Zak is an Emmy-winning Documentary Producer who previously served as Director of Production at Kartemquin Films for more than a decade. Most recently, Zak produced Saving Mes Aynak, which follows an Afghan archaeologist as he and histeam race to save a 2,000-year-old Buddhist archaeological site in Afghanistan from imminent demolition by a Chinese copper mine. The film premiered at IDFA in 2014 and is being represented by Autlook Film Sales for international distribution.
Zak also produced the critically acclaimed film Life Itself, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was an official selection of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. For this film, Zak received the Producers Guild of America award for Outstanding Producer of a Documentary Theatrical Motion Picture. The film was also nominated for a Gotham Award for Best Documentary and 5 Cinema Eye Honors. The National Board of Review and Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded Life Itself their Best Documentary Awards, while Entertainment Weekly listed the film in its top 5 films of the year. Life Itself was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures in the summer of 2014 and will broadcast on CNN in 2015.
Zak also co-produced the critically acclaimed film The Interrupters, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at film festivals worldwide, collecting two Best Documentary Awards and two Audience Awards in addition to a Special Jury Award at the 2011 Sheffield Documentary Festival and 2011 Full Frame Documentary Festival. In 2011, The Interrupters was released theatrically in the US, Canada, and the UK, culminating in television broadcasts on PBS Frontline, BBC Storyville, Canal Plus, and the CBC. The film received a 2012 Spirit Award for Best Documentary, was honored by the Cinema Eye Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Filmmaking and was awarded Best Documentary by the Chicago Film Critics Association. The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and LA Times all hailed The Interrupters as one of the year’s best films. The film was also the recipient of a 2013 duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and a 2012 News & Documentary Emmy Award.
Previously, Zak was Co-Producer of At the Death House Door, which premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival and was officially short-listed in the Best Documentary category for the 81st Annual Academy Awards.
Zak was also the Associate Producer of Prisoner of Her Past, Kartemquin’s co-production with The Chicago Tribune.
Films by Zak Piper
- In the Game 2015
- Hard Earned 2015
- Additional Sound
- Life Itself 2014
- Producers, Location Sound, Additional Sound
- Saving Mes Aynak 2014
- The Homestretch 2014
- American Arab 2013
- Director of Production at Kartemquin
- The Interrupters 2011
- Co-Producer & Sound Recordist, additional camera
- A Good Man 2011
- Additional Sound, Production Support for Kartemquin Films
- Prisoner of Her Past 2010
- Associate Producer
- Sacred Transformations 2010
- Sound Mix
- Typeface 2009
- At the Death House Door 2008
- Co-Producers, Sound Recording
- In the Family 2008
- Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita 2007
- Sound, Post Production Assistant, Kartemquin Staff
- The New Americans 2004
- Post Production Manager
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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.
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