2009 Founder's Award recipient

Louis Massiah is an independent documentary filmmaker whose films often explore historical and political subjects. His award-winning works, which have been seen widely on public television and at film festivals internationally, include W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices and Louise Alone Thompson Patterson: In Her Own Words. Currently, Massiah is producing Haytian Stories, exploring the history of the 200-year relationship between the United States and Haiti.

Massiah is the founder and executive director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, a media arts organization that provides low-cost workshops and equipment access to emerging video/filmmakers and community organizations. At Scribe, he has facilitated and executive produced over two hundred documentaries covering major issues and concerns facing urban communities. Massiah has also designed Precious Places Community History Project, a citywide oral history portrait that is composed of short documentaries produced with neighborhood organizations in Philadelphia and throughout the region.

Louis Massiah is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship (1996-2001) and has received awards from Columbia-DuPont, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Global Village Documentary Festival, The National Black Programming Consortium, The Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, and several Emmy award nominations. Massiah was selected for a Pew fellowship, two Rockefeller Intercultural fellowships, and the Paul Robeson Award for Social Justice from Philadelphia's Bread and Roses Community Foundation.

Massiah received a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.S. in documentary filmmaking from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to teaching at Scribe, Louis Massiah has been an artist-in-residence and on faculty at City College of New York, Princeton University, Ithaca College, the Center for Africana Studies at The University of Pennsylvania, and American University. For the 2008-2009 academic year, Massiah is the Distinguished Artist in Residence at Haverford College and a lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania.

Recent Projects:


Project Creator/Artistic Director: Precious Places Community History Project, fifty-three 8-minute documentaries developed by community groups in Philadelphia, Camden, Ardmore, and Chester


Producer/Director: A is for Anarchist, B is for Brown, documentary for WYBE's Independent Stories which explores young activists in Philadelphia and how race and ethnicity have affected contemporary political movements

Producer/Director: Louise Alone Thompson Patterson: In Her Own Words, an oral history portrait of the Harlem Renaissance political activist and cultural worker produced for the centenary celebration of Langston Hughes at Yale University


Producer/Director/Editor: 911 Moments: Voices from the Inside, an exploration of how the terrorism scare has affected the incarcerated; 911 Moments: Roots of Islam, a visit to a mosque in West Philadelphia; and 911 Moments: Flag, a commentary on the flag produced for ITVS for national broadcast on PBS


Producer/Director: W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices, a four-part portrait of the pre-eminent scholar, activist, writer William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, produced in association with Scribe Video Center for broadcast on PBS


Producer/Director: The Bombing of Osage Avenue, a documentary for national broadcast on PBS about the 1985 Philadelphia Police bombing of the MOVE organization and the destruction of a West Philadelphia neighborhood

Photograph by Ken Yanoviak