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Filmmaker Longley ’94 Receives MacArthur Grant

David LowSeptember 22, 20092min
James Longley ’94
James Longley ’94

Documentary filmmaker James Longley ’94 has been awarded the prestigious $500,000 MacArthur grant, along with 23 other recipients. Longley’s low-budget, self-financed films are intimate portraits of people in politically volatile countries in the Middle East. While working on his documentaries, Longley lived among ordinary families and gained access to individuals living in places rarely recorded by Western filmmakers.

Two of Longley’s works, Iraq in Fragments (2006) and Sari’s Mother (2006), were nominated for Academy Awards. Iraq in Fragments chronicles life in war-ravaged Iraq through the eyes of an abandoned young boy on the streets of Baghdad, the collective energy and obsession of Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers, and the agrarian solemnity of Kurdish family farmers. The short film Sari’s Mother deals with a family struggling to navigate the labyrinthine health care system in Iraq.

In 2002, Longley founded Daylight Factory, a production company committed to creating documentary films about international subjects. His current projects focus on Iran, India, and other countries in the region.
Link to James Longley biography on MacArthur Foundation site: