MFA in Film

Lisa Leeman

Lisa Leeman is an award-winning filmmaker best known for her social-issue documentaries that are driven by powerful character-driven narratives.

Her directorial debut, Metamorphosis: Man into Woman, follows a transgender animation artist’s transition. The film is thought to be the first American film to chronicle a gender transition and was awarded Sundance’s Filmmakers Trophy (1990).

Leeman is currently working on the sequel, which follows the artist at a new crossroads, twenty-five years after the release of Metamorphosis. Some of Leeman’s other film credits include the feature documentary Awake, about the influential Indian swami Paramahansa Yogananda  (which has screened theatrically in 17 countries and is one of only 17 films directed by women in the 250 top-grossing films of 2014), and One Lucky Elephant, the story of a circus producer doing right by his ‘star’ elephant and retiring her, named by Roger Ebert as one of the best documentaries of 2011, and was broadcast on OWN as part of Oprah Winfrey's Documentary of the Month Club, and selected for the U.S. State Department's American Film Showcase.

Leeman’s work has been seen on PBS, HBO, Discovery, ARTE, and in theaters and festivals worldwide. She is a frequent juror, moderator, and panelist at documentary and independent filmmaking events.   In addition, she is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), and has served as a judge at the Sundance Film Festival, president of the International Documentary Association, and on the boards of the IDA and the National Coalition of Independent Public Broadcasting Producers.