Marc Levin

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Marc Levin
Levin at the Rutgers Athletic Center in 2011
New York City, U.S.
Occupation(s)Director, producer, screenwriter

Marc Levin is an American independent film producer and director. He is best known for his Brick City TV series, which won the 2010 Peabody award and was nominated for an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking and his dramatic feature film, Slam, which won the Grand Jury Prize[1][2] at the Sundance Film Festival and the Caméra d'Or[3] at Cannes in 1998. He also has received three Emmy Awards (1988, 1989, 1999) and the 1997 DuPont-Columbia Award.

Early life[edit]

Levin was born January 31, 1951, in New York City and raised in Elizabeth and Maplewood, New Jersey, the son of documentary filmmaker Alan Levin. He attended Wesleyan University (class of 1973),[4] and has described the university as key in shaping his career in film.[5] Marc was raised Jewish.[6]



In 1982, Levin and his father, Al, teamed up on Portrait of an American Zealot which was made part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent film collection. In 1984, he made Inside Story: Fall River Spectacle for PBS which won the Cine Golden Eagle Award. In 1985, he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Documentary for the WCBS TV Special The Wall Street Connection. In 1989, Levin was awarded a writing Emmy for the WCBS TV Special New York Non-Stop as well as a nomination for Outstanding Magazine Show (Non-News).


Blowback was released in 1991. In this black comedy, an insane scientist, Dr. Krack, creates an orgasm-inducing O-bomb and threatens to detonate it. The only ones who can stop him are a drug-dealing ex-CIA agent and the woman he meets in a rehab center.

In 1992, Levin directed Robert Downey, Jr. in The Last Party, a gonzo look at the Presidential campaign, weaving together the personal and the political fortunes of Downey and Bill Clinton.

In 1997, Levin was awarded the prestigious duPont-Columbia award for CIA: America's Secret Warriors, a three-part series that aired on the Discovery Channel.

In the late nineties Levin created a hip-hop trilogy beginning with Slam, a searing prison drama, which starred Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, and Bonz Malone.

Followed in 1999 by Brooklyn Babylon, a fable inspired by the “Song of Songs,” starred Tariq Trotter, Bonz Malone, and featured music by The Roots.

In 2000, Levin directed Whiteboyz, a comedy about white kids who want to be black rappers, starred Danny Hoch, Dash Mihok, Mark Webber, and Piper Perabo.


In Twilight Los Angeles,an adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman show,[7] Levin fused a Broadway play with a documentary look at the LA riots.[8][9] Twilight premiered at the Sundance 2000 Film Festival and was selected as the opening film of the International Human Rights Film Festival at Lincoln Center.

Levin's Street Time, a 2002 television series produced by Columbia/Tristar for Showtime, received critical acclaim for its authenticity and cinéma vérité style.[10][11] Levin executive produced the series and directed 10 episodes. The show stars Rob Morrow, Scott Cohen, Erica Alexander and Terrence Howard.

Levin's documentary feature, The Blues: Godfathers and Sons (2003), was part of the highly regarded Martin Scorsese PBS series, The Blues.[12][13] Scorsese recruited an international team of directors with both feature and documentary experience - Charles Burnett,[14] Clint Eastwood,[15] Mike Figgis,[16] Richard Pearce[17] and Wim Wenders.[18]

Levin made his on-camera debut in Protocols of Zion,[19][20] his street level look at the rise of anti-Semitism since 9/11 and the renewed popularity of the anti-Semitic text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was released theatrically in the fall of 2005 and on HBO the spring of 2006.

Mr. Untouchable, the story of Nicky Barnes, was released in theatres in 2007.[21] It tells the true-life story of a real American Gangster from the point of view of law enforcement, associates, and Nicky Barnes, who appears for the first time in over a quarter century.

In 2008 Levin was executive producer alongside Beyoncé Knowles on Cadillac Records, the Chess Records story starring Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, and Beyoncé. In the same year he executive produced the indie feature documentary Captured, the story of artist activist Clayton Patterson, the man who videotaped the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riot and who has dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary minds. Levin executive produced a follow-up feature in 2010, Dirty Old Town[22] by his son Daniel B. Levin, Jenner Furst and Julia Nason.

