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Lynn Novick    

Documentary Filmmaker

Lynn Novick has been directing and producing landmark documentary films about American life and culture, history, politics, sports, art, architecture, literature, and music for more than 30 years. The 86 hours of acclaimed PBS programming she has created in collaboration with Ken Burns include Ernest Hemingway, The Vietnam War, Baseball, Jazz, Frank Lloyd Wright, The War, and Prohibition, landmark series that have garnered 19 Emmy nominations. One of the most respected documentary filmmakers and story tellers in America, Novick herself has received Emmy, Peabody, and Alfred I. Dupont Columbia Awards.

College Behind Bars, Novick’s first film as solo director, premiered at the New York Film Festival and aired on PBS in 2019. Produced by Sarah Botstein, the four-part verité series explores urgently contemporary and timeless questions – What is prison for? Who in America has access to educational opportunity? Six years in the making, the series immerses viewers in the inspiring and transformational journey of a small group of incarcerated men and women serving time for serious crimes, as they try to earn college degrees in one of the most rigorous prison education programs in America – the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). “What you see in … these heartbreaking, inspiring stories, “says Jamil Smith in Rolling Stone, “ is a testament to the power of education, and why it remains such a dangerous and underrated weapon against a racially and economically unjust status quo in this nation.” Similarly, the Washington Post noted that those who oppose prison education programs are “perhaps aggravated at the sight of these men overachieving and the personal freedom that knowledge bestows.” The Education Writers of America honored the series for Best Visual Storytelling: “The commitment and effort the filmmakers took to tell the stories of [men and women] trying to better their lives by obtaining a college degree – and what their stories say about our criminal justice system – is nothing short of incredible…. The film does honor to its subjects and the debate over the purpose of education and rehabilitation.”

Novick is collaborating with Burns, Botstein and wrier Geoffrey C. Ward on a three-part examination of America’s response to the Holocaust and a series on the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Her next solo project, produced by acclaimed filmmaker Laurens Grant, is a major series on the history of crime and punishment in America. Potential future projects include a series on the history of Soviet spying in America, and a series about the public and private lives of remarkable American women. She is magna cum laude graduate of Yale with honors in American Studies, and lives in New York City.

Speech Topics

The Power of Storytelling

Creating a Team for Confidence


Ken Burns and Lynn Novick directed 'The Vietnam War' together ...

Above: Lynn Novick interviews Duong Van Mai Elliott, who grew up in Vietnam and worked for the RAND Corp. interviewing captured Viet Cong fighters.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick preview "The Vietnam War" - Videos ...

The documentary filmmakers' latest project, a 10-part series on the U.S. war in Vietnam, premieres Sunday on PBS.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Tackle the Vietnam War - The New York ...

Americans are still divided over the legacy of the Vietnam War. Can Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's 18-hour documentary help put the demons of that era — and ...

Why The Vietnam War Is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's Most ...

But by 2006, when the filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick were finishing up their World War II documentary series, The War, they felt that the timing was ...

Meet Lynn Novick

The ‘Vietnam War’ co-director has been making movies with Ken Burns for decades. Why is only one of them famous?

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