Michele Forman
Documentary filmmaker

Michele Forman is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and Director of Media Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an interdisciplinary minor she co-founded in 2003. The aim of the program is to educate college students in media production practice and film history, as well as connect them with crucial community issues in the Greater Birmingham area through documentary filmmaking, digital storytelling, and multimedia-based research.


Forman gained her experience as an executive in feature films. As Director of Development at Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, she was responsible for the acquisition and development of new projects, including New Jersey Drive, Girl 6, Sula, The Jackie Robinson Story, and Summer of Sam. In addition, Forman served as associate producer on Mr. Lee’s Academy Award-nominated film 4 Little Girls, a feature-length documentary for HBO about the bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.


Her work with the UAB Media Studies Program has created a student-produced archive of over 500 community-based short documentary films. The films are available free of charge online, streaming from both the UAB Mervyn H. Sterne Digital Collection and the UAB Media Studies Vimeo Channel. Program partnerships include Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, McWane Science Center, UAB School of Public Health, Sidewalk Film Festival, Vulcan Park and Museum, Red Mountain Park, WBHM, and the national oral history project, StoryCorps. Media Studies has been supported in part by the Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues Initiative.


Since 1997, Forman has been directing and producing documentary projects for film and television, earning an Emmy nomination in 2001 for Coat of Many Colors. Her feature-length documentary Climb for the Cause: A Breast Cancer Story (2007) documents five women who became activists for women’s health after surviving breast cancer. The film sent Forman up Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s tallest peaks, following the women as they raised money and awareness about what women can accomplish after cancer. Climb for the Cause was optioned for fictional adaptation by Caribou Entertainment.


Her most recent feature documentary Alabama Bound tells the story of same-sex families fighting for custody of their children, a crucial issue not resolved by the groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Alabama Bound won numerous awards during its 2017 film festival run, including the Sidewalk + Shout Jury Award and Best Alabama Film Audience Award, The Shindig Film Festival Best Documentary, Atlanta Out on Film Best Women’s Film, Fairhope Film Festival Grand Jury Best Documentary and Audience Award Best Documentary, and New York’s NewFest Grand Jury Best Documentary. Alabama Bound is now being broadcast via PBS as part of the film series Reel South.


Forman began her film work at Harvard University, where she double-majored in English and filmmaking.