Tod Lending

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  • Tod Lending
  • Awards and Honors
  • Mr. Lending is an Academy Award™ nominated and national Emmy winning producer/director/writer/cinematographer whose work has aired nationally on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, HBO; has been screened theatrically and awarded at national and international festivals; and has been televised internationally in Europe and Asia. He is the president and founder of Nomadic Pictures, a documentary film production company based in Chicago, and the Executive Director of Ethno Pictures, a nonprofit film company that produces and distributes educational films.

    Mr. Lending’s feature length documentary, Legacy, which he produced, directed, wrote, and photographed was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2001. Legacy tells the inspiring story of how members of one African-American family, filmed over a five year period, recovered from the loss of their child, broke free from welfare, overcame addiction, and escaped the specter of violence in their community. The film aired on Cinemax/HBO in the summer of 2000, was a critical success at the Sundance Film Festival 2000, and received a prime-time national PBS release in fall 2002. The film was awarded the Reel Screen Innovation in Documentary Award, was nominated for a national Emmy and two IDA awards and was broadcast internationally. In addition, Legacy inspired the creation and passing of federal housing legislation on behalf of grandparents rearing their grandchildren. The Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill signed into law on November 30, 2005 included $4 million for LEGACY Housing Demonstrations.

    Mr. Lending also directed, co-series produced, wrote, and co-edited the international award winning PBS series No Time to be a Child, a $1.4 million three-part documentary series that aired nationally on PBS and was a co-production with Detroit Public Television. The series of documentaries are about children overcoming the effects and consequences of violence in war-zone communities, their homes, and in situations of poverty. In addition to Lending’s national Emmy for the ABC Afterschool Special Shades of a Single Protein, documentaries in the No Time to be a Child series (Growin’ Up Not A Child, Breaking Ties, and Time to Speak) have garnered Lending numerous awards including a national Emmy nomination for Outstanding Documentary and several Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, New York Festival World Medals, Cine Eagles, among others.

    Lending’s Emmy nominated and multi-award winning feature-length documentary, entitled OMAR & PETE, followed two men before their release from prison, and then for two years thereafter. The film that he produced and directed examines the social and economic barriers that these men confront as they work at reintegrating into their communities and families. The project aired nationally on PBS through the POV series and garnered major support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Foundation for Child Development through a Journalism Fellowship in Child and Family Policy.

    Lending also was the co-producer, cinematographer and director of the national PBS award winning short, ROSEVELT’S AMERICA. Shot over two years, this inspiring story is about a Liberian refugee who, after surviving torture and losing his home, brought his family to the US to rebuild their lives. AIMEE’S CROSSING, (producer, director, cinematographer) is also a half-hour film that aired nationally on PBS. It follows a female juvenile offender through her therapy inside prison, and her parole on the outside.

    In 2008, Lending was awarded a 1.5 million dollar grant by the Wallace Foundation to produce, direct and photograph a documentary film and outreach project for PBS entitled, The Principal Story. This film follows two very passionate and committed public school principals as they relentlessly work to improve the educational standards for their students, over 98% of whome come from families living below the poverty line. The film aired on the Emmy-winning PBS series, POV. In addition, the film was licensed by the U.S. State Department and is being distributed to over 150 U.S. consulates around the world. A multi-year outreach project successfully used the film to influence school leadership throughout the country.

    In between projects Lending executive produced The Edge of Joy, a documentary that follows two determined Nigerian doctors who are working to save the lives of pregnant women in Nigeria, a country with the 2nd highest maternal mortality rate in the world. He also produced, directed and photographed several short documentary web films in Haiti for the Center for Mind Body Medicine.

    Over the last few years Mr. Lending has served as producer, director and cinematographer on assignments for Al Jazeera English. The first film, Burden of Silence, was shot in Alaska and tells the story of widespread sexual abuse and assault amongst Native Alaskan women and their journey of healing and hope. The second film, In This Room, follows a couple of homeless students in Chicago who are trying to succeed despite their difficult circumstances. The third film, Dream for a City, looks at Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy by following Gary, Indiana’s first black woman mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, working to save her city.

    He is also currently producing, directing and photographing the feature documentary, All the Difference, a film about educating young low-income African American men. While exploring issues of education and manhood, the film follows two determined young black men for five years from the time they graduate high school through college. This film is a co-production with POV, the PBS Emmy award winning series, and will air nationally on PBS in 2016. This film has received major support from the MacArthur Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation.

    In 2013, Mr. Lending was commissioned by the Sundance Film Institute to produce, direct and photograph the 5-minute short, Vezo (which means: to live with the sea). Shot in Madagascar, Vezo is narrated by Narcia, the 14 year old daughter of a Vezo family. She tells the story of their survival in the style of a fable. Documentary footage and the magic of sand animation are used to illustrate her story. In this simple fable, the solution to the family’s survival becomes an archetypal lesson that can be applied to other situations of poverty and hunger on coastlines throughout the world. Vezo premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2014 and was awarded the Hilton Sustainability Award.

