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Thornapple Films was founded in 2003 to house and foster the works of  filmmaker

Elisabeth Haviland James


Elisabeth Haviland James is the creative talent behind Thornapple Films, which she founded upon moving to New York City in 2003. Thornapple Films began as an independent media company specializing in documentary, and has expanded to include narrative and experimental filmmaking.  In 2009, Thornapple Films relocated to West Main Street in Durham, North Carolina.  Among its clients are National Geographic, HBO, PBS, White Mountain Films, Augusta Films, Roland Films, RexPixFilm and Burt’s Bees.

Elisabeth Haviland James is an award-winning filmmaker based in Durham, North Carolina. IN SO MANY WORDS, her feature directorial debut, premiered at the prestigious Full Frame Festival in 2013. Described as Southern Gothic by way of Sigmund Freud, it is a portrait of Raleigh writer Lucy Daniels.  Elisabeth is currently editing Rex Miller’s ALTHEA, about tennis star Althea Gibson. She won a Peabody Award for her work as the Producer and the Editor of THE LOVING STORY (Director Nancy Buirski), shortlisted for the 2012 Academy Award, about the courageous couple responsible for ending anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. The film was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a co-production with HBO.

Along with her husband, artist and filmmaker Revere La Noue, she is developing a short essay documentary on international falconry and a narrative feature based on the incredible life of a famous children’s author. Other projects in development include an IMAX on the Lemurs of Madagascar, and an adaptation of Doug Marlette’s MAGIC TIME.

Elisabeth was a consulting producer in the Central African Republic on Lavinia Currier’s narrative feature, OKA!, which premiered at Telluride and was released in theaters in September 2011.  Other credits include Producer of THE GOOD FIGHT (about football coaching icon, Bobby Bowden) and Co-Producer of THE LORD GOD BIRD (featuring the elusive Ivory-billed woodpecker)—both films directed by legendary documentarian George Butler. During the 2004 Presidential election, she served as Director of Photography and Editor on BROTHERS IN ARMS, featuring Senator John Kerry, as well as the Archival Film Researcher on GOING UPRIVER: THE LONG WAR OF JOHN KERRY. Elisabeth is a graduate of the M.A. Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University, where she directed and produced four award-winning short documentaries. Her her thesis film, NET LOSS (a look at fathers and sons in a struggling fishing community in northern California) won the Nicholas Roosevelt Award for Environmental Journalism and PRECIPICE (an experimental extropian trans-humanistic essay, co-Directed with Elizabeth Witham) was nominated for the  Academy Award in the Student Documentary category in 2002. Her other films include FLAUNT  (a portrait of a fat liberation hip-hop artist) and WORMS AT WORK (a film about worm-composting for children).

In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Elisabeth teaches documentary courses at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. She is the founder and president of Thornapple Films, and she sits on the board of the Southern Documentary Fund. She is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and speaks passable French. 




On the Sidelines of the Emerald Bowl, 2007

Bayanga, Central African Republic, 2008

Searching for the Ivory-bill in Arkansas, 2006