Chris Hegedus

Chris Hegedus has been making films as a director, cinematographer, and editor for nearly 40 years. In 2001, she was awarded the prestigious Directors Guild of America Award for STARTUP.COM, an intimate buddy story filmed during the first Internet boom/bust. Together with her partner D A Pennebaker, Hegedus was nominated for an Academy Award for THE WAR ROOM, a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.  The film also won the National Board of Review’s D.W. Griffith Award for Best Documentary. Hegedus is the recipient the Golden Eagle CINE award and of lifetime achievement awards from several organizations including the International Documentary Association. Hegedus’ first collaboration with Pennebaker was as editor of TOWN BLOODY HALL, the legendary 1971 “battle of the sexes” between Norman Mailer and feminists Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston and Diana Trilling that took place at New York City’s Town Hall theater. In 1977, Hegedus, Pennebaker and Pat Powell co-directed THE ENERGY WAR, an acclaimed five-hour, three-part special for PBS that followed the historic legislative battle over President Jimmy Carter’s energy policy. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government cited The Energy War as “one of the best political films ever made.”

Throughout the years Hegedus and Pennebaker have documented some of the most notable moments in the lives of their subjects. DELOREAN followed auto entrepreneur John DeLorean as he built his dream company and famous stainless steel, gull-winged sports car. ROCKABY, created from a play written for them in 1980 by Samuel Beckett, captured Beckett’s muse, Billie Whitelaw, in her Obie award-winning performance. MOON OVER BROADWAY, Hegedus’ and Pennebaker’s 1998 feature film staring Carol Burnett, is a candid, backstage view of the struggles of mounting a Broadway play. The New York Times cited the film as “the best documentary of the year.”  Their HBO special, ELAINE STRITCH AT LIBERTY, won a 2004 Primetime Emmy Award. In 2006, she theatrically released, AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE. Co-directed with Nick Doob, the film follows the political satirist Al Franken’s personal transformation from comedy to politics.  Most recently, in 2010, the team released KINGS OF PASTRY, which follows sixteen French pastry chefs who compete for the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France award. KINGS OF PASTRY has broadcast throughout the world and aired on PBS.  The film was released theatrically in 2010 in the USA and Canada to glowing reviews.

 Hegedus has co-directed numerous music films. The short on Randy Newman’s song “Baltimore” predates MTV and was one of the templates of the music video format. In 1989, they released the theatrical feature DEPECHE MODE 101 for Warner Music. The film follows the English band and a bus full of American fans across the country to their final Rose Bowl concert in a style later popularized in the TV reality series “Real Life”. In 2000, produced by Miramax, they filmed ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE, a soulful musical tribute that includes performances by Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Sam Moore, The Supreme’s Mary Wilson, and Jerry Butler, among others. DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN features some of the most talented blue grass performers of our times and is a companion concert film to the Coen Brothers’ release, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Chris has lectured on documentary film in colleges around the country. She taught filmmaking at Yale for eight years and received their Film Studies Award.  Presently, Hegedus and Pennebaker are filming UNLOCKING THE CAGE, their new documentary about animal rights lawyer Steven Wise and his lawsuit seeking personhood for a chimpanzee.