One of the nation’s most prolific documentary filmmakers, Academy Award-nominated, Primetime Emmy Award-winning Director/Producer, Rory Kennedy’s work deals with some of the world’s most pressing social concerns including poverty, political corruption, domestic abuse, drug addiction, human rights, and mental illness. Kennedy has made more than 30 highly acclaimed documentaries. Her films have appeared on HBO, PBS, Lifetime Television, A&E, Court TV, The Oxygen Network and TLC.
In addition to Rory’s impressive body of film work, she has directed commercial projects that address similar social issues, such as “The Evolution of Barbie” for Mattel, a behind-the-scenes spot looking at the inspiration and creation of the new Barbie dolls that break the standard mold.
Rory’s latest feature is the damning documentary, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, currently streaming on Netflix following its 2022 Sundance world premiere, a chilling account of the corporation’s role in the tragic 737 Max crashes.
Her other films include Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, for the Discovery Channel, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of NASA. The film is a spotlight on how NASA has impacted our world not just from exploring space and the universe, but also our own planet – celebrating the institution’s many accomplishments and reaching forward to the future. Take Every Wave, a feature documentary about the life of legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, that world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, followed by Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America for Verizon, which resulted in national spots for their #humanability campaign featuring Verizon’s Innovative Learning program.
In 2014, Rory made the Academy Award-nominated Last Days in Vietnam, which debuted at Sundance and went into wide theatrical release in the fall of that year. At Sundance 2012, Rory premiered Ethel, a feature-length documentary chronicling the extraordinary life of her mother Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy. The film was nominated for 5 Primetime Emmy Awards. Rory’s documentary Ghosts of Abu Ghraib also premiered at Sundance and went on to win the Primetime Emmy of Outstanding Nonfiction Special. Rory’s other documentary films include The Fence about the construction of the 700 mile fence along the troubled border between Mexico and the United States; Thank You, Mr. President for HBO about Helen Thomas, wire service correspondent and columnist whose sharp questions from the front row of the White House press room challenged 10 presidents; Pandemic: Facing AIDS; A Boy’s Life; The Changing Face of Beauty; and American Hollow about a clan of over sixty family members living in a one mile hollow in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. American Hollow won the Best Documentary Award at the American Film Institute, Newport and Northampton Film Festivals, and the Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Award.
Kennedy is a Governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Rory maintains an active speaking schedule and recently has been the keynote speaker for various lecture series, university events, and community organization functions. A committed activist, Rory continues to fight for social justice, human rights, and climate action, co-founding Climate Emergency Fund with Aileen Getty.