PSR-LA is proud to honor Lawrence Bender with our 2008 Socially Responsible Media Award for using his innovative filmmaking talents to create social change. Bender’s award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth has inspired the public to take unprecedented political and personal action to stop climate change.
His accomplishments in film are extensive; his movies have been honored with twenty-one Academy Award nominations, including two for Best Picture (Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction) and they have won five. Bender also produced: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), The Mexican (2001), Anna and the King (1999), Jackie Brown (1997), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Four Rooms (1995), Fresh (1994), and Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Bender’s films have also raised awareness on important issues including racial justice, hate crimes, homophobia and social justice. He produced Chumscrubber, which helped alert the public to the rise in teenage prescription drug use and was screened for members of the US Congress. In 2004, Bender produced Voces Inocentes, a Spanish language film directed by Luis Mandoki, which was inspired by a true story during the war in El Salvador. In 2001 Bender produced Anatomy of a Hate Crime, depicting the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student in Wyoming, which helped prompt tougher hate-crime laws.
Lawrence Bender is a passionate social and political activist. His interest was first piqued at a young age attending anti-war marches with his parents while growing up in New York and New Jersey. In 2003, Bender partnered with Arianna Huffington to found the Detroit Project, which targeted the gas guzzling SUV. He also traveled to the Middle East with the Israeli Policy Forum where he met with international leaders. In Israel he met with members of the Knesset. In Egypt, he met with President Hosni Mubarak, and in the West Bank in Ramallah and he met with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas.
Bender recently created the “18 seconds” campaign, designed to demonstrate the simplicity of becoming part of the solution for global warming — that it only takes 18 seconds to change to a compact fluorescent light bulb — which could collectively save billions in energy costs.
Mr. Bender currently serves on the board of the Creative Coalition, the Israel Policy Forum, Rock the Vote and the Executive Board of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He currently sits on the Deans’ Council at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Bender is currently working on a documentary about nuclear weapons that will be debuted as part of the World Security Institute campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons.