Nancy D. Kates produced and directed the feature-length documentary Regarding Susan Sontag, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received a Special Jury Mention. It has since screened at over 130 film festivals in 35 countries, and received several additional honors, including a FOCAL International award for innovative use of archival footage. Regarding Susan Sontag received major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Foundation for Jewish Culture, Chicken &Egg Pictures, and the Sundance Documentary Fund. The film had its broadcast premiere in December 2014 on HBO, to significant critical acclaim. Ms. Magazine named it one of 2014’s top ten feminist films, while critics called it “compelling” and “perceptive” (The New York Times); “a stunning portrait” (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam); and “mesmerizing, thoughtful, provocative” (Times Herald Record). The San Francisco Chronicle praised its “boldly evocative impressionist strokes that mirror the complexity of Sontag’s life and career.”
Previously, Kates produced and directed Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin, with filmmaker Bennett Singer. Rustin, an openly gay man, is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, and his role as a civil rights pioneer and advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The film premiered in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and as a special of the PBS series “POV.” It has been screened at the Kennedy Center, the United Nations, the US Department of Justice and throughout the world, including countries with nascent or nonexistent LGBT rights movements. It went on to win more than 25 awards worldwide, including the 2004 GLAAD Media Award. Brother Outsider received significant attention in the national press: critics described it as “a potent piece of historical rediscovery” (LA Times); “beautifully crafted” (The Boston Globe); “powerful and startling” (The Advocate); “poignant” (TIME); and “alive with ideas and rich in humanity” (africana.com). The film seems to have influenced President Obama’s decision to award Rustin a posthumous Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Kates received her M.A. from Stanford’s documentary film program. Her master’s thesis, Their
Own Vietnam, received the 1995 Student Academy Award in documentary, and was exhibited at
the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and other festivals. Kates has worked on a number of
documentary projects as a writer, producer, and story consultant, and writes occasionally for The
San Francisco Chronicle. In 2014, she was honored to be included in the OUT 100, the
magazine’s annual list of intriguing LGBT Americans.