Liz Garbus

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Liz Garbus
Liz Garbus
Liz Garbus
BornElizabeth Freya Garbus
(1970-04-11) April 11, 1970 (age 48)
Other namesElizabeth Garbus
EducationBrown University
OccupationDocumentary filmmaker
Years active1993-present
Spouse(s)Dan Cogan
WebsiteOfficial website
Garbus at the Miami Film Festival presentation of Nothing Left Unsaid

Elizabeth "Liz" Freya Garbus[1] (born c. 1969/1970)[2] is an American documentary film director and producer.[3] Notable documentaries Garbus has made are The Farm: Angola, USA, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Love, Marilyn, and What Happened, Miss Simone?

Early life and education[edit]

Garbus grew up in New York City.[4] Garbus and is the daughter of civil rights attorney Martin Garbus and writer, therapist, and social worker Ruth Meitin Garbus. Her family is Jewish.[5]

In 1992, Garbus graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in history and semiotics from Brown University.[4]


While in high school, Garbus made a documentary about students' last day of school.[6] Then while at Brown she took classes in video production.[4]

After college, Garbus worked as an intern at Miramax, eventually getting a job working for filmmaker Jonathan Stack.[4]

In 1998, The Farm: Angola, USA, which she co-directed with Jonathan Stack, was nominated for an Academy Award. The film garnered multiple awards including the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and two Emmy awards.[7]

In 1998, she co-founded an independent documentary production company, Moxie Firecracker Films, with fellow Brown University alumni Rory Kennedy.[7] The company name is a combination of each woman's previously separate production companies: Kennedy’s company was called Moxie and Garbus’ company was called Firecracker.[4]

In 2002, Garbus' film The Execution of Wanda Jean was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.[7]

In 2003, Garbus directed The Nazi Officer's Wife, which was narrated by Susan Sarandon and Julia Ormond.

In 2005, Garbus collaborated with partner Rory Kennedy to executive-produce Street Fight about the 2002 Newark mayoral election; it was nominated for an Academy Award.

In 2006, the pair worked with actress Rosie Perez to produce her film Yo Soy Boricua.[8]

In 2007, Garbus' film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib premiered at Sundance and won an Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special of 2007.

In 2007, Garbus directed the film Coma, which aired on HBO in July of that year. The film follows four brain-injured patients receiving treatment at the JFK-Johnson Medical Facility in New Jersey.

In 2009, Garbus’s film, Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech (HBO) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2011, There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane was chosen to be a part of HBO’s Documentary Films Summer Series.

In 2011, Garbus directed Bobby Fischer Against the World, which chronicled the great Cold War showdown between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972.[9] The film premiered on HBO and opened the Premiere Documentary Section of the Sundance Film Festival.

Bobby Fischer Against the World, opened the documentary section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, reserved for master American documentary filmmakers.[10]

In 2011, Garbus was nominated a second time for an Academy Award, for her film Killing in the Name, which she produced with her producing partner Rory Kennedy.[11]

Garbus' 2012 film, Love, Marilyn featured Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Lindsay Lohan, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and others reading from Monroe’s never-before-seen private writings. The film opened as a Gala Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by HBO for a 2013 debut.

Love, Marilyn, internationally opened as a Gala Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and aired on HBO summer of 2013.[12]

In 2014, A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY, which Garbus directed and produced, premiered on HBO and featured first-hand accounts of veteran firefighters and interviews conducted by former FDNY member Steve Buscemi.

In 2015, she directed What Happened, Miss Simone? a documentary about the singer Nina Simone. What Happened, Miss Simone? was the opening night film for Sundance Film Festival, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature 2015, a Grammy for Best Music Film 2015, and Garbus was nominated for a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary. The film was released by Netflix on June 26, 2015. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary.

In January 2018, The New York Times announced that Garbus and a documentary crew have been "basically living in the @nytimes newsroom since Inauguration Day [with] full access to the Russia investigation and much more."[13][14] The completed work called The Fourth Estate airs on Showtime May 2018.[15]

In May 2018, HBO premiered Garbus' documentary, A Dangerous Son, which portrays three families as they deal with the severe mental illness of three different children, and efforts to get treatment and navigate the health care system.[16][17] Garbus' subject and editing, focuses on: abandoned; alienated, and / or; rejected children; who then 'turn in on themselves'; become overly-mature, partly (similar to a bruised fruit) to become child prodigies, so as to 'become their own parents', exhibit narcissistic aspects and struggle with socialisation, similar to a 'fish out of water', but nowhere near as funny as Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean or Johhny English.

