Director Jessica Yu is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker working in a variety of media and genres. Yu’s most recent documentary is Last Call at the Oasis, a bracing look at the water crisis for Participant Media. Last Call premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to theatrical release.
Yu won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien, an intimate portrait of the writer who lived for four decades confined to an iron lung. The film also won over 20 festival awards, including the IDA Achievement Award, the Audience Award at Aspen Shortsfest, and First Prize at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. She also won a Primetime Emmy and a Cable Ace Award for Best Documentary Director.
Yu’s other feature docs include 2007’s Protagonist, which looks at extremism through the lives of a spectrum of individuals. After its premiere at Sundance, it was released theatrically through IFC Films and Red Envelope. It also won the Grand Jury Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival. In the Realms of the Unreal, Yu’s celebrated feature documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger, debuted at Sundance. Realms won several awards, as well as Gotham Award and WGA nominations. Realms was nominated for P.O.V.’s first Primetime Emmy Award and featured on several publications’ yearly “top ten” lists. The Living Museum, her award-winning HBO documentary about an art community in a New York mental institution, also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2008, Yu’s cult comedy feature for Cherry Sky Films, Ping Pong Playa, was released theatrically by IFC after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Yu’s documentary shorts include 2012’s Meet Mr. Toilet, recently featured at Sundance and Berlin as part of the Focus Forward shorts series. Other Sundance premieres include her animated hybrid The Kinda Sutra, which looks at the humorous misconceptions about how babies are made; the widely-screened narrative short Better Late, which won First Prize for Short Drama at the New York Festivals; and the popular black & white short Sour Death Balls, which won several awards after being screened at many festivals including Berlin, Telluride, Toronto, and the national PBS series ALIVE TV. Yu also regularly directs TV and commercials. Her episodic work includes Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood and Scandal and among others she has directed spots for Ford, Hallmark, MasterCard, Microsoft and Viva.