About the Filmmakers

Brian Lanker - Director

Brian Lanker has won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his feature photography. He was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1970 and again in 1976. His work for LIFE Magazine and Sports Illustrated has received numerous honors around the world. In 1990, 1991, and 1993 his work was chosen as a finalist for the Kelly Advertising Awards. He presently divides his time between editorial/advertising still photography and motion picture writing and directing.

Born August 31, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, Lanker grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where he attended schools including Phoenix College. The son of a newspaper feature writer, he became interested in photography in high school and by college, was working at the Phoenix Gazette at the age of eighteen. He joined the staff of the Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal in 1970 as a staff photographer. He became director of photography at the Eugene (Oregon) Register-Guard in 1975 where he organized a highly acclaimed photographic report. He left the newspaper in 1982, subsequently becoming a contributing photographer to Sports Illustrated and LIFE magazines. Soon thereafter, he expanded his career to advertising photography.

In February 1989, Mr. Lanker's exhibition of Photographs entitled "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America" opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. This two year long project was a dream of Lanker's, that these special women of American History would not be forgotten. Concurrently with the exhibition, a book of the same title ("I Dream a World") was published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang of New York City. The response by the press and public has been overwhelming. The exhibition has set records for attendance at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and many other museums throughout the country. The original two year national exhibition quickly blossomed into a six year international tour. Attendance of this museum tour is placed at well over one million viewers. Eight years later the exhibition is still touring museums in the U.S. The accompanying book was in a second printing before the first printing had reached book stores. Currently it is in its twelfth printing with total sales over 400,000 copies, making it one of the most successful photographic books ever.

Perhaps one of Lanker's greatest honors was when he was chosen as one of eight photographers to be included in a series of audio visual education programs entitled "Images of Man". Lanker, along with W. Eugene Smith, Henry Cartier Bresson and Elliott Porter were featured as individual programs in that series.

Lanker, now fifty two years old, lives with his wife Lynda, herself a regionally-known artist.

Nicole Newnham - Co-Producer

Nicole Newnham is a documentary filmmaker and a founder of Actual Films with Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk. She was the associate producer of Eye of the Storm (1997), a cinema verité profile of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that was distributed worldwide by the BBC. She recently produced several stories about the changing nature of the American workplace for the currently running PBS series, Livelyhood. She has been associate producer and line producer on several US/UK co-productions for Discovery/The Learning Channel, including Survivor (1996), a four-part series on the art of survival science; and the emmy-nominated The Human Sexes with Desmond Morris(1996). In 1994, she received her M.A. in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University. Her film Unforgettable Face, about the Japanese-Americans who helped to liberate Dachau, was selected and screened that year at the Sundance Film Festival. Currently, she is producing segments for Martha Stewart Living (CBS), and she is developing a series about Nazi art looting for PBS.

Bonni Cohen - Co-Producer

Bonni Cohen is a co-founder of Actual Films and the producer and director of many documentary programs broadcast in the United States and England. Her works include The Human Sexes with Desmond Morris (1996), a six-part, Emmy-nominated series for The Learning Channel/Discovery about gender differences around the world and two episodes of the Emmy award-winning Eyewitness series for PBS. For the BBC and BBC Worldwide, she produced Eye of the Storm (1997), an intimate, verité portrait of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that follows his diplomatic efforts from Baghdad to Nigeria to New York. Eye of the Storm has been shown around the world in over 125 countries. She is currently producing Open Outcry, a one-hour, low-budget documentary directed by Jon Else about the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Ms. Cohen earned an MA degree in 1994 from the Graduate Documentary Film Program at Stanford University.

Actual Films - Production Company

Actual Films is a San Francisco-based, independent documentary production company that was formed in 1998. The company was founded by independent filmmakers Bonni Cohen, Nicole Newnham and Jon Shenk. All three met in 1993 while completing Masters degrees at the Stanford University Documentary Film Program. Since that time the filmmakers have been working in the independent and commercial documentary world producing films ranging in subject from anthropology to international politics for U.S. and foreign broadcast. The company remains committed to producing high quality and important documentary films that will reach a wide audience both in the U.S. and abroad.

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