Associate Faculty — MA, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo
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Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.
"Spiro creates non-fiction works that are revealing and politically provocative, visually inventive, and sometimes even visionary -- without a trace of cynicism."
Scott MacDonald, from "Pioneering Spirit",
Public Culture, Duke University Press
For almost two decades Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ellen Spiro has created provocative and innovative documentaries, including Diana's Hair Ego, Greetings From Out Here, (In)Visible Women, Roam Sweet Home, Atomic Ed & the Black Hole, Are the Kids Alright?, Troop 15OO and, now, Body of War.
Ellen Spiro is a Guggenheim fellow and two-time Rockefeller Fellow.
She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia and S.U.N.Y Buffalo and a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. She attended the Whitney Museum ’s Independent Study Program in New York City .
Spiro’s works are housed in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in the Peabody Collection of the Museum of Television and Radio. Her films have been broadcast on television worldwide on PBS, HBO, BBC, CBC ( Canada ) and NHK ( Japan ). Spiro is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Jerome Foundation Fellowship and three ITVS contracts. She received First Prize in the USA Film Festival, Golden Gate Award, Prized Pieces Award from the National Black Programming Consortium, Paul Clere Humanitarian Award of Excellence and an Emmy Award. In 2006, She was an artist-in-residence at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center , Bellagio , Italy . Spiro's works have pushed the boundaries of the documentary form, thriving both in the art world and in television and film festival venues.
The Boston Globe called Spiro's first documentary, Diana's Hair Ego, a "terrific portrait of a remarkable woman" and it won the Motion Picture Society's Documentary Achievement Award. Greetings From Out Here was invited to the Sundance Film Festival and won first prize in the USA Film Festival. Roam Sweet Home, which inventively challenged stereotypes about aging, was presented with the National Media Owl Award by Gene Siskel. Atomic Ed & the Black Hole won the Best Documentary Short at the South by Southwest Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO. Are The Kids Alright? won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary.
In 2000 Spiro started Mobilus Media, with Emmy and Grammy Award winning Producer Karen Bernstein, to create ground-breaking non-profit social issue documentaries. Troop 1500 (directed by Spiro and produced by Bernstein) was broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens. Troop 1500 is another example in a long history of films that require an intimate interpersonal involvement over a long period of time. Troop 1500 is Spiro's third ITVS-funded project. In its first year of operation, ITVS funded Greetings From Out Here, and later, Roam Sweet Home. Spiro is currently completing Body of War, a collaboration with Phil Donahue.
Spiro is Associate Professor of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas in Austin and former Head of Production. She also produces “10 Under 10” to celebrate short, no-budget and innovative non-fiction student films.