Nanette Burstein
Birth Date:
Buffalo, New York, USA
Birth Place:
May 23, 1970
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Nanette Burstein_090712
On the Ropes


“No one will deny that it's flat-out harder for women to get a job directing in Hollywood. It's a combination of factors: It's story, it's budget, but overall, the result is that there are very few female directors in Hollywood and the ones who are working are pigeonholed into directing films about women bonding like 'Diving Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'. How many women get to direct big-budget action films?” Nanette Burstein

Nanette Burstein is an American film and television director. She has directed, co-directed and produced many documentaries that earned her a number of awards and nominations. Her first documentary film, “On the Ropes” (1999), was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary and won  the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. She later picked up Sundance Film Festival's Directing Award for Documentary for “American Teen” (2008). Burstein, who was among 105 people invited to join AMPAS in 2008, also directed the romance/comedy film “Going the Distance” (2010), starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, and episodes of the TV sitcoms “New Girl” (Fox) and  “Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” (ABC) (both 2012).     

Burstein is married to Scott Anderson, with whom she co-owns the Manhattan bar The Half-King, along with Sebastian Junger and Jerome O'Connor. She has one daughter.        

Tisch School of the Arts

Childhood and Family:

Nanette Burstein was born on May 23, 1970, in Buffalo, New York. She attended film school at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She married Scott Anderson (XV), the brother of Jon Anderson, a reporter and staff writer for the “New Yorker” (starting in 1998).

American Teen       


Nanette Burstein's professional career began in 1997 when she wrote and edited the documentary “Domestic Differences,” directed by Mathew Kaufman. The film premiered at the 1997  Cleveland International Film Festival. She did the same duty for the 1998 matter-of-fact documentary “In the Name of the Emperor,” directed by Christine Choy and Nancy Tong, with whom she shared the writing credit, and also edited the TV documentary “Defending Our Daughters: The Rights of Women in the World.”

Burstein enjoyed a big breakthrough in 1999 with “On the Ropes,” a low budget documentary she directed and produced with Brett Morgen. Following the career of three young boxers and their coach, the film won many awards, including a Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where the film also received the Grand Jury Prize nomination for Documentary, an International Documentary Association (IDA) for Feature Documentaries, San Francisco International Film Festival's Silver Spire for Film & Video - Society and Culture-U.S. and the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Features in 2000.

Burstein reunited with Morgen for the TV mini series documentary “Say It Loud: A Celebration of Black Music in America” (2001), and then for the Robert Evans biography “The Kid Stays in the Picture” (2002), which was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. The film earned generally positive reviews from critics and won the Boston Society of Film Critics, Seattle Film Critics Award and Washington DC Area Film Critics Association for Best Documentary, and the Golden Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture, Documentary. It was also nominated for Best Documentary by the Chicago, Online, Phoenix, Golden Trailer, and Broadcast Film Critics.

Next up for Burstein, she served as an executive producer on various programs on TV such as the reality TV series “Film School,” premiered on Independent Film Channel (IFC) on September 10, 2004, the TV series documentary “Autobiography” (2005) and the TV documentary “NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell” (2007), which she also scripted. She also executive produced “American Shopper” (2007), a comedy film directed by Tamas Bojtor and Sybil Dessau, written by Bojtor and Adam Keker and starring Clare Adrian, Wes Cunningham and Jonathan Gotsick.

In 2008, Burstein returned to the director's chair when she helmed the documentary “American Teen,” which she also  produced, along with Chris Huddleston, Eli Gonda and Jordan Roberts, and wrote. The film competed in the Documentary Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award and was nominated for Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, before it was picked up by Paramount Vantage and was released to general cinema on July 24, 2008. The film went on to gross $1,130,270 on a budget of $5 million.

In 2010, Burstein directed Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in the romantic/comedy film “Going the Distance.” The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $42 million on a budget of $32 million.  

Recently, in 2012, Burstein directed an episode of Fox's sitcom “New Girl” called “Backslide,”and an episode of the ABC sitcom “Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” called “It's Just Sex...,” aired on on May 1, 2012 and on May 16, 2012, respectfully. Additionally, she served as a co-producer on the documentary “Katy Perry: Part of Me.”     


Sundance Film Festival: Directing Award, Documentary, “American Teen,” 2008
Directors Guild of America (DGA): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, “On the Ropes,” 2000
International Documentary Association (IDA): Feature Documentaries, “On the Ropes,” 1999
San Francisco International Film Festival: Silver Spire, Film & Video - Society and Culture-U.S., “On the Ropes,” 1999
Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, Documentary, “On the Ropes,” 1999
Urbanworld Film Festival: Jury Prize, Best Documentary, “On the Ropes,” 1999
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