Heather Rae

Last updated
Heather Rae
Born (1966-10-01) October 1, 1966 (age 56)
Venice, California, USA
Years active1990–present
Known forFrozen River
SpouseRussell Friedenberg (m. 1999)

Heather Rae is an American film and television producer and director. She has worked on documentary and narrative film projects, and is best known for Frozen River , Trudell , and Tallulah . [1] [2]


Personal life

Rae was raised in Idaho. [3]

In 1999, Rae married Russell Friedenberg, the American director and screenwriter. They have three children; her daughter is actress Johnny Sequoyah. [4]


From 1996 to 2001, Rae directed the Native program at the Sundance Institute. [5]

In 2000, she co-produced Backroads directed by Shirley Cheechoo, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival that year.

Rae has worked as a producer for more than 20 years,[ when? ] being recognized as one of Variety's Ten Producers to Watch in 2008, and receiving the Piaget Producers Award and the Cinereach Producers Award. [6]

In 2005, Trudell was released, the culmination of more than a decade of Rae’s work as a filmmaker and activist.[ citation needed ] It has played in more than 100 film festivals worldwide. [7] Trudell received the Best Documentary Feature at the 30th Annual American Indian Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival.[ when? ] In 2006, Trudell was nationally broadcast on PBS in the documentary series Independent Lens. [7]

Circa 2006, Rae was an adjunct film studies professor at Boise State University, Idaho. [8] Around this time, Rae co-founded True West and the True West Cinema Film Festival. [9] [7]

In 2008, she was recognized as one of Variety 's Ten Producers to Watch. [10] Frozen River (2008) received seven nominations and won two Independent Spirit Awards, including Rae winning the Piaget Producers Award. [11] It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and received two Academy Award nominations for the Best Actress (Melissa Leo) and the Best Original Screenplay (Courtney Hunt). [12] It was nominated for five Gotham Awards and won the Best Feature and the Breakthrough Actor awards in The 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. [13] [14]

In 2009, the Independent Spirit Awards gave Rae the Piaget Producers Award for Frozen River and Ibid. [15]

In 2010, The Dry Land (2010) directed by Ryan Piers Williams and starring America Ferrera, Melissa Leo, Jason Ritter and Wilmer Valderrama, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. [16] [17] [18]

She established a production center in Boise where independent filmmakers such as Gregory Bayne, Randy Redroad and Blackhorse Lowe worked.[ when? ] It produced four feature films before being shuttered. Rae is a current and founding board member of the Sun Valley Film Festival. [19]

After leaving Sundance, Rae worked for one year as senior vice president of production for Winter Films. [20] From 2012 to 2015, Rae served as an artist trustee for the Sundance Institute's Board of Trustees. [21]

I Believe in Unicorns (2014) directed by Film Fatales founder, Leah Meyerhoff and starring Natalia Dyer, Peter Vack and Julia Garner premiered at South by Southwest. [22]

In 2016, Tallulah, starring Elliot Page and Alison Janney, written and directed by Sian Heder, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is a Netflix Original Film. [23]

In 2019, Bull, written by Annie Silverstein and Johnny McAllister and directed by Annie Silverstein, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. [24]

From 2020 to 2021, Rae executively produced Amazon series Outer Range alongside Plan B Entertainment. Outer Range was created by Brian Watkins and starring Josh Brolin. [25] [26]

Rae has worked with filmmakers in several countries, including the Sami and British Film Institutes in Europe, [27] New Zealand's Script to Screen and Power of Inclusion Summit, [28] and in Egypt with Film Independent's Global Media Makers partnership with the Cairo International Film Festival. [29]


Feature films

ProducerExecutive producer
  • Apache 8 (2011)
  • Mosquita y Mari (2012)
  • Young Lakota (2012)
  • Winter in the Blood (2013)
  • Five Thirteen (2013)
  • 1982 (2013)
  • Dawnland (2018)
  • Once Upon a River (2019)
  • For the Love of Rutland (2020)
  • I'll Meet You There (2020)

Associate producer

  • Silent Tears (1997) (actress)


  • Backroads (2000)
  • Asylum Seekers (2009)


1994The Native AmericansField producer
2009 500 Nations 3 episodes
1996Storytellers of the Pacific
2008 30 Days Consulting producer1 episode
2006-2013 Independent Lens Executive producer (2013) - Producer (2006,2008)3 episodes
2017 Rise Executive producer1 episode
2022 Outer Range Executive producer

Short films

1990Birth Our OwnProducer / Director
1997Silent TearsAssociate producer
2004The Wicked MenConsulting producer
2019Sweetheart DancersConsulting producer


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