Andrew James is an award-winning independent filmmaker pursuing American stories with an emphasis on character and place. In 2009, he completed Cleanflix, a feature-length documentary about Mormon movie sanitizers re-editing Hollywood films without permission. The funny and crowd-pleasing film had its world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival before screening at festivals across North America such as Sidewalk, Big Sky, Cinequest and Nashville–where it was an audience favorite. The film, which explores morality, subjectivity and censorship through the lens of Mormon movie culture, has been praised for its witty yet balanced treatment of two starkly different worlds clashing over matters of artistic censorship. Featuring interviews with the founders of the clean film movement and the Hollywood directors determined to stop them, "Cleanflix is a movie which continues hours after the credits, in the conversations and debates you will have with your friends and family" (/FIlm). After a successful festival run, the film was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and Passion River.
After finishing Cleanflix, Andrew moved to Michigan to begin work on Street Fighting Men, a feature-length documentary ensemble about three men fighting to build a stable life for themselves in post-industrial Detroit. Andrew lived in the city for more than a year and cultivated close bonds with the three men featured in the film. Cited as a "Filmmaker to Watch" by The Independent, Andrew has taken Street Fighting Men to such notable venues as Independent Film Week, the Hot Docs Pitch Forum, the Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab, and the Film Independent Documentary Lab. The film also received post-production support from the Sundance Institute and the San Francisco Film Society. Street Fighting Men had its world premiere at IFFBoston in 2017 and screened at festivals world-wide such as Big Sky, SF DocFest, Viewpoint and Brooklyn (where it took home the Spirit Award) before being distributed by First Run Features. Known for its strong subjects, beautiful cinematography and direct approach, Street Fighting Men is "a painful but honest depiction of black life in urban Detroit, featuring multifaceted men striving against the odds. A portrait of black resilience and perseverance — without sentimentality — that stands in stark contrast to the one-dimensional uplifting stories of transformation in Detroit, but still offers a way out of the dark" (April Wolfe).
In 2018, Andrew completed Community Patrol, a short, observational portrait of neighborhood self-policing through the eyes of long-time Detroit activist and community organizer, Malik Shabazz. The black and white companion piece to Street Fighting Men debuted at the 2018 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival where it won the Best Mini Doc Award. It also won the Special Jury Prize for Documentary Short Film at IFFBoston and was an official selection at festivals such as True/False, Ashland, Traverse City, SF DocFest, Hot Springs and Camden. Community Patrol also qualified for the 2019 Academy Awards, was listed as one of the Top Ten Moments of the Utah Enlightenment for 2018 by The Utah Review and was a MAST Studio award-winner before having its online premiere via The Atlantic. The film has been widely praised for its intimacy, direct style and cinematic approach: “Without editorializing, Community Patrol raises serious questions about who has the authority to control a neighborhood—as well as about how that authority is created, or maintained” (Dig Boston).
Andrew makes time to freelance as an editor, producer, cinematographer and consultant. In addition to film production, he enjoys teaching and working with young people. He has taught the documentary storytelling class at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp as well as the documentary camera class at Maine Media Workshops. He currently lives with his wife and frequent collaborator, Jolyn Schleiffarth, in Salt Lake City, Utah.