Jon Else, Producer/Director
Jon Else is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose film The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb won the first-ever documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1980 and has been broadcast repeatedly around the globe for the past 28 years. It is used widely in schools, universities, and institutions including the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
A MacArthur Fellow from 1988 to 1993 and winner of four National Emmys for writing, producing, directing, and cinematography, Else also produced and directed Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven; Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature; Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle; Open Outcry; and part of the PBS series The Great Depression. Other honors include several Alfred I. DuPont, Polk, and Peabody awards, the Prix Italia, the Sundance Special Jury Prize and Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy as well as several Academy Award nominations.
Else just returned from Afghanistan after doing camera work for a PBS documentary about that country’s new constitution called Democracy Afghan Style. Else received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and his Master’s degree in communication from Stanford University. He currently heads the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and directs the university’s experimental Center for New Documentary.
Bonni Cohen, Producer
Bonni Cohen started Actual Films in 1998 with her partner and husband, Jon Shenk. Bonni recently co-directed and produced The Rape of Europa, a feature-length documentary for primetime PBS. The film is an adaptation of Lynn Nicholas’ National Book Award-winning history of the same name. Bonni also produced Wonders Are Many, a film by Jon Else about the making of the John Adams’ opera, Doctor Atomic. It had its national television broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens series. In 2004, Bonni co-produced a film about Afghanistan’s constitutional process for PBS’s Wide Angle series. She also produced and directed a number of films for a PBS series called The New Heroes. Bonni produced and directed a one-hour special for national PBS entitled The Nobel: Visions of Our Century, an analysis of 100 years of the Nobel prize told from the perspectives of 11 different Nobel laureates. For the BBC Correspondent series, she directed and produced Eye of the Storm, an intimate, verité portrait of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that follows his diplomatic efforts from Baghdad to Nigeria to New York. Eye of the Storm has been shown around the world in over 125 countries. She co-produced They Drew Fire, a feature documentary about the combat artists of World War II which aired nationally on PBS in 2000. Bonni is currently making a film for National Geographic’s Explorer series about Guantanamo Bay. Before coming to documentary film, Bonni worked as a journalist for Reuters Television and was based in London and Jerusalem.