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"Mr. Chowder is incapable of writing a bad sentence." – The New Yorker

A Well-Tempered Writer

The 50-Cent Tour

Chowder "working" in the Pyrenees (K. Damstedt photo)

Chowder “working” in the Pyrenees
(K. Damstedt photo)

Ken Chowder has scripted over 25 documentary films (and one feature film) broadcast on PBS, NBC, TBS, Discovery, A & E, and BBC, and has published three novels to glittering reviews.

His credits include seven films for PBS’ The American Experience, one American Masters,and seven National Geographic films.

His films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, won the Columbia/DuPont Prize, and named Best Documentary or Best History Film at many festivals, including the American Film Festival. He’s written (in part or whole) twenty-four proposals that succeeded in getting scripting or production funding, or both, from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and twice won individual fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chowder on the job for Travel & Leisure at The Dreamland Café in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (S. Stephens photo)

Chowder on the job for Travel & Leisure at The Dreamland Café in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (S. Stephens photo)

Chowder’s articles have seen the light of print in Smithsonian, Audubon, Travel & Leisure, The New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, American Heritage, Modern Maturity, The New York Times, Geo, The [London] Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Geographical magazine, and even Reader’s Digest.

His three novels were all published by Harper & Row — one is in Penguins, another was given the Harper-Saxton Prize, and a third was an Editors’ Choice book at the New York Times and Washington Post. Extravagant reviews can be glimpsed on the Fiction page of this site.

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Recent Chowder News

  • New Projects

    1. The 38th Parallel, a two-hour film about the Korean War, executive produced by Jeff Bieber, produced by John Maggio, for WETA (Washington, DC, PBS station).  The project received a production grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2016 — Chowder wrote the grant and the accompanying script.

    2. An American Story: Norman Mineta and his Legacy, a one-hour film about the San-Jose-born Mineta, who was incarcerated in the Heart Mountain camp as a boy during World War II, but emerged to become the first Japanese-American congressman in the lower 48, then championed the law that offered redress to concentration-camp survivors.  Produced by Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi.

    Image result for norman mineta ww2

    3. The Notorious RBG, a one-hour film about Ruth Bader Ginsberg: how she was changed by, and how she changed, a half-century of American feminism.  Produced by Academy-Award winner Freida Mock.

    Image result for notorious rbg

    4.  The Tightrope: Black Diplomats and Cold War America, a one-hour film about early African American Ambassadors fighting for and against a racist United States (1948-1964).  Scripting funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Produced by Flowstate Films.

    Image result for early black diplomats

    5. A Good Guy with a Gun, a one-hour film about the arming of teachers in American public schools, produced by Julie Akeret and Kate Way for Akeret Films


  • Jamestown’s Dark Winter

    A 60 minute film, produced by Andreas Gutzeit of Story House Productions for the PBS series Secrets of the Dead — the brutal and tragic story of a young girl who arrived in Jamestown during the Starving Time.   The story now is in her bones, which tell of a gruesome fate called survival cannibalism.


















    You can watch the film here:


  • Rising Voices/Hóthaninpi

    RISING VOICES/HÓTȞAŊIŊPI, a 60-minute film by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey, was a production of Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc. in association with The Language Conservancy.

    Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi. Five years in the making, this multi-platform project tells the story of a powerful threat to a Native culture. This threat is an insidious, impersonal villain – one that comes through TV sets and social media sites, through Tweets and comic strips and the daily news. The menace is the English language, and the victim seemingly marked for extinction is the Lakota language itself – the language of the Lakota nation, once usually called the Sioux. For the Lakota people, it’s a local problem, but it’s just one instance of a massive global one – a worldwide epidemic of language extinction.

    The film was broadcast on PBS, and received major sponsorship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Administration for Native Americans, the Dakota Indian Foundation, the South Dakota Humanities Council, the North Dakota Humanities Council and Vision Maker Media.




  • Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

    Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America, a 60 minute film by Florentine Films/Hott Productions, was produced and directed by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey.   Funders included the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, HSBC, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the C.E. & S. Foundation, the Peter C. Cornell Trust and Mass Humanities.

    The film was narrated by Stockard Channing.  It  had a national PBS broadcast, and can be seen in its entirety on the PBS website:

  • Latino-Americans series, largely written by Chowder, wins Peabody Award

    A six-part PBS series, The Latino-Americans, has been awarded a 2014 George Foster Peabody award.  Chowder developed the series, created the many proposals that got funding for it, and then wrote five shooting scripts.  His credit was “Consulting Producer.”

    The Peabody citation reads: “A revelation no doubt for many viewers, the documentary series’ six fascinating installments traced a people’s history that’s older than the United States itself and showed how Latinos, rendered to foreigners in a land their ancestors colonized, are now reshaping it.”