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Ursula Macfarlane



Director, Writer, Executive Producer

Ursula’s films have been shown at major festivals worldwide and have gained Emmy, BAFTA, Grierson, RTS, Broadcast, Mind Media and One World Media awards and nominations. She has recently completed a feature documentary for Netflix about the 1990s icon Anna Nicole Smith, due to premiere in spring 2023, and is in production on a feature documentary for Concordia (Summer of Soul).  The Lost Sons, an Emmy-nominated feature documentary for CNN Films which tells the story of a family mystery, premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and has just launched on HBO Max/Discovery+.  Ursula’s BAFTA and Emmy-nominated feature documentary Untouchable, about the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein, made with Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on Hulu and BBC Two.  Previously, Ursula series-directed a 6-part series about the Washington Sniper, which premiered on Vice in the US and on Channel 4 in the UK. In 2018 she was nominated for the best single documentary BAFTA for the BBC Three feature documentary, One Deadly Weekend in America, telling the stories of the fatal shootings of seven young people over one weekend in America.  Her feature documentary Breaking Up with the Joneses, for Channel 4, was recently included in the Grierson Trust’s top documentaries of the last 50 years.


Other credits include the Netflix hostage-negotiation drama-documentary series Captive; West Side Stories: The Making of a Classic for BBC Two, Charlie Hebdo: Three Days that Shook Paris for More4 and France 3, Tsunami: Survivors’ Stories and The Life and Death of Karen Woo for ITV, Warwick Davis’s Big Night for BBC Two’s Modern Times, and Notes from the Inside with James Rhodes. 



Feature documentary.

Rooks Nest, producers Julia Godzinskaya, Sophie Vickers

Executive Producers Nicole Stott, Jonathan Silberman, Concordia Studio


Feature documentary for Netflix about the untold story behind the rise and tragic fall of 90s icon Anna Nicole Smith.  Premiering Spring 2023.

Propagate: Executive Producers Howard Owens, Ben Silverman, Jonathan Schaerf

2020-2021 - THE LOST SONS

Feature documentary for CNN Films about a family mystery which begins in 1960s Chicago.  Selected for the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and due for release in late 2021.

Raw:  Executive Producer: Liesel Evans

Selected for SXSW Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, CH:DOX Film Festival, Americana Film Festival, amongst others.

2018-19 - UNTOUCHABLE 

Feature documentary for BBC and theatrical release about the spectacular fall from grace of media mogul Harvey Weinstein.  With a cast of characters including survivors, friends and colleagues, this is a portrait of power and its abuses, spanning over forty years.

Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2019, CH:DOX, Sheffield DocFest, Sydney Film Festival and numerous others worldwide.

Producers: Lightbox: Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Poppy Dixon

2017-18 - I, SNIPER (Series Director)

A six-part series for Vice and Channel 4 about the deadly shooting 2002 spree in Washington DC, exploring the relationship between the two murderers and their back stories, as well as telling the gripping story of the police investigation, and the devastation suffered by victims, survivors and their families. 

Arrow Media.  Executive Producers: John Smithson and Sam Starbuck


Feature-length documentary covering 48 hours of gun violence across the United States, telling the stories of seven families who lives were torn apart through gun crime. Nominated for best Single Documentary, BAFTA Television Awards 2017

Executive Producers: Sanjay Singhal, Jon Alwen

Voltage TV for BBC Three (Danny Horan)

*Nominee: Single Documentary, BAFTA Television Awards 2017


A 60 min documentary about one of the world’s best loved musicals.  With new filming of excerpts of the show with young singers and dancers in New York, we explore the music and choreography of West Side Story, hear from Stephen Sondheim, the show’s lyricist, and its actors, singers and dancers.

Executive Producer: Ben Weston

Reef Television for BBC Two (Jan Younghusband), 

2015-2016 - CAPTIVE

60 min drama-documentary for Netflix about Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates and held on land for over a year.  An innovative new series featuring archive, drama, actuality and testimony to tell stories of the murky and complex world of hostage -taking.

Executive Producers: Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn, Kathryn Taylor

Lightbox Media for Netflix (Adam Del Deo, Jason Spingarn-Koff)

Launched December 2016


An hour-by-hour account of the Paris terror attacks by Islamist militants in January 2015 – massacres which left twenty dead, threatened the very idea of free speech and left a nation traumatised.  Told by survivors, families, witnesses and the police chiefs who ran the huge manhunt, with unseen UGC and police footage.

