Lisa Leeman believes that strong narrative and character-driven films can change the world, one story at a time, & that the path to social change is through the heart. She most recently co-wrote & co-directed the award-winning feature doc Awake: The Life of Yogananda, which has grossed over $1.5 million dollars, with over 250 screenings in 65
Lisa Leeman believes that strong narrative and character-driven films can change the world, one story at a time, & that the path to social change is through the heart. She most recently co-wrote & co-directed the award-winning feature doc Awake: The Life of Yogananda, which has grossed over $1.5 million dollars, with over 250 screenings in 65 markets.
Lisa’s groundbreaking first film, Metamorphosis: Man into Woman, won the Filmmaker’s Trophy at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival & garnered the top broadcast ratings on POV, PBS’s documentary showcase. Roger Ebert named Leeman’s One Lucky Elephant as one of the best documentaries of 2011. That film was broadcast on OWN as part of Oprah Winfrey's Documentary of the Month Club, and selected for the U.S. State Department's American Documentary Showcase.
For the last twenty-five years, she has directed, produced, written & edited many feature & short documentaries. Notable works include directing the feature doc Out of Faith (PBS) & producing the feature doc Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chogyam Trunga (Alive Mind Cinema). Lisa has collaborated with many acclaimed filmmakers, including Haskell Wexler, the renowned cinematographer with whom she co-directed Who Needs Sleep (Sundance, 2006).
Lisa spent a decade editing award-winning social issue documentaries, including the acclaimed Made in LA, and films for Renee Tajima-Pena; Michele Ohayon; Micha Peled; Stanley Nelson, and others. Lisa has served as a judge at the Sundance Film Festival, the president of the International Documentary Association, and on the boards of the IDA and the National Coalition of Independent Public Broadcasting Producers. She teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and has taught master classes on documentary filmmaking in China, Portugal, Jordan, the West Bank, & Malawi. In addition to Sundance’s Filmmakers’ Trophy, honors include an Emmy nomination and the once-in-a-lifetime American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Grant.
Lecturer @ Graduate courses include Intermediate Producing the Documentary; Conceptualizing & Developing a Documentary Film; Documentary Ethics; Fair Use; & Faculty Mentor for Advanced Production Seminar.
Undergraduate courses include Writing for Non-Fiction;Visual Communication, Directing Documentary. From 1999 to Present (16 years) Co-Writer, Co-Director Awake: The LIfe of Yogananda @ "Compelling" New York Times
"Vivid, elegantly assembled...absorbing" Los Angeles Times
"Mesmerizing" Alice Walker
"Directors Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman are masters of atmospherics" Washington Post
Co-Writer & Co-Director, with Paola di Florio, of the feature documentary about the modern mystic Paramahansa Yogananda. Awake has grossed over $1.5 million in theatrical box office, and is one of only 17 films directed by women in the 250 top-grossing films of 2014. Premiered Seattle Film Festival, 2014. Winner, Audience Award at the Illuminate Film Festival, & Spirit of Cinema award at the Maui Film Festival. As of June, 2015, Awake has played more than 120 theaters with traditional runs of a week or longer, & more than 225 one-show screenings in communities all over the U.S. through Gathr, a theatrical on-demand service, with more than 200 theater requests for future Gathr screenings. Semi-theatrical screenings began Spring, 2015.
http://blogs.indiewire.com/sydneylevine/helped-by-a-grassroots-campaign-the-film-out-gross-hollywood-tent-pole-interstellar-on-per-screen-averages-20150112 From 2009 to May 2014 (5 years) Lecturer, Doc Nomads @ Guest Lecturer in Doc Nomads Masters Program, fourth semester.
Gave Master Classes on Documentary Ethics; Documentary Choices; & Impact of Documentary.
Lectured & Mentored Masters Degree candidates on their thesis films.
http://www.docnomads.eu/ From March 2014 to March 2014 (1 month) Lisbon Area, PortugalProducer Crazy Wisdom The Life & Times of Chogyam Trungpa @ Producer of the feature documentary, Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. The film profiles the brilliant, influential, and controversial Tibetan Buddhist teacher who was called a genius and 'the bad boy of Buddhism."
The Hollywood Reporter: “Insightful and entertaining”
Variety: “A most engaging narrative” – Dennis Harvey
Buzzine.com: “inspiring and thought-provoking…the “original punk” who dared to fight the system”
Tricycle.com: "a film that mirrors Trungpa's challenging energy and invites viewers to go beyond fixed ideas about our teachers and leaders.”
Distributed by Alive Mind Cinema: http://alivemindcinema.com/crazywisdom/ From January 2007 to January 2011 (4 years 1 month) Director One Lucky Elephant @ Director, feature Indie documentary film
Roger Ebert named One Lucky Elephant as one of the best documentaries of 2011. It was broadcast on OWN as part of Oprah Winfrey's Documentary of the Month Club, and selected for the U.S. State Department's American Documentary Showcase.
