In his nearly two decades of work in public television,
Stephen Ives has established himself as one of the nation's
leading independent documentary directors. He is currently
at work on a three-hour series for American Experience on
the history of Las Vegas, which will be broadcast in
conjunction with the city’s centennial in 2005.
Ives’ recent PBS series Reporting America at War, a two-
part, three-hour historical documentary about the history
of American war correspondence, was praised by critics
as “thoughtful and ambitious . . . uncommonly intelligent
and provocative television.” “This is television that
matters, that should be seen,” the Los Angeles Times
declared. “[It is] a visual document of power and
clarity . . . [that] uses graceful and muscular language to
convey complicated and sometimes contrary ideas. . . At its
best moments, and there are many, Reporting America at War
goes beyond the facts, capturing a bit of poetry’s shine.”
Broadcast in November 2003, the series received an Emmy
nomination for Best Documentary.
In 2002, Ives completed Seabiscuit, a profile of the
Depression-era thoroughbred racehorse, which was broadcast
nationally on the PBS series American Experience. Variously
praised as “essential viewing,” “superior television,” and
a “wire-to-wire winner,” the film was named best
documentary of the year by Sports Illustrated magazine and
awarded a 2003 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing.
Ives has also produced and directed a pair of verité films
about some of America’s most vibrant artistic instutions.
The first, Amato: a love affair with opera is a portrait of
New York's Amato Opera -- the world's smallest opera house -
- and its 50th anniversary season. The film had its world
premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, and was later
shown at the South-by-Southwest Film Festival, the Los
Angeles Film Festival, and the Doubletake Film Festival,
where it won the Audience Award. Ives also received a
nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement by the
Directors Guild of America. Ives’ debut verité piece,
Cornerstone, followed the innovative Cornerstone Theater
Company’s national tour of A Winter’s Tale. The film was co-
produced and co-directed with Michael Kantor, and aired on
the inaugural season of HBO Signature.
In 1996, Ives finished a five-year effort as the producer
and director of the landmark twelve-and-a-half-hour PBS
series The West, which was seen by more than 38 million
viewers nationwide in the fall of 1996. Caryn James of the
New York Times wrote that The West was "fiercely and
brilliantly rooted in fact. . . ," and, in The New York
Daily News, Eric Mink called the programs a "breathtakingly
beautiful series of films. . . that make riveting TV." The
West was awarded the Erik Barnouw Prize from the
Organization of American Historians in 1996.
Ives’ directorial debut, a portrait of the reluctant
American hero Charles A. Lindbergh, premiered the third
season of the PBS series American Experience in 1990.
Walter Goodman of the New York Times called the film
a "sensitively made documentary that . . . captures the
public and private Lindbergh, " while the Los Angeles
Times' Martin Zimmerman declared it "a powerful slice of
history...an engrossing study of a complex figure." The
film has since been rebroadcast nationally four times on
In 1987, Ives began a decade-long collaboration with
filmmaker Ken Burns, as a co-producer of a history of the
United States Congress, and as a consulting producer on the
ground-breaking series, Baseball and The Civil War. In
1988, he formed Insignia Films to pursue his own filmmaking
interests, and his company oversaw the production of The
West series, which Burns executive-produced.
Ives is 43 years old, married to the landscape designer
Anne Cleves Symmes, and the father of Campbell Symmes Ives.
He is a graduate of Harvard College, and lives in Garrison,
Books:Las Vegas, October 2005