Adjunct Professor Marilyn Ness' Acclaimed Documentary 'Charm City' Opens in Theaters

September 10, 2018

Adjunct Film Professor Marilyn Ness directed and produced Charm City, a documentary which presents a portrait of the citizens, police, community advocates and government officials working for positive change on the front lines of the escalating violence in Baltimore. The film premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival to much acclaim, with the New York Times calling it “Gripping” and Film Pulse, “A Must See”. It screened at several other festivals including AFI Docs and The Human Rights Watch Film Festival.


Charm City will get its theatrical release from PBS Distribution this October as well as a TV premiere exclusively on PBS’ Independent Lens in Spring 2019.


Filmed over three tumultuous years covering the lead up to, and aftermath of, Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, Charm City is an intimate cinema verité portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the vibrant city they call home.  


Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont Award-winning filmmaker, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and works as a producer and director. Her most recent film, Cameraperson (dir. Kirsten Johnson) premiered at Sundance 2016, was released by the Criterion Collection, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Awards. Other films she has produced include Trapped (2016) and E-Team (2014), both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and 1971 which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.


Announcing the film’s distribution plan on, PBS Head of Theatrical Distribution Erin Owens said “Through its beautiful characters, we see the complexities and the dynamics that define so many American cities today. We deeply believe in this film’s potential to foster a dialogue between marginalized communities and law enforcement—a dialogue that is horribly overdue. And we couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our second partnership with Big Mouth Productions, whose work to tell vital, human stories we have long admired."


Big Mouth Productions is an award-winning, independent documentary film production company founded by Marilyn Ness and Producer/Director Katy Chevigny in 1997 to produce thought-provoking and engaging media. At Columbia, Ness teaches Documentary Production in the Creative Producing Program.