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spotlight lucy walker

Born in London, England, Lucy Walker is an Emmy-award winning film director who consistently delivers emotionally compelling nonfiction. She has a distinct talent to enable her subjects’ stories to deeply connect with her audiences. Walker is best known for directing the documentaries Devil’s Playground (2002), Blindsight (2006), Waste Land (2010), Countdown to Zero (2010), and The Crash Reel (2002). She is a member of The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the International Documentary Association, the Directors Guild of America, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Walker began directing theatre when she was in high school. When she was a student of literature and directing at Oxford University, she produced and directed the original musical Querm, which won the university’s prestigious Oxford University Dramatic Society Cuppers Award. It goes without saying that she was heavily involved in film studies during her time at university, fulfilling the role of artistic director for the theatre group New Company and her outdoor musical productions of The Jungle Book and Tintin and the Broken Ear. Graduating from New College, Oxford with both B.A. and M.A. degrees, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ graduate film program, from which she earned her MFA. It was during her time at NYU when she supported herself as a popular DJ and musician.


Walker has since been nominated for two Academy Awards, seven Emmys, an Independent Spirit Award, a DGA Award and a Gotham Award; she has also won over one hundred other film awards. For her work in advertising, she has received three Cannes Lizons awards, two Clio awards, two One Clios, and two Association of Independent Commercial Produers awards. Two of her seven Emmy nominations were for Outstanding Directing of fifteen episodes of Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clue’s.

Currently, Walker is directing the follow-up to Wim Wender’s celebrated 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club, and she is holding a position as Creator at Vrse. At Vrse, she has directed more virtual reality content than any other director, including the virtual reality experiences for AirBnB, AT&T, Toms shoes, Vaseline, Vice, and Buena Vista Social Club.

All of Walker’s works authentically portray raw, human emotion in a personal and deeply relatable way – the reason she consistently succeeds at this feat is that she remains particular when it comes to what material is strong enough to support the time and energy it takes to film a “required viewing” documentary. She is a director of true talent and integrity.


The Lion’s Mouth Opens, a powerful short that follows Marianna Palka through her discovering of whether or not she will develop Huntington’s disease, first emerged in its 15-minute form (there is an alternate 28-minute version) at Sundance 2014.  It went on to win the Audience Award for Best Documentary Short at Michael Moore’s 2014 Traverse City Film Festival, was short-listed for an Oscar, and debuted on HBO on 1 June 2015. The short is an inspiring work of art that captures not only the urgent necessity of awareness of Huntington’s disease but also the reality of the human experience.


The Crash Reel (2013) is Walker’s documentary of snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s life-changing journey of being at the pinnacle of the snowboarding world and his ability to losing it all through a terrible crash. Walker and Pearce met at a retreat that was organized by David Mayer de Rothschild for Nike-sponsored athletes. It was there where Walker pondered the idea of an “extreme sports” documentary, thus the planning for the documentary quickly took form upon meeting Pearce. Through this project, the “#loveyourbrain” organization and campaign for Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention came to life, and the film was the first to ever play at the X Games.


In 2011, Walker released The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, which is oriented around the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and its victims’ struggle to survive. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It, of course, delivered the harsh reality of the pain and struggle of the tsunami survivors to audiences around the world. Walker’s gift for conveying stories with the respect they deserve was absolutely apparent in this short film.

Her inspirational Always #LikeAGirl Girl Emojis commercial actually influenced the emoji keyboard available on mobile phones today. It was through this commercial that Walker transferred an important social issue succinctly and non-controversially. She proudly stepped into the responsibility of speaking for women everywhere and let no one down.


Lucy Walker not only searches for content that is dynamic enough to influence the world, but she also searches for content and directing experiences that challenge herself and force herself to grow as a filmmaker. She is incredibly passionate about pushing her field just significantly as her subjects push theirs. Every single piece of work Walker touches and has touched contains a specific glow – her films are compelling and inspirational, which is how she desires her work to affect the world. Walker makes films that come to life.


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