Manhola Dargis of The New York Times called the film, "Sweet, heart-and-trunk-tugging". In the Sun Times Roger Ebert describes "One Lucky Elephant as, "simple enough to delight a child and complex enough to baffle a philosopher,"
Premiered Los Angeles Film Festival, 2010. IDFA, Woodstock, Thessaloniki, Denver, St Louis,
Screened theatrically at NYC's Film Forum, Los Angeles Laemmle Music Hall Theater, Chicago, etc.
www.oneluckyelephant.com From 2007 to June 2010 (3 years) Lecturer @ Co-taught, with Michael Renov, three ten-day Documentary workshops in Amman, Jordan, for USC & the Royal Film Commission of Jordan (Taught Aesthetics, Writing & Visual Storytelling, Video Production, Post-Production)
Twelve students each made a short documentary about life in Amman. (approx 10 minutes each) From February 2007 to February 2009 (2 years 1 month) Lecturer @ Co-taught documentary production class that paired six American USC film students with six Chinese film & broadcast students, part of the USC/CUC Global Exchange Program. (taught with Johanna Demetrakas & Duan Jinchuan). Working in pairs – one USC student and one from CUC – each team produced a documentary about life in Beijing. (six week production class)
partially supported by a USC U.S.-China Institute grant From June 2007 to July 2007 (2 months) Beijing City, ChinaDirector of Out of Faith @ Director of indie feature-length documentary film, Out of Faith
"A Profoundly Moving Experience." - Bruce Ingram, Pioneer Press, Sun Times News Group
"Leeman brings something fresh to the screen ... Rather than explore the topic in cool abstractions, Leeman takes us into one family's struggle with these big questions. To her credit, Leeman leaves us as uncertain as the Welbels about what the answers might be." - Hank Sartin, Time Out Chicago
"Rich in the human drama of family relationships" - Film Documents Intermarriage, by Tom Tugend (Jewish News Agency)
(82:00), follows three generations of a family torn apart by conflicts over interfaith marriage. The family’s matriarch, Leah Welbel, and her husband Eliezer, both survived nearly three years in Auschwitz; however, in their minds, their grandchildren marrying non-Jews represents a posthumous victory for Hitler. OUT OF FAITH examines the complex and emotionally charged issues surrounding assimilation and interfaith marriage. The film compels Jew and non-Jew alike to reconsider the classic query of “melting pot or salad bowl?” Does this country of immigrants gain its strength from homogeneity or heterogeneity; i.e., are we a salad bowl of numerous subcultures, gaining strength from our diversity, or are we a melting pot that achieves greatness through the creation of an amalgam of cultures?
OUT OF FAITH examines these issues by capturing the intimate details of one family’s attempt to persevere in the face of a heart wrenching intrafamilial conflict; a conflict that impacts countless families in multicultural societies. Anyone who has ever struggled to remain loyal to a cultural identity in the face of great societal pressure to assimilate will undoubtedly relate. From January 2006 to January 2007 (1 year 1 month) Co-Director: Who Needs Sleep @ After a 19-hour day on the set, asst cameraman Brent Hershman fell asleep behind the wheel, crashed his car, and died. Deeply disturbed by Hershman's preventable death, multiple-Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler and co-director Lisa Leeman show how film crews routinely work sweatshop hours, & how sleep deprivation and long work hours are a lethal combination.
Julia Roberts, Annette Benning, Billy Crystal, John Sayles, & more…
Sundance Film Festival, January 2006
Edinburgh International Film Festival, August 2006
Los Angeles Film Festival, June 2006
Newport Beach Film Festival, April 2006
Santa Barbara Film Festival, February 2006 From September 2004 to March 2005 (7 months) Board Member (President 1996) @ Board member for nine years; Board President one year; VP two years; Secretary two years.
Screening & Events committee; Chair, International Documentary Congress; From January 1990 to December 1999 (10 years) Greater Los Angeles AreaDirector @ Directed Independent documentary portrait of Gary becoming Gabi (undergoing a sex change) shot over three years. Sundance Film Festival, 1990 (Filmmaker’s Trophy;
highest-rated POV broadcast, in worldwide distribution.
"The power and intimacy in Leeman's unsentimental portrait of animator Gary/Gabi and his/her four-year quest for a sexual identity change is equalled only by the honesty and bravery of the film's subject." - Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times
PBS Broadcast, (POV series), 1990. Learning Channel, ’96.
--Silver Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival, 1990
--Montreal World Film Festival, 1990
--Parnu Film Festival, 1990 (Estonia)
--Portland NW Film Center, 1990
--Tokyo Film Festival, 1991
--American Film & Video Festival, 1991
--American Psychological Association, 1991 From January 1986 to December 1989 (4 years) Greater Los Angeles Area
Bachelor's degree, Film Production @ University of Southern California From 1979 to 1982 University of Denver From 1976 to 1978 Lisa Leeman is skilled in: Documentaries, Video, Film Production, Music, Video Production, Cinematography, Theatre, Post Production, Feature Films, Camera, Final Cut Pro, Television, Multimedia, Film, Screenwriting