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The Filmmakers

Jon Else’s three favorite films:

Amadeus by Milos Forman
Lonely Boy by Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroiter
The third is secret.

His advice for aspiring filmmakers:

There comes a time when you have to give up your day job and take a stab at doing this 24/7, because it’s so consuming and competitive. Maybe take a leave from your day job.

His most inspirational food for making independent film:

Money and three squares a day for the crew.

Filmmaker Bios

Jon Else
Producer, Director, Writer

Jon Else is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose film The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb won the first-ever documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1980 and has been broadcast repeatedly around the globe for the past 28 years. It is used widely in schools, universities and institutions as varied as the Pentagon, the CIA and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A MacArthur Fellow from 1988 to 1993 and winner of four National Emmys for writing, producing, directing and cinematography, Else also produced and directed Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven, A Job at Ford’s Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature, Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle, Open Outcry and part of the PBS series, The Great Depression. Other honors include several Alfred I. DuPont, Polk and Peabody awards, the Prix Italia, the Sundance Special Jury Prize and Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy as well as several Academy Award nominations.

Else just returned from Afghanistan after doing camera work for a PBS documentary about that country’s new constitution called Democracy Afghan Style, which was co-produced by Bonni Cohen, producer of WONDERS ARE MANY. Else received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and his Master’s degree in communication from Stanford University. He currently heads the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and directs the university’s experimental Center for New Documentary.

Bonni Cohen

Producer and director Bonni Cohen founded the San Francisco-based Actual Films, an independent film company, in 1998. She most recently executive produced The Rape of Europa, a two-hour historical documentary about the fate of Europe’s art treasures during WWII. Cohen also co-produced Democracy Afghan Style (cinematography by Jon Else) about Afghan’s constitutional process for PBS. In 2003, also for PBS, she produced and directed The New Heroes, a series about social entrepreneurs hosted by Robert Redford. Cohen produced and directed The Nobel: Visions of Our Century, a chronicle of 100 years of the Nobel Prize told from the perspective of 11 Nobel laureates and co-produced They Drew Fire, a portrait of combat artists of World War II, both for PBS.

For the BBC, Cohen directed and produced The Eye of the Storm, a portrait of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Her other produced works include the six-part Emmy-nominated series The Human Sexes with Desmond Morris and Open Outcry (also with Jon Else). Before coming to documentary film, Cohen worked as a journalist for Reuters Television and NBC. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tuft’s University and a Master’s degree in documentary film from Stanford University.

Deborah Hoffmann

Deborah Hoffman received a National Emmy for editing The Times of Harvey Milk. She edited Marlon Riggs’ Color Adjustment, which received a Peabody Award, as well as Jon Else’s Mulholland’s Dream and Sing Faster, both of which won Emmy awards. She also worked on HBO’s Academy Award-winning Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. As a director, she has been honored with an Academy Award nomination, as well as Emmy, Peabody and Columbia-DuPont awards for her now legendary film about her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter. The feature documentary Long Night’s Journey into Day, which she directed with Frances Reid, chronicles South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The film won the Sundance Grand Prize for Documentary and received an Academy Award nomination.

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