Louis Alvarez and
Andrew Kolker, twice winners of both the Peabody Award and the
duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, have over the past 35 years produced
critically praised documentaries for their production companies, Kingfish
Productions and The Center for New American Media. In 2004 their creative partnership was
joined by Peter Odabashian, their longtime editor and a co-producer of
many of their recent films.
Their most recent
film is Getting Back to Abnormal, a provocative portrait of race and politics in New Orleans, centering on two larger-than-life personalities from the world of urban politics. The film was produced with Paul Stekler, a frequent collaborator, and is expected to be broadcast in 2013.
In 2012 they released
Past/Present, an innovative 3-D history game that teaches critical concepts in understanding American
history to middle schoolers. The richly detailed game is available to educators and the general public for free.
In 2007, they made The
Anti-Americans (a hate/love relationship), a whimsical look at what
Europeans think of American politics and culture that was shown on
PBS. Another current project
consists of a series of one-minute PSAs on great novels for the National
Endowment for the Arts’ The
Other recent films
Ball: A Little League Story on PBS, a gripping and clear-eyed look at
a suburban California team’s triumphant march to the Little League
World Series in 2002, and Sex: female, a
surprising and funny look at female sexuality, which was broadcast
nationally on the Oxygen channel and has become an international film
In 2001, Louis,
Andy, and Peter produced the acclaimed People
Like Us: Social Class in America, the first American documentary explicitly
about the American class system – a work that continues to resonate
with audiences around the world.
Previously, they produced and directed Moms (1999), a poignant and hilarious look at
motherhood starring more than 40 mothers who dish about what one calls
"the hardest job in the world – raising children".
Their previous credits include Vote for Me – Politics
in America, a four-hour
examination of politics, politicians and voters that the Chicago Tribune
called "the standout in a season of documentaries"; USA Today
said was "pure Americana, merry and marvelous and authentic";
and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called "a masterpiece –
unmatched by anything you'll see this political season in the breadth and
depth with which it makes you laugh, makes you enraged, and – most
remarkable of all – makes you care about politics." Seen on
prime time PBS, "Vote for Me" was awarded the George Foster Peabody Award, the
duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and a News and Public Affairs Emmy Award
in 1997. The series was co-produced with Paul Stekler.
Alvarez and Kolker won their first Peabody
in 1988 for
American Tongues, about the differences in the way
Americans speak and the attitudes people have about regional and social
accents. It launched the PBS anthology series "P.O.V," and
since then has become something of a classic. The
Post described it as "celebratory and swell, right down to the
closing credits" and The Los
Angeles Times wrote that "this is the
perfect example of a film that begins with a simple-enough subject and expands it seductively – it's
In 1993, Alvarez and Kolker received the
duPont-Columbia Journalism Award for their documentary Louisiana Boys – Raised
on Politics, a rollicking
look at Bayou State politics that The Washington Post called "as
insightful as it is entertaining... the first documentary within memory
to see the American political process for what it really is –
cultural anthropology." "Louisiana
Boys" was produced with Paul Stekler and broadcast on
Other work includes "L.A. Is It with
John Gregory Dunne,"a
meditation on the culture of Los Angeles produced for PBS'
"Travels" series that Entertainment Weekly called "deft,
sharp and pointed... one of "Travels'" best hours"; and The Japanese Version, an exploration of what happens when
American popular culture gets to Japan.
Alvarez and Kolker began their careers in the 1970s with a series of hard-hitting documentaries about social problems facing New Orleans, Being Poor in New Orleans.
Shorter works include "The News Doctors,"a
look into TV news consultants produced for the 1996 ITVS/PBS series "Signal
a series of short films on permanent exhibit at the Ellis
of Immigration in New York.