Stanley NelsonStanley Nelson received the 2013 National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama this past July, and is also a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow. Nelson’s latest film, Freedom Summer, premiered at Sundance in 2014 and was broadcast to rave reviews in June, 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer of 1964. His previous film, Freedom Riders, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally in May 2011 on PBS to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, and received four Primetime Emmys.
Nelson, whose oeuvre spans a range of social justice issues, has won every major award in broadcasting. In addition to the multiple Primetime Emmy-winning Freedom Riders, Nelson's 2003 film, The Murder of Emmett Till, won the Primetime Emmy for Best Nonfiction Directing, the Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, a coveted award from the International Documentary Association, and the highest honor in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody award, among many others. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2008) was shortlisted for the Academy Award and won the International Documentary Association Award; his 2005 film, Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice documented one of our country’s most vibrant and progressive music ensembles; A Place of Our Own (2004), is a semi-autobiographical look at the African American middle class. His 2001 film, Running: the Campaign for City Council, highlighted the impact of campaign finance reform on local elections in New York City and was honored with the Henry Hampton award from the Council on Foundations and a CINE Golden Eagle.
With eight films at Sundance and multiple industry awards to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. Nelson's work has also received broad recognition outside the film and television community. He received the Educational Video Center’s Excellence in Community Service award and was honored by New York Lawyers in the Public Interest. His film Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise served as a centerpiece for reflection on the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education by such organizations as the NAACP, the National Baptist Convention, and the Children's Defense Fund.
Nelson holds a BFA from City College of New York, and an Honorary Doctorate from Haverford College. He has taught documentary film production at Howard University, Brooklyn College, and the University of California, Berkeley, and guest lectured at universities across the world.