Ondi Timoner

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Ondi Timoner
Ondi Captain'sJacket Hires.jpg
Andrea Doane Timoner

(1972-12-06) December 6, 1972 (age 48)
Alma materYale University
OccupationFilm Director, producer
Years active1994–present

Ondi Timoner (born December 6, 1972) is an American filmmaker and the founder and CEO of Interloper Films, a full-service production company located in Pasadena, California. Timoner has built a reputation in the documentary world, becoming the only two-time recipient of the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for her documentaries Dig! (2004) and We Live in Public (2009). These two works were acquired for the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.[1]

Timoner is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,[2] the DGA,[2] the PGA, the International Documentary Association, Film Fatales,[3] and Women in Film.[4]

Early life[edit]

Timoner was born in Miami, Florida to Elissa and Eli Timoner, co-founder of Air Florida, in 1972.[5] She has two siblings, Rabbi Rachel Timoner and David Timoner, who co-founded Interloper Films and has collaborated on several of her films.

Timoner attended Yale University, where she founded the Yale Street Theater Troupe, a guerrilla theater ensemble that performed spontaneously in unexpected environments, in 1992.[6] She made her directorial stage debut in 1993 with her production of Sarah Daniels' Masterpieces.[6] Timoner shot her first documentary film, Three Thousand Miles and a Woman with a Video Camera, with her younger brother David and John Krokidas, both of whom attended Yale, interviewing people at crossroads and convenience stores while on a cross country road trip.[7] It was edited with equipment at Citizens Television, located in New Haven.[8]

She subsequenlty filmed Reflections on a Moment: The Sixties and the Nineties, an exploration of her generation's nostalgia for the 1960s and The Purple Horizon, a 60-minute documentary on the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.[6][8] In her senior of college, she often made films in lieu of taking a final. For her film, Voices From Inside Time, she interviewed women inmates which would eventually lead her to Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, the subject of her first feature film, The Nature Of The Beast.[7][6] The film went on to win the Howard Lamar Film Prize for Best Undergraduate Film at Yale University.[6]

Timoner graduated cum laude from Yale in 1994, where she majored in American Studies, with a concentration in Film and Literature, and Theater Studies.[6][9][10]


Her first feature documentary, The Nature Of The Beast (1994), centered around the life and case of Bonnie Jean Foreshaw (a woman serving the longest prison sentence in the state of Connecticut for incidentally killing a pregnant woman while defending herself against a man) in order to shine light on the racism and systemic holes in our justice system.[11] This project was shot by a news cameraman but, then on, Timoner has expressed interest in shooting her films herself.[7]

She also worked on PBS documentaries while interning for documentary filmmaker Helen Whitney.[6]

Additionally, Ms Timoner has worked as an Assistant Producer for NBC Media Services and Assistant Regional Coordinator for the Steven Spielberg Holocaust/Oral History Project in Miami, Florida.[6]


Timoner created, executive produced and directed the VH1 original series SOUND AFFECTS (2000),[8] about music's effect at critical moments in people's lives.

Culled from over 2,500 hours of footage, Timoner directed, co-produced, and edited DIG! (2004) with her brother David Timoner, which chronicles seven years[12] in the lives of two neo-psychedelic bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The film explores the love-hate relationship of the band's frontmen, Courtney Taylor and Anton Newcombe. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004,[13] is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City,[14] and was screened as the finale of the Film Society at Lincoln Center and MoMA's 33rd annual New Directors/New Films Festival, in 2004.[15][16]

Timoner co-directed the short film, Recycle (2005),[17] a documentary about a homeless man who makes a garden in downtown Los Angeles. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and also played at the Cannes Film Festival.

Her third feature documentary, Join Us (2007)[18] provides an insight into mind control in America, by following families escaping a cult. It premiered at LA Film Festival, winning awards at the Sidewalk Film Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Timoner debuted We Live in Public (2009) at the Sundance Film Festival. Shot over ten years and culled from more than 5,000 hours of footage,[19] the film considers some of the darker effects of modern media and technology on personal identity through an examination of "the greatest internet pioneer you've never heard of," Josh Harris.[20] The dot-com millionaire was referred to by reviewer Laurie Heuston as "a '90s dot-com millionaire who created fascist-themed, social experiments," endeavors that led eventually led to Harris' mental breakdown and financial downfall.[20][21]

We Live in Public won the Grand Jury Prize award in the Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival,[22] making Timoner the only nonfiction director to receive the Prize twice,[23] and a Special Jury Mention—on its European premiere—for 'Best Documentary Film Over 30 Minutes Long' at the 2009 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[24]


Her fifth feature, Cool it (2010), is an adaptation of the 2007 book of the same name. It follows the life and controversial work of political scientist Bjørn Lomborg, who pushes for alternative solutions to climate change and explicitly challenges ideas posited by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (2006).[25][26] Lomborg's talking points are intercut with scientists agreeing and disagreeing with his ideology. The film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and was distributed theatrically by Roadside Attractions.[27][28]

LIBRARY OF DUST (2011) is about thousands of canisters of cremated remains found at the Oregon State Hospital, co-directed with Robert James, premiered at SXSW in 2011 and went on to win The Grand Jury Prize at five festivals, including Seattle International Film Festival, Taos Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, and Int'l Film Festival of Puerto Rico.

