Director, Writer, Producer
Jessica Yu Director, Writer, Producer
Jessica Yu is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for BREATHING LESSONS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF MARK OBRIEN, an intimate portrait of the writer who lived for four decades paralyzed by polio and confined to an iron lung. The film also won over 20 festival awards, including the IDA Achievement Award, the Audience Award at Aspen Shortsfest, and First Prize at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. She also won an Emmy and a Cable Ace Award for Best Documentary Director. Yus documentary THE LIVING MUSEUM, the award-winning HBO film about an art community in a New York mental institution premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
Yus narrative short BETTER LATE was the debut film for the fXM Shorts Series. It has been featured in 60 festivals since its premiere at Sundance 1997, and it won First Prize for Short Drama at the New York Festivals. Her other films include MEN OF REENACTION, a documentary about Civil War reenactors, for which she received grants from ITVS and NEA; the popular black & white short SOUR DEATH BALLS, which won several awards, including Best Live Action Short at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, was featured at Berlin, Sundance, Telluride, Toronto, San Francisco, Sydney and the national PBS series ALIVE TV; THE CONDUCTOR, a musical comedy short featuring Mark Salzman (IRON AN DSILK) and the documentary HOME BASE, winner of several festival awards. She also directs commercials, for which she has won a New York Emmy.
Yu has served on the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association, where she was an organizing member of the first International Documentary Congress. Yu has also written articles and fiction for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Buzz, Worth, and the Pacific News Service. She received the Murrow Award for Journalism from the Skeptics Society, the DREAM Media Award from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights and ACVs Asian American Media Award. She has lectured at various universities and conferences, including the Sun Valley Writers Conference. She has been profiled in The New York Times, People, the Los Angeles Times, and Working Woman magazine. She is a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow and a Yaddo Fellow. Yu graduated from Yale University, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, with a B.A. in English.
In 2000, Yu was the artist-in-residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Also, as the first director selected for the John Wells Director Diversity Program, she has directed episodes of the NBC dramas The West Wing, Lyons Den, ER, and Mr. Sterling, as well as The Guardian for CBS. Yu directs commercials with nonfiction spots of Santa Monica.