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Karen Bernstein

Emmy and Grammy award-winning producer Karen Bernstein has spent more than 20 years working for and with some of the most prestigious producer/ directors in the documentary field, including Susan Lacy (PBS American Masters), Charlotte Zwerin (PBS American Masters), Helen Whitney (PBS American Masters and Frontline), Henry Hampton (Blackside), Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue (Body of War).
She has most recently produced YA BASTA! about kidnappings in Mexico (Matinee Productions) and TROOP 1500 which follows a unique Girl Scout troop whose mothers are incarcerated in Texas (Mobilus Media). TROOP 1500 toured film festivals and other venues throughout the country and received an audience award at SXSW in Texas, and a Gracie Award in 2007. PBS’ Independent Lens broadcast the documentary in March of 2006.

With support from the Hogg Foundation, Houston Endowment, and Meadows Foundation, ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT?, stories about children’s mental health in Texas, was broadcast on PBS in June of 2004, and repeated in 2005.

In her role as a series producer for American Masters and producer of Ella Fitzgerald – Something To Live For (1999), Bernstein received a series Emmy award for Outstanding Non-fiction Series. She also won a Grammy award for producing Lou Reed – Rock and Roll Heart (1998). She recently served as producer of American Masters/Juilliard (2002) and American Masters/Clint Eastwood (2000). Her work has been screened at over 100 international film festivals including Sundance and Berlin. At American Masters she was responsible for pre-production, production and post-production on other feature-length biographies: Richard Avedon, Lena Horne. In addition she advised on over 20 biographical portraits, including those Rod Serling, Leonard Bernstein, Joseph Papp, Alfred Steiglitz.

Premium cable network credits include Ellen Spiro’s documentary, ATOMIC ED & THE BLACK HOLE for HBO’s Cinemax- Reel Life and THE WRESTLING PARTY, a short documentary for HBO. At the Sundance Channel, Karen Bernstein produced and directed a documentary portrait of the L.A. based filmmaker, Mike Mills, titled MEET MIKE MILLS (2002), and a short profile of the filmmaker, Eugene Jarecki, for the premiere of Doc Day.

With the high definition satellite TV series, Gallery HD, she has just finished documentaries about two Texas artists and groups, Julie Speed and the innovative gallery, Ballroom Marfa. Throughout 2003, she was the Producer for Evan Smith’s Texas Monthly Talks, a television series out of KLRU in Austin. Her short film on Elizabeth Streb (PopACTION) , dancer and choreographer, was awarded a New York State Council on the Arts grant.

Bernstein has produced radio documentaries for NPR’s This American Life, (“Mob Mentality”, May, 2000), and for Connecticut Public Radio. (09/09)


Troop 1500
A film by Ellen Spiro & Karen Bernstein, 2005, 68 min., Color

Their mothers may be convicted thieves, murderers and drug dealers, but the girls of Troop 1500 want to be doctors, social workers and marine biologis...



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