Lana Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning and two-time Spirit Award-nominated director, writer, and producer based in New York.
Her most recent film, The Departure (2017), about a punk-turned-Buddhist-priest in Japan, received extraordinary critical acclaim for being a poetic, profound, and moving exploration of what makes life worth living. The film premiered in competition at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, went on to play at festivals around the world, and was acquired by US distributor FilmRise. It was recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.
The Departure was called “Stunning” by Filmmaker Magazine, “A genuinely spiritual experience” by The Washington Post, “A work of art” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and “Tender and moving…like a haiku” by The New York Times. The film was released in theaters in 30 US cities, beginning with a held-over run at New York’s Metrograph theater, and will be nationally broadcast on PBS in March 2018.
Wilson’s first film, After Tiller (2013, co-directed by Martha Shane), goes inside the lives of the four most-targeted abortion providers in the country, and was lauded for taking a powerful and complex look at one of the most incendiary issues of our time. After Tiller premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and went on to win an Emmy Award for Best Documentary. It was also nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, four Cinema Eye Honors, a Satellite Award, and the Ridenhour Prize.
After Tiller was released in theaters in 50 US cities by Oscilloscope Laboratories. The film was named one of the five best documentaries of the year by the National Board of Review, and featured in “Best of 2013” lists in the LA Times, Village Voice, Indiewire, Artforum, and more. Flavorwire named it one of the “50 Best Documentaries of All Time.” It played at film festivals around the world, where it won awards including the Documentary Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Human Rights Award at Full Frame. In 2014 it was nationally broadcast on the acclaimed PBS documentary series POV.
Wilson also works in television. She wrote and produced the premiere episode of the documentary miniseries I Am Rebel (2016), executive produced by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), Matt Wolf (Teenage), and National Geographic Studios, and was a story producer for several episodes of National Geographic’s Explorer.
Wilson is a 2017-18 Women at Sundance Fellow. She has also received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Wilson is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, and has taught master classes and workshops at UnionDocs, DCTV, and other institutions.
Previously, Wilson was the Film and Dance Curator at Performa, the New York biennial of new visual art performance.
Wilson has been a featured guest on MSNBC, Huffington Post Live, Democracy Now, NPR’s The Takeaway, WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show, and many other programs. With After Tiller co-director Martha Shane, she was the recipient of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s 2014 Champion of Choice Award.
Wilson’s work has been supported by ITVS, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Bertha Foundation, Artemis Rising Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, Chicken & Egg Pictures, the International Documentary Association, Candescent Films, Women in Film, Independent Feature Project, Film Independent, and the New York State Council on the Arts, among other institutions.
She holds a BA in Film Studies and Dance from Wesleyan University, where she graduated with honors.