Films by Filmmaker
Nancy Kelly has been making independent fiction and non-fiction films for more than 25 years. Her most recent production, REBELS WITH A CAUSE, is narrated by Frances McDormand, tells the story of the schemers and dreamers who fought to keep developers from taking over the breathtaking landscape of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, two national parks north of San Francisco. REBELS received the 2012 Mill Valley Film Festival Audience Favorite Award for Best Documentary - Active Cinema.
Her documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art includes the award-winning TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives (PBS America ReFramed series), a verité documentary funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. TRUST is about Marlin, an 18-year-old Honuréna, who shares a little bit about her childhood with a neighborhood teen theater company. It is a traumatic story. Amazing things unfold as the young actors transform the story into a daring, original play. TRUST is about creativity and the unexpected resources inside people who are often discounted because they are poor, young, or of color. TRUST received the Youth Vision Award from the United Nations Association Film Festival, the Jury Award from the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award from the Reel Rasquache Film Festival.
Kelly’s award-winning documentary Smitten (PBS Prime Time Special, 2006) enters the world of Rene di Rosa, who is smitten by art. For over 50 years the renowned Napa Valley collector and California art patron has been seeking out unknown and emerging artists, adding their work to his ever-growing and vast collection. Rene’s collected works have become the world’s largest and most notable collection of Northern California art. Funded by ITVS, SMITTEN also aired as a PBS Prime Time Special, on public stations in Canada, and to date has received over 3,240 plays on 488 channels. It launched on iTunes in 2009.
She wrote, produced and directed the hour-long documentary Downside UP (PBS Independent Lens, 2003). Funded by ITVS, Downside UP captures the beginnings of America's largest museum of contemporary art, MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and the rebirth of its host-city, North Adams, Massachusetts. Through the eyes of filmmaker Nancy Kelly and her family, most of who worked in the former capacitor factory before it closed, the film renders the subtle changes in the spirit of a region. Downside UP is about the tentative, dangerous notion of hope in a town widely viewed as hopeless. Nancy led the Downside UP Listening Tour, an outreach effort supported by the Ford Foundation, NEA, and LEF.
She developed, produced and directed the critically-acclaimed American Playhouse Theatrical film Thousand Pieces of Gold, starring Rosalind Chao and Academy Award winner Chris Cooper. Thousand Pieces of Gold is about a young Chinese woman who comes to America during the late Gold Rush as a slave. Developed in association with the Sundance Institute, it was theatrically released in the top twenty US markets, sold for television all over the world, and featured in twenty international film festivals.