Long esteemed as “an aural and visual poet”, Susanne Rostock’s filmmaking is a stunning 37 years of some of the most compelling documentaries of each decade. While a graduate student in film at New York University, as a reward she was given a print of BATTLE OF ALGIERS by Pontecorvo to study over the weekend. It was in pouring over this poignant telling of rebellion that Susanne’s passion to create films that put a human face to struggle was born.
Upon receiving her MFA, Susanne was awarded a grant from the Eli Lilly Endowment to make a film about an experimental halfway house for women convicts to spend the last six months of their sentence on the outside. RELEASE, a critical success, became widely used in the campaign to restructure the criminal justice system for women. A second grant from the Eli Lilly Endowment allowed Susanne to explore an innovative model of multicultural education for American public schools. IT’S ALL US, with a strong grass-roots campaign, became a much acclaimed centerpiece for discussion about elementary school education.
Susanne’s 20 year multi award winning collaboration as editor with director Michael Apted has produced such soulful and provocative films as: THE LONG WAY HOME, two years in the life of Boris Grebenshikov, the first Russian musician to receive an American record contract; INCIDENT AT OGLALA, “ a brilliant and thought provoking chronicle” of the events surrounding the questionable conviction of Leonard Peltier brought on by the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation; ME& ISAAC NEWTON, “an elegant and fascinating exploration” of the creative side of scientific endeavor; MOVING THE MOUNTAIN, “ a lucid, intelligent, unendurably sad” tale of the Tian’anmen Massacre told through the eyes of the students who were present. This film is a testament to the resonance of Susanne’s filmmaking. Eighteen years after the making of MOVING THE MOUNTAIN, it was shown around the world on December 10,2010 in honor of Liu Xiaobo, the day he was kept from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Over the years Susanne’s films have garnered Emmy’s, IDA awards, Cable Ace awards, a Gold Hugo and acknowledgement from multiple national and international festivals. Susanne has achieved recognition for her editing on a myriad of films that continue to endure and resonate.
PASSIN’ IT ON, about former Black Panther Doruba Bin Wahad, “bristles with poetry and the exhilarating recollection of a true American political prisoner”. CALLING THE GHOSTS, “extraordinarily powerful, eloquently expressed” first person account of two women caught in the war in Bosnia where rape was as much a weapon as bombs and bullets. THE UPRISING OF ’34 is, “an intimate depiction of an amazingly forgotten chapter in Southern labor history”. PATERNAL INSTINCT, two gay men are driven by their desire to be parents – “an intensely emotional film that will sweep you up … you will never look at parenthood in the same way”.
Susanne’s visually compelling storytelling that speaks about determination and dreams, about the individual struggle for human rights is what has consistently distinguished her work. Her most recent film, SING YOUR SONG, “told with a remarkable sense of intimacy, visual style and musical panache” is an edgy, compassionate story of human struggle as seen through the prism of Harry Belafonte’s own reality. This film is further proof of Susanne’s life long dedication to the belief in the power of art to change the world.