And the Emmy goes to…

George Kunhardt ’09, in association with HBO Documentary Films, Kunhardt Films and Marigold Pictures, in September won a 2016 Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking for his work on Jim: The James Foley Story.

The documentary tells the story of the American photojournalist who was kidnapped in Syria and went missing for two years before video of his public execution surfaced, introducing the world to ISIS.

Kunhardt was one of the producers on the documentary, working with producers Eva Lipman and brother Teddy Kunhardt and executive producers Peter Kunhardt (his father), Sheila Nevins and Jacqueline Glover.

The Emmy was presented at the 68th Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony that was held on September 11 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to honor variety, reality and documentary programs, as well as the artists and craftspeople behind the scenes who create television excellence.

The ceremony was televised on September 17, on FXX, and snippets also were shown during the 68th Emmy Awards show that aired live September 18 on ABC.

Kunhardt Films, which is located in Pleasantville, N.Y., had a stellar 2016. Jim, which aired on HBO in February 2016, also won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. The company also co-produced the 10-minute film that introduced President Obama at the Democratic National Convention. And its film Living With Lincoln was nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award in the Outstanding Historical Programming: Long Form category as well as in the Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction category.

Kunhardt Films got involved with the making of Jim while working on Living With Lincoln, which also aired on HBO. Brian Oakes, the co-director of Living with Lincoln, was a childhood friend of Foley’s. At the end of the project, the Kunhardts presented the idea of making a film about Foley.

“Everything spiraled from that and then it became a reality,” said Kunhardt.

The Foley documentary took 14 months to produce and involved many emotional interviews. 

“Winning an Emmy has been pretty amazing,” said Kunhardt, who attended the Los Angeles ceremony with his brother, Teddy, his father, two other producers and the director. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. I hope I get to experience it again.”

One of Kunhardt’s mentors and fans at Wheaton, Professor of Art Andrew Howard, is very excited for the filmmaker.

“There was never any doubt that George would be a real force in the film industry. He is highly motivated, has a terrific work ethic and is creative. This combination has led him to the stage, where he received his Emmy,” Howard said.

Previous Wheaton Emmy Award winners:

  • Elaine Brown ’77, 2008 Emmy award for public-service programming “Get Tested” on HBO
  • Jane Kurson ’65, 1980 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in the informational program category, for “The Body Human: The Body Beautiful”
  • Lesley Stahl ’63, 60 Minutes correspondent, numerous Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting in a News Magazine and Best Report in a News Magazine in 2014
  • Marion Lear Swaybill ’63, television producer, an International Emmy for Outstanding Drama for A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia in 1991