In 1998, Nanette Burstein produced and directed her first feature length documentary, On the Ropes, about three young boxers fighting their way out of Bedford Stuyvesant, New York. On the Ropes was theatrically released nationwide and won many accolades including an Academy Award nomination, the Director’s Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, the IDA (International Documentary Association) Achievement Award for Best Feature Documentary, and the Jury award at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2000, she produced and directed the five part series Say in Loud: A Celebration of Black Music in America in collaboration with Quincy Jones. Interviewing over a hundred musicians including James Brown, BB King, Ray Charles, Al Greene, Snoop Dog, Natalie Cole, Queen Latifah and Wylcef, the series wove the history of black music in America over the last fifty years. It aired on VH1 in October 2001.
In 2002, Nanette Burstein co-produced and directed The Kid Stays in the Picture, the critically acclaimed feature length film about the legendary Hollywood producer, Robert Evans. After premiering at Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival, the film was widely released in movie theaters around the world, receiving many of the Critics’ Awards. It also aired on HBO, and was released on DVD.
In 2003, Burstein directed an hour-long film about Olympic gold medallist, Marion Jones for Nike and NBC. The documentary tracked Jones for one year, as she gives birth to her baby boy, struggles to get back in shape to make the US Olympic Track Team, and finally, weeks before the Olympic Trials, finds herself at the center of the largest steroid scandal in this country.
In 2004, Burstein executive produced and created the ten episode reality series, Film School. The series followed four New York University Graduate film students through the entire making of their “calling card” student films and trying to win one of the prestigious Awards at the NYU film festival. The ten episode series aired on IFC with great critical acclaim including 9 out of 10 ten stars in TV guide and Entertainment Weekly’s top five shows of the year.
In 2005, Burstein Executive Produced a one-hour pilot for AMC entitled Autobiography. The Pilot episode is the autobiographical tale of Hollywood luminary, Dennis Hopper. After rave reviews, Turner Classic Movies bought the pilot and series rights. Burstein is currently producing three more celebrity biographies to begin airing on Turner next year.
Burstein produced and directed her third feature length documentary, American Teen. A real life teen movie, it intertwines four classic teen stories about seniors at the same high school in Middle America—the Mean Girls story, the Sports story, the Romeo and Juliet story, and the nerd story. The film is in theaters July 25, 2008.
Burstein is also Executive-Producing a historical series for VH1, NYC ’77. It portrays the turbulent, yet creative era in New York City (the blackout, Summer of Sam, the Bronx burning, the mayoral race, the creation of disco, hip hop, and punk music), and how the city and its artistic inventions dramatically evolved and commercialized by the end of that year. The series will begin airing in July 2007.
In addition to her documentary productions, Burstein also directs commercials including campaigns for Nike and Footlocker.