Discipline: Film/Video – documentary

Nancy Kelly

Discipline: Film/Video – documentary
Region: California
MacDowell fellowships: Winter 2000

A native of North Adams, Massachusetts, Nancy Kelly is self-taught. As a public health educator, she was hired to produce five short dramas about how to drink responsibly. Having fallen in love with filmmaking, she quit her job and moved to the high desert on the California/Nevada border. Though she had never ridden a horse or made a documentary, she learned to do both, making her living as a ranch hand while she shot A Cowhand’s Song and Cowgirls. Both films won awards.

Kelly discovered Ruthanne Lum McCunn’s novel Thousand Pieces of Gold while touring with Cowgirls, and immediately saw it as a narrative feature. She and Kenji Yamamoto, her husband and filmmaking partner, spent six years financing the film with support from American Playhouse Theatrical Films, CPB, Film Four International and private investors.

After Thousand Pieces of Gold, she continued to direct documentary films, including Rebels with a Cause, Downside UP, Smitten, and Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives. She is currently developing When We Were Cowgirls, a feminist adventure story loosely based on her own experiences as a ranch hand.


New Hampshire

Nancy Kelly worked in the New Hampshire studio.

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