Award winning filmmaker and photographer C.M. Hardt has finally found her bliss creating a new independent documentary on the subject of breastfeeding and photographing kids (especially her own) in her spare time. But how did she get here? With over 20 years in photography, film and television, it was an interesting road to say the least so let’s start at the beginning.
After majoring in Theater and English and graduating with honors from Connecticut College, C.M. Hardt unexpectedly landed at Condé Nast where she worked a fun and informative stint under the tutelage of Alex Liberman, "the silver fox" of publishing, all the while studying photography at the School of Visual Arts. Liberman encouraged her to follow the path of her passion, and she took the legend's advice to heart.
In August 1988, C.M. made a name for herself photographing the Tompkins Riot, earning her a prestigious photography internship at The Village Voice . She cut her teeth at the Voice, shooting stake outs of mobsters, a portrait of a serial killer and documenting the night shift with the Bedford Stuyvesant Ambulance Corps on the weekends.
In 1991, after a trip to document famine in the Sudan, C.M. became one of the youngest photographers working for The NY Times . She had fun working for the big shots, but they tried to peg the riot girl as a fashion photographer and she got restless. In mid-1992, C.M. took off on a 6 month trip to Spain where she began what would become nearly a 5-year adventure filming a documentary about her grandfather’s political murder in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
Death in El Valle, which began as a photo essay about a disappearing village, ended up being commissioned as an independent project for Channel Four Television in the U.K. where it first aired in 1996. After being censored in Spain for ten years, it suddenly became a grassroots sensation, as the country began to face the brutal repression of Franco’s dictatorship with a national movement to recover memory.
Death in El Valle was first seen in theaters in Spain in the fall of 2005 while being distributed through the website deathinelvalle.com The film also aired on WNET (New York) in 1998, and on flagship WGBH (Boston) in 2001.
Death in El Valle has been screened at numerous festivals and C.M. Hardt has been invited to present talks at NYU, UC Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, University of Washington and Instituto Cervantes NY, as well as numerous cultural centers throughout Spain, Mexico and the UK.
After completing Death in El Valle in 1997, C.M began working in television as a field producer for PBS’s Emmy Award winning series City Arts and HBO’s Taxi Cab Confessions.
In 1998, she moved to Los Angeles to work on MTV’s Award winning Road Rules and the following year the Peabody Award winner BIOrhythm. C.M. decided to remain in Los Angeles, where she worked on many different documentary series, as well as LOTS of Reality TV shows. She learned to tell ALL kinds of stories, oversee crews, deal with the Big Wigs at the Networks, run budgets, keep schedules AND most importantly polish turds. Along the way, she rediscovered photography by shooting political portraits which is how she met her husband, political consultant Steve Barkan.
In 2008, the indie filmmaker in her decided that she wanted to come out and play again, so C.M. made a short film for Bet Tzedek, a non-profit that provides free legal aide to the poor in LA. It was such a wonderful experience to be her own boss and be mostly left to her own creative devices that C.M. decided she could NOT go back to Network TV.
While taking a 22 month trans-formative break being full time mom to their son Rafael, C.M. connected with her muse and decided to embark on the indie filmmaking journey again with a documentary on breastfeeding. After reading several books on nursing and learning that most children around the world, if allowed, will wean sometime between the ages of 3 and 4 years, C.M. decided to explore how long Rafael will go on nursing, and whether or not she can keep up with him.