    Mr. Lending was a University of Maryland Journalism Fellow in Child and Family Policy and an advisor at the Sundance Institute. His work has garnered major grants from the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Sundance Film Institute, Wallace Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Child and Family Foundation, Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Houlsby Foundation, U.S. Office of Education, Chicago Community Trust, and the Sundance Fund.

    Lending has also worked as a freelance cinematographer for other independent filmmakers and broadcasters including A&E’s First Forty-Eight: Missing Persons; CNN’s Chicagoland, PBS’s Out of Many, One; Judith Helfand’s, for PBS, Cooked, and PBS’s Frontline

    Academy Award Nominee, Legacy
    Best Social and Political Documentary, BANFF, Legacy
    Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, Legacy
    Council on Foundation Honor, Legacy
    Prism Commendation, NIDA, Robert Wood Johnson Found., EIO,, Legacy
    Reel Humanitarian Award, Tambay Filmfest, Legacy
    Official Selection, Sundance Documentary Competition,Legacy
    Grand Jury Prize & Audience Award, Florida Film Festival,Legacy
    Offical Selection, Edinburgh International Film Fest., Legacy
    Audience Award, SeoulDoc (Seoul, Korea), Legacy
    Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival, Legacy
    Two IDA nominations, International Documentary Association,Legacy
    Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival,Legacy
    Victim Service Award , Illinois State Attorney’s Office, Legacy
    Silver Medal, Houston World Fest., Legacy
    ReelScreen Innovation in Documentary Award, Legacy
    Official Selection, Cinema du Reel, Legacy
    Special Invitation, Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival,Legacy
    Special Invitation, Independent’s Night at Lincoln Center (NYC ), Legacy
    Official Selection, Thesaloniki International Documentary Film Festival (Greece), Legacy
    “Travelin’ Shoes” Award, I.T.C., Legacy

    National Emmy nomination for Best Documentary, OMAR & PETE
    Henry Hampton award winnger from Council on Foundations,OMAR & PETE
    University of Maryland Casey Journalism Fellowship, OMAR & PETE
    Special Selection United Nations Film Festival, OMAR & PETE
    Cine Gold Eagle, OMAR & PETE
    Golden Gate Award Selection San Francisco International Film Festival, OMAR & PETE
    Special Selection Chicago International Film Fest., OMAR & PETE

    Broadcasted on Emmy award winning PBS series, POV
    Distributed by the US State Department to over 150 embassies across the world

    Hilton Sustainability Award: Vezo
    Special Screening Sundance Film Fest: Vezo

    Cine Golden Eagle, Rosevelt’s America
    Chris Award, Columbus Film Fest., Rosevelt’s America
    Riverrun Film Fest., Best Short Doc., Rosevelt’s America
    WorldFest-Houston International Film Fest, Best Short Doc.,Rosevelt’s America
    Action Cut Short Film Festival, Best Doc., Rosevelt’s America

    New York Festival, World Medal, Time to Speak
    Univ. of Maryland’s Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism,Time to Speak
    Cine Gold Eagle, Time to Speak
    Chris Bronze Plaque, Columbus Film Fest., Time to Speak
    National Ed. Media Market, Bronze Apple, Time to Speak

    Cine Gold Eagle, Breaking Ties
    National Headliner award, Breaking Ties
    National Ed. Media Market, Bronze Apple, Breaking Ties

    National News and Doc. Emmy Nomination, Outstanding Doc. Special, Growin’ Up Not A Child
    National Ed. Media Market, Gold Apple, Growin’ Up Not A Child
    University of Maryland’s Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, Growin’ Up Not A Child
    Chris Bronze Plaque, Columbus Film FEst., Growin’ Up Not A Child
    New York Festival, World Medal, Growin’ Up Not A Child

    National Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Special, Shades of a Single Protein

    Chicago Emmy, The Principal

    Grant Awards
    Sundance Institute: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
    Annie E. Casey Foundation: Aimee’s Crossing
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Aimee’s Crossing
    Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation: Aimee’s Crossing
    Annie E. Casey Foundation: Omar & Pete
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Omar & Pete
    Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Omar & Pete
    Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Foundation War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
    Foundation for Child Development Journalism Fellow
    National Endowment for the Humanities: AHG
    Annie E. Casey Foundation: Legacy
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Legacy
    J.R. Houlsby Foundation: Legacy
    Richard H. Driehaus Foundation: Legacy
    Corporation for Public Broadcasting: No Time to be a Child (series)
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: No Time to be a Child-Growin’ Up Not a Child
    Ford Foundation: No Time to be a Child-Growin’ Up Not a Child
    U.S. Office of Education: Seeing Things
    Chicago Community Trust: Seeing Things
    Continental Bank Foundation: Seeing Things
    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: All The Difference
    Corporation for Public Broadcasting: All The Difference
    Annie E. Casey Foundation: All The Difference
    The Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation: All The Difference
    Sundance Film Institute/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:Vezo
    The Wallace Foundation: The Principal Story