From her acclaimed documentary feature Stephanie, a portrait of a teenage girl struggling to stay in high school, to Standing Tall, which follows a group of New York elementary school children who use drama therapy to confront the trauma of witnessing the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, Peggy Stern’s work often has an underlying motif of examining how our institutions function – and do not function – on behalf of people.
A Harvard graduate, Peggy has a particular interest in education and childhood development, informed by her own lifelong experience as a dyslexic. This has led her to create SuperD!ville, an innovative multimedia resource for young and adult dyslexics, parents, teachers and advocates. This interactive community offers the latest resources for learning about and treating dyslexia. A Super D! YouTube school curriculum will be available this fall!
Even in her early works, Peggy recognized the potential of animation to express deeper meanings within the framework of the documentary film. For two decades she has had a successful collaboration with animator John Canemaker, beginning with Galaxy Classroom, a documentary about one of the first interactive learning programs for schools.
In 2006, Stern and Canemaker won Academy Awards for The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, a 28-minute animated short based on Canemaker’s own life and that of his Italian immigrant father. Canemaker later designed and directed animation sequences for Stern’s Turner Classic Movies documentary, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood, and has designed animation for Dyslexiaville.
Her other work includes Jim Dine: Childhood Memories; Stubborn Hope, a portrait of a South African poet in exile; Silver Valley, a feature film on the closing of a silver mine and its effects on one family in Idaho, and Debut, a one-hour documentary exploring life of a young classical musician. Peggy’s films have been shown on U.S. and international television and have won honors at festivals around the world, including the Cine Golden Eagle, a Golden Hugo and the National Geographic Earthwatch Film Award.
Peggy is currently filming a feature-length documentary about an innovative palliative care unit at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. She is also developing a sequel to Stephanie and working to bring Dyslexiaville to reality on the Web.
She lives in New York City with her husband Alan and their two children.