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Deborah Shaffer

Deborah Shaffer began making social issue documentaries as a member of the Newsreel Collective in the 70’s.  She co-founded Pandora Films, a woman’s production company, which produced How About You? and Chris and Bernie.  In 1979 she made the labor history documentary The Wobblies (New York Film Festival).  During the 80's, Shaffer focused on war and human rights in Latin America, directing Nicaragua: Report from the Front; Witness to War (Academy Award® winner, Best Documentary – Short Subjects); Fire from the Mountain (New York and Sundance Film Festivals; POV); and Dance of Hope (Prix d'Or, FIPA, Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals).  Shaffer was one of the first filmmakers to work in post-Sept. 11 New York City.  From the Ashes – 10 Artists (Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals; Cinemax) captures the impact the attacks had on 10 downtown New York artists, followed a year later by From the Ashes - Epilogue (Tribeca Film Festival).  She is the Executive Producer of the short documentary, Asylum, which played at the Sundance Film Festival, Human Rights Watch, won Best Documentary at Aspen Shortsfest and was nominated for an Academy Award®.

In addition to her work as a director of independent documentaries,  Shaffer has directed numerous programs for public television, including Secrets Underground (Christopher Award, Emma Award), Art:21 – Art for the 21st Century (Emmy Nomination) and Ladies First: The Women of Rwanda (Emmy Award, Sigma Delta Chi Award, Cine Golden Eagle). She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the NEH, NEA and NYSCA.  She was recently awarded the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.


Return to Tribute to Justice: Remembering 40 years September 9th 2013.