Dr. Joanna Lipper is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer and author. As a Lecturer at Harvard, she taught Using Film For Social Change (2011-2015) in the Department of African and African American Studies. She is a Research Associate at the Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Film Studies, SOAS, University of London and at African Studies Centre, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. Based in London and Oxford, Joanna Lipper runs Vertumnus Productions. With a commitment to creating groundbreaking roles for women onscreen, this company aims to engage global audiences with films that inspire timely and provocative conversations. Current projects Lipper is developing to direct include a feature film adaptation of the internationally acclaimed novel Stay With Me by Ayọbámi Adébáyọ.
Dr. Lipper has a PhD in Women’s Studies from University of York, an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL and a BA in Literature and Film from Harvard. In her cutting-edge research, teaching, activism, scholarship and related creative practice as a transnational feminist filmmaker, Dr. Lipper utilizes an interdisciplinary, intersectional approach combining Feminism and Gender Studies, Women’s History, African and African American Studies, Social and Visual Anthropology, Political Science, Ethnic Studies, Psychoanalysis, Human Rights and Trauma Studies – all channelled through the lens of Media and Film Studies. Her current region of in-depth focus is Nigeria.
Lipper’s most recent documentary, The Supreme Price, traces the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. The film received the Gucci Tribeca Spotlighting Women Documentary Award and was named Best Documentary at Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The film was nominated for a Grierson Award and an African Movie Academy Award. An extended trailer from The Supreme Price was commissioned to launch Gucci's Chime for Change Women's Empowerment Campaign at TED 2013 and globally. The film was selected as the closing night event of the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2014. Impact and outreach campaign events related to the film were conducted in partnership with Women for Women International, Vital Voices and the U.N which distributed the film in Europe in their Ciné Onu Programme. The film was released theatrically and broadcast on television in over fifty countries.
Lipper’s work as a documentary filmmaker has been supported by, and funded with grants from the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation/Just Films, ITVS, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Women Make Movies, IFP Spotlighting Documentaries, Doc Society and The Fledgling Fund. Previous films Joanna Lipper has produced and directed include the award-winning documentary, Inside Out: Portraits of Children, Growing Up Fast and Little Fugitive.
Lipper's critically-acclaimed book about teen pregnancy and parenthood, Growing Up Fast, was published by Picador in 2003.
Dr. Lipper’s recent research has focused on using film for social change across cultures and geographic regions; on women’s leadership; and on the theory and practice of the feminist documentary filmmaker as historian, archivist and activist, creating new representations of women's history onscreen. Current research interests include masculinity, femininity and conceptions of parenting and the family in contemporary Yoruba Culture; the portrayal and re-enactment of women's individual and collective trauma under military dictatorship in Nigeria; Nigerian pro-democracy activists’ use of media to amplify their voices beyond censorship and propaganda; and the specific postcolonial challenges related to working with archival footage shot in Nigeria. She is also interested in the theory and practice of film adaptations of novels and biographies.