Elisabeth Haviland James is the recipient of TheWIFTS 2015 Documentary Film Award for Althea, a biographical documentary which chronicles the life and career of Althea Gibson, one of the 20th Century's finest female athletes. Daughter of South Carolina sharecroppers, Althea Gibson was the first African American woman to rise to prominence in the world of International Tennis in the late 1950s winning the French Open, the U.S Nationals and at Wimbledon reigning triumphant at a time when racism was widespread in the world of professional sports and battles raged regarding the civil rights of people of color. Ms. James, the film's producer and editor, blends a fine and diverse mix of interview, archival still photography, film footage and state of the art editing techniques with elements of a story worthy of being shared and told.
Elisabeth Haviland James is a film director, producer, editor and the founder and President of Thornapple Films, Inc. Thornapple Films was founded in 2003 in New York City, and now calls vibrant downtown Durham, North Carolina home.
In 2014, James was awarded one of two film fellowships in the state by the North Carolina Arts Council. She is currently developing a feature documentary about falconry around the world with collaborators Revere La Noue and Robert Nixon, and a narrative feature set in Southern Pines, NC.
James is a producer and the Editor of Althea, (dir. Rex Miller) a documentary focused on the pioneering tennis icon Althea Gibson, which premiered in the fall of 2014.
Her documentary feature-directing debut, In So Many Words, premiered at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and has screened at festivals, museums and conferences around the country. James was the Producer and Editor of The Loving Story (dir. Nancy Buirski) for which she was short-listed for the Academy Award, winner of a George Foster Peabody Award and an Emmy Award (Best Historic Program) and nominated for two additional Emmy Awards (Best Documentary, Best Editing).
The film has screened in festivals around the United States (Full Frame, TriBeCa, Silverdocs, Traverse City, Virginia, Hamptons, among dozens of others), and as a participant in the Sundance Film Forward program, with the US Department of State and with the American Film Showcase. It premiered on Valentine's Day, 2012 on HBO.
James often works as an editorial and storytelling consultant, and is currently a consulting editor to the Farmer Veteran Project and a creative advisor to Sundance darling, Private Violence. She was a consulting producer and pre-production researcher on location in the Dzanga-Sangha National Park in Central African Republic to the narrative feature Oka!. Her clients and collaborators include Revere La Noue, Rex Pix Films, Augusta Films, Roland Films, HBO, White Mountain Films, Paul Alexander, National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Burt's Bees, the Brakefield Company, political campaigns and others.
Before relocating the Durham in 2009, James' credits include Producer of The Good Fight, a behind-the-scenes look at football coaching icon Bobby Bowden during his final seasons, and co-Producer of The Lord God Bird, about the quest for the iconic Ivory Billed Woodpecker (both films dir. George Butler). James served as Director of Photography and Editor on the 2003 documentary Brothers in Arms, featuring now Secretary of State, then Senator John Kerry.
Elisabeth Haviland James is a graduate of the M.A. Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University, where she produced and directed four award-winning short documentaries, including Precipice, a national finalist for the 2002 Academy Award in the Student Documentary category. She earned a BSFS with honors from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she majored in Culture and Politics.
She is fluent in French and speaks some Spanish, and has led tours for art museums, botanic gardens and cultural institutions around the world, including to France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. James has taught documentary filmmaking at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies and as an artist in residence at the Oklahoma Arts Institute; she has also served as a guest lecturer for the State Department in Central Asia. She is a former board member of the Southern Documentary Fund. James is married to frequent collaborator, artist and filmmaker Revere La Noue; the two have a young daughter and a naughty dog.