Photo by Scott Irvin
With the debut of Esther Bell's first feature, GODASS, Variety, Film Comment, and the LA Times heralded the young filmmaker as a promising, bold and talented writer/director. Soon after a critically-acclaimed 25-festival tour, GODASS was acquired by SHOWTIME and the SUNDANCE CHANNEL.
Following GODASS' success, New York City indie film companies Merlion Entertainment and Intrinsic Value joined forces to produce Bell's much-anticipated follow-up feature, EXIST, a narrative story about two activists who make the ultimate stand for what they believe. Beginning with the International Rotterdam Film Festival, EXIST is screening in festivals worldwide.
EXIST probes the dynamic social and political landscape that led Bell to filmmaking with the same compassion and intimacy that guided her semi-autobiographical GODASS and its exploration of growing up as a girl with a gay father. Esther Bell began her career as the creator and editor of an underground political magazine, which was widely distributed throughout America's South. Inspired by her eccentric experiences as a native of South Carolina, she made her first foray into movies prior to even graduating high school. Her documentary, MARK OF AN AMATEUR, chronicled life in the South as part of an underground music scene. Remarkably, Bell's micro-budget MARK OF AN AMATEUR was recognized with an award from The Learning Channel.
While attending college in New York, Esther lost close friends to both heroin and AIDS. Again, her experiences led her behind the lens where she would create two powerful public service announcements: ASHLEY, about the horror of heroin addiction, and SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL, addressing HIV prevention. "I felt like New York was losing a whole generation of amazing artists, Bell explained, "and I wanted to do something to honor my friends." ASHLEY not only received an award from President Clinton, it also helped to initiate a national anti-drug campaign.
Photo by Sarah Van Buren
Before embarking upon her feature film career after college, Bell shot several successful short films, including PURPLE JESUS, which screened as part of the Nuyorican's Fifth Night Series and the Women in the Director's Chair International Festival. Currently, Bell is in development on her third feature, "Flaming Heterosexual Female," based upon her original screenplay.
Esther Bell has been profiled by Film Comment, Filmmaker Magazine, Venus, Shout, Silicon Alley Reported, Cosmopolitan,among other publications. She has also made appearances on the Oxygen Network and is featured in two separate books about film making: "Girl Director" by Andrea Richards; and "$30 Dollar Film School" by Michael Dean. Esther lectures at colleges and universities around the country, and has been a featured speaker at a number of film festivals. In between her feature film projects, Esther works as a freelance television director and producer for such channels as Much Music, Metro Channel and the Independent Film Channel.