DIRECTOR/WRITER and EDITORIAL CONSULTANT
Geoffrey Smith was born in Melbourne, Australia and was always fascinated by the moving image. Like many of his generation he went travelling abroad, and discovered en route a love of listening and story-telling.
In 1987 he found himself in Haiti helping to make a documentary about the first election there in 31 years, but following the discovery of a massacre of voters in a school, he was shot twice and wounded. Struggling to put his life back together in London, Geoffrey decided to film his journey back to Haiti to find the man who had so nearly killed him. This acclaimed film was shown in the BBC’s “Video Diary” series, and was very powerful for the on-screen catharsis it intimately portrayed.
Having discovered through this very personal project that the camera could be a powerful tool in helping people through difficult periods in their lives, many of Geoffrey’s subsequent films are built around this approach. Since then he has made over 24 films for all the major UK broadcasters, won 2 Emmys and numerous International awards, and is drawn to observational real life dramas where deep ethical and moral dilemmas abound.
In 2008 Geoffrey’s feature documentary “The English Surgeon” won huge critical and audience acclaim. It has played in over 115 Film Festivals, won an Emmy and 12 major International awards, was on the NY Times Best Films list 2009, had a US theatrical run, garnered numerous glowing reviews – NY Times, the LA Times and Variety, and sold to over 20 broadcasters as a full length feature film.
Geoffrey’s next feature documentary was a collaboration with a Mexican lawyer on the burning social issue of wrongful imprisonment in that country. With incredible access to the prisons and the courts, “Presumed Guilty” plays out like a drama and had its World premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. In Mexico it was released with over three hundred 35mm prints which put it into the Documentary top 20 Box office list worldwide, and in addition to igniting a strong national debate, it went on to win 14 major International awards including an Emmy. The film is an audience favourite, and sold to many broadcasters including the POV strand on PBS and “True Stories” in the UK.
In 2014 Geoffrey moved back to rural Australia to help look after his elderly Mum, and says “it has been the best thing he has ever done”. Of late he has got back into filmmaking and is developing an ambitious feature doc about Sean Flynn, another about Robyn Davidson of “Tracks” fame, and another based on the award winning Australian book “The Biggest Estate on Earth”.
Geoffrey has also curated the bespoke Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival for the last 3 years, and has been execing and script editing a range of feature docs with Australian directors.
Corporate work in the UK saw Geoffrey make a number of short films for Surrey Police and The Autistic Society, and in Australia the Ian Potter Foundation.
In addition to his directing skills, Geoffrey brings with him over 23 years of experience in the cutting room. He has helped many other filmmakers structure or recut their projects, and has been an editorial consultant on a variety of feature documentaries both before and during shooting, as well as in the edit.
Lastly, Geoffrey has taught directing and Master classes in the UK, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, the US and Australia, was a tutor at the IDFA summer school, and for 2 years was on the Commissioning panel for BBC documentaries in Scotland.