Executive Producer: Neil Grant

Films of Record for Channel 4/More4 (Anna Miralis)

“ hypnotic and horrifying” - The Times

“superbly gripping” - Financial Times

 “the stuff of thriller fiction” - Mail on Sunday

*Nominee: Director Factual, BAFTA Craft Awards 2016

*Nominee: Editor Factual, BAFTA Craft Awards 2016

*Winner: Best Factual Programme, Digital Broadcast Awards 2016

* Shortlisted: Best Documentary on a Contemporary Film, International, Grierson Awards 2016

*Shortlisted: Best Multichannel Programme, Broadcast Awards 2017


10 years after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, a feature documentary exploring how the killer wave changed survivors’ lives forever.  A brother and sister return to Thailand, trying to piece together what happened to their mother that day.

Executive Producer: Colin Barr

Minnow Films for ITV1 (Richard Klein, Andrew O’Connell)

“a powerful record of pain and grief intensified by terrifying footage of the wave” – The Sunday Times

“loss pervades in this poignant documentary” – Daily Telegraph

* Nominee: Editor Factual, BAFTA Craft Awards 2015


As part of the return of the iconic BBC2 series Modern Times, a humorous and poignant 60 min film following actor Warwick Davis as he puts his personal finances on the line to set up a theatre company solely for short actors.  It’s about getting a show on the road – but also about what it’s really like to be a dwarf in an average-height world.

“the best programme I have ever seen about dwarfism…beautifully and movingly told” – The Times

“intimate, inspiring and a happy ending too” – Daily Telegraph

“the best documentary of the week” – The Observer

Executive Producer:  Kieran Smith

Love Productions for BBC Two (Emma Willis)

*Nominee, Most Entertaining Documentary, Grierson Awards 2015

2013 – PAYDAY (executive producer)

Working with directors Fred & Nick on an innovative observational and performance documentary for Channel 4’s First Cut, about young people and money.  Featuring four young lives filmed over one summer in Croydon, it is narrated by George the Poet.

TX Jan 2014

Pulse Films for Channel 4 documentaries First Cut (Lina Prestwood)

*Official Selection, Closing Gala, East End Festival 2014

*Nominee, Best Documentary on a Contemporary Subject, Grierson Awards 2014

2013 – ALMA’S DREAM (w/title)

60 min observational documentary for Channel 4 Arts.  Eight year old child prodigy Alma Deutscher is gifted on piano and violin, but what sets her out is her remarkable ability to compose – a talent which leading academics have compared to the young Mozart.  We follow her as she stages her very own opera at the Sage Gateshead, dealing with the challenges of collaborating with professionals and leaving her home-schooled idyll back down south.

Rize USA for Channel 4 Arts (Tabitha Jackson)

tx date tbc


60 min documentary authored by short actor Warwick Davis for ITV1, about the incredible story of the Ovitz family, seven Jewish dwarf siblings who were deported to Auschwitz and, remarkably, survived.

“an extraordinary story, skilfully told” – The Independent.

“delivers poignancy in no small measure…Davis’ passion for this astonishing family shone through in this thought-provoking documentary, bringing up issues of family, morality and personal identity. – Daily Mirror

Executive Producer: Allen Jewson

Chameleon TV for Perspectives, ITV1 documentaries (Jo Clinton Davis)

TX 24 March 2013

* Nominee, RTS Yorkshire Awards, Best Factual Programme 2130


60 min documentary about the brilliant, maverick concert pianist James Rhodes, who has battled with mental illness.  Five years after he was sectioned following a breakdown, and convinced that music has the power to transform lives for the better, James takes his Steinway grand piano inside one of Britain’s largest psychiatric hospitals.

“filled with hope” – Sunday Times. 

“profoundly humane...wonderful to watch” – The Times.

“intense and moving” – Daily Mail

Executive Producer: Jeremy Lee

Fresh One for Channel 4 (Tabitha Jackson)

 *Nominee, Best Arts Documentary, Grierson Awards 2014

* Nominee, MIND Media Awards 2014


75 min documentary about the murder of the British doctor Karen Woo, who was murdered with her aid worker colleagues while on a mission to bring healthcare to a remote region of Afghanistan in 2010.  Using Karen’s own footage of her trip, and her video diaries, her fiancé Paddy Smith embarks on a journey which is part biography, part murder-mystery, as he finds out more about the impetuous, brilliant young woman he was due to marry.

“incredibly poignant and well-shot…heartbreaking, honest and courageous.” – TV Times

“a remarkable documentary” The Times

“a moving documentary…an extraordinary project” The Observer

Executive Producers: Liesel Evans and Brian Hill

Century Films for ITV1 (Jo Clinton Davis)

*Nominee, Single Documentary - Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2012

*Nominee, Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue, Intl. – Grierson Awards 2012

2011 – MILOS: A JOURNEY (Executive Producer)

30 min documentary directed by Debbie Anzalone, profiling the talented young Montenegrin classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic, to accompany the launch of his debut album Milos: The Guitar.  Milos is now Universal Records’ top-selling classical artist.

