Regge Life

Founder of Global Film Network Inc., Producer/Director Regge Life is presently the Senior Distinguished Director in Residence at Emerson College. Prior to Emerson, he was on the faculty of Howard University. He has led numerous workshops in film production notably at Sarah Lawrence College as well as teaching theater at Smith College and at Hunter College. He is also a filmmaker with domestic and global credits. Residing in Japan from 1991 to 1995, he produced a trilogy of films and has been actively touring with these works in the United States, Japan and Europe. Screenings and lectures have taken place on the campuses of Harvard, Yale and numerous universities in the United States as well as at Keio and other top universities in Japan. His films on Japan are part of the permanent collection at over 800 colleges and universities worldwide.

Born in Harlem, New York, his father’s job with Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon Mobil) moved the family to White Plains in Westchester County. He graduated with honors from Woodlands High School in Hartsdale, New York and attended Tufts University and received a double BA in Drama and Sociology, enriching his education via a film studies course at Harvard and ethnomusicology studies at Brandeis. He later traveled to Ibadan, Nigeria to inaugurate the Tufts-in-Africa program and earned an additional Post-Graduate diploma in Theater Arts.

Following graduation from The Tisch School of the Arts at NYU with a M.F.A. in Directing, his thesis film MAX, starring Patricia Wettig was acquired by HBO.
He began his filmmaking career in documentary traveling to Nigeria in 1977 to document portions of FESTAC 77, a worldwide cultural celebration of the African Diaspora. The experience at Festac was the catalyst for additional cultural documentaries: CARNIVAL ’78, chronicling the celebration in Trinidad-Tobago; DELE ABIODUN – THE ADAWA SUPER KING that documented his introduction of Nigerian “juju” music in New York City; and EL ULTIMO BAILE, a bi-lingual film produced in Venezuela that was featured as part of the series, “Presente” on PBS. EL ULTIMO BAILE was Regge’s first experience producing a film in two languages – Spanish for the broadcast as part of the “Presente” series on public television and English for American educational distribution.

With roots in the theater, he ventured into narrative filmmaking producing and directing the indie film, REUNION starring Academy Award winning actor, Denzel Washington, and the A.I.D.S. awareness film SERIOUSLY FRESH featuring Malik Yoba that was nationally broadcast on PBS. For NBC’s, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, he directed THE STORY OF JOE BARBOZA and for the Learning Channel of Discovery Networks, NATIVE SON based on the novel by Richard Wright.

Continuing to work internationally, in 1990 Regge was awarded an NEA Creative Artist Fellowship in Japan, where for six months he observed the making of the 43rd installment of the world’s longest running film series, TORA SAN. As an observer, he produced THE MAKING OF TORA SAN #43, chronicling his experiences as the first non-Japanese to be allowed access to a process created by Yoji Yamada, a protégée of Ozu. He remained in Tokyo for 3 more years to produce a trilogy of long form documentaries: STRUGGLE AND SUCCESS: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN, DOUBLES: JAPAN AND AMERICA’S INTERCULTURAL CHILDREN and AFTER AMERICA…AFTER JAPAN. These award winning and critically acclaimed films have been broadcast on NHK, PBS and a number of public television stations worldwide. His film work has earned a number of awards including three CINE Golden Eagles and a Silver Award at the Houston International Film Festival. In support of his work in Japan, Mr. Life received fellowships from the Center for Global Partnership, multiple Japan Foundation fellowships and he is the recipient of a Fulbright Journalist Fellowship.

In the area of Primetime US television, from 1986 to ’87, he served as a Director for “The Cosby Show” as well as Production Executive for the show. Following his work on “Cosby”, he helped launch “Generations”, the first and only daytime drama with an African American storyline, directed the situation comedies “A Different World”, “Sister Sister” and “Eve” and from 1998 to 2000, served as director for “Sesame Street”. He has been nominated for 3 Daytime Emmys.

As a television segment producer his work includes SWEET AUBURN about the fabled avenue in Atlanta that is the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King for Uniworld Television, “Black & Single”, “Mother’s Behind Bars” and “The Homeless” for Essence Television and “Danny Ferry and Brian Shaw in Rome” for Insport television.

Serving in various capacities supporting the worldwide film community, he is currently on the Advisory Board of Film Columbia a film festival in upstate New York, a former Board member and Chairman of the Board of AIVF (Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers), a member of the original Black Filmmaker Foundation, a founding member of the Black Documentary Collective and a longtime supporter of the Independent Feature Project. He is also a member of the Director’s Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In addition to his NEA Creative Artist Fellowship, he is an Ushiba Memorial Fellow, a PBS/CPB Academy Fellow, named a Sony Innovator and the Black Filmmaker Hall of Fame has honored his work. Mr. Life’s work in Japan led to being appointed a Commissioner for the Japan – United States Friendship Commission in Washington and as a Governor with the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. His advocacy of Study Abroad led to service on the Board of the Institute for the International Education of Students and numerous speaking engagements in support of Study Abroad and intercultural education.

He recently completed his fifth film in Japan, this time a feature based on the Akutagawa Prize winning novel, “Cocktail Party” by Tatsuhiro Oshiro. The film sold out two hours prior to screening at the recent Okinawa International Film Festival and was featured at the Boston International Film Festival where it garnered the Indie Spirit Special Recognition Award. Prior to COCKTAIL PARTY a fourth documentary in Japan, LIVE YOUR DREAM that chronicles the story of Taylor Anderson, an American English teacher who lost her life during March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Prior to LIVE YOUR DREAM, REASON TO HOPE, a film that chronicles the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti featuring 60 Minutes anchor, Bill Whitaker. The film won Best Film at the 26th International Festival of Black Cinema in Berlin and was featured at the Hollywood Black Film Festival and the San Diego Black Film Festival.

His work has been exhibited at the Toronto Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival, the Leiscester Film Festival, the Ninth Festival of New Cinema in Brussels and the Festival of New Cinema in Caracas, Venezuela.
In addition to his work for public and network television, in 1997 Mr. Life produced a special tribute to former Prime Minister of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa.