York & Zimmerman

About Steve

 
Steve York on location in Chile, 1998.

Steve York on location in Chile, 1998.

The best thing about filmmaking is the people you meet.

Traveling around the world with a camera, meeting people where they live, talking to them about their work or their experiences, really listening – this is how I worked.

SY with Burmese Monk.rev.jpg

Some people became life-long friends. All of them taught me something – about the human spirit, as well as about the subjects I tackled, from religious fundamentalism to history, culture and politics, here in the United States and in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

I’ve made several films about the Middle East, and several about WWII, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the bombing of Hiroshima and the Allied landing at Normandy.

In 1997, I turned my attention to the drama of civil resistance movements around the world. Years in the making, the 3-hour series, A Force More Powerful (PBS, Emmy nomination) premiered in 2000 and told the stories of six successful 20th century nonviolent conflicts.

Next came Bringing Down A Dictator about the nonviolent defeat of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. We asked Martin Sheen to narrate; later he asked me to direct several public service spots he was doing. His commitment to social justice is deep and true. We completed the civil resistance trilogy in 2007 with the feature-length film, Orange Revolution, about the dramatic events surrounding the presidential election in Ukraine in 2004.

Peter Pearce (camera), Steve York & Paul Rusnak (sound) on location for Egypt:Revolution Interrupted?

Peter Pearce (camera), Steve York & Paul Rusnak (sound) on location for Egypt:Revolution Interrupted?

For my last film, Egypt: Revolution Interrupted?, I drew on my decades of experience in the region to show how Egyptian activists steadily mobilized and finally defeated their autocratic president of 30 years, but failed to achieve their democratic and economic goals.

Along the way, my team and I traveled to South Africa, Peru, and East Timor to create Confronting the Truth, for the U.S. Institute of Peace about the mission and impact of truth and reconciliation commissions.

By taking testimony from victims & perpetrators, and conducting detailed investigations, truth commissions create a historical record of abuses and then recommend reforms to address the pain of the past, to safeguard human rights and due process, and to ensure that the horror will not be repeated.

On location in Peru for Confronting the Truth, 2002.

On location in Peru for Confronting the Truth, 2002.

One of the first films I directed was Vietnam Memorial (PBS, Emmy nomination), a record of the five emotional days of healing surrounding the 1982 dedication of the Wall. This remains my favorite work.

In 1987 I gained unprecedented access to the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court to film the PBS series, This Honorable Court. The relationships made were enduring; I met Miriam on this project, and nearly 10 years later, in 1996, the Court asked us to make a short film for their visitor’s center where it screened for a decade.

In the 1990’s, I produced two anniversary specials about World War II for ABC News Specials, Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed the World, with David Brinkley, (George Foster Peabody Award), and Turning Point at Normandy: The Soldiers' Story, with Peter Jennings. I also dove into advertising and its influence on American society for Selling the Dream (PBS), and gun culture in Gunpower (Discovery Channel).

 
 

Steve’s Work

About Miriam

 
Miriam Zimmerman, 2004.

Miriam Zimmerman, 2004.

A fascination with people’s lives —what they have accomplished, how they have endured — propelled me from fiction writing at Vassar College to a career in documentary filmmaking.

I started my career researching and writing funding proposals for public television. Before joining forces with Steve York in 1995, I freelanced for 10 years. Highlights include field producer on Throwaway People (PBS, Robert F. Kennedy Humanitarian Award), associate producer on The Education of Admiral Watkins, (PBS, Emmy Award), and story editor for NBC’s Emmy-winning series, Lost Civilizations.

At the     A Force More Powerful     premiere in 2000 with civil resistance leaders, Mkhuseli Jack, and Rev. James Lawson.

At the A Force More Powerful premiere in 2000 with civil resistance leaders, Mkhuseli Jack, and Rev. James Lawson.

As Managing Producer at York Zimmerman Inc., I shepherded our productions from conception to post, overseeing production on 5 continents, versioning in 20 languages, and footage & stills acquisition from more than 75 archival sources around the world.

Handling all budgetary, personnel, promotional, and legal matters for our projects was by turns fun, stressful, and always challenging.

 
At a 2014 screening with some of the talented Sparta teens.

At a 2014 screening with some of the talented Sparta teens.

In 2014, an opportunity fell into my lap and I grabbed it: to produce & direct This is Sparta!, an intimate feature-length film about a group of high-school outcasts who write and perform a hilarious musical celebrating their quirkiness.

 
Preparing to record an interview for Drug Stories, 2018.

Preparing to record an interview for Drug Stories, 2018.

Next I conceived and created the Meet Your Neighbor series for community radio, for which I produced dozens of segments before one memorable interview inspired me in early 2018 to launch Drug Stories, a stigma-fighting podcast about addiction. Drug Stories has attracted nearly 20,000 listeners from all over the U.S. and over 60 countries.

 
 

Miriam’s Work

 
 

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