Grace Lee (director)

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Grace Lee
Grace Lee at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards.jpg
Lee in 2015
Born1968/1969 (age 53–54)[1]
OccupationFilm director, producer
Notable work
The Grace Lee Project

Grace Lee is an American director and producer. She is known for both her documentaries and narrative films, which often mix in elements of documentaries.


Lee is of Korean heritage and from Columbia, Missouri.[2] She originally wanted to be a journalist, but after interviewing sex workers in South Korea, she realized that she could tell better stories through film. Back in the United States, she enrolled in UCLA. She now lives in Los Angeles, California.[3]


Her first short, Girl Meets Boy was, according to Lee, a two-minute "response to those who have questioned my ability to speak loudly and in English".[4] In 2000, she won a UCLA Spotlight Award for her short film The Ride Home.[5] Barrier Device, her master's thesis, stars Sandra Oh and won a silver medal at the 29th Student Academy Awards. In 2002, she was profiled in Filmmaker as one of the New Faces of Independent Film.[4] Her 2004 short film Best of the Wurst was nominated for the Berlin International Film Festival's Berlin Today Award[6] and is featured in the Deutsches Currywurst Museum.[7] Following this, she filmed The Grace Lee Project, a 2005 documentary about Asian-American women who share her name.[3] With In-Ah Lee, she formed LeeLee Films in 2006.[8]

American Zombie, her feature narrative film directorial debut, was released in 2007. A mockumentary about zombie civil rights in Los Angeles, it satirized her earlier experience with documentary films.[9] Janeane from Des Moines, released in 2012, is about a conservative housewife who attends the 2012 Republican Party primary in Iowa. The film mixes staged scenes and real interviews with Republican politicians, conducted in character without the knowledge of the media or politicians. ABC World News Tonight picked up the story, not realizing that Janeane is a fictional character.[10] American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs is a 2013 documentary about Grace Lee Boggs, an activist that Lee met while filming The Grace Lee Project.[11] Her next documentary, Makers: Women in Politics, aired on PBS in September 2014 as part of a series based on Makers: Women Who Make America.[12] In December 2015, Off the Menu: Asian America, a documentary about Asian food, aired on PBS.[13]

In November 2015, she received funding from the Sundance Institute as a part of the Women at Sundance Fellows program.[14]


Title Year Director Producer Writer Notes
Girl Meets Boy 2000 Yes No Yes Short
The Ride Home 2000 Yes No Yes Short
Barrier Device 2002 Yes No Yes Short
Best of the Wurst 2004 Yes No No Short, documentary
The Grace Lee Project 2005 Yes Yes Yes Documentary
American Zombie 2007 Yes No Yes Also co-stars as a fictionalized version herself
Janeane from Des Moines 2012 Yes Yes Yes
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs 2013 Yes Yes Yes Documentary
Makers: Women in Politics 2014 Yes Yes No Documentary
Off the Menu: Asian America 2015 Yes No No Documentary


  1. ^ Rapold, Nicholas (2014-03-20). "Tracing an Activist Through Decades". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  2. ^ Holden, Stephen (2005-12-14). "Who Can Grace Lee Be? Personalities Behind a Name". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  3. ^ a b Wang, Oliver (2014-06-17). "Documenting Change: The Evolution of Grace Lee". KCET. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  4. ^ a b "25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM 2002". Filmmaker (Summer 2002). Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  5. ^ Feiwell, Jill (2000-06-13). "Nine Bruins earn kudos". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  6. ^ Meza, Ed (2003-06-29). "Berlin Fest fetes young filmmakers". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-06.
  7. ^ Copley, Caroline (2009-08-13). "German cult sausage gets own museum". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-10-06.
  8. ^ Meza, Ed (2006-02-15). "Producer, Talent Campus alum form LeeLee Films". Variety. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  9. ^ Gore, Chris (2010). Chris Gore's Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, 4th edition: The Essential Companion for Filmmakers and Festival-Goers. Random House. p. 211. ISBN 9780307875082.
  10. ^ Anderson, John (2012-09-30). "A Mockumentary Pulls In Real Players". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  11. ^ "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs". PBS. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  12. ^ "TCA: PBS Orders More 'Women Who Make America', Interviews Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, Shonda Rhimes". Deadline Hollywood. 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  13. ^ Pei, Annie (2015-12-01). "New PBS Documentary Defines Asian-American Identity Through Food". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  14. ^ Berger, Laura (2015-11-06). "Women at Sundance Fellows Announced: Jennifer Phang, Lyric R. Cabral and More". Indiewire. Retrieved 2016-03-11.

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