Elena Mannes is a multi-award-winning independent documentary director/writer/producer as well as an author. Her first book, The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song, is published by Walker Books/Bloomsbury USA (May 31, 2011).
Her work has appeared on both public and commercial television. Her honors include six national Emmys, a George Foster Peabody Award, two Directors Guild of America Awards, and nine Cine Golden Eagles.
Mannes developed and created a primetime PBS special, The Music Instinct: Science and Song,a co-production with WNET/Thirteen. She was also co-Executive Producer as well as Director/Writer/Producer of the two hour program which aired on PBS in June 2009. The Music Instinct explores recent discoveries about the power of music and its connection to the body, the brain and to the world of nature. This exciting cross-genre special features world-famous musicians including Bobby McFerrin, Maestro Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie as well as visionary scientists. The Music Instinct was recently honored with the Grand Prix for best film in competition at the Pariscience International Film Festival. It has also won a Cine Golden Eagle, the Cine Special Jury Prize for Arts & Culture, and the BANFF award for best Science & Technology program. Mannes’s career has encompassed an exceptional range of work – from commercial network hard news, magazine shows and long-form programs to public television and cable documentaries. She has senior produced for both commercial and public TV.
Mannes productions include the feature documentary film Amazing Grace with Bill Moyers (PBS) which won the Directors Guild Award as well as an Emmy for directing. She has also directed, produced, and written numerous hour-length documentaries for network television. For ABC, Mannes has produced a special with Diane Sawyer The Amazing Animal Mind, exploring the intelligence and emotions of dogs and other animals, as well as other ABC hours including Ground Zero with Peter Jennings which won an Emmy for best Historical Program.
Mannes has also produced and directed documentaries for CBS REPORTS and segments for 60 MINUTES and PRIME TIME LIVE (ABC).She worked with George Lucas to develop a television project incorporating documentary and dramatic sequences. And Mannes directed a half hour dramatic short, Safe House, as a participant in the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute.
Mannes is a member of one of the first families of American music. Her grandparents founded the Mannes College of Music in New York City; and her great uncle, Walter Damrosch conducted the Metropolitan Opera and