Son of marine biologists, raised in the Pacific Northwest, James combined an interest in Russian language with a fascination for filmmaking and set out to the All-Russian Film Institute in Moscow, where he made his first documentary as a student.

His later film projects took him on long journeys through Gaza, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Longley’s films are produced in local languages with local crews. For his documentary films in Iraq, Longley was nominated for an Emmy, twice nominated for
the Academy Award, and received all three craft awards—Editing, Cinematography, and Directing—at the Sundance Film Festival.

Longley’s most recent feature documentary, ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT, follows the lives of teachers and students at a neighborhood school in Kabul, and was filmed over three years. By recreating faithfully the neighborhood and its inhabitants, the documentary offers up a clear-eyed cinematic view of Afghan society and political feeling during the American period.

(photo by Kevin P. Casey)