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Barbara Trent


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Barbara Trent

Empowerment Project
8218 Farrington Mill Rd.
Chapel Hill NC 27517
Phone: 919.967-3966


"Soldiers Speak Out" Director/Producer, 2006

"Waging Peace" Director/Producer, 2004. Won the 2003 Burke Award for Best Documentary.

"Stand Up Rise Up" Director/Producer, 2004

"Days of Resistance" Director/Producer, 2002

"Is War the Answer?" Director/Producer, 2001

"The Panama Deception" Director/Producer, 1992
AWARDS: Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Gold Apple/Best Documentary, National Educational Film and Video; Blue Ribbon /Best Documentary, American Film and Video; 2nd Prize, Riminicinema, Italy; 1st Prize for Film, AMASCULTURA: Encontras Intemacionais de Cinema Documental, Lisbon, Portugal.

"COVERUP: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair" Director/Producer, 1988
AWARDS: Gold Hugo, Chicago; Prix Du Public, Film des Femmes, France; Blue Ribbon/Best Documentary, American Film and Video; Gold Apple/Best Documentary, National Educational Film and Video; Leigh Whipper Gold Award, Philadelphia International.

"Destination Nicaragua" Co-Director/Co-Producer, 1986
AWARDS: Best Documentary, Philadelphia International; Silver Award, Houston International; Merit Awards, Columbus and Suffolk Counties.

"Bus to Topanga" Associate Producer, 1983


You Cross That Line: American Activists Talk About the Process of Change - St. Martin's Press, published Fall 2000. One chapter composed of an interview by author Marie Cieri.

Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them - New World Library, published Fall, 1999. One chapter in a compilation of personal stories written by a variety of women illuminating the thoughts and events leading to a decision that has greatly affected their lives.

Media in a Capitalist Culture - Published in The Cultures of Globalization, by Duke University Press, 1998. An analysis of the need to extend activism to the level of global access through the use of film and video technology, the essay explains the obstacles that independent, activist filmmakers might face when they attempt to do work that questions government policy from within capitalist culture. The essay concludes with practical solutions to some of these challenges.

At Risk: The Anatomy of a Decision - Published in The Search for "Reality," by Michael Wise Productions, 1997. The essay explores the politics, possibilities, and challenges of advocacy while elaborating upon the complexity of ethical decision making in documentary film.

Taking it to the Theaters - written with Joanne Doroshow, W. B. Peale and David Kasper. Published by the Empowerment Project in association with National Video Resources, 1993. This booklet is a user-friendly guide to theatrical and video self-distribution of issue-oriented films and videos.

Representing Humanity in an Age of Terror - One chapter in a compilation, edited by Henry james Morello and Sophia A. McClennan and publlished by Purdue University Press. Release date: 2010.



Trent actively tours, screening her films and lecturing on civic responsibility, censorship, public and foreign policy, filmmaking and activism. She leads workshops and speaks at festivals that encourage independent filmmaking and aggressive film distribution. She has been sponsored to speak at events by the American Film Institute, the International Documentary Association, International Women in Film, the United Nations Association, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Recent Awards and Honors and Special Appearances

 2004 - Inaugural John Huston Lecture on Documentary Film; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills.

 1999 - Humanist Arts Award; Boulder Intl. Humanist Institute 2nd Annual Symposium.

 1999 - Schmidt Public Intellectuals Program; featured speaker, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.

 1998 - Lou Douglas Lecture Series; featured speaker, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

 1998 - United Nations Association Film Festival; special retrospective in honor of Barbara's documentary work.

 1997 - Wesley Wallace Visiting Lecturer; UNC at Chapel Hill.

 1997 - Raw Footage - a one hour interview of Barbara Trent by actor Alec Baldwin broadcast several times per month during the spring on Bravo and the Independent Film Channel.

 1997 - Schmidt Eminent Scholar in Fine and Performing Arts; Super Chair, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton: Nominee.

 1993 - The Gaspar Octavio Hernandez Decoration; Sindicato de Periodistas de Panama (Journalists Union, Panama). The 1st time an award has ever been given to a non-Panamanian.