Personal life[edit]

Garbus is married to film producer Dan Cogan. They have a daughter and a son.[18]

Selected honors and awards[edit]


1996Final Judgment: The Execution of Antonio JamesYes
1998The Farm: Angola, USAYesYes
1999Different MomsYesYes
2000Epidemic AfricaYesDocumentary short
2000The Changing Face of BeautyYesYesco-directed with Rory Kennedy
2000The TravelersYesYesTrue LifeMTV
2002The Execution of Wanda JeanYesYes
2002Schooling JewelYes
2003Together: Stop Violence Against WomenYes
2003A Boy's LifeYes
2003The Nazi Officer's WifeYes
2003Pandemic: Facing AIDSYesTV Mini-Series documentary
2003Con ManYes
2004Indian Point: Imagining the UnimaginableYes
2005Xiara's SongYesYesCinemax
2005Street FightYesP.O.V.
2006Yo soy Boricua, pa'que tu lo sepas!YesYesco-directed with Rosie Perez
2006"The Homestead Strike"YesTen Days That Unexpectedly Changed America – episode
2007"Brain Imaging Brookhaven National Laboratory"YesYesAddiction – episode
2007Coma IVYesYes
2007Ghosts of Abu GhraibYes
2009Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free SpeechYesYes
2010Family AffairYes
2010The Fence (La Barda)YesDocumentary short
2010Killing in the NameYesDocumentary short
2011Bobby Fischer Against the WorldYesYes
2011There's Something Wrong with Aunt DianeYesYes
2011The Fight for Fischer's EstateYesYesVideo documentary short
2011Chess HistoryYesYesVideo documentary short
2011Focus Forward: Short Films, Big IdeasYesDocumentary short
2012Love, MarilynYesYes
2014A Good Job: Stories of the FDNYYesYes
2013Before the Spring: After the FallYesYes
2015What Happened, Miss Simone?YesYes
2016Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson CooperYesYes
2018The Fourth EstateYesYes
2018A Dangerous SonYesYes
2019Lost GirlsYesNo

Works and publications[edit]

  • Garbus, Elizabeth Freya (1992). Feminine Transgression – Historicizing desire and subversion in Contemporary France (Thesis/dissertation). Providence, RI: Brown University. OCLC 549674496.
  • Garbus, Liz (2015). "Chapter 18: Prisons". In Quinn, James. Adventures in the Lives of Others: Ethical Dilemmas in Factual Filmmaking. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. ISBN 978-0-8577-2652-0. OCLC 925780839.


  1. ^ Garbus, Elizabeth Freya (1992). Feminine Transgression – Historicizing desire and subversion in Contemporary France (Thesis/dissertation). Providence, RI: Brown University. OCLC 549674496.
  2. ^ Salamon, Julie (26 October 2003). "Film; A Filmmaker Who Chooses to Live Behind Bars". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Galloway, Stephen; Kilday, Greg; Gibney, Alex; Moore, Michael; Garbus, Liz; Berg, Amy; Vserhelyi, Chai; Dick, Kirby (25 January 2016). "Oscars 2016: Michael Moore, Alex Gibney, and More Documentarians on THR's Roundtables" (Video roundtable). The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ a b c d e Schwartzapfel, Beth (January 2007). "No Degrees of Separation". Brown Alumni Magazine. Brown University.
  5. ^ Pressler, Jessica (21 June 2009). "123 Minutes With Liz and Martin Garbus". New York.
  6. ^ Feinberg, Scott; Garbus, Liz (13 November 2012). "Liz Garbus Interviewed by Scott Feinberg" (Video interview). Scott Feinberg.
  7. ^ a b c "Featured Artist: Liz Garbus". Center for Social Media, School of Communication. American University. August 2007.
  8. ^ Conan, Neal; Perez, Rosie; Smits, Jimmy; Garbus, Liz (12 June 2006). "Rosie Perez Film Explores Puerto Rican Pride" (Audio interview with transcript). Talk of the Nation. NPR.
  9. ^ Davies, Dave; Garbus, Liz; Saidy, Anthony (25 May 2011). "Bobby Fischer Biopic: A Chess Champ 'Against The World'" (Audio interview with transcript). Fresh Air. NPR.
  10. ^ "Bobby Fischer Against the World". Sundance Film Festival. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Documentary Short Film: Killing in the Name". Oscars. Archived from the original on 28 January 2011.
  12. ^ Vlessing, Etan (14 September 2012). "Toronto 2012: HBO Doc Films Takes U.S. Rights to Liz Garbus' 'Love, Marilyn'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ Sam Dolnick [@samdolnick] (7 Jan 2018). "A documentary film crew has been basically living in the @nytimes newsroom since Inauguration Day. They have had full access to the Russia investigation and much more. It's made by Oscar nominee @lizgarbus. Airs in May on @Showtime" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ "We just announced a new revealing multi-part..." Showtime All Access. 6 January 2018.
  15. ^ Evans, Greg (6 January 2018). "Liz Garbus' New York Times Documentary Gets May Premiere On Showtime – TCA". Deadline.
  16. ^ Erbland, Kate (16 April 2018). "'A Dangerous Son' Trailer: Liz Garbus Chronicles Children Struggling With Mental Illness in a Chaotic World". IndieWire.
  17. ^ Doubek, James; Garbus, Liz; Handel, Sarah; Le, Viet (6 May 2018). "The Struggle Of Finding Help For 'A Dangerous Son'" (Audio interview includes transcript). Weekend Edition. NPR.
  18. ^ Hampton, Rachelle (15 February 2018). "My Parents' Work-Life Balance: When Your Mom Is a Documentary Filmmaker and Your Dad Is the Producer of Icarus". Slate.
  19. ^ "Liz Garbus". Forum on Law Culture & Society. NYU School of Law. 2009.
  20. ^ "What Happened, Miss Simone?" (Includes video). Peabody Award. 2015.

External links[edit]