about director alison Klayman

Alison Klayman was the youngest director named by the New York Times chief film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis on their international list of 20 Directors to Watch. Alison’s documentary work has been recognized with awards and box office success, and she also directs nonfiction series and commercials. Her debut feature AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded a US Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance. It had its international premiere at Berlinale and went on to be shortlisted for an Academy Award, nominated for two Emmys, and earn Alison a DGA Award nomination and an appearance on The Colbert Report among other honors. NEVER SORRY has now been translated into over 26 languages and had major theatrical releases around the world, including on over 200 screens with IFC Films in the United States. It was also one of the highest grossing films of 2012 directed by a woman.

Her newest documentary THE BRINK was theatrically released in 2019 by Magnolia Pictures. In it she takes on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, following him for over a year as he tries to promote his brand of extreme nationalism and unite the far-right anti-immigrant parties of Europe. After its Sundance premiere, Variety called the film "impeccably crafted...an engaging and enraging, disturbing and highly revealing movie." In his Critic's Pick review, A.O Scott wrote "it's a fast-moving, tightly packed, at times unnervingly entertaining documentary.” 


Alison’s other films include the Netflix Original feature documentary TAKE YOUR PILLS about the role of prescription stimulants in a hyper-competitive, overly medicated America. The Emmy and BAFTA-nominated film was executive produced by Maria Shriver and had its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. She is also the director of THE 100 YEARS SHOW about 103-year-old Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera, who worked in obscurity for decades until finally receiving recognition late in life. The film was a festival favorite and five-time winner of “Best Documentary Short.” It had a theatrical run at New York’s Film Forum, and screened at the Whitney and other museums before being released worldwide on Netflix. She has also served as an executive producer on several award-winning films, including the Oscar-shortlisted documentaries HOOLIGAN SPARROW and ON HER SHOULDERS.

Alison got her start in radio journalism and has contributed radio commentaries for NPR's "All Things Considered." Her short form work includes directing for an episodic docuseries EP’ed by Alex Gibney for ESPN, FRONTLINE PBS and multiple installments of the New York Times’ Emmy-winning Op-Doc Video Series. Her work is regularly screened and she is an invited guest speaker at major art museums and universities around the world. Alison graduated from Brown University in 2006 with an honors B.A. in History, and speaks Mandarin Chinese and Hebrew. Her mother Anna and father Barry are very proud. She is a member of the DGA and AMPAS, and currently based in Brooklyn.


Alison on
The Colbert Report:


Select Awards and Honors:

Filmmaker Magazine "25 New Faces of Independent Film"
Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow
Peabody Award
George Polk Award
Sundance Film Festival - Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance
Nantucket Film Festival - Best Storytelling in a Documentary
Directors Guild of America - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary (nominated)
Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award
Cinema Eye Honors - Best Production, Best Debut Feature (nominated)
Academy Awards - Shortlisted for Best Documentary feature (2013)
20 Directors to Watch - New York Times
7 People Under 30 Changing Our World - Fast Company
Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award - Outstanding Achievement By A Woman In The Film Industry National Board of Review - Top Five Documentaries of 2012
ARTINFO 30 Under 30
Elle Magazine "Fresh Makers" - Art world power players under 35
Forward 50 - Annual list of influential American Jews
New York Times Critics' Pick
Top Ten Films of the Year, New York Magazine
News & Documentary Emmy Awards - Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming; Editing (2 nominations)
RBC's Emerging Storytellers - New Voices! Reading Series - IFP Independent Film Week
Vimeo Staff Pick
Short of the Week
Berlinale Talents Program
Grand Prize for Best Documentary Short - Heartland Film Festival
Winner, International Short Film Competition - Austin Polish Film Festival
Best Documentary Short - Ashland Independent Film Festival
Best Documentary Short - RiverRun International Film Festival (Academy-Qualifying)
Best Documentary Short - Ozark Foothills FilmFest
Best Documentary Short, Best Editing - DocUtah
SHOOT Online Spot of the Week
Gold Telly - Non-Broadcast, General-Social Responsibility
Silver Telly - General – Documentary: Individual for Non- Broadcast
D&AD Wood Pencil