Rob Epstein

Rob Epstein profile image

Robert Epstein is director, writer, and producer of both nonfiction and scripted narrative film. He has won two Academy Awards for the films The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.

Epstein's latest film, Killing the Colorado, provides a glimpse into the serious manmade water shortage that threatens the very existence of the American West.

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His film Paragraph 175 received the FIPRESCI Award at the Berlinale Film Festival as well as the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for direction.

Epstein is also the recipient of four national Emmy Awards, three Peabody Awards, multiple GLAAD Media Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Pioneer Award from the International Documentary Association.

Current Work

Epstein’s most recent film, Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, and Sharon Stone, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 alongside his second release in 2013, the documentary The BATTLE of AMFAR (AMFAR).

AMFAR has shown at eight international film festivals this year and will have its premiere December 2 on HBO (World AIDS Day).

Epstein’s initial exploration into narrative film, HOWL, starring James Franco, is an exploration of Allen Ginsberg’s famous 20th century poem of the same title.

The film was invited to be part of the competition at the 2010 Berlinale Film Festival, competing for the Golden Bear, as well as being selected as the opening-night film at the Sundance Film Festival.

Additional Accolades

Other film credits and accolades include The Celluloid Closet, winner of the Sundance Jury Prize as well as an Emmy for best directing; Where Are We? Our Trip Across America, selected for the Sundance Film Festival documentary competition; and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the HBO film Paragraph 175 for best nonfiction feature.

Career in Filmmaking

Epstein began his filmmaking career as one of six members of the Mariposa Film Group that directed the landmark PBS documentary Word Is Out.

For television Epstein directed seven episodes of the NBC series Law and Order: Crime & Punishment.

Epstein’s work has been shown not only in theaters and on television but also at prestigious gallery spaces and museums throughout the world such as MOMA in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Career retrospectives have been held internationally including the Taipei International Film Festival, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), and Plus Camerimage in Poland.

He is the recipient of the International Documentary Association's (IDA) Pioneer Award, which acknowledges filmmakers who have amassed a history of producing films that effect change within the documentary genre.

Read a recent interview »

Additional Commitments

Prior to his teaching at CCA, Epstein has also been a visiting professor in the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

He is the co-author of The Art of Non-Fiction Movie Making (Praeger 2012) which has been used in classrooms across the country.

He currently serves on the Sundance Institute and Film Festival board of trustees, representing one of three artist’s seats, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Epstein is a member of the Directors Guild of America and of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he currently serves on the board of governors and is chair of the documentary branch.

Since 1987, in collaboration with Jeffrey Friedman, he has been running Telling Pictures, a film production company based in San Francisco.

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