Century Films for Universal Records/Deutsche Grammophon.

2011 – MEET THE SCEPTICS (Executive Producer)

Feature documentary directed by Rupert Murray (Unknown White Male, The End of the Line) – a zesty and irreverent film about the growing number of people who believe global warming is not happening. We ended up in the High Court on the day of transmission, challenging an injunction by one of the climate sceptics – and won.

Fresh One for Storyville, BBC 


6 X 30 mins documentary and performance series about the extraordinary talent James Rhodes, an untrained pianist with a troubled personal history, playing Beethoven, Bach and Chopin.   Uses vibrant and witty animation by the designers of The Mighty Boosh to bring James’s musical world to life.

‘a simple but effective premise for a music programme; moving, inspiring even.  And how often can you say that about television?’Mail on Sunday 

Executive Producer: Roy Ackerman

Fresh One for Sky Arts (James Hunt)

2010 – DANCE, DANCE, DANCE (Executive Producer)

60 min dance film directed by Mark James, featuring some of Britain’s top Bollywood, ballet, swing and contemporary dancers performing in extraordinary locations, shot in 3D to launch Sky’s 3D channel.

Fresh One for Sky Arts/Sky 3D

*Winner, International 3D Society Creative Arts Award, 2010

2008-09 – MY FIRST YEAR (Series Director)

Series of 12 x 30’ films 

A year in the life of eleven year old kids as they experience their first year at a Bradford secondary school.  Their world, seen through their eyes, the series deals with rites-of-passage themes like first love, bullying, finding a best friend and rivalry on the football pitch, and is an inventive and ambitious hybrid of observational documentary, musical drama and animation.

‘imaginative, funny, sweet and moving – with not a hoodie in sight.’ – Bradford Telegraph & Argus

 ‘the straightforward honesty of the children marks this out from other documentaries’ Yorkshire Post

Dragonfly Film & TV for Channel 4 Documentaries (Kate Vogel)


60’ documentary

Margaret is 14 weeks pregnant and has decided to have an abortion.  As we follow her though the day of her termination, her story is intercut with the stories of four other women who made the same choice – an uncompromising, powerful and honest look at modern abortion.

‘a haunting film’The Times; ‘honest and tearful’The Guardian; ‘a candid and poignant film’Daily Express

Executive Producer: Brian Hill

Century Films for BBC Two 


Second-unit director on Brian Hill’s feature documentary about people around the planet who are taking positive steps to combat climate – the follow-up film to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Century Films for Participant Media

* Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival 2010

* Official Selection, Doc NZ 2010

* Official Selection, CPH Dox Fest 2010


A sweetly poignant 50 min film about looking for love online – in your late seventies.  Time is running out for Pat, Bernie and Shirley, but they still all want somebody to love.

a sweet film about hope and love’Time Out

‘bursting with vitality, humour and optimism’ The Times

‘wonderfully funny and poignant’TV Guide ‘it isn’t about the internet, really; it’s about the need of people to be loved, and the fear of loneliness’Daily Telegraph

Executive Producers: Sally George and Stephen Walker

Walker George Films for Channel 4 Documentaries (Simon Dickson


90’ feature documentary

Thirty-somethings Lynne and Stephen Jones have decided to end their ten-year marriage amicably.  But with two young children, is there any such thing as the Perfect Divorce?  A heartbreakingly honest documentary charting their emotional journey as they attempt to rebuild their lives – and find themselves in the middle of a dramatic tug of love for their children.

‘utterly involving’ Daily Mail.  ‘brilliant and endearing’ – Broadcast magazine;painful and yet compelling’Daily Telegraph; ‘Ursula Macfarlane’s beautiful film charting a domestic divorce’ Guardian

Executive Producer: Dave Nath

betty tv for Channel 4 Documentaries (Simon Dickson)

* Official Selection, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2007

* Nominee: Single Documentary, BAFTA 2007

* Nominee: Editing Factual, BAFTA 2007

* Nominee: Photography Factual, BAFTA 2007

* Nominee: Editing Factual, BAFTA 2007

* Nominee: Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue, Grierson Awards 2007

* Nominee: Single Documentary, Broadcast Awards 2007


30’ drama 

A divorced father on the brink of death returns to earth as an angel to examine his shattered family.  Written by Lucy Moore.

