Danielle Beverly is an independent filmmaker who works as a one-person crew to craft observational documentaries. Her latest is Qatar Stars (2023), the first feature documentary about girls in Qatar. It offers a textured story of girlhood in all its joys and growing pains, through intimate access to a multinational, girls-only rhythmic gymnastics school in Doha, led by a former Russian gymnast. Girls from Qatar, Lebanon, Eqypt, Ukraine, and UK grow up onscreen over four years, changing from wiggly nine year olds to maturing teens who must navigate a complicated gendered world around them. Qatar Stars has received support from Doha Film Institute, New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), Buffett Center for Global Affairs, and University Film & Video Foundation. As a work-in-progress, Qatar Stars was selected for several international industry incubators and labs including Qumra, DOC NYC Industry Roundtables, and First Cut Lab.
In Beverly’s documentary Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition (2019), a Chicago used-vinyl buyer walks us into the homes – and stories – of strangers, digging through their jazz, soul, and hip hop records, buying their once-prized possessions. Each seller shares a common reason: they face a major life transition. The documentary is a collection of intimate narratives, akin to a record album of songs. It premiered at San Francisco Documentary Film Festival and was curated for Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. A grassroots outdoor tour in partnership with local record stores and funded by Illinois Arts Council and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, allowed audiences to gather safely to listen to records and watch the film under the stars in Summer 2021.
Beverly’s 2015 feature documentary Old South had its national broadcast on The World Channel/PBS. It was the season four opener of the America ReFramed documentary series, airing during African American History Month. It enjoyed a year-long film festival and college tour and screened in community gardens across NY State and the American South on a DIY “Healing Spaces Tour”, funded by Wave Farm & NYSCA. It won the Award of Merit for Documentary from The University Film and Video Association. In July 2020, Al Jazeera Witness broadcast the film across the Middle East and beyond.
Beverly began her career at Chicago’s PBS affiliate and has directed and produced content for PBS and cable since 1999. Beverly was field producer for the longitudinal documentary REBIRTH over its ten-year production (Sundance World Premiere 2011; Showtime broadcast; George Foster Peabody Award; screened at The White House, US Department of State film tour; permanent exhibition at National September 11 Memorial & Museum).
Beverly’s first documentary feature Learning to Swallow (2005) followed a charismatic artist with bipolar disorder as she struggles to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt destroys her digestive system. The film premiered in competition at Silverdocs, screened internationally, and traveled to rural communities on Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. In March 2015 it was broadcast on America ReFramed, with an encore national broadcast in July 2017.
Beverly’s filmmaking, photography, and digital media work have received funding from The Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), The Puffin Foundation, The Chicago Cultural and Tourism Fund, The Center for Peacemaking, and The Diederich College Initiative on Communication Ethics, Values and Social Justice. Beverly has received a Flaherty Fellowship, a Mary L. Nohl Artists Fellowship for Established Artists, and a BAVC National MediaMaker Fellowship.
Beverly is also a documentary cameraperson. Projects include Marco Williams’ Lonnie Holley: The Truth of the Dirt (Audience Choice Award for Documentary, Macon Film Festival; 2018 national broadcast on AfroPop) and the social issue documentary As Goes Janesville (Independent Lens, national Emmy Award nomination). Danielle Beverly is an assistant professor at Northwestern University in the School of Communication, Radio/Television/Film department, where she teaches documentary to undergraduate and MFA students