Nancy Kates

Berkeley, CA, USA


Nancy Kates produced and directed the feature-length HBO documentary Regarding Susan Sontag, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received a Special Jury Mention. It has since screened at over 130 film festivals in 35 countries, and received several honors, including a FOCAL International award for innovative use of archival footage. Regarding Susan Sontag received major funding from the NEA, the NEH, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Sundance Documentary Fund. The film received significant critical acclaim. Ms. Magazine named it one of 2014’s top ten feminist films, while critics called it “compelling” and “perceptive” (Stephen Holden, New York Times); “a stunning portrait” (Ally Derks, director of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam); and “mesmerizing, thoughtful, provocative” (Times Herald Record). The San Francisco Chronicle praised its “boldly evocative impressionist strokes.” Kates also produced and directed Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin, with Bennett Singer. Rustin, an openly gay man, is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. The film premiered in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and as a special of the PBS series “POV." It went on to win more than 25 awards worldwide, including the 2004 GLAAD Media Award. Brother Outsider received significant attention in the national press: critics described it as “a potent piece of historical rediscovery” (LA Times); “beautifully crafted” (Boston Globe); “powerful and startling” (The Advocate); and “poignant” (TIME). Kates studied in the documentary program at Stanford; her master’s thesis, Their Own Vietnam, received the 1995 Student Academy Award, and screened at Sundance and many other festivals. Kates has worked on a number of documentary projects as a story consultant, and writes occasionally for the San Francisco Chronicle. She recently received an NEH development grant for a new film on anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. In 2014, Kates was honored to be included in the OUT 100, the magazine’s annual list of intriguing LGBT Americans. (I mostly make documentaries but am working toward producing a feature film, and possibly directing some short fiction films).