One of the nation’s most prolific independent documentary filmmakers, Emmy-Award winner Rory Kennedy’s impressive body of work confronts some of our most pressing social concerns—poverty, political corruption, domestic abuse, drug addiction, human rights, AIDS and mental illness—and has garnered numerous awards. Kennedy has produced, directed and/or written over 30 celebrated documentaries, and her films have appeared on HBO, PBS, Lifetime Television, A&E, Court TV, The Oxygen Network and TLC.
Eloquent at the podium, Kennedy was a surrogate speaker for President Clinton’s 1992 campaign, and for President Barack Obama during the Primary and General Elections, as well as for the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. She has also served as a campaign speaker for Women of Substance Education Outreach and Fire in Our House Outreach. She offers passionate views on topics ranging from human rights, to the creative process, to women and entrepreneurship.
Kennedy’s most recent project, Ethel, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO in October 2012. A feature-length documentary about her mother, the film is Kennedy’s most personal project to date, providing an intimate look at the remarkable life of Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy. Prior to Ethel, Kennedy produced Killing in the Name, nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Documentary Short and winner of the LA Shorts Fest 2010.
As a producer, Kennedy’s most recent efforts include the 2011 Sundance entry Bobby Fischer Against the World and the 2009 entry Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech. Both films were broadcast on HBO. Her documentary, The Fence (La Barda), premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival opening night celebration and aired on HBO that fall.
Kennedy also produced and directed Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House for HBO. In 2007, Kennedy’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Documentary.
Kennedy directed and produced the Emmy-nominated series Pandemic: Facing AIDS for HBO. In 2003, she produced and directed A Boy’s Life, the story of a young boy and his family in rural Mississippi. The film won Best Documentary at the Woodstock Film Festival and was later broadcast on HBO, as was her 2004 film Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable, a “what if” look at the catastrophic consequences of a radioactive release at the Indian Point Nuclear Energy Center, located just 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan.
In 1999, Kennedy’s HBO film, American Hollow, premiered at Sundance and helped launch her acclaimed and prolific career, earning her the first of many Emmy Award nominations.
Kennedy’s work has been featured in numerous national publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times and she has appeared on numerous talk, news and radio programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Rosie O’Donell Show, The Charlie Rose Show, The Today Show, CNN and NPR. She has served as a judge for a number of festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival and at the Tribeca Film Festival and received the 2010 Fill Frame Career Award.
In addition to her impressive film career, Kennedy is a committed social activist and human-rights advocate, and has sat on the board for numerous non-profit organizations, including: the Legal Action Center, the Project Return Foundation and the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation Associate Trustees Program. She was a member of the 1999 Presidential Mission on AIDS in Africa, and developed the Teacher Transfer Program between the U.S. and Namibia after her work at the Dobra Resettlement Camp. She also has been a member of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights delegations in South Africa, South Korea, Japan, El Salvador and Poland.
Kennedy is a graduate of Brown University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies. Along with acclaimed documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, she is co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Productions in New York. Kennedy lives in Los Angeles and Brooklyn.