IWC Media for Channel 4 Drama (Liza Marshall)

‘Better than many prime-time dramas; worth staying up for” – Time Out


60’ docu-drama 

Wrote and directed lead episode in a series of three.  Depicts Beethoven’s troubled childhood and brilliant youth – before his growing deafness caused a breakdown.  Starring Paul Rhys as Beethoven.

‘You would need a heart of stone not to be moved.’Sunday Times

Executive Producer: Peter Maniura

BBC Classical Music Television for BBC Two

  • Nominee: Sound Factual, BAFTA 2006


60’ documentary 

A gently humorous journey following comedian Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) as he uncovers his family’s roots to discover a hidden world of domestic service: butlers, gamekeepers…and a bigamist grandfather.

Executive Producer: Alex Graham

Wall to Wall for BBC Two

* Winner, Specialist Factual Series, BAFTA 2005


60’ docu-drama

Part of a BBC 2 series tackling major issues of today by projecting them into the near future.  The dramatic scenario is fictional but the issues and interviews are real.  In 2020, women are outperforming men academically, technologically and even biologically.

“slick, strong, convincing, compelling” – Time Out

Executive Producer: Peter Barron

BBC News and Current Affairs for BBC Two


60’ docu-drama 

Final episode of a landmark series about the life and music of Mozart, starring Emma Cunniffe, Claire Skinner, Kenneth Cranham and Jack Tarlton.

visually stunning; emotionally piercing’ - Sunday Times

Executive Producer: Peter Maniura

BBC Classical Music Television for BBC Two

*Winner, Sound Factual BAFTA 2005


60’ docu-drama

Evocative film about the vilified last queen of France, casting a new light on Marie Antoinette’s turbulent life.

an accessible, emotional and rather filmic story of a woman’s intriguing life’Time Out; ‘lively, atmospheric and extremely well-shot’ – Sunday Telegraph; ‘a gripping historical romance’ Daily Telegraph

BBC Documentaries for BBC Two


60’ documentary 

Personal, observational diary made with novelist Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things) about her involvement with the campaign to stop the Narmada Valley dam in central India.  We followed the events leading up to her imprisonment by the Supreme Court of India in March 2002.

Diverse Production for BBC Two/Four (Roly Keating)

* Winner, OneWorld Media Awards 2003

* Selected for Amnesty International Film Festival 2003; Locarno International Film Festival 2003; Association for Asian Studies Film Festival 2004


2 X 50 min documentaries

A series of observational documentaries set in Europe’s largest recurrent miscarriage clinic at St Mary’s Hospital, London.  Following six women with a harrowing history of losing babies – from 29 year old Naida to 42 year old Cheryl – as they try once more for a chlld.

Executive Producer: Belinda Giles

Dual Purpose Productions for Channel 4 Documentaries

* Nominee, RTS Southern Awards Best Network Documentary 2002


50’ documentary

The haunting story of the murder of Christine Offord, a single mother who abandoned her suburban roots to become an S&M prostitute in Kensington.  It was here she met femme fatale Margi Dunbar, embarking on a relationship which led ultimately to her death.  Christine’s children Damon and Denise revisit their past to recall their mother’s short life and violent death, and its effect on their own lives.

'compelling, atmospheric..sensitively handled…gripping' – Time Out

Executive Producer: Belinda Giles

Soul Purpose Productions for Channel 4 Documentaries (Adam Barker)


 50’ documentary

Yoko Ono talks candidly about her lonely childhood, her life as an artist, her search for her missing daughter Kyoko and her relationship with John Lennon, their separation and his death.  Including a rare interview with Sean Lennon and, exclusively, with Kyoko, who’d been recently reunited with her mother.

Executive Producer: Belinda Giles

Soul Purpose Productions for Channel 4 Documentaries (Peter Grimsdale)

Additional credits include:

THE COWBOY AND THE ECLIPSE – about light artist James Turrell (C4)

THE REAL BRIGITTE BARDOT – the rise and fall of the controversial French icon (C4)

CITIZEN KAY – the story of Katharine Graham, the reluctant publisher who shepherded the Washington Post through the Watergate era (BBC One)

CLIVE BARKER’S A TO Z OF HORROR – the art of horror in literature, film, photography and music (BBC Two/A&E)

THE RONSON MISSION - journalist Jon Ronson’s TV debut (BBC Two)


Pembroke College, University of Oxford, Modern Languages 2:1 with distinction in French

National Film & Television School documentary producing short course

Foundation course in Psychotherapy, Regents University, London


Fluent French, good German, conversational Japanese

Ursula Macfarlane
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