Ft. Benning, Georgia, 1967
Robert Edwards is a writer and filmmaker based in New York City. An Army brat, he was born in a US Army hospital in Germany and grew up on and around military installations across the US, attending ten schools in thirteen years, including a brief overlap with Barack Obama at Punahou School in Honolulu. (Shockingly omitted from all of Barack’s books.) Edwards graduated with a BA in history magna cum laude from Lafayette College, where he won the Gilbert Prize in English and the MacKnight Black Poetry Prize. He then served for six and a half years as an infantry and military intelligence officer in the US Army, and was a captain in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. His father, Robert H. Edwards, was a rifle company commander in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965, as memorialized in “We Were Soldiers Once….and Young” by Lt. General (Ret.) Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway.
After leaving the Army, Edwards worked as a telemarketer, a private eye, and nightclub doorman before earning an MA from the Graduate Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford. As a filmmaker, he wrote and directed the feature films Land of the Blind (2006) starring Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland, and When I Live My Life Over Again (aka One More Time) (2016), starring Christopher Walken and Amber Heard. He is currently at work on an adaptation of James Carroll’s National Book Award-winning memoir American Requiem.
As a screenwriter, Edwards won a Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Land of the Blind, and a Sloan Foundation / Sundance Grant along with producer Carol Polakoff for his adaptation of American Prometheus, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Robert Oppenheimer by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird. His other screenwriting work includes scripts for directors such as Bennett Miller and Mark Romanek, and uncredited rewrites on films ranging from Black Mass to Olympus Has Fallen. Among his other scripts are the Cuban missile crisis thriller “One Minute to Midnight,” based on the book by Washington Post correspondent Michael Dobbs, for producer John Davis and Fox; “Blackwater,” based on the award-winning book about the mercenary industry by Jeremy Scahill, for HBO; “Hello to All That,” based on war correspondent John Falk’s memoir of Sarajevo, for producer Scott Stuber and Universal; and “House of War,” an eleven-part miniseries about the Cold War based on the book by James Carroll, for Plan B and HBO.
As a documentarian, Edwards works with his wife and partner, director/ cinematographer Ferne Pearlstein (winner of the 2004 Sundance Cinematography Prize for her work on Ramona Diaz’s Imelda). Edwards co-wrote, co-produced, and co-edited Pearlstein’s feature documentary Sumo East and West (2003), about Americans in that ancient Japanese sport, and co-wrote and co-produced her new film The Last Laugh (2016), about the Holocaust as the last taboo subject for humor, starring Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Alan Zweibel, Harry Shearer, Susie Essman, Gilbert Gottfried, Larry Charles, David Steinberg, Shalom Auslander, Etgar Keret, Renee Firestone, and many others. Both films had their world premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival and aired nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens series. Edwards’s own documentary short The Voice of the Prophet (2001) about the death of Vietnam veteran Rick Rescorla on 9/11, was shown at Sundance, Toronto, Human Rights Watch and numerous other festivals. In his earlier life as a film editor, Edwards edited the PBS documentaries In Search of Law and Order: Catching Them Early (1997) by Michael Schwarz and Roger Graef and Stopwatch (1998) by Bill Jersey and Michael Schwarz; Barry Levinson’s feature documentary for Showtime, Yesterday’s Tomorrows (1999), produced by Richard Berge, which was part of a traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution; and David Belle’s Abandoned (2000) for PBS, which won a duPont-Columbia Journalism Award; as well as other television projects for networks such as PBS, A&E, and TLC.
After living for many years in Chinatown, Edwards now lives in Brooklyn with Ferne and their daughter, as mandated by law.