Robert Stone (director)

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Robert Stone

Robert Stone is a British-American documentary filmmaker. His work has been screened at dozens of film festivals and televised around the world, notably seven of his films have appeared on PBS's American Experience series and four of his films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (including Closing Night Film in 2009). He is an Oscar nominee for Best Feature Documentary and a three-time Emmy nominee for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.

Life and career[edit]

Stone was born in England and educated in the United States. His father Lawrence Stone was a noted historian[1] and chair of the History Department at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey where Robert grew up, graduating Princeton High School in 1976.[2] He was later educated at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, did a brief stint at Sorbonne University in Paris and at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. Known in large part for his innovative use of archival material in historical documentaries, Stone has directed several well received documentaries that he has shot himself, including American Babylon (2000) and, most recently, Pandora's Promise (2013), which makes the environmental case for nuclear energy as a solution to climate change.

Robert Stone in 2019

His only foray into fiction filmmaking was a counter-factual fake historical documentary for German television called World War Three in 1998. In addition to his work making feature-documentaries, in the early 1990s he was commissioned to create a 24-part semi-interactive permanent installation at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston. His work with environmental issues, particularly the worldwide acclaim surrounding his film Pandora's Promise, led him to co-found the non-profit clean energy advocacy group Energy for Humanity [1] with environmental campaigner Kirsty Gogan and philanthropist Daniel Aegerter. Stone is also one of 18 co-authors of the Ecomodernist Manifesto which challenges conventional thinking about the meaning of sustainable development. He also co-authored a companion book of the same name to be published by Ballantine Books. [3] Stone lives in New York's Hudson Valley with his wife, Shelby Stone, a film and television produce, and his two sons, Luc and Caleb, from a previous marriage.


His debut work was the Academy Award-nominated Radio Bikini (1988),[4][5] about nuclear tests performed around Bikini Atoll in 1946. Starting in 2017, Stone wrote, directed and edited a 6-hour documentary mini-series for PBS called Chasing the Moon,[6] an epic political and social history of the space race. The film aired in 2019 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, earning Stone his third Emmy nomination for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and his second nomination the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay, and a duPont-Columbia Award among many other awards.

Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman stated that Stone "may be the most under-celebrated great documentary filmmaker in America."[7] His films Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004) and Oswald's Ghost (2008) both received Emmy nominations for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking; Gleiberman hailed them as "two of the most explosively insightful documentaries of the last decade".[8] For Earth Days (2009), Stone received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay.[9]


An Ecomodernist Manifesto[edit]

In April 2015, Stone joined with a group of scholars in issuing An Ecomodernist Manifesto.[13][14] The other authors were: John Asafu-Adjaye, Linus Blomqvist, Stewart Brand, Barry Brook. Ruth DeFries, Erle Ellis, Christopher Foreman, David Keith, Martin Lewis, Mark Lynas, Ted Nordhaus, Roger A. Pielke Jr., Rachel Pritzker, Joyashree Roy, Mark Sagoff, Michael Shellenberger, and Peter Teague[15]


  1. ^ a b Robert Stone interviewed on the TV show Triangulation on the network
  2. ^ Mroz, Jacqueline. "Sundance Honor for Film of Early Save-the-Earth Activists", The New York Times, February 13, 2009. Accessed December 10, 2018. "When he was just 11 years old and living in Princeton, Robert Stone borrowed his parents’ Super 8 camera and made his first film, about the pollution he saw around him.... After attending Princeton High School, Mr. Stone studied history in college."
  3. ^ Porter, Eduardo (14 April 2015). "A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. ^ "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  5. ^ The Ten-Year Lunch Wins Documentary Feature: 1988 Oscars
  6. ^ Ahern, Sarah (April 27, 2017). "TV News Roundup: Nasim Pedrad Joins TBS Comedy 'People of Earth' as Series Regular". Variety. PBS' American Experience has greenlit a new four-hour docu-series "Chasing the Moon"
  7. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (24 Jan 2013). "Sundance: What makes 'The Way, Way Back' a crowd-pleaser? Plus 'Pandora's Promise,' a radically sane and important documentary about how nuclear power could save us". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  8. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (18 April 2010). "40 years after Earth Day, 'Earth Days' reveals that much of what you think you know about the modern environmental movement is wrong". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  9. ^ "2010 Writers Guild Award Winners". TV Source Magazine. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  10. ^ "American Experience: Cold War Roadshow". PBS.
  11. ^ Robert Stone. "Filmography". Robert Stone Productions. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  12. ^ "American Experience: Chasing the Moon". PBS.
  13. ^ "An Ecomodernist Manifesto". Retrieved April 17, 2015. A good Anthropocene demands that humans use their growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world.
  14. ^ Eduardo Porter (April 14, 2015). "A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2015. On Tuesday, a group of scholars involved in the environmental debate, including Professor Roy and Professor Brook, Ruth DeFries of Columbia University, and Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Calif., issued what they are calling the "Eco-modernist Manifesto."
  15. ^ "Authors An Ecomodernist Manifesto". Retrieved April 17, 2015. As scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens, we write with the conviction that knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.

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