Kari Barber is a journalist and an award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Barber’s documentary Struggle & Hope was broadcast nationally on public television as part of the series America ReFramed. The film screened at festivals internationally starting with a world premiere in Cannes, France at the Festival International du Film Panafricaine and winning numerous awards including an “Award of Excellence” from the Broadcast Educational Association. The film follows the stories of residents and descendants who are trying to save and preserve historically all-black towns in Barber’s home state of Oklahoma. Struggle & Hope was awarded development funding from ITVS, the leading documentary film funder and distributor for public media. Along with the feature-length documentary, Barber also produced a participatory website which won “Best in Competition” at the Broadcast Education Association in 2016 and was named “Curator’s Choice” at the International Digital Media and Arts Association’s iDEAS Exhibition in 2015 and held live screening and discussion events in five of the remaining historically all-black towns.
In 2020 Barber was named Best Nevada Filmmaker by the Dam Short Film Festival for her short documentary on education, Rainshadow. The film was also named Best Nevada Film by the Nevada Women’s Film Festival.
In 2018, Barber was awarded a grant to experiment with live journalism from Localore and the Association of Independents in Radio. Through the grant, she worked with Our Town Reno to hold live narrative events focusing on homelessness and displacement in the Reno community. The events were held at a motel, along the river and at The Eddy House, a drop-in center for at-risk youth.
Barber’s short documentary Baking Alaska premiered in 2013 at La Femme International Film Festival in Los Angeles and went on to screen at more than a dozen film festivals winning many awards including “Best of Competition”at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts and “Best Short Documentary” at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
In addition to directing and producing her own films and media projects, Barber has also worked in various roles on other films including as a researcher and reporter for two documentaries for the PBS public affairs show Frontline – Flying Cheaper and Lost in Detention. She also co-produced The Mama Sherpas (2014) from executive directors Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and directed by Brigid Maher.
As a journalist, Barber worked internationally as a freelance media producer in Southeast Asia and West and Central Africa where she reported for organizations including the Voice of America, Associated Press Television News, Marie Claire magazine, Reuters news agency, France 24, the United Nations humanitarian news analysis site IRIN, and The Christian Science Monitor. As a journalist, she traveled to nearly a dozen African countries producing radio, television and multimedia reports on topics including human rights, elections, civil conflicts, art, sports, oil unrest and economic growth. She also worked in Sierra Leone as a media trainer for the organization Journalists for Human Rights.
Barber’s first media jobs were at a newspaper in Cambodia and a television station in Little Rock, Ark.
Barber’s research interests include animated documentary, participatory journalism, and storytelling and technology.
- M.F.A. in Film & Electronic Media, American University
- B.A. Journalism, University of Oklahoma