THE LAST MILE (2015) made with Conde Nast, focuses on a tech incubator inside San Quentin Prison which has reduced recidivism rates to less than 1% for its participants.

Timoner's sixth feature documentary, 'BRAND: A Second Coming [29] (2015), about the journey of comedian/author/activist Russell Brand, was chosen to be the opening night film at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas and picked up by Showtime.[30] She was the sixth and final director to work on the film, Albert Maysles being one of the predecessors.[31]

Timoner was invited by real estate entrepreneur Jimmy Stice to visit his for-profit sustainability program, Kalu Yala, in the Panamanian Jungle.[32] They had previously met at the Hatch entrepreneurship conference in Montana.[33] The "still in development" village is on a 575-square-acre property located in Tres Brazos, 50 minutes away from Panama City.[32][34] Intrigued by the amount of young adults that made the journey to the site, Timoner subsequently decided to film her next project around the business venture in 2016.[32][33] Spike Jonze picked up the project for Viceland and the footage was released as the ten-hour docu-series, Jungletown (2017).[32] The release subsequently brought forth controversy regarding the program's internship program, that charges upwards of $5000, and the unorganized nature of the business, which has shrunken enrollment sizes of almost 100 interns in previous years to just 17 in 2018.[35]

Timoner debuted her narrative feature Mapplethorpe (2018), titled The Perfect Moment in pre-production,[8] at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Narrative Feature.[36] It is based on the life and career of the controversial portrait photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, starring Matt Smith as the titular artist. The project received a grant through the Tribeca Film Institute’s 9th annual All Access Program and was invited to participate in the Sundance Institute Director's, Writer's and Producer's Labs - receiving an Adrienne Shelley Grant.[citation needed] Shooting began on 11 July 2017 in New York and lasted only 19 days. It was later picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films in July 2018 and had its theatrical release on March 1, 2019.[citation needed] The Director's Cut, which was selected to premiere at Sundance but ultimately did not screen there, will also receive a release in fall 2020.[citation needed]

Timoner is currently finishing her seventh feature documentary 'COMING CLEAN,' which examines addiction through the eyes of recovering addicts and political leaders, as they come together to bring the profiteers to justice and rebuild in the wake of the deadliest drug epidemic in our history, and is set as the opening night film at the Teluride Film Festival in 2020.

Other works[edit]

Timoner founded, directed and produced A TOTAL DISRUPTION (2012). She has self described this as "a portal of cyber-series that take the users on the ride alongside the visionary risk-takers of today– those crazy enough to defy all limits to turn their big ideas into reality."[37] The web channel is an interactive video network for innovators and entrepreneurs, also self-described as a "constantly releasing documentary". The channel documents the thought leaders and innovators from companies like Twitter, Reddit, and BitTorrent who are using technology to empower and educate; as of April 2013, Timoner edited 50 episodes for seven different web series, based on interviews with approximately 100 subjects (having shot 300 hours of film footage).[38] The seed funds for the project were raised on Kickstarter,[38] and yielded about 150% of their $96,000 goal.

Through A Total Disruption, Timoner released a series of short films called Chief Executive Artist,[39] about Shepard Fairey, Amanda Palmer, Russell Brand and Moby. Her short film Obey the artist,[40] about graphic artist Shepard Fairey, world-premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2013.[41] Timoner's short film, Amanda Palmer f---ing rocks,[42] about maverick musician Amanda Palmer world premiered in 2014 at the TriBeCa Film Festival and played festivals worldwide, winning the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Sheffield International Film Festival.[43]

From 2011-2017, Ondi created and hosted a weekly talk show, BYOD (Bring Your Own Doc), on Thelip.tv, featuring interviews with various filmmakers from the documentary world, covering over 300 films, many as they premiered at Sundance, SXSW, HotDocs and IDFA.

Timoner hosts WETALK (2018), a traveling, live event and talk show she founded at SXSW 2018 which celebrates the women shaping our culture across arts, entrepreneurship, government and technology.[44]

Personal life[edit]

Timoner had one son, Joaquim Doane Lucas Timoner, in 2003 with Vasco Lucas Nunes.[45][46][47]

Select awards and recognition[edit]

In 1999, Ondi was Grammy-nominated for Best Long Form Music Video for an EPK she directed about the band Fastball.[48]

Further reading[edit]

Select filmography[edit]

Feature Film[edit]

Short Film[edit]


