Chris Hegedus has been making films as a director, cinematographer, and editor for 40 years, recording some of the best-known personalities of our times. In 2001, Chris received the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for Startup.com, which chronicled the 2000 Internet boom and bust through the adventures of two young entrepreneurs. With her husband and partner, D A Pennebaker, Chris directed The War Room, following Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. The film received an Academy Award® nomination and won the National Board of Review’s D.W. Griffith Award for Best Documentary. Chris has received the Golden Eagle CINE award and lifetime achievement awards from several organizations, including the International Documentary Association.
Chris first collaborated with Pennebaker as editor of Town Bloody Hall, filmed at the infamous 1971 women's liberation debate moderated by Norman Mailer. Their other films include the three-part PBS special The Energy War, which documented the unprecedented congressional fight and filibuster over President Carter's Energy Bill; DeLorean, featuring auto entrepreneur John DeLorean; Rockaby, written by Samuel Beckett specially for their project starring his muse Billie Whitelaw; and the acclaimed 1998 feature Moon Over Broadway, which chronicled Carol Burnett's tumultuous return to Broadway theater.
Hegedus and Pennebaker have devoted much of their creative energies to films about music. Before MTV, they filmed Randy Newman's song "Baltimore," helping establish the music video format. Their music documentary features include Depeche Mode 101; Down From the Mountain, a companion concert film to the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? ; and the soul musical tribute Only the Strong Survive. Other music-related shows are Branford Marsalis: The Music Tells You; Open Hand, Suzanne Vega's concert tour; the 1994 series Woodstock Diary; and Searching for Jimi Hendrix. Their HBO special, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, won a 2004 Primetime Emmy™ Award for Best Music, Comedy or Variety Show. Commissioned by American Express, the team filmed one of the first live-streamed music concerts on the Internet, The National Live on YouTube.
Hegedus and Pennebaker have made a number of political films for Sundance Channel. 2008's The Return of the War Room, which met up with the original cast of The War Room to discuss the changes in America's political landscape over the interceding 15 years. Vote for Change chronicled the concert tour of Bruce Springsteen and others organized by MoveOn.org. Also for Sundance, Chris Hegedus directed The First Amendment Project: Fox vs. Franken.
In 2006, Chris partnered with Nick Doob on the theatrically released feature Al Franken: God Spoke. Her last feature film, Kings of Pastry, played in theaters in North America and was broadcast on PBS as well as on television stations throughout the world.
Chris' latest film, Unlocking The Cage, follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans, by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform a chimpanzee from a "thing" with no rights to a "person" with legal protections. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently in theatrical release in the US and Canada. Unlocking the Cage will air on HBO in 2017, and it continues to be broadcast throughout Europe and screen at festivals around the world.