Swell Cinema is a 501 (c) (3), award-winning film production, distribution and educational outreach organization founded by filmmaker Charlotte Lagarde in 1996 with offices in Berkeley, CA and New York, NY.
Swell Cinema’s mission is to produce documentary films with an independent vision and to educate the public about contemporary issues. Our goal is to create documentaries that are intimate portraits of individuals living unique lives. Our objective is to challenge viewers to more closely examine their beliefs, values, lifestyles, and history in order to encourage their participation in social issues and deepen their connection to the natural world.
Scarlet Nerad, Chief Financial Officer
Meg Heimbrodt, Secretary
Charlotte Lagarde has over fifteen years experience working in development, production and distribution of educational and public television programming. Lagarde is the award-winning Producer/Director of Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka’ehukai (2002), a documentary about the Hawaiian surfing legend, Rell Sunn, which won numerous awards including the 2003 PBS/Independent Lens Audience Award, Best Documentary Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Lagarde was the executive producer of Academy award-winning Reporter Zero (2006), which premiered at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival. Her award winning films Beautiful Son (2008), Voting in America (2004), Swell (1996) and Zeuf (1994) were broadcast on PBS stations and/or the Sundance Channel. She is the producer of Deann Borshay Liem’s In The Matter Of Cha Jung Hee (PBS/POV in 2010) and Geographies of Kinship – The Korean Adoption Story (In progress). She is currently directing and producing with Carrie Lozano a documentary on composer Fred Hersch.
In 1998, Lagarde founded and became Executive Director of Swell Cinema. She has taught film history and production at the Lycée Français La Pérouse for seven years. She currently lives in New York.
Producer, Geographies of Kinship – The Korean Adoption Story (In progress) Directed, produced and written by Deann Borshay Liem, this documentary explores the history of transnational adoptions of Korean children from the 1950s to the present.
Producer, In The Matter Of Cha Jung Hee(2010, 60 mins.) - Directed, produced and written by Deann Borshay Liem, this documentary chronicles the filmmaker’s journey to find her “double” while also exploring identity, memory and the ethics of international adoption. Supported in part with funding from the NEA, ITVS, the Center for Asian American Media and the Rockefeller Foundation and to be broadcast on PBS/POV in September 2010.
Executive producer & Producer, Beautiful Son (2008, 60 mins.) Supported in part with funding from ITVS, Beautiful Son chronicles one family’s journey to find treatment for their autistic son. Released on Public Television in 2008, the film won Best Documentary and Audience award at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Co-Executive Producer, Reporter Zero (2006, 24 mins.) - Directed, Produced and written by Carrie Lozano, Reporter Zero, A documentary about maverick journalist Randy Shilts and his groundbreaking coverage of the AIDS crisis won the IDA’s ABC VideoSource Award and was nominated Best Documentary for Berlin International Film Festival/Teddy Award. Broadcast on MTV Logo in 2006.
Executive Producer, Voting In America (2004, 76 mins.) – Supported by ITVS, this provocative collection of nine short films directed by award winning filmmakers such as Anne Lewis, Tom Sheppard, Johnny Symons and Charlene Gilbert aimed to increase voter participation particularly among historically marginalized constituencies. Broadcast in 2004 on Public Television in over 37 states, the film was widely distributed on DVD and is used in schools and universities all around the nation.
Producer/Director, Heart Of The Sea: Kapolioka’Ehukai(2002, 60 mins.) This documentary about Hawaiian surfing legend, Rell Sunn was partly funded by ITVS and Pacific Islanders in Communications and won numerous awards including the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Best Documentary Award at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the 2003 PBS Independent Lens Audience Award. It was broadcast on PBS Independent Lens, HBO Latin America, Canal + Scandinavia, La 5 and Planete, France
Producer/Director/Editor, Swell (1996, 23 mins.) A documentary about four generations of female surfers produced at Stanford University Graduate School of Communication. Awards include Gold Apple Award, National Educational Media Network, Isabella Liddell Art Award, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Representation of Women Award, Humboldt Film Festival. Broadcast on KQED and other public television stations.
Producer/Director/Editor, Zeuf (1994, 4 mins.) A portrait of a breast cancer survivor produced at Stanford University Graduate School of Communication. Awards include Best Director Award, Black Maria Festival and Cine Golden Eagle. Broadcast on Sundance Channel
Produced for ATD Fourth World, Every Child Should Have A Chance (2001)
MA in Communication with emphasis in Documentary, Stanford University, 1996
We are grateful to our funders and to all those who have supported us over the years.
Partial List of Foundations and organizations
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Partial List of Individual donors
James & Marina Harrison
OUR MAILING LIST!