James Rutenbeck, Director
James Rutenbeck's films explore the lives of unemployed coal miners, small farmers, and itinerant evangelists. Raise the Dead portrays the lives of preachers practicing a grassroots tradition in the shadow of televangelism. In 2000, the hour-long documentary was the only U.S. film selected for competition at Cinema du Reel and was awarded Best Independent Film at the New England Film Festival. His 1989 film, Losing Ground, also a Cinema du Reel selection, is a psychological portrait of an Iowa family facing the loss of a family farm. His first film, Company Town (1984), is a meditation on the past and present in an Appalachian coal town.
In January 2009 Rutenbeck was a recipient of the duPont Columbia University Award for his work as producer and director of “Not Just a Paycheck,” a half-hour episode of the PBS series Unnatural Causes, about health disparities in the United States. “Not Just A Paycheck” examines the health consequences of the loss of 3,000 jobs in a rural Michigan county.
Editing credits include more than 50 films for PBS, BBC, Channel Four (UK), Discovery Channel, and Showtime. They include the 2008 ALMA award-winning Roberto Clemente for American Experience, the Emmy award-winning Siamese Twins for NOVA and the groundbreaking People of the Shining Path for Britain's Channel Four. These films have also won Peabody, duPont and other honors and awards. Rutenbeck was also a consulting editor on the recent independent feature American Wake.
Rutenbeck received a master’s of science in visual arts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, where he studied filmmaking with cinema verité pioneer Richard Leacock.