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Jeffrey Leib Nettler Zimbalist (born August 15, 1978 in Northampton, Massachusetts) is an Emmy and Peabody Award Winning American filmmaker best known for his feature films Favela Rising, The Two Escobars, Youngstown Boys, PELE, Bollywood; The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, and The Scribe of Urabá. Along with his brother Michael, the Zimbalists have collaborated with eminent names in the entertainment industry, such as Quincy Jones, Pelé, Shakira, Jesse Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mick Jagger, Javier Bardem, Russell Simmons, Naomi Campbell, Aishwarya Rai, and Amitabh BachChan, among others. Their films have been broadcast on HBO, MTV, PBS, ESPN, Channel 4 UK, the BBC and BET, as well as theatrically distributed worldwide. Their production company is called All Rise Films.
Together with Matt Mochary, Jeff Zimbalist won the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2005 TriBeCa Film Festival for his film Favela Rising. Favela Rising also garnered a 2006 Emmy Nomination for Zimbalist, was named as the 2005 International Documentary Association's Film of the Year, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005, and won 36 International Film Festival Awards, including Best Documentary at Sydney and Leeds International Film Festivals. The film follows the life of Anderson Sa through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in his attempt to use Afro-Reggae music to provide a positive outlet for the residents of a dangerous environment. The film was distributed by Thinkfilm and HBO Documentary Films in North America and was theatrically released in 16 countries, including by the Institute of Contemporary Art in the UK.
In 2010, Disney / ESPN Films released "The Two Escobars" which Jeff directed and produced with his brother Michael Zimbalist. Jeff also was credited as the director of photography and editor. The film was nominated for another Emmy and was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the IDFA International Film Festival. It was called "one of the best documentaries in recent memory" by The Los Angeles Times, "masterful" by The Hollywood Reporter, a "knockout documentary" by Variety and "one of the best sports documentaries ever made" by Bill Simmons. In 2011, Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's script for The Two Escobars was nominated for a best nonfiction script by the Writers Guild of America and was named 2010 documentary of the year alongside The Tillman Story by Sports Illustrated. Of the over 50 films in the Emmy Award winning 30 for 30 series, Vulture ranked "The Two Escobars" as the best one. The Zimbalists shared the 2011 Peabody Award with this first season of ESPN Films 30for30 filmmakers. Since, the Zimbalist brothers have directed two other entries into the 30for30 series, including "Arnold's Blueprint" and "Youngstown Boys", which won an Emmy in 2014 for ESPN Films Best Sports Series.
Zimbalist co-directed "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told" about the Bollywood film industry in India, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. In 2014, the Zimbalist brothers wrote and directed a scripted feature film on the early life of soccer legend Pelé for Imagine Entertainment with Brian Grazer producing.. Pelé was distributed theatrically worldwide, outranking tentpole Hollywood films at the box office on opening weekend in countries like Italy. Pelé himself attended the premieres at the Cannes Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival and was in tears at the emotional portrayal of his life.
As a director, cinematographer and editor, Zimbalist's work has also been featured at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He has produced development documentaries for over a dozen clients throughout the United States, in South Asia, Africa and Latin America, including the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, the Templeton Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as provided media consulting services to the UNDP and various international nonprofit service organizations. Jeff teaches at the New York Film Academy and the Maine Photographic Workshops. He is a Massachusetts State Cultural Council Fellow, a Cinereach grantee, a San Francisco Film Society Rainin Grant recipient, LEF grant recipient, and a Ford Foundation Grantee.
Jeff's charitable work includes a recruiting video for Amigos de las Américas, an organization that he volunteered with as a teenager.
- Jeff Zimbalist at the Internet Movie Database
- Favela Rising at the Internet Movie Database
- Favela Rising
- The Two Escobars
- Scorpian Kick: The Rise & Fall of Narco-Soccer [sic]