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Filmmaker & Cinematographer Nancy Schiesari

If you know anything about Austin, you’re probably aware that it’s referred to as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. However, there is another industry that has a strong presence in this city. Austin is the home of many filmmakers and studios, as well as the setting for several movies and TV shows. Not to mention the popular SXSW Film & Conference Festival that attracts thousands of filmmakers and musicians every year.

I had the opportunity this week to meet with someone who is not only very involved with the film scene in Austin, but also with Italian culture. Nancy Schiesari is a director, producer and cinematographer who’s completed over 30 documentaries all over the world. She was nominated for a 2002 Television Emmy for her work on The Human Face and has had her films broadcasted on ABC, BBC, and PBS (just to name a few). She is currently a professor at UT Austin in the Radio-Television-Film program in the Moody College of Communication.

Nancy grew up in Mississippi with her parents who emigrated from Italy shortly after WWII. She initially started as a painter and received her MFA from the Royal College of Art in London, but then found herself drawn into the world of film. Her inspiration for her documentaries comes from her passion of bringing awareness to her audience to situations that aren’t very publicized in the world. She explained to me that her latest film, Canine Soldiers, focuses on the powerful relationships between humans and dogs in war, specifically with their handlers. She mentioned to me that animals are often looked at as being dependent on us while it is often quite the opposite. Dogs play a vital role in saving soldiers’ lives while at war. Soldiers rely on the dogs to sniff out bombs that a human would otherwise not be able to detect. The dogs’ powerful sense of smell saves hundreds of lives while at war. With this film, Nancy brings to awareness the amazing relationship that there is between a handler and the dog, and just how much trust is put into the dog to save these soldiers’ lives.

When I asked Nancy why war has been a repeated theme in her films, I learned that her inspiration comes from her parents and Italian ancestors. Nancy’s father was an Italian Doctor in WWII and her aunt was a part of the Italian resistance movement, a group of partisans, or partigiani, that were antifascist. She documents the stories of the Italian Resistance Movement and the OSS in Italy during this time with her documentary Behind Enemy Lines: The OSS and the Italian Resistance in WWII. Nancy makes these films to pay tribute to her parents and ancestors by bringing awareness about what actually goes on during war.

If you are interested in seeing Nancy’s new 3D film, Canine Soldiers, you can come to UT Austin’s UT3D Open House event on April 5th from 5-8:30 pm. A variety of 3D films will be presented, but you can see Nancy’s specifically at 6:15 pm in the CMB Studio 4C.

For more information about this event, please visit

And lastly, Nancy’s documentary about the OSS and Italian resistance can be seen here! I encourage you to check it out and learn about WWII from an Italian’s perspective.

A presto ragazzi!


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