About Making Waves Films

Making Waves Films LLC is a documentary production company in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, established in 2005 by award-winning independent filmmaker Kimberlee Bassford. Our mission is to produce social issue, cultural, historical and environmental documentary films that advance social justice, strengthen our connections to one another and deepen understanding of the world.

Rooted in the tradition of journalism, we aim to investigate, inform and inspire, examining subjects from diverse perspectives and placing them within their social, cultural and historical contexts. We look for the unexpected in the mundane and the universal in the personal. Through film, we hope to give voice to underrepresented communities and to challenge viewers to reexamine their own beliefs and behavior so that they can make better decisions and be more responsible global citizens.

Filmmaker Biography

Kimberlee Bassford is an independent documentary filmmaker with a background in journalism. She most recently completed the feature documentary WINNING GIRL (2014), which follows the four-year journey of a Hawaiian teenage judo and wrestling phenomenon with world championship aspirations. The film had its world premiere at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, aired nationally on the World Channel’s signature series “America ReFramed” and is distributed by Women Make Movies and Java Films.

Prior to that, she produced, directed, wrote and co-edited PATSY MINK: AHEAD OF THE MAJORITY (2008), a one-hour documentary about the life of the late U.S. Representative Patsy Mink, the first woman of color in Congress and co-author of Title IX, the landmark legislation that mandated gender equity in education.

The film premiered at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Favorite Documentary. It also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival; Spirit of Humanity Award at the San Joaquin International Film Festival; among other honors.  It aired nationally on PBS in 2009 and is distributed by Women Make Movies.

She produced and directed the short documentary LOTUS ROOT: A GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER’S JOURNEY (2010), about her great grandfather Chun Quon Yee Hop, the founding member of her family in Hawai‘i and a successful businessman and philanthropist. She was also a producer on UNNATURAL CAUSES:  IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? (2008), a four-hour national PBS documentary series and public engagement campaign that investigates America’s socioeconomic and racial disparities in health, as well as on the three-hour PBS documentary series THE MEANING OF FOOD (2005), about the social significance of food.

She had her directorial debut with CHEERLEADER (2003), a short documentary that follows a squad of young, bright-eyed California cheerleaders on its quest for the national cheerleading championships. The film won the Student Academy Award in Documentary and CINE Golden Eagle and aired nationally on HBO Family. It also screened in film festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe and New Zealand, including the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. The film has educational distribution through Documentary Educational Resources.

She graduated from Punahou School and holds a BA in psychology from Harvard University and a Master of Journalism from the University of California Berkeley. PBS recognized her talent with a scholarship invitation to the CPB/PBS Producers Academy. She has also received scholarships and awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Associated Press Television and Radio Association, Asian American Journalists Association, Pacific Islanders in Communications, among others.

She has taught documentary filmmaking, digital cinema production and critical studies courses at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s Academy for Creative Media and Pacific New Media programs. She is currently an instructor of journalism at Windward Community College where she also advises the award-winning student newspaper Ka ‘Ohana.


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