Melody Gilbert

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Melody Gilbert
Residence St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Occupation Independent documentary film director

Melody Gilbert is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker and educator whose work is noteworthy for featuring a rare intimacy with her subjects as she unearths previously hidden worlds. She works mostly solo, querying her subjects from behind the camera, giving voice to ordinary people with extraordinary stories. She has the uncanny ability to get people to open up and reveal their innermost thoughts, whether it’s the family of a child who can’t feel pain, a couple who gets married at the world’s largest shopping mall, a former Vice President of the United States or a physically healthy person who desperately wants to become an amputee.


She is also the director of an award-winning short "Tami Tushies Toys" (2010) that premiered at Hot Docs and won the International Documentary Challenge Audience Award and the Executive Producer of the documentary "Numb" and she has several new documentaries in the works.

All of Melody’s films have screened at major film festivals around the world and have been broadcast in dozens of countries, from Australia to France and everywhere in between. Her documentaries have been broadcast on the Sundance channel and featured on Oprah, CNN, ABC, Entertainment Tonight and Good Morning America. Articles about her films have appeared in many publications, from the New York Times to Newsweek, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Prior to making independent documentaries, Ms. Gilbert enjoyed a long career as an award-winning television news producer and reporter. Her specialty was investigative reporting as well as covering the arts. Awards include regional Emmys as well as a national Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) award. In 1996, Ms. Gilbert started teaching broadcast journalism and documentary production at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and continues to teach students how to make documentaries when she is not making her own. She has taught at Carleton College, College of Visual Arts, Walker Art Center, Columbia College (Chicago), IFP-MN, and in Romania and Kyrgyzstan. In 2001, she formed her own company, Frozen Feet Films and has been an independent director/producer since

As a filmmaker, Ms. Gilbert has received several fellowships and grants from the Jerome foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She has also received the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for filmmakers. In 2011, she moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Blagoevgrad to teach documentary filmmaking and journalism at the American University in Bulgaria. She started a Documentary Club there to try and get her students addicted to documentaries. She has also taken them to film festivals including the Manaki Brothers Intl. Film Festival (Macedonia), Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival (Greece), SoIndependent Film Festival (Sofia) and IDFA (Amsterdam).

Partial filmography[edit]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Gilbert received regional Emmys as producer on Our Bodies/Ourselves (2000) (TPT),[1] and for Battered Lives (1996) (WCCO). She received the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) national award for best series for Defying Tradition: Hmong Teen Brides. Her short documentary Jamie Butcher Dies at Home was shown on ABC's Prime Time Live. She has also won a national award from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) for Toxic testing, a short documentary about how the U.S. government sprayed citizens of Minneapolis with toxic chemicals in the 1950s. The documentary prompted an investigation led by the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. The Documentary Channel writes that Melody Gilbert is “one of the most fearless filmmakers in contemporary documentary cinema.”

Additional sources[edit]


  1. ^ Rasmussen, Brianne (November 3, 2000). "U journalism students fare well at first Minnesota Emmy Awards". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  2. ^ Weinberg, Scott. "SXSW '05 Interview: 'A Life Without Pain' Director Melody Gilbert". eFilmCritic. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  3. ^ "Melody Gilbert - Documentary Filmmaker". Rift Magazine. February 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  4. ^ Kerr, Euan (March 16, 2007). "Melody Gilbert's trip "Into the Darkness"". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 

External links[edit]