Producer/Director/WriterCompany: Singer & Deschamps Productions, Inc.
Role: Session Presenter
2021 Conference Session:
BROTHER OUTSIDER: Bayard Rustin as a Catalyst for Intersectional Diversity
Bennett Singer is an award-winning filmmaker who has been making social-issue documentaries for more than 25 years. He began his career at Blackside, Inc., where he was on the staff for nearly five years; he received a duPont-Columbia Award for his work on “Eyes on The Prize II,” the Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning PBS series on the history of the civil rights movement. Bennett went on to co-direct “Brother Outsider,” a “potent and persuasive” (Los Angeles Times), “beautifully crafted” (Boston Globe) and “electrifying” (MetroWeekly) portrait of the gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, aired on PBS’ POV series and Logo, and won 22 international awards and honors including eight Best Documentary prizes, seven Audience Favorite awards, the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary, and an NAACP Image Award nomination.
“Brother Outsider” has been shown at more than 500 community and campus events in countries around the globe. The film has been screened at The United Nations, The Kennedy Center, and The British Museum and by dozens of organizations dedicated to social justice including the NAACP, the Urban League, HRC, GLSEN, and Human Rights Watch. Bennett has also presented the film in the U.S., the UK and Asia at approximately 100 workplaces committed to diversity and inclusion including Google, JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance, Baker & McKenzie, Skadden, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2015, Bennett was the keynote speaker for the city of Bloomington, Ind., Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. He delivered a speech entitled, “One Human Family,” focusing on Bayard Rustin’s work with Dr. King and on Rustin’s bedrock belief in the interconnectedness of all people (www.rustin.org).
Bennett’s additional film credits include co-directing “Electoral Dysfunction,” a feature-length documentary about voting in America. Hosted by Mo Rocca, the film aired nationally on PBS, was featured in a four-part New York Times Op-Docs series, and won multiple awards including the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award (www.electoraldysfunction.org). With Patrick Sammon, he co-directed “CURED,” a new documentary slated for national broadcast on PBS in 2021, which tells the story of the activists who persuaded the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses in 1973 (www.cureddocumentary.com). “CURED” had its world premiere at Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival in August 2020; the following month, it won the Audience Award at Frameline, the world’s oldest and largest LGBTQ film festival, as well as the $50,000 prize in the 2020 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Competition for excellence in historical documentaries.
In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Bennett has a distinguished career as a writer and editor. The former executive editor of TIME magazine’s education program, he is the editor or author of five books, including “LGBTQ Stats,” an “indispensable and astounding” (Booklist, starred review) compendium. Co-authored by Bennett and his husband, David Deschamps, the book won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book Award in 2018 (www.lgbtqstats.org). He is the recipient of a fellowship in video from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Visiting Artist Residency at the American Academy in Rome, and the National Endowment for the Arts Residency for Collaborative Teams at Yaddo. He currently divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.