Roger Ross Williams by Marc Yankus

Roger Ross Williams


The first film that Roger Ross Williams directed and produced was Music by Prudence, which won the 2010 Academy Award® for documentary short subject; he is the first African American director to win an Academy Award. Williams next directed the feature documentary God Loves Uganda, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at over 60 film festivals worldwide, winning more than a dozen awards before being shortlisted for a 2014 Academy Award. Prior to moving into independent filmmaking, Williams was an acclaimed television journalist and producer for over 15 years for outlets including: TV Nation, ABC News, NBC News, CNN, PBS, Comedy Central and Sundance Channel.

Recently, Williams directed Blackface, his short film on the tradition of Black Pete in the Netherlands for CNN Films, which premiered in November to immense controversy and sparked a national debate on racism and the legacy of slavery. Williams presently has several projects in development including Traveling While Black, an interactive project that will feature a Virtual Reality component; and a feature documentary about the prison industrial complex for The Why? Foundation, which will be broadcast in over 50 countries, reaching an audience of over 500 million around the world. His latest film Life, Animated premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to enormous critical acclaim and Williams won the prestigious U.S. Documentary Directing Award.

Williams serves on the Alumni Advisory Board of the Sundance Institute. He frequently mentors filmmakers from the developing world and under-represented communities on how to channel personal adversity into their art. Williams splits his time between upstate New York and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.