Nancy Kelly has been making independent fiction and non-fiction films for more than 25 years. Her new film, Smitten, is a documentary about Rene di Rosa, who has the world’s largest collection of northern California contemporary art. Smitten is the second in a trilogy of films she is making about the transformative power of art.
Nancy wrote, produced and directed the documentary, Downside UP, which aired nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens series in 2003. Downside UP is a first-person story about America’s largest museum of contemporary art (MASS MoCA), which opened in the abandoned Massachusetts factory where her grandparents and parents once worked. Downside UP explores whether something as ephemeral as contemporary art can breathe life into a dying city.
Ms Kelly developed, produced and directed the critically acclaimed American Playhouse Theatrical film Thousand Pieces of Gold, which stars Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. The Los Angeles Times compared her work to the "lyricism of a John Ford, a Budd Boetticher, a George Stephens...but always opening up a new world." Thousand Pieces of Gold tells the story of a young Chinese woman who comes to America during the late Gold Rush as a slave. It was developed in association with the Sundance Institute and theatrically released in the top 20 US markets. Its premiere airing on American Playhouse ranks among the series’ top twenty highest rated broadcasts. J & M Entertainment sold the television rights to every country in the world. ShowTime, Sundance, Encore and the Romance cable channels broadcast the film. Thousand Pieces of Gold was featured in over 20 international film festivals, both in the US and abroad. It received the Audience Award at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival and the Best Feature of the Year Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
She also produced and directed the award-winning documentaries Cowgirls: Portraits of American Ranch Women; A Cowhand's Song: Crisis on the Range; and Sweeping Ocean Views. Cowgirls aired on the National Geographic Explorer Program. It won a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, a Golden Apple at the National Educational Film Festival, Best Documentary from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Best of the Sinking Creek Film Festival and Best of the Palo Alto Film Festival. Sweeping Ocean Views received a local Emmy nomination. She produced and directed OneTrees, the pilot of SPARK, KQED San Francisco’s art series, and several other segments for the series’ first two seasons.
With Gwendolyn Clancy, she is currently completing When We Were Cowgirls, a work of creative non-fiction about her experiences working as a ranch hand. With funding from the Dreihaus Foundation, the Illinois Council for the Humanities and the Marin Arts Council, she is developing Stories to Tell, Dreams to Live, a documentary about Chicago’s immigrant youth theater company, the Albany Park Theater Project. Nancy is on the Steering Committee of New Day Films, the most successful distribution cooperative in the media industry.
Her work has been in the international film festivals in: San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Hawaii, Cleveland, London, Moscow, Vancouver, Cork, Galway and Amiens, as well as the Deauville Festival of American Cinema, South by Southwest Film Festival, and Festival of Young Cinema (Paris). Ms Kelly’s work has screened at the Directors Guild of America, National Film Theater (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the IFP Market (New York), the Cannes Film Market, and the Gene Autry Museum (Los Angeles).
Her work has been funded by the Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Independent Television Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Playhouse, LEF Foundation, Marin Arts Council, and the Humanities Councils and Foundations of Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming. She has attended the June Lab at the Sundance Institute, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and been a resident at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Montalvo, Mesa Refuge and UCross. She is married to the film editor Kenji Yamamoto.
Kenji Yamamoto most recently co-produced and edited Smitten, Nancy Kelly’s short documentary about Rene di Rosa, who has the world’s largest collection of northern California contemporary art. He was associate producer and editor of Downside UP, an hour-long, first- person documentary written, produced and directed by Nancy Kelly, about how America’s largest museum of contemporary art brought the filmmaker’s home town back to life. He produced and edited the independent feature film Thousand Pieces of Gold, directed by Nancy Kelly and starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper.
Kenji has edited a wide range of documentary and theatrical films, including: the DVD extras for the HBO series Deadwood, which included an interview with series creator and Executive Producer David Milch, produced and directed by David Schwarz; Soul of Justice: The Life and Times of Thelton Henderson, an hour-long documentary portrait of the dynamic federal judge, Thelton Henderson, who is both honored and vilified for standing up to his beliefs of equal treatment of all races. Soul of Justice was produced and directed by Abby Ginzberg. He also edited Thirst, an hour-long documentary about how three communities Bolivia, India and California have dealt with the pressure to privatize their municipal water facilities. Thirst aired on PBS’s P.O.V. and was produced and directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman. He edited the award-winning Cowgirls: Portraits of American Ranch Women, by Nancy Kelly; Emiko Omori’s award-winning dramatic short, The Departure; Felicia Lowe’s documentary China: Land of My Father; and Don Briggs’ documentary Parrot’s Ferry is the Limit. He was a contributing editor of Hidden in Plain Sight, a feature-length documentary about US government support of the School of the Americas, which was produced and directed by John Smihula; School Colors, an award-winning PBS Frontline documentary about class and racism at Berkeley High, produced and directed by Steven Olsson & Scott Andrews; The Business of America, an award-winning hour-long documentary that asks whether American companies can be trusted; and A Cowhand's Song: Crisis on the Range, an award-winning documentary short about family ranchers who run their cattle on the public lands, produced and directed by Gwendolyn Clancy and Nancy Kelly.
He edited a number of segments, including the pilot, for SPARK*, KQED’s weekly documentary half-hour art show.
Kenji has attended the June Filmmaker’s Lab at the Sundance Institute (with Thousand Pieces of Gold) and has twice been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has studied directing with Judith Weston in Los Angeles, Jean Shelton in San Francisco and he studied painting and photography at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Written, Produced and Directed by Nancy Kelly
Directors of Photography
Additional Location Sound
Lighting Production Assistants
Jib Boom Operator
Aerial Technical Assistance
Music Rights Research
Additional still photographs
Executive Producer for ITVS
A co-production of Mother Lode Productions and KRCB in association with ITVS
Produced in association with the Center for Independent Documentary
Artists whose work is featured in this film
Works of art by Robert Arneson are © the estate of Robert Arneson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
© Estate of Jay DeFeo/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Artists for Art
The Luminous Fountain Group
This program was produced by Mother Lode Productions and KRCB who are solely responsible for its content.
© 2005 TPOG, Incorporated. All Rights Reserved
Web Site by Sway Design
Web Production, Development and Design: Ellis Neder
Web Programming: Mark Pfohl
When to Watch
Check local listings to see when Smitten is airing on your local PBS station.
Buy the Program
Purchase Smitten Smitten is available on DVD and VHS.