsi".
  6. ^ "The Bob Fitch Photography Archive. "Santa Fe, New Mexico Murals"".
  7. ^ "Once Within a Time".
  8. ^ a b c Gomez, Adrian (31 August 2022). "Godfrey Reggio to receive the SFiFF's Lifetime Achievement Award". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Life with Technology: The Cinema of Godfrey Reggio".
  10. ^ "SFiFF's Lifetime Achievement Award". 31 August 2022.
  11. ^ "Harvard Film Archive/Godfrey-Reggio". 21 September 2019.
  12. ^ Hyaumet, Alexis (2017-12-31). "Interview with Godfrey Reggio". Revus & Corrigés (in French). Retrieved 2023-04-30.

External links[edit]