David E. Simpson

David E. Simpson is an Emmy Award-winning 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.

David recently served as series co-director and co-editor on Hard Earned, a landmark, duPont-Columbia award-winning 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 documentary editing credits is extensive. The most recent are Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, which premiered at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals; Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, which premiered at Sundance 2016 and won Best Documentary at Boulder International and Fort Myers Film Festivals; and the critically-acclaimed Life Itself, about Roger Ebert, for which Simpson won the Emmy for Outstanding Editing at the 37th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

Other edited films include the Kartemquin projects A Good Man, a portrait of controversial director/choreographer Bill T. Jones; 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

America to Me 2018
Edited by
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail 2016
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 2003
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