David E. Simpson is a producer, director and editor who has crafted award- winning films and television for over twenty-five years. He has worked in close association with Kartemquin Films since 1997.
Most recently, David served as series co-director and co-editor on Hard Earned, a landmark six-part series on getting by in America, produced for Al Jazeera America.
David’s first feature-length documentary, When Billy Broke His Head... was a groundbreaking film about disability culture that garnered major prizes at a slew of film festivals, including a jury award at Sundance and a duPont-Columbia Baton for Journalistic Excellence.
David directed Refrigerator Mothers, about a generation of mothers who raised autistic children under the shadow of professionally-promoted mother-blame. The film won top honors at the Florida, Indiana, and Sedona film festivals and aired nationally on the PBS series P.O.V.
David produced and directed Halsted Street, USA, a multi-award-winning snapshot of America through the prism of one multi-cultural street. He co-produced and edited Forgiving Dr. Mengele -- about an Auschwitz survivor's controversial campaign of forgiveness -- which won the 2006 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries.
David’s 2008 documentary Milking The Rhino took a pioneering look at community-based conservation and the myth of wild Africa. The film aired nationally on PBS and has screened at dozens of festivals on six continents.
David's list of editing credits on broadcast documentaries is extensive. The most recent are the critically-acclaimed Life Itself, about Roger Ebert, and Head Games, about concussions in sports -- both directed by Steve James; and the Kartemquin documentary A Good Man, a portrait of controversial director/choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Other edited films include the Kartemquin projects Terra Incognita, 5 Girls and Vietnam Long Time Coming; the Kartemquin/PBS series The New Americans, Percolator Films’ Beneath the Blindfold, the Emmy-nominated NOVA: Mysterious Crash of Flight 201, Frontline's Shtetl (grand prix, Cinema du Real), Living in Tall Trees for WGBH/TV Asahi-Japan, several episodes of Cold Case Files for A&E, and an episode of The People’s Century for BBC/PBS.
Before segueing to documentary work, David spent his formative filmmaking years creating widely acclaimed experimental narratives. These included Dante’s Dream, a re-working of Dante’s cosmology, which earned 1st-Place awards at half a dozen film festivals.
David was awarded a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Filmmaking. He has taught filmmaking at the University of Minnesota and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Films by David E. Simpson
- Hard Earned 2015
- Series Editors / Co-Directors
- Life Itself 2014
- The Homestretch 2014
- thank you
- A Good Man 2011
- Milking the Rhino 2008
- Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita 2007
- The New Americans 2004
- Refrigerator Mothers 2002
- Director, Co-Producers, Editor
- 5 Girls 2001
- Producers, Editor
- Vietnam, Long Time Coming 1998
- When Billy Broke His Head 1995
- Director/Producers, Cinematography, Editor
The People of Kartemquin
With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on more than 45 years of history as Chicago’s documentary powerhouse.
Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Guidestar
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