"I approach my work with openness to the human condition in all its complexity, and that is what, above all else, I seek to portray on the screen." —James Rutenbeck
James Rutenbeck’s films have explored the lives of unemployed coal miners, small farmers and itinerant evangelists. Raise the Dead portrays the lives of holiness preachers practicing a grassroots tradition in the shadow of televangelism. The hour-long documentary was awarded "Best Independent Film" at the New England Film Festival in 2000 and was the only U.S. film selected for competition at Cinema du Reel in Paris that same year. His 1999 film Losing Ground, also a Cinema du Reel selection, is a psychological portrait of an Iowa family facing the loss of a family farm. His first film Company Town (1984) is a meditation on the past and present in a former Appalachian coal town.
Rutenbeck’s body of work was featured at the 2003 Robert Flaherty International Film Seminar. His films have also been programmed at the Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery, Double Take Documentary Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, Lussas International Film Festival, Black Maria and others.
His feature-length film, Scenes from a Parish, about a diverse group parishioners in a Catholic parish undergoing demographic change, premiered to critical acclaim at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2009, and aired later that year on the PBS series Independent Lens. In January 2009 Rutenbeck was awarded a Du Pont Columbia Journalism Award for his work as Producer and Director of Not Just A Paycheck, an episode of the PBS series Unnatural Causes, about health disparities in the United States, co-produced by California Newsreel and Vital Pictures. Not Just A Paycheck examines the health consequences of the loss of 3000 jobs in a rural Michigan county.
Mr. Rutenbeck is currently Executive Producer of Class of '27, a series of three short films about the lives of young children in economically distressed parts of rural America. Class of '27 was funded by the Diversity Fund of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS. The films premiered at the Independent Film Festival of Boston in 2016 and aired in September on America Reframed, a PBS World Channel documentary series. Class of '27 is currently streaming at The Atlantic.
Editing credits include over fifty films for PBS, BBC, Channel Four (UK), Discovery Channel and Showtime. They include the 2008 ALMA award-winning Roberto Clemente for American Experience, Emmy award-winning Siamese Twins for NOVA and the groundbreaking People of the Shining Path for Britain’s Channel Four. These films have also won Peabody, du Pont-Columbia and other honors and awards.
Mr. Rutenbeck was awarded a 2007 Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grant and is a five-time recipient of artist fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He has received humanities grants from the Southern Humanities Media Fund and numerous state humanities councils. He received a Master of Science in Visual Arts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, where he studied filmmaking with cinema-vérité pioneer Richard Leacock.
Stephen McCarthy (Raise the Dead, Scenes from a Parish, The Clemente Project) is a Director of Photography with thirty years of experience in non-fiction filmmaking. His work appears regularly in the PBS series American Experience, American Masters, Frontline, Nova and P.O.V. His credits include the Peabody- and Emmy-award-winning My Lai, two seasons of HBO Family's Masterclass, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Nova's Cracking Your Genetic Code and Clinton, a four-hour biography of the 42nd that aired on American Experience in 2012. Stephen is a visiting lecturer on cinematography at Boston University, Rhode Island School of Design and MIT's graduate program in science writing. He lives in Boston, MA.
Nina Alvarez (Class of ’27) is an award-winning television journalist, producer, and filmmaker, working internationally in widely varied venues. Her feature-length documentary on NYC prostitution, Very Young Girls, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and aired on Showtime, and she served as field producer on the Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning film Which Way Home. Nina has covered the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for NBC News, and made documentaries for MSNBC, Univision, Discovery Channel, and MTV News and Documentary. She has also worked at World News Tonight, Nightline, Good Morning America, and 20/20.
Recently, Nina has produced episodic programming for PBS and CNBC, and founded Zócalo Media, focusing on multimedia storytelling. She is currently producing a Spanish language documentary for Univision, as well as the documentary Albizu, with funds from LPB and ITVS. Nina lives in Harlem, NYC.
Dustinn Craig (Class of ’27) is an award-winning White Mountain Apache filmmaker who began his career making skateboarding films on the Reservation. He has won a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, and was selected for a documentary fellowship at the Sundance Institute Native and Indigenous Program. Dustinn produced a feature-length documentary on the Chiricahua Apache Geronimo for the PBS series We Shall Remain, as well as two short films portraying contemporary Native stories connected to the past. He also produced a personal short for the acclaimed four-part series Matters of Race. Dustinn runs the production company, White Springs Creative, LLC with his wife, Velma Kee Craig, and lives in Mesa, AZ.
Séamus Egan (Scenes from a Parish, Class of ’27) is a composer and musician with acclaimed experience in film scoring. Seamus wrote music and produced the soundtrack for Edward Burns’ film The Brothers McMullen, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The soundtrack stayed on World Music Charts for four months, and included the Top Ten hit I Will Remember You. He also wrote soundtracks for the PBS documentary Out of Ireland, and James Rutenbeck’s Scenes From a Parish, among others. Seamus has the distinction of four-time winner of the All-Ireland Award on an unprecedented four different instruments. He currently plays with a trio also featuring Mick Moloney and Eugene O’Donnell, as well as with the large ensemble Green Grass of America, and Irish traditional band, Solas. He has recorded several albums, including several solo efforts. Seamus lives in Philadelphia, PA.
Diana Fischer (Class of ’27, The Clemente Project) has been producing, writing and coordinating educational media for over 25 years. At WGBH in Boston, she worked on projects including Emmy award-winning segments on Japan for NewsHour, profiles of Tip O’Neill and Vladimir Posner, and art programming with John Sayles. She also wrote scripts for the Emmy Award-winning children’s series Peep and the Big Wide World and produced short history and science films with the WGBH Interactive Projects department. As consultant to Sundance Multimedia, Diana worked on environmentalism-related web sites and museum installations. At web magazine iCast, she wrote and produced streaming video interviews with notables in work settings, including author Tom Perrotta, musican and composer Mark Mothersbaugh, and Paris food writer Patricia Wells. Diana also wrote review columns for the parenting web site Offsprung. She lives in Cambridge, MA.
Antonio Cisneros (Class of ’27) is an award-winning cinematographer and documentary photographer, as well as an NYU and American Film Institute graduate. His film As Waters Recede, a documentary following the lives of Katrina Survivors displaced in New York City, won the Carl Lerner Award for Social Relevance, was a Wasserman Nominee at the First Run Film Festival, and was screened at the Directors Guild of America. Antonio also won Best Cinematography Award at the Philadelphia First Glance Film Festival for the short film Love me Tender. He camera-assisted under such acclaimed cinematographers as Lisa Rinzler ASC, Bradford B. Young (Best Cinematography Sundance 2011), and Claudio Rocha. Antonio has shot more than fifty films, including feature documentaries, music videos, commercials, web series and narrative features. He most recently worked on a feature documentary, The Graduates, by Bernardo Ruiz (Reportero, 2012) for Independent Lens. Antonio lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Robert Todd (Raise the Dead, Scenes from a Parish) is an award-winning filmmaker whose works resist categorization. He takes a variety of poetic approaches to looking at the personal, political, and social ways in which we choose to live. He has won numerous awards. Rob’s short-to-medium format films have been exhibited at a wide variety of venues: New York Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Le Recontres Inernationale, Indie Lisboa, Toronto International Film Festival, the Paris Bienniel, Pacific Film Archive, and the Harvard Film Archive, among others. He also works as a professor at Emerson College. Rob lives in Boston, MA.