Thomas Allen Harris, an award-winning Director, is the President of Chimpanzee Productions, Inc. a company dedicated to producing unique audio-visual experiences that illuminate the Human Condition and the search for identity, family, and spirituality, including feature length films, performances and live multimedia productions.
Mr. Harris’ deeply personal and innovative films – Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (2014), Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (2005), E Minha Cara/That’s My Face (2001), VINTAGE – Families of Value (1995), – have received critical acclaim at International film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty, Cape Town and Melbourne Arts Festival and have been broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, ARTE, as well as CBC, Swedish Broadcasting Network and New Zealand Television. His performance-based videos have been featured at museums and galleries including the MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1995 Biennial, Corcoran Gallery, Reina Sophia, the Long Beach Museum of Art and London Institute of the Arts.
In 2009, Mr. Harris and his team launched the transmedia community engagement project, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion LLC, a performance-based touring Roadshow, and a virtual gathering space, where individuals are invited to explore and share the rich and revealing narratives found within their family photo albums. Working in partnership with museums, festivals, senior and youth centers, educational institutions, libraries and cultural arts spaces, Digital Diaspora creates communal linkages affirming our common humanity while privileging the voices of people whose stories have often been absented, marginalized or overlooked. Harris is currently working on several Digital Diaspora inspired projects including Remember Me: The Family Album Project – a documentary exploring how the family album shapes memory and identity in the digital age. The project draws on the 2500 + interviews and 30 + photographs collected as part of the touring Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow and is the inspiration for the Family Pictures USA television show which Mr. Harris is currently developing.
Mr. Harris’ most recent film, Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People won the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary film, a Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award and an Africa Movie Academy Award among others. Called “Wise and Passionate” by the New York Times and “Extraordinary” by Time Magazine, Through A Lens Darkly was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens Series, was nominated for a 2016 Emmy Award and was a 2016 Peabody 60 honoree. Mr. Harris’ other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Tribeca All Access Nelson Mandela Award, United States Artist Award, Rockefeller Fellowships, Sundance Director & Producer Fellowships, and two Emmy Award Nominations. His work has been supported by Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, The Fledgling Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Time Inc. and the Banff Centre. Mr. Harris is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
A published photographer, curator, and writer, Harris lectures widely on art, memoir and the use of media as a tool for social change. His media appearances include C-Span, the Tavis Smiley Show, NPR, Metrofocus, and AriseTV. Reviews of Harris’ work have appeared in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Washington Post, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, Jay Z’s Life and Times, among others.
Harris has served on a variety of Juries including the Independent Spirit Awards, the Tribeca Film Festival’s Storyscapes and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. A graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Biology, Harris was an Associate Professor of Media Arts at the University of California San Diego, as well as a Lecturer at Yale University’s School of Art, the International Center of Photography and Sarah Lawrence College. In addition, he has served as a mentor for emerging artists via the Firelight Media Lab Mentorship program, the Queer/Art/Film Mentorship program and others. Born in the Bronx and raised partly in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Harris currently lives in Warwick, New York with his life and producing partner Don Perry.