Heather Rae

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For the Australian political scientist, see Heather Rae (political scientist).
Heather Rae
Born (1966-10-01) October 1, 1966 (age 49)
Venice, California
Alma mater The Evergreen State College
Occupation Film producer, film director, actress

Heather Rae is an American film producer, director, and actress. She was born on October 1, 1966 in Venice, California but grew up in the mountains of Boise, Idaho. She is of Native American descent of the Cherokee Indians and of European descent. Heather is a 1990 graduate of The Evergreen State College located in Olympia, Washington. There Heather received a Bachelor of Arts in Film and multi-cultural studies. Heather is married to fellow movie director and writer Russell Friedenberg. Heather and Russel got married in July, 1999 and since being married, had a beautiful daughter, now 13 years-old, Johnny Sequoyah, who is also an actress. Also included in the family are Heather's two now-grown sons, Chema and Emilio. Rae is a twenty-year veteran of the film industry with a strong record in Native and other independent film. She has worked on more than two dozen documentary and narrative film projects but is best known for Frozen River (2008), Ibid (2008) and Trudell (2005).[1]

Trudell (2005) is the culmination of 13 years of Rae’s work as a filmmaker and activist. It has played in more than 50 film festivals worldwide, receiving honors such as Best Documentary Feature at the 30th Annual American Indian Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival. In 2007 Trudell was nationally broadcast on PBS in the documentary series Independent Lens.[2]

Frozen River (2008) was another very notable Piece of Rae’s work. The film won two Independent Spirit Awards, including one for Rae as Producer of the Year. It also received Academy Award nominations for the director and for lead actress Melissa Leo and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.[1]

From 1996 to 2001, Rae ran the Native Program at the Sundance Institute and was a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival. After leaving Sundance, Rae worked for one year as senior vice president of production for Winter Films. In 2003, Rae independently produced the feature film American Monster[3]

She has also produced A Thousand Guns starring Michael Robinson, The Space Between All Things starring Yvonne. Rae also co-produced Backroads, directed by Shirley Cheechoo, which premiered at Sundance in 2000.

Prior to 1996, Rae worked on documentary films including CBS’s 500 Nations, Turner Broadcasting's The Native Americans, and PBS's Storytellers of the Pacific. She produced a documentary on the making of Smoke Signals for the Sundance Channel and was an associate producer on Silent Tears. Rae is currently an adjunct professor at Boise State University teaching film studies. She has also founded the True West Cinema Film Festival and sits on the board of directors for True West and also TVTV, Boise’s community television outlet. She has established a production center in Boise where independent filmmakers such as Randy Redroad and Blackhorse Lowe have recently worked. The production center is now non-operational, but in its time produced four feature films.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Rae was born in Venice, California.

Grew up in Boise, Idaho.

Graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington with a degree in Arts in Film and multi-cultural studies.


One of her first films was a short documentary in 1990 called Birth Our Own.[4] Other directing filmography includes Trudell (2005).[5]

Rae has also worked as an actress, in the movies Silent Tears (1998),[6] Backroads (2000),[7] Christmas in the Clouds (2001),[8] Most Funniest (2005),[9] Norman Waiting (2006), and Disappearance (2006).

Rae is married to screenwriter/director Russell Friedenberg and has three children. Her 12-year-old daughter, Johnny Sequoyah, starred as Bo Adams on the NBC television series Believe.

As of the spring of 2008, Rae was an adjunct professor of communications at Boise State University, teaching "Producing the Independent Film".[10]

In 2005 she was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her film Trudell. Also in 2005 she won the Documentary Special Jury Award for Trudell at the Seattle International Film Festival.[3]

In 2008 she won Best Film at the Gotham Awards for Frozen River.[3]

In 2009 she was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for best feature in her film Frozen River at the Independent Spirit Awards. Also at the Independent Spirit Awards she won the Producers Award also for Frozen River.[3]

At the 2009 USA AFI Awards she won the AFI award for Movie of the Year again with Frozen River[3]


External links[edit]