Lucy Phenix has been involved in making groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed social justice documentaries since 1971.
Her work in documentary films grew out of her involvement against the US war in Vietnam in 1970 and out of her earlier work as a teacher and community organizer in the Civil Rights Movement in the South where she was born and raised
In Wintersoldier, the first film she helped to make with a group of New York documentary filmmakers and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, she understood that film could be a powerful tool in giving public voice to people whose stories were being boycotted by the mainstream media.
Lucy worked as producer and editor with the six members of Mariposa Film Group on Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, the 1978 documentary by and for gay women and men which aired on PBS and won the DuPont Citation for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.
In 1980, Phenix edited The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter about working-class women working in the skilled trades during WWII and the propaganda that got them into and out of work when the war ended.
In 1985 she directed the documentary feature You Got to Move, about the legendary Highlander Center of New Market, Tennessee, which has been involved for almost 90 years in grassroots education for social change in the South and Appalachian region. It is a story from this film upon which They Say I’m Your Teacher is based.
In 1993, Phenix made the documentary Cancer in Two Voices, a love story about two women, one of whom was dying of breast cancer, which won an audience award at the International Festival of Films by Women in Creteil, France.
In 1998, she was Editor and Writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary about widows of the war in Vietnam, Regret to Inform, winner of a Peabody Award. In 2000, she was the Editor and Writer of Stranger With A Camera, a film about the murder of a documentary filmmaker in Kentucky, and the stereotypes of “insider,” “outsider,” class, and the intersection of morality and filmmaking. In 2004, she edited a short doc on immigration, The New Americans, which aired on the PBS documentary program “Independent Lens.” In 2008 Lucy made a film about the creative process as shown in the work and life of a ceramic artist entitled Don’t Know, We’ll See: The Work of Karen Karnes, a film which won audience awards in France and Portugal.
Her recent work draws upon her own historical archives for perspective on contemporary political reality.