David Felix Sutcliffe is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and documentary director, producer, editor and cinematographer whose work is rooted in racial justice. His debut film (T)ERROR, co-directed with Lyric R. Cabral, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Documentary. His work has been funded by the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Bertha BRITDOCS Journalism Fund, and the Open Society Foundation.
David's films investigate the gap between American principles and practices. He has more than a decade of experience reporting on the systemic failures of the U.S. war on terror and the impacts of Islamophobic rhetoric and policy. His work has been broadcast globally and translated into nearly 20 languages. David is a former fellow of the Sundance Edit Lab and the Sundance Creative Producing Lab. He is currently a 2017 Soros Equality Fellow and a 2017-2019 Pew Fellow.
David is now directing NETWORKS, a documentary musical about ratings, revenue and racism.
David first came to filmmaking when one of his students, a 16-year-old girl named Adama Bah, became the youngest known person arrested in a domestic terrorism investigation in 2005. The FBI accused Adama of being a "potential" suicide bomber, but failed to provide any evidence to substantiate this claim. David spent four years filming with her and her family in the wake of her arrest, chronicling their experiences in an hour-long documentary called ADAMA. The film was broadcast on PBS in 2011.
David's follow-up film (T)ERROR, his feature-length debut, is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. Variety Magazine praised the film as "a vital exposé" and Newsweek said it was "astounding", declaring it one of the best documentaries of the year. The film received widespread critical acclaim, and was profiled on NPR's This American Life, CNN, and in a New York Times Magazine feature article. (T)ERROR, co-directed with Lyric R. Cabral, received a Sundance Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature, an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Documentary, and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Documentary. (T)ERROR received a national theatrical release and is now available worldwide on Netflix.
David received a 2017 Soros Equality Fellowship and is also the recipient of a Pew Arts Fellowship. He has been a featured guest on Democracy Now, Huffington Post Live, WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show and his writing has been published in the Guardian, Filmmaker Magazine, and The Talkhouse. David was a consulting producer on Jon Olshefski's critically acclaimed QUEST (Sundance 2017) which documents ten years in the life of an African-American family in North Philadelphia. He was also a consulting producer on Stephen Maing's film CRIME + PUNISHMENT (Sundance 2018, Special Jury Prize winner) which follows twelve Black and Brown whistleblower police officers as they expose illegal NYPD quotas.
Growing up in a vibrant, mixed-race and mixed-income family in a rural, white and economically depressed community has been a shaping force in David’s life - as a filmmaker and as an organizer-in-training. Amidst the questions he and his family continue to grapple with, David uses documentary storytelling as an inclusive space where those questions - about race, class, power and privilege - can be collectively explored. David has six sisters, plays piano, and is married to Pascale, the most brilliant woman in the world. He studied at Simon's Rock College of Bard and holds a BA in Film Studies from Vassar College.
He also likes to dance.