Kirsten Kelly


Public bio

Kirsten Kelly is an award-winning documentary film and theater director who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her most recent film, The Homestretch, was broadcast on Independent Lens in April 2015 and was part of CPB's American Graduate Initiative. It was selected for the 2015 American Film Series to travel to embassies around the world and was selected to be part of the 2015 Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival. In conjunction with long-time film partner Anne de Mare, her documentary film work has been supported by The MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, Independent Television Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Initiative, Chicken & Egg Pictures, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Michigan Humanities Council, The Michigan Arts Council, and The Philip and Cheryl Milstein Foundation (among others). The Homestretch premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (Toronto). Kirsten is also an arts educator and is the director and co-creator of “CPS Shakespeare,” a highly acclaimed program that works with Chicago Public High School students at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which was awarded the President’s 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by Michelle Obama at the White House. She has been a guest teacher and speaker in universities and public schools across the nation - leading workshops on film, theater, Shakespeare and performance skills (full list of presentations and workshops available). Her first feature documentary, Asparagus! Stalking the American Life, about farmers in rural western Michigan, premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2006 and went on to win Best Documentary and Audience Choice awards across the country before broadcasting regionally on PBS.  She and film partner Anne de Mare are currently in development for The Girl With The Rivet Gun, an animated media project based on the real-life experiences of women industrial workers during World War II based on an extensive filmed oral history project they produced for New York University's Tamiment Labor Archives.  Kirsten brings the unique storytelling sensibility of a theatre background to their film work and has developed many original projects from idea to completion in both film and theater.  Her and film partner, Anne, share a deep commitment to projects that celebrate the transformative power of the human spirit, where the individual experience illuminates the face of society as a whole.  Kirsten brings several years of experience as Production Manager with Pangloss Films on three episodes of National Geographic's Explorer Series and was the Producer of the narrative short "Pear". Kirsten is a two-time Helen Hayes nominated best theatre director and has directed award-winning theater productions in Chicago, Washington DC and off-Broadway in New York City. Kirsten is a graduate of Juilliard’s Master Directing program where she received the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and is a member of Rising Phoenix Repertory in New York.  She most recently directed the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway play The Undeniable Sound of Right Now at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.