One of the nation’s most prolific documentary filmmakers, Academy Award-nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-winning Director/Producer, Rory Kennedy tackles some of the world’s most pressing social concerns including poverty, political corruption, domestic abuse, drug addiction, human rights, mental illness and climate crises in more than 30 highly acclaimed documentaries that have appeared on Netflix, HBO, PBS, Lifetime Television, A&E, Court TV, NatGeo,The Oxygen Network and TLC.
In addition to Rory’s impressive body of film work, she directs commercial projects that address similar social issues, such as “The Evolution of Barbie” for Mattel, a behind-the-scenes spot looking at the inspiration and creation of the new Barbie dolls that break the standard mold. Docu Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America, for Verizon, resulted in national spots for their #humanability campaign featuring Verizon’s Innovative Learning program.
Rory’s latest films include The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari, which celebrates the survivors in its gripping account of the tragic eruption and heroic rescue, reaching Netflix’s Top 10 Most Watched lists including #1 US and #2 globally following its December release, and the damning investigative docu, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, also for Netflix. Rory’s documentary Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, for the Discovery Channel, is a spotlight on how NASA has impacted our world not just from exploring space and the universe, but also our own planet, celebrating the institution’s many accomplishments on its 60th Anniversary and reaching forward to the future.
An esteemed Sundance denizen, Rory’s feature documentary, Take Every Wave, about the life of legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, world premiered at the Festival in 2017. In 2014, Rory directed the Academy Award-nominated Last Days in Vietnam, which debuted at Sundance and went into wide theatrical release in the fall of that year. At Sundance 2012, Rory premiered Ethel, a feature-length documentary chronicling the extraordinary life of her mother, Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy. The film was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards. Ghosts of Abu Ghraib went on to win the Primetime Emmy of Outstanding Nonfiction Special after its Sundance premiere.
Rory’s other documentary films include The Fence about the construction of the 700 mile fence along the troubled border between Mexico and the United States; Thank You, Mr. President for HBO about Helen Thomas, wire service correspondent and columnist whose sharp questions from the front row of the White House press room challenged 10 presidents; Pandemic: Facing AIDS; A Boy’s Life; The Changing Face of Beauty; and American Hollow, about a clan of over sixty family members living in a one mile hollow in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains that won the Best Documentary Award at the American Film Institute, Newport, and Northampton Film Festivals, and the Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Award.
Rory recently served as Governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and maintains an active schedule as a keynote speaker for various lecture series, university events, and community organization functions. A committed activist, Rory continues to fight for social justice, human rights, and climate action, co-founding Climate Emergency Fund with Aileen Getty.