Celia Lowenstein has made, over the last two decades, over 50 films. Prior to making films she trained as a psychologist, working on how physical beauty is perceived around the world and how distortions of body image can lead to psychological disorders. After initiating documentaries in the mid-1980’s of her own ideas and working for BBC television in London, she made her first documentary. The film, Let There Be Light, was based on the transformation of physical light into spiritual light through medieval stained glass. Religious themes form an important output of many of her film from the devil – Talk of the Devil, to Santa.
Celia’s interest in human psychology has led her to directing biographical portraits of Rudy Giuliani, Nawal El Saadawi, Tomi Ungerer, Isabelle Ebherhardt, Shirley Jackson, Roger Corman and Diane Keaton. Her interest in science has been the focus of many of her films. These include a portrait of a physicist – Simply Complex: The Life and Times of Murray Gell-Mann, the discovery of a 400 million year old fossil fish – The Coelacanth: The Fish That Time Forgot, and species extinction – Lost Voices. She has also made a film on the human sexual response –The Truth About Sex and the dark world of kleptomaniacs – Dirty, Little Secret.
Many of her films bridge the world of science and ideas – The A to Z of Horror, a museum which collects ethnographic material from around the world, The Pitt Rivers Museum is…Shut, and a six part series – Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness. She likes to “bend” the documentary genre, incorporating music and dance with a strong narrative filmmaking style. Her film, Sorry, Judas, pushes this genre forward used in feature films and musicals.
Celia has traveled to many parts of the world making films about the connections between music, environment and culture – The Girl from Ipanema (Brazil), Eyes Open (Senegal), Like a God When He Plays (Madagascar), Sentimental Journey (Guinea). She has also produced and directed films whose narrative is sung, incorporating techniques found in musicals and dramas – The History of Holland in 1/2 an Hour, Lost Voices, and a musical about madness and mental institutions, Bedlam Britannica.
Since dance has featured so strongly in her life she has made films with dancers in The Essential History of France, and has worked with choreographers Bill T. Jones, Twyla Tharp, Lea Anderson and Bonty Matthias. She has collaborated with poets Ruth Fainlight, James Fenton and Roger McGough, writers Howard Jacobson, Harold Evans, Annette Kobak, and Alain de Botton; actors Juliet Stevenson and Anthony Hopkins; artists Tomi Ungerer, Leon Golub, George Melly, and musicians from around the world including Yo-Yo Ma, Youssou N’Dour, Justin Vali, Paddy Bush, Miriam Makeba, The Nits, Kayhan Kahlor, Yehudi Menuhin, and Olivier Messiaen. She has made films for the BBC, Channel 4, Arte/ZDF, PBS, Bravo, NOVA and Discovery and has been nominated for an Emmy. She has served on many international film juries and was recently the Granada Artist in Residence at UC Davis. She has been artist-in-residence at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, California and was a grantee of The Christensen Fund working on an initiative on world music.