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 Film Festival, three National Emmys and four duPont-Columbia Awards.
Most recently, he was a Director, Producer, and Writer for One Nation Under Stress, which premiered on HBO March 25, 2019. One Nation Under Stress follows Sanjay Gupta, PhD, as he tries to uncover the root causes of why American life expectancy is falling and is now shorter than all other major developed countries.
Levin was an Executive Producer for Baltimore Rising, which won Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast at the 2019 Cinema Eye Honors. And in 2018, he was an Executive Producer for I Am Evidence, which won the 2019 International Emmy award for Best Documentary, was an official selection in the Tribeca Film Festival and was shown in seven other festivals, winning four awards.
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.”
Levin and Benjamin have partnered in Brick City TV to continue their docu-series work. They directed and produced Animal Planet’s Ocean Warriors, a six-hour television special event following activists around the world as they fight to save our oceans, in 2016. Ocean Warriors won both the Genesis Award for Outstanding TV Documentary Series and Best Limited Series at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. In 2018, its sequel, Ocean Warriors: Chasing the Thunder, a high seas documentary following the dramatic 110-day chase of the Thunder, a notorious illegal fishing vessel, won the Explorers and Adventurers prize at the Friday Harbor Film Festival.
Levin and Benjamin produced Inside the FBI: New York, which provides a never-before-seen look at the New York field office of the FBI, in 2017 and Rikers, the first film to focus exclusively on former detainees of RIkers Island, in 2016. They have also partnered with Robert Redford to make Chicagoland, an 8-hour docu-series for CNN, which premiered in 2014. And BET used Second Coming? Will Black America Decide 2012? as part of its election campaign coverage and won the 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.
Levin and his documentary film partner, Daphne Pinkerson, have a twenty-year working relationship with HBO. In 2016, Freeway: Crack in the System was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Investigative Journalism - Long Form. Class Divide, which looks at the growing inequality caused by gentrification of the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, won DOC NYC’s Metropolis Grand Jury Prize in 2015. Hard Times: Lost on Long Island, about white-collar professionals hit by the Great Recession, premiered on HBO in July 2012, 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.
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.
During the 1990’s, he and Pinkerson produced a number of films for HBO’s America Undercover series, including Mob Stories, Prisoners of the War on Drugs, The Execution Machine: Texas Death Row, Soldiers in the Army of God, and Gladiator Days: Anatomy of a Prison Murder.
Jersey Strong, a 10-part docu-soap set in Newark, New Jersey, premiered September 2013 on Participant Media’s new cable network, Pivot.
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 videotaped 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. In 2010, Levin Executive Produced a follow-up feature, Dirty Old Town, directed by his son Daniel B. Levin and Jenner Furst.
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, appearing for the first time in over a quarter century. "It makes American Gangster look like a fairy tale," declared E!.
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.
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.
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."
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 . . .”
In the late nineties, Levin created a hip-hop trilogy beginning with Slam, a searing prison drama, which starred 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. 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.
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 Los Angeles premiered at the Sundance 2000 Film Festival and was selected as the opening film of the International Human Rights Film Festival at Lincoln Center.
Thug Life in D.C. won the 1999 National Emmy for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special. Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock won the Cable ACE Award for Best Documentary Special of 1994. The sequel, Back in the Hood, premiered on HBO ten years later.
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.
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 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 and editor of Moyers’ Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis. And in 1992, The Home Front with Bill Moyers, which Levin produced and directed, was honored with the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton Award.
Marc Levin 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 has also periodically directed episodes of the classic TV series, Law & Order.