In Remembrance of Bill Siegel

Posted on December 11, 2018
Bill siegel emmy

It is with sadness that we say goodbye to filmmaker and educator Bill Siegel. Bill first became a part of the ITVS family with his award-winning film The Weather Underground, which he co-directed with Sam Green. It tells the story of former University of Chicago students who showed their outrage at the Vietnam War and racism in America by waging a low-level war against the United States government through much of the 1970s. Siegel then directed the Emmy-winning The Trials of Muhammad Ali which told the story of Ali’s battle to overturn the five-year prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. Both films premiered on Independent Lens on PBS. 

“Working with Bill was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my career,” said Lois Vossen, Executive Producer of Independent Lens.  “I was extremely fortunate to work with him during the production of two Independent Lens films, The Weather Underground (with Sam Green and Carrie Lozano) and The Trials of Muhammad Ali. Bill was humble so it’s worth noting that one was nominated for an Oscar and the other won an Emmy Award. We've been in production on his new film for the past few years, a project Bill felt would be his best film yet. I have no doubt that would have been true." 

"We shared Minnesota roots, Midwest values, and a love of archival footage. He was an extraordinary person: thoughtful, kind, funny, smart, generous, hard-working and deeply committed to social justice. Last year he sent me his mother’s obituary and we talked for a long time about her legacy. Bill’s beautiful films will be a part of his shining legacy for decades to come. I wish we had had more time for more of them,” Lois Vossen. 

As an educator, for over two decades, Siegel worked with The Great Books Foundation which was dedicated to literacy and lifelong education. Siegel rose from National Training Instructor to Vice President of School Programs and led more than 1,000 professional development workshops, working in all types of schools--public, private, rural, charter, turnaround, and faith-based. Siegel taught thousands of teachers how to utilize mindful questioning strategies as a means of building students’ critical thinking skills. 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”--Martin Luther King, Jr. 

To learn more about Bill and his extraordinary life, please visit our partners at Kartemquin.  

From our blog

  1. Trust is a Two Way Street

    May 1, 2019

    From ITVS Open Call funding to an Independent Lens premiere, Out Of State director Ciara Lacy and producer Beau Bassett talked to us about the multifaceted and sometimes painful journey through the Hawaiian incarceration system. ITVS: This story hits close to home for both of you. Can you explain why you thought it was important to bring it to public

  2. ITVS Honored with Four Peabody Awards

    April 16, 2019

    We are pleased to announce that of the eight winners in the Documentary category of the prestigious Peabody Awards, ITVS-funded filmmakers were honored with four awards. The 2018 Peabody Award recipients were Minding the Gap, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart,  Dolores, and The Judge. Honoring the “most powerful, enlightening and

  3. Who Gets To Tell These Stories Matter

    March 8, 2019

    Orthodox Jewish culture, paramedics, and humor round out director Paula Eiselt's intimate portrait of a group of women in Brooklyn who pushed back against their establishment.  Paula was able to draw upon her cultural connection to the women who form the Ezras Nahim collective and build the trust needed to tell their story.  With grace and patience,