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Kimberlee Bassford is an independent documentary filmmaker born and raised in Hawai‘i with a passion for social issue, cultural and women’s stories. She produced, directed, wrote and co-edited PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (2008), a one-hour documentary that explores the life of the late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink, the first woman of color in Congress and co-author of the landmark Title IX gender equity legislation.
The film premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Favorite Documentary. It also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival; Spirit of Humanity Award at the San Joaquin International Film Festival; among other honors. It aired nationally on PBS in 2009 and has educational distribution through Women Make Movies.
She recently produced the short documentary LOTUS ROOT: A GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER'S JOURNEY (2010) about her great grandfather Chun Quon Yee Hop, a successful businessman and philanthropist and the founding member of her family in Hawai‘i. She was also a producer on UNNATURAL CAUSES: IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? (2008), a four-hour national PBS documentary series and public engagement campaign about America’s socioeconomic and racial disparities in health. The series won an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism and a Henry Hampton Award for excellence in film and digital media. She was also a producer on the three-hour national PBS documentary series THE MEANING OF FOOD (2005), which explores the social significance of food in the United States.
She had her directorial debut with CHEERLEADER (2003), a short documentary that follows a squad of young, bright-eyed California cheerleaders on its quest for the national cheerleading championships. The film won the Student Academy Award in Documentary and CINE Golden Eagle and aired nationally on HBO Family. It also screened in film festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe and New Zealand, including the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. The film has educational distribution through Documentary Educational Resources.
She is currently in production on the documentary THE ANIMATED ADVENTURES OF JUDO GIRL, the coming-of-age tale of a 13-year old national junior judo and wrestling champion with Olympic aspirations. The film has funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications and fiscal sponsorship through Women Make Movies.
Kimberlee is a graduate of Punahou School and holds a BA in psychology from Harvard University and a Masters of Journalism from the University of California Berkeley. She is a lecturer at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s Academy for Creative Media where she teaches the introductory film course. She also teaches filmmaking workshops to the community through the university’s Pacific New Media outreach program. She owns Making Waves Films LLC, a documentary production company in Honolulu.