Doha, Qatar – October 6, 2018: Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) Professor Marco Williams has been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, best known for awarding the film world’s Oscars.
Williams, who holds a joint appointment as professor of communication at NU-Q and on the University’s home campus in Evanston, Illinois, has been named to the documentary branch of the Academy.
NU-Q Dean Everette E. Dennis called the election “well-deserved recognition for a renowned professional known for his work as a documentary film artist, mentor and master teacher. He has done important and pathfinding documentaries and this is the latest of his many honors and awards he has received.” He added, “it is a privilege for our students and faculty to have such a distinguished teacher and colleague.”
Williams has previously held a Guggenheim Fellowship, a George Foster Peabody Award and a Columbia-DuPont Award, all high honors, for his documentary films.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global organization, that recognizes exemplary films with elected members from across the world and in 17 categories of film genres and performance. In his selection for this exclusive membership, Williams was nominated by two members of the documentary branch. The Academy also recognizes individuals based on their contributions to the field via the academia.
In commenting on his election, Williams whose films have championed diversity and empowerment said, “I hope to enhance the diversity of the types of films considered [for the Academy Awards] as well as the types of makers who create these important works.”
As a member of the documentary branch, Williams acknowledges that his latest honor is both a signal recognition and an obligation to be among the judges who narrow down the films viewed into a list of 10 documentary shorts and 15 documentary features.
In electing Williams, the Academy acknowledge his extensive experience that includes 30 years in filmmaking and 20+ years teaching film. The Oscar judges are tasked to recognize merit, creativity, vision, and imagination.
Williams’s films and awards include an Emmy for his investigative documentary “Freedom Summer” (2006), while his “Two Towns of Jasper” (2002) won numerous awards including the 2004 George Foster Peabody Award, the 2004 Alfred I. DuPont Silver Baton, the 2002 Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award as well as the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival Silver Award for Best International Documentary. Additionally, Williams’s film “In Search of Our Fathers” (1991) was awarded The Silver Apple at the National Educational Film and Video Festival and was broadcast on the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program “Frontline.”
Most recently, “Tell Them We Are Rising” (2017), a documentary film he co-directed with Stanley Nelson on the rich history of black colleges from the days of slavery until the present day, was broadcast nationally in the U.S. as part of Black History Month.
His films have been screened and recognized at international film festivals including Sundance Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and the National Education Film and Video Festival among others. In addition to creating his own films, Williams also served on numerous documentary juries that range from Sundance to Full Frame.
At NU-Q, Williams teaches courses in film directing and the foundations of screenwriting. Before joining NU-Q, he taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Williams received his BA from Harvard University in visual and environmental studies, and he received a Master of Arts in Afro-American studies and a Master of Fine Arts in the Producer’s Program, both from UCLA.