  • SOUND AFFECTS (TV, 2000)
  • Jungletown (TV, 2017)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ondi Timoner | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Ondi Timoner - Director". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "Film Fatales | Ondi Timoner". www.filmfatales.org. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  4. ^ Corcorran, Nick. "Ondi Timoner: Biography". IMDb.
  5. ^ Balfour, Brad. "Q & A: Award-Winning Documentarian Ondi Timoner Rocks with We Live in Public". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Documentary Educational Resources | Ethnographic, Documentary, and Non-fiction Films from Around the World | Ondi Timoner". www.der.org. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Ondi Timoner". My First Shoot. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Brad Balfour (May 5, 2010) [Updated Dec 06, 2017]. "Q&A: Award-Winning Documentarian Ondi Timoner Rocks With We Live In Public". HuffPost. Archived from the original on February 16, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  9. ^ "USC Cinematic Arts | School of Cinematic Arts Events". cinema.usc.edu. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  10. ^ am, Carol Hsin 11:31; Apr 30; 2010. "Environmentalist's talk filmed for documentary". yaledailynews.com. Retrieved December 9, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "The Nature Of The Beast". Interloper Films.
  12. ^ Indiewire; Indiewire (October 5, 2004). "Discovery: Ondi Timoner and "Dig!"". IndieWire. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  13. ^ "2004 Sundance Film Festival". history.sundance.org. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  14. ^ "DiG!". MoMA. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  15. ^ Tiffany Vazquez (March 26, 2019). "Something Old, Something New: A History of New Directors Lineups". www.fillmlinc.org. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Alexandra Alter (April 4, 2009). "'The Truman Show' for Everyone". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  17. ^ "Recycle". Interloper Films.
  18. ^ "Join Us". Interloper Films.
  19. ^ "Kurt Brokaw's New Directors/New Films, Part Two on MadisonAvenueJournal.com". www.madisonavenuejournal.com. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "The greatest Web pioneer you've never heard of". CNN.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  21. ^ Laurie Heuston. "Center stage at Ashland's film festival". Mailtribune.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  22. ^ "2009 Sundance Film Festival". festival.sundance.org. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  23. ^ "We Live In Public". www.sundance.org. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "Final Press Release (July 11th, 2009)" (PDF) (Press release). Karlovy Vary: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. July 11, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  25. ^ "A critical review of Bjorn Lomborg's 'Cool It' » Yale Climate Connections". Yale Climate Connections. May 12, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Jeannette Catsoulis (November 11, 2010). "Global Warming and Common Sense". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Sean O’Connell (September 1, 2010). "Controversial TIFF doc 'Cool It' finds home at Roadside Attractions". Hollywood News.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "Cool It (2010)". Box Office Mojo. December 30, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  29. ^ "Brand: A Second Coming on iTunes" – via itunes.apple.com.
  30. ^ "SXSW Film Reveals BRAND: A Second Coming as Opening Night Film, Plus Six More Titles". sxsw.com. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  31. ^ Harvey, Dennis (March 14, 2015). "SXSW Film Review: 'Brand: A Second Coming'". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  32. ^ a b c d Nordine, Chris O'Falt,Michael; O'Falt, Chris; Nordine, Michael (March 7, 2017). "Ondi Timoner Debuts Director's Trailer For 'Jungletown,' A Viceland Series About Trying To Build A Sustainable Utopia — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  33. ^ a b Dale, Martin (April 5, 2017). "Sundance Winner Ondi Timoner on 'Jungletown': 'I Didn't Know My Personal Limit Until This Project'". Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  34. ^ Staff, VICE (May 16, 2017). "Watch Shane Smith Talk with Controversial Entrepreneur Jimmy Stice". Vice. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  35. ^ "After Vice series, staff are reimagining Kalu Yala". Planet Forward. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  36. ^ Mapplethorpe - IMDb, retrieved December 11, 2019
  37. ^ a b Dina Gachman (January 10, 2013). "Are Entrepreneurs the Rock Stars of Today?". Forbes. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  38. ^ a b c Kevin Ritchie (April 29, 2013). "Hot Docs '13: Ondi Timoner talks art and entrepreneurship". Realscreen.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  39. ^ "Chief Executive Artist Bundle - Ondi Timoner". Interloper Films.
  40. ^ "Obey the Artist - Ondi Timoner". Interloper Films.
  41. ^ "Obey The Artist". schedule.sxsw.com.
  42. ^ "Amanda Fucking Palmer on the Rocks - Ondi Timoner". Interloper Films.
  43. ^ "Amanda F**ing Palmer on the Rocks". Film Guide Archive. Tribeca Film Festival.
  44. ^ "WeTalk".
  45. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (October 5, 2004). "Discovery: Ondi Timoner and "Dig!"". Indie Wire.
  46. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (June 19, 2017). "From Dig! to Jungletown – how Ondi Timoner is 'kicking the door down' for female filmmakers". The Guardian. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  47. ^ "Vasco Lucas Nunes". www.facebook.com. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  49. ^ Ashland Independent Film Festival. "2012 AIFF Juried and Special Award Winners". Ashland Independent Film Festival. Retrieved December 9, 2019.

External links[edit]