Marc Levin is an award winning independent filmmaker who brings narrative and verite techniques together in his feature films, television series and documentaries. Among the many honors for his work, he has won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the Camera D’Or at Cannes, three National Emmys and four duPont-Columbia Awards.
His dramatic feature film, SLAM, received international recognition for its seamless blending of the real world with a narrative flow. Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Brace yourself for a slam-dunk of a movie, in an in-your-face cinema verite-style that makes Godard's 'Breathless' seem like a cartoon." SLAM won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 1998.
Levin’s Brick City, a groundbreaking docu-series about the city of Newark, followed Mayor Cory Booker and the people on the frontlines of a city struggling to change. Executive produced with long-time colleague Mark Benjamin and Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker, the five-hour series aired its first season on the Sundance Channel in September 2009. It won the 2010 Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking, as well as a 2010 Golden Eagle Cine Award and an NAACP Image Award. The second season premiered on January 30, 2011. TV Guide wrote, “Brick City plays like a verité version of The Wire, one of TV's finest series ever. It is the ultimate reality show.”
Street Time, a television series produced by Columbia/Tristar for Showtime, received critical acclaim for its authenticity and verite style. Levin executive produced the series and directed ten episodes. The show stars Rob Morrow, Scott Cohen, Erica Alexander and Terrence Howard. The Los Angeles Times called it "some of the most seductive television ever: vivid, distinctive, explosive storytelling . . .”
Levin’s documentary feature, Godfathers and Sons, was part of the highly regarded Martin Scorsese PBS series, The Blues. Scorsese recruited an international team of directors with both feature and documentary experience: Charles Burnett, Clint Eastwood, Mike Figgis, Richard Pierce and Wim Wenders. Variety called Levin’s show “the crown jewel in the Scorsese series.”
In the late nineties, Levin created a hip-hop trilogy beginning with SLAM, a searing prison drama starring Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn and Bonz Malone. Whiteboys, a black comedy about white kids who want to be black rappers, starred Danny Hoch, Dash Mihok, Mark Webber and Piper Perabo. Brooklyn Babylon, a fable inspired by the “Song of Songs,” starred Tariq Trotter and Bonz Malone, and featured music by the legendary Grammy winners The Roots.
In Twilight Los Angeles, an adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman show, Levin fused a Broadway play with a documentary look at the LA riots. Twilight premiered at the Sundance 2000 Film Festival and was selected as the opening film of the International Human Rights Film Festival at Lincoln Center.
In 1992 Levin directed Oscar nominee Robert Downey, Jr. in The Last Party, a gonzo look at the Presidential campaign, weaving together the personal and the political fortunes of Downey and Bill Clinton.
Levin and his documentary film partner, Daphne Pinkerson, have a twenty-year working relationship with HBO. Their most recent film, Hard Times: Lost on Long Island, about white-collar professionals hit by the Great Recession, premiered on HBO in July 2012. It won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival and was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form. The Baltimore Sun wrote, “One of the most important hours of TV that the medium will offer this year.” TRIANGLE: Remembering the Fire, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Triangle shirtwaist fire of 1911, won a dupont-Columbia Award in 2011. SCHMATTA: Rags to Riches to Rags, a feature documentary exploring the rise and fall of New York's fabled Garment Center as a microcosm for the economic shocks that have changed our lives, aired in October 2009. Heir to an Execution, a documentary feature following Ivy Meeropol’s journey on the 50th anniversary of the execution of her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, was in competition at the Sundance film festival and aired on HBO in 2004. During the 1990’s, they produced a number of films for HBO’s AMERICA UNDERCOVER series, including Mob Stories, Prisoners of the War on Drugs, Execution Machine: Texas Death Row, Soldiers in the Army of God, and Gladiator Days. Thug Life in D.C. won the 1999 National Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special. Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock won the CableACE Award for Best Documentary Special of 1994. The sequel, Back in the Hood, premiered on HBO ten years later.
For HBO Sports, Levin produced and directed Prayer for a Perfect Season, on the top high school basketball team in the country. It premiered in the Fall of 2011.
In 1997, Levin was awarded the duPont-Columbia award for CIA: America's Secret Warriors, a three-part series that aired on the Discovery Channel.
Levin has also produced and directed a number of television specials for one of America's most respected journalists, Bill Moyers. In 1988 he won a national Emmy award as a producer/editor of Moyers’ Secret Government - The Constitution in Crisis. The Home Front with Bill Moyers, which he produced and directed, was honored with the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award.
He and his father, Al Levin, teamed up on Portrait of an American Zealot, which was made part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent film collection.
Levin made his on-camera debut in Protocols of Zion, his street-level look at the rise of anti-Semitism since 9/11 and the renewed popularity of the anti-Semitic text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically in the fall of 2005 and on HBO the spring of 2006.
Mr. Untouchable, the story of the original Black Godfather, Harlem heroin kingpin Nicky Barnes, was released in theatres in 2007. It tells the true-life story of a real American Gangster from the point of view of law enforcement, associates, and Nicky Barnes himself, appearing for the first time in over a quarter century. "It makes American Gangster look like a fairy tale," declared E!
Levin has also assumed the role of Executive Producer on a number of projects. In 2008 he was Executive Producer alongside Beyoncé Knowles on Cadillac Records, the Chess Records story starring Jeffrey Wright, Adrian Brody, and Beyoncé. In the same year he executive produced the indie feature documentary Captured, the story of artist/activist Clayton Patterson, the man who video-taped the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riot and who has dedicated his life to documenting the final era of raw creativity and lawlessness in New York City's Lower East Side, a neighborhood famed for art, music and revolutionary minds. Levin executive produced a follow-up feature in 2010, Dirty Old Town, directed by his son, Daniel B. Levin, and Jenner Furst.
Levin and Benjamin have partnered in Brick City TV to continue their docu-series work this year with three projects. BET’s Second Coming: Will Black America Decide 2012? was part of the Network’s election campaign coverage and won the 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.
Jersey Strong, a 10-part docu-soap set in Newark, New Jersey, premiered September 2013 on Participant Media’s new cable network, Pivot.
Most recently, they have partnered with Robert Redford to make CHICAGOLAND, an 8-hour docu-series for CNN, which is currently in production.
Levin also periodically directed episodes of the classic TV series, Law and Order.