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Nancy Kelly - Director's Biography

For more than 20 years, Nancy Kelly has produced and directed independent documentary and narrative films.

She wrote, produced and directed “Downside UP” a documentary about America's largest museum of contemporary art (MASS MoCA) which opened in the abandoned Massachusetts factory where Ms. Kelly's grandparents and parents once worked. The documentary explores whether something as ephemeral as contemporary art can breathe life into a dying city. “Downside UP” is a co-production with WMHT, Schenectady and the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, Canada. Produced in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funds from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Ms. Kelly developed, produced and directed the highly critically acclaimed American Playhouse Theatrical film Thousand Pieces of Gold which stars Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. The Los Angeles Times compared her work to the "lyricism of a John Ford, a Budd Boetticher, a George Stephens...but always opening up a new world." Thousand Pieces of Gold tells the story of a young Chinese woman who comes to America during the late Gold Rush as a slave. It was developed in association with the Sundance Institute and financed by American Playhouse Theatrical Films, Film Four International, and Maverick Films International.

Thousand Pieces of Gold was theatrically released in the top 20 US markets. Its premiere broadcast on American Playhouse ranks among the series‚ top twenty highest rated broadcasts. J & M Entertainment sold the television rights to every country in the world. Showtime, Sundance, Encore and the Romance cable channels broadcast the film. Thousand Pieces of Gold was featured in over 20 international film festivals, both in the U.S. and abroad. Ms Kelly also produced and directed the acclaimed, award-winning documentaries Cowgirls: Portraits of American Ranch Women; A Cowhand's Song: Crisis on the Range; and Sweeping Ocean Views. Cowgirls was broadcast by the National Geographic Explorer Program, on various public television stations, and overseas in the United Kingdom (Channel Four), Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and Australia. Cowgirls was featured in the Sundance Film Festival, won a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, a Golden Apple at the National Educational Film Festival, Best Documentary from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Best of the Sinking Creek Film Festival and the Palo Alto Film Festival. Sweeping Ocean Views, produced by KQED, received a local Emmy nomination.

She recently directed OneTree, the pilot segment for SPARK, a documentary art series on KQED, San Francisco. Her work of creative non-fiction "When We Were Cowgirls" will be published in 2003 by the University of Utah Press. Ms. Kelly adapted "Breaking Sugar" from the short story by the contemporary Scottish writer A. L. Kennedy.

Her work has been featured in film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Deauville (France) Festival of American Cinema, London International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Cork International Film Festival, Galway International Film Festival, Amiens International Film Festival, and Festival of Young Cinema (Paris), Mill Valley Film Festival, Los Angeles Women in Film Festival, Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Santa Barbara Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, National Educational Film Festival and the American Film Festival. Her work has been exhibited at the Directors Guild of America, National Film Theater (London), Centres Pompidou (Paris), Gene Autry Museum (Los Angeles), and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City).

For her various projects, she has received funding from the Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, ITVS, CPB, NEH, American Playhouse, the Humanities Councils and Foundations of Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming, AFI/Rocky Mountain Film Fellowships, LEF Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Film Arts Foundation Grants Program, Marin Arts Council, Pioneer Fund, and Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, among others. She has also raised funds through limited partnerships.

Ms. Kelly attended the Sundance Institute's June Lab (where Thousand Pieces of Gold was developed), IFFCON, INPUT, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Ucross Foundation and Yaddo. She taught film production at the UCLA Graduate Film School and has given seminars on filmmaking at the Film Arts Foundation, UC/Berkeley, UC Extension, and the University of Washington.

Nancy Kelly is a native of North Adams, Massachusetts.