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Indie filmmaker Heather Rae brings her perspective to ASU

September 25, 2009

Independent film producer and director Heather Rae, recently named by Variety as one of the industry's "10 producers to watch," promotes a wide view of American culture through films concerned with racial identity, contemporary social concerns and human connection through the arts.

Rae will be at Arizona State University to deliver the Jonathan and Maxine Marshall Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m., Oct. 5 in the Memorial Union Ventana Ballroom on the Tempe campus. Sponsored by ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

There also are two student events planned to coincide with the annual lecture. The first is a screening of Rae's Oscar-nominated film "Frozen River" from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 1 in the Memorial Union Ventana A. The second is a Q&A session with Rae from 4-5 p.m. on Oct. 5 in the Memorial Union Pima Auditorium. Reservations are required for both events and are available at

With 20 years of experience in the film industry — the past seven working independently — Rae is the producer of more than a dozen documentaries and several features. The well-known "Frozen River" premiered and won the grand jury prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. It also won the Gotham Award for best picture and best actress, and was nominated for seven Spirit Awards, including one she won for producer of the year.

Rae cultivated the work of more than 50 Native American filmmakers and screenwriters as director of the Native American Program at the Sundance Institute, a post she held for six years.

Among her often-cited works is "Trudell," a 2005 documentary she directed and produced about renowned Native American activist and poet John Trudell. The film was nominated for the Sundance grand jury prize and won several awards, including the special jury prize at the Seattle Film Festival and the best documentary from the American Indian Film Festival.

Rae is the director and producer of "Family: The First Circle," a documentary in post-production that explores the foster care system and the American family. In 2008, the project received the Sundance documentary grant and was selected for Tribeca All Access from the Tribeca Film Institute in New York. She is also producing "American Tragic," which will be financed and distributed by the newly formed Maya Entertainment.

In addition to her film credits as a director and producer, Rae also has appeared in a number of films, including "Ibid" and "Disappearances."

Rae lives in Idaho and owns the downtown Boise arts collective The Muse Building, where arts, business and culture converge. The collective offers space for artists and small business owners to contribute to developing the downtown district while advancing the arts. She also is an adjunct instructor at Boise State University.

The Jonathan and Maxine Marshall Distinguished Lecture Series brings to ASU nationally recognized scholars concerned with promoting culture through the humanities and a better understanding of the problems of democracy. The annual lecture series was established in 1993 with support from Jonathan Marshall (deceased) and Maxine Marshall, retired publishers of the Scottsdale Daily Progress.

The lecture series has featured notable journalists, authors and commentators, including Calvin Trillin, Jon Meacham, Robin Wright, Seymour Hersh, Paul Krugman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Daniel Goldhagen, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Further event information is available online at, by e-mail at or by phone at (480) 965-0051. Online maps of Tempe campus parking are available at

Written by Danielle Kuffler ( for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Carol Hughes,
(480) 965-6375