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Documentary Filmmaker Stanley Nelson

Shana Ritter interviews documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

Stanley Nelson in yellow shirt with movie editing monitors behind him

Photo: Courtesy of Firelight Media

Stanley Nelson

When we’re shooting, it’s very tense. We’re usually going down that road once. We don’t have enough money or time to go back and re-interview somebody. So everything has to work.

Stanley Nelson has more than two decades experience as a producer, director, and writer of documentaries.

His films include a number of PBS productions, including Shattering the Silences, about the growing presence of and challenges to minority faculty in higher education; Methadone: Curse or Cure, about the methadone maintenance program for the treatment of heroin addiction; and Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C.J. Walker, on the life and times of the black businesswoman who became the nation’s first self-made woman millionaire.

Nelson is co-founder of Firelight Media, a non-profit organization that develops documentaries that tell stories about people, cultures, and issues that are underrepresented in the mainstream media.

His documentary Freedom Riders for the American Experience series airs on WTIU May 16, 2011, at 9 p.m. Marking the 50th anniversary of the historic rides, the documentary chronicles the journey of the courageous band of civil rights activists in the deep South in 1961.

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