 1993 - Academy Award; Best Feature Documentary, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

 1992 - Humanist Arts Award; "For Courageous Advocacy of Progressive Ideals Through Video Documentary," American Humanist Association.

 1991 - Videomaker of the Year; Videomaker Magazine.

 1989 - American Film Institute Fellowship.


1983 - Present: Empowerment Project
Co-Founder/Co-Director; Chapel Hill, NC
Co-director of media resource center serving filmmakers and videographers from the region, the nation and internationally. Producer of outstanding documentary films and videos which are used as tools for organizing for social change and media reform. Primary spokesperson, lecturer, and workshop instructor for the organization at festivals, colleges, and universities around the country and the world.

1996 - 1997: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dept. of Communications, Wesley Wallace Visiting Lecturer; Chapel Hill, NC
Designed and taught a class on the development, production and distribution of documentaries regarding political and social issues.

1981 - 83: Freelance Consultant, Organizer, Trainer
Santa Monica, CA
Held various organizing positions, including interim Executive Director, Ocean Park Community Center; interim Executive Director, Mid-City Neighbors; and Co-organizer, Pilgrimage for Peace, a caravan of 48 peace activists who traveled to major research and nuclear weapons facilities enroute to the UN Special Session on Disarmament, 1982 (documented in Bus II, feature-length film by Haskell Wexler).

1978 - 81: Action Agency, Region 5
Expert Senior Training Specialist; Chicago, IL
Designed and delivered training for VISTA volunteers and supervisors in 6 states. Appointed during the Carter administration.

1979 - 81: Rural Creative Workshop
Founder/Executive Director; Jackson County, IL
Established community-based planning, problem solving and cultural expansion programs with a human service delivery approach for area rural and Black populations. Developed an extensive arts and recreation program throughout the county. Trained advocates in small rural and pocket urban Black communities to identify individuals and families in need of area services in order to plug them into services available and to assist them in creating new community programs as needed.

1978 - 79: Jackson County Community Mental Health Center
Community Developer/Counselor; Jackson County, IL
Community developer/counselor for the Youth Service Bureau, responsible for implementing court diversion, prevention and treatment for area youth. Initiated programming in rural and Black communities.

1974 - 75: Aeon Alternatives, Inc.
Staff; Carbondale, IL
Collaborated in writing a court diversion grant request for the lower 5 county region in Illinois. Assisted Aeon in developing responsive programs for youth.

1970-71: Synergy, Inc.
Co-Founder/Core Staff; Carbondale, IL
Provided direct service to and trained others in drug and life crisis intervention and counseling.


Governors State University, Illinois, M.A., 1979, B.A., 1975.

Community Service

2007: The Literacy Project, Member of the Advisory Team

1999 - 00: Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, Board of Directors Member, Washington, DC

 1998 - 00: United Nations Associations Film Festival, Honorary Committee, Stanford, CA

 1995 - 00: Roy W. Dean Film Grant, Judge, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

 1994 - 00: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Member at Large

 1993 - 00: Empowerment Project Board of Directors, President

 1993 - 95: Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, Member

 1990 - 92: International Documentary Association, Board of Directors and Affirmative Action Committee Chairperson

 1986 - 89: ARDIS (Association for Responsible Dissent), Advisory Board, Washington, DC; Association of former CIA and FBI officers and agents speaking out about abuses in the name of national security.

 1982 - 84: Topanga Organization for Parents and Students, Co-Chair, Topanga, CA

 1980: Illinois White House Council On Families, Chicago

 1979: Southern Illinois Peoples Development Corporation

 1977 - 79: Makanda Community Development Council, Organizer

 1974 - 76: Dept. of Corrections, Group Home Advisory Board, Illinois

 1970: Jackson County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, Illinois

 1965: International Conference on Human Rights, New Jersey

 1964: White House Conference On Youth, Washington D.C.

To book Barbara to speak at your institution contact: 
Empowerment Project
PO Box 2155
Chapel Hill NC 27515-2155
(919) 967-3966


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