Filmmaker Bio
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Director James Cullingham began his journey into John Fahey’s world in 1982 when he produced a radio documentary about him. Cullingham continued to be fascinated with Fahey while producing work on political, historical and cultural subjects. Cullingham was Story Consultant on Festival Express (2002). He has written and produced documentaries about Sunny Ade, Willie Dixon, The Grateful Dead, Peter Green and Brian Wilson.


Steven Okazaki's film subjects range from heroin addicts to dairy princesses to Hiroshima survivors. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Academy Award®, four Academy Award® nominations, a Primetime Emmy and the George Foster Peabody Award. His films, produced for HBO, PBS and NHK, are explorations of the extraordinary lives of ordinary people caught up in dramatic historical events and troubling social issues.

Steven began in children's programming, producing dramatic and documentary shorts for Churchill Films in Los Angeles from 1976-78. In 1982, he produced his first documentary, Survivors, for WGBH Boston. In 1985, he received an Academy Award® nomination for UNFINISHED BUSINESS, the story of three Japanese Americans who challenged the incarceration of their people. Studs Terkel called it "a powerful warning that hysteria, bigotry and moral cowardice demean us all."

With a fellowship from the American Film Institute, he moved in a different direction with LIVING ON TOKYO TIME, a comedy about a Japanese dishwasher and her deadbeat green card husband. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Skouras Pictures in 1987.

In 1991, he won the Oscar® for DAYS OF WAITING, the story of artist Estelle Ishigo, one of the few Caucasians to be interned with the Japanese Americans during World War II. Other PBS documentaries include: HUNTING TIGERS (1989) a comic look at pop culture in Tokyo featuring Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe; TROUBLED PARADISE (1992), about native Hawaiian activism; AMERICAN SONS (1994) about how the lives of Asian American men are shaped by racism; and THE FAIR (2001), a quirky celebration of the Minnesota State Fair.

In 1999, HBO premiered BLACK TAR HEROIN, a cinema-verite chronicle of three years in the lives of five young heroin addicts. It was nominated for an Emmy and was one of HBO's highest rated documentaries that year. In 2005, he produced REHAB, a disturbing look at drug treatment, which won the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award, honoring journalists who have "demonstrated the highest standards of reporting on drug issues."

In 2006, he received his third Oscar® nomination for THE MUSHROOM CLUB, a personal reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, which aired on HBO/Cinemax. He followed that with WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN, a comprehensive and vivid account of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, won a Primetime Emmy for "Exceptional Merit in Non-fiction Filmmaking" and the Grand Prize at the Banff World Television Festival.

In 2009, he received his fourth Oscar nomination for the HBO documentary THE CONSCIENCE OF NHEM EN, which tells the story of a 16 year-old Khmer Rouge soldier who photographed 6,000 men, women and children before they were tortured and executed.

From 2009 to 2011, Okazaki made five short documentaries — CRUSHED: THE OXYCONTIN INTERVIEWS for ShadowCatcher Films; APPROXIMATELY NELS CLINE for Fantasy Studios; HAVE YOU SEEN ME (Seattle) and HAVE YOU SEEN ME (Hollywood) for HBO; and ALL WE COULD CARRY for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.