Levin's Brick City is a ground-breaking docu-series about the city of Newark, New Jersey, its mayor, Cory Booker, and the people on the frontlines of a city struggling to change. Executive produced with Forest Whitaker, the 5-hour series aired its first Peabody Award[23] winning season on the Sundance Channel in September 2009. The show also received a 2010 Golden Eagle Cine Award[24] and was nominated for both an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking and a NAACP Image Award. The second season premiered on January 30, 2011.

Levin also periodically directed episodes of the classic TV series, Law and Order.

Work with Bill Moyers[edit]

From the mid-seventies through the eighties he teamed up with one of America's most respected journalists, Bill Moyers. In 1988 Levin won a national Emmy award as a producer/editor of Moyers' The Secret Government - The Constitution in Crisis. He directed The Home Front with Bill Moyers, which was honored with the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award in 1992.

Work with Daphne Pinkerson[edit]

Levin and his documentary film partner, Daphne Pinkerson, have produced 11 films for HBO's documentary film division, including Triangle: Remembering the Fire,[25] Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags,[26] Mob Stories, Prisoners of the War on Drugs, The Execution Machine: Texas Death Row,[27] Soldiers in the Army of God,[28][29] and Gladiator Days[30] (see "Troy Kell"). Thug Life in D.C. won the 1999 National Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special. Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock won the CableACE Award for Best Documentary Special of 1994. The sequel, Back in the Hood, premiered on HBO ten years later. They also produced Heir to an Execution,[31] a documentary feature following Ivy Meeropol’s journey on the 50th anniversary of the execution of her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Heir was in competition at the Sundance film festival and aired on HBO.

Latest work[edit]

Levin continued his 20-year working relationship with HBO: Hard Times: Lost on Long Island[32] in 2011, Prayer for a Perfect Season[33] in 2012 and Class Divide in 2015.[34] He also co-produced the 2017 documentary Baltimore Rising directed by Sonja Sohn.


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (January 26, 1998). "Various Guises of Misery in Sundance Winners". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "Sundance Festival Honors 'Slam' And 2 Documentaries". Chicago Tribune. January 25, 1998. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  3. ^ "Slam". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  4. ^ Marc Levin Movies and Career Information, Movie Times. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  5. ^ Want to discover the boldest business model-Ever? Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine, By Ryan Holmes. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Marc Levin". Movie Times. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  7. ^ Hynes, Eric (January 25, 2010). "Opinion: Anna Deavere Smith". Sundance Film Festival. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "Stage on Screen - "Twilight: Los Angeles"". WNET. Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  9. ^ "Stage on Screen: Marc Levin - Director". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  10. ^ Speier, Michael (June 20, 2002). "TV Reviews: Street Time". Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  11. ^ "Street Time [TV Series] (2002) - Overview". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Blues: Godfathers and Sons". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  13. ^ "The Blues". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Blues: Warming by the Devil's Fire". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  15. ^ "The Blues: Piano Blues". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  16. ^ "The Blues: Red, White & Blues". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  17. ^ "The Blues: The Road to Memphis". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "The Blues: The Soul of a Man". PBS. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  19. ^ "Protocols of Zion (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. 21 October 2005. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  20. ^ Schager, Nick (September 12, 2005). "Protocols of Zion". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 26, 2007). "Loud, Proud and Busted: 3 Decades and No Regret". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  22. ^ Knobloch, Julia (May 23, 2011). "Review of Dirty Old Town". Telegraph 21. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  23. ^ "The Ultimate CGI". Archived from the original on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  24. ^ "CINE 2012 Special Jury Award Recipients". Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  25. ^ Fuchs, Cynthia (March 21, 2011). "Triangle: Remembering the Fire". PopMatters. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  26. ^ McNamara, Mary (October 19, 2009). "Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  27. ^ "HBO peers at life on death row / 'Execution machine' in Huntsville studied". Houston Chronicle. September 20, 1997. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  28. ^ "Soldiers in the Army of God". 2006-09-04. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  29. ^ "Soldiers in the Army of God". DVD Talk. April 18, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  30. ^ "Gladiator Days – Anatomy of a Prison Murder". Best Prison Books Movies. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  31. ^ "Heir to an Execution: Rosenberg's Granddaughter". Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  32. ^ "2011 Hamptons International Film Festival: Hard Times: Lost on Long Island". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  33. ^ "Prayer For a Perfect Season". HBO. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  34. ^ International Documentary Association (24 August 2016). "Class Divide". Retrieved 2022-02-06.

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