Jem Cohen

Jem Cohen

Director, Editor, Sound Editor, Producer


Jem Cohen is an American film director, writer, and cinematographer best known for his documentary films and music videos. He was born in Washington D.C. in 1962 and grew up in Maryland. After attending college in New England, he moved to New York City in the early 1980s, where he began his career as an artist.

Cohen's early work in the medium of film was heavily influenced by his interest in the streets and culture of New York City. He made a series of short films and music videos, including tours of local neighborhoods and interviews with artists, musicians, and everyday people. His work was characterized by a lyrical, poetic approach to storytelling and a deep appreciation for the city's diversity.

Cohen's first feature-length documentary, Benjamin Smoke (2000), was an intimate portrait of the late singer and songwriter from the band Smoke. His next documentary, Instrument (1999), followed the members of the band Fugazi and their creative process. The film was widely acclaimed and earned Cohen a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

In the 2000s, Cohen shifted away from documentary filmmaking and toward narrative feature films, beginning with Chain (2004). The film, about a young woman's search for identity, featured a cast of non-professional actors and was shot on 16mm film. His next feature, Museum Hours (2012), was a gentle drama about a museum guard and a visitor.

Throughout his career, Cohen has continued to explore the medium of film in new and challenging ways. His 2016 feature, World Without End (No Reported Incidents), was a multi-layered, experimental documentary about a small town in Pennsylvania. Cohen has also written and directed a variety of short films, including We Have an Anchor (2010), and he recently completed a new feature film, Lost Book Found (2017).

In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Cohen has collaborated with numerous musicians on music videos and live visuals. He has worked with artists such as Cat Power, R.E.M., and Grandaddy, and his music videos have won awards from MTV and the Berlin International Film Festival.

Cohen's films have been featured at prestigious festivals around the world, including the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and his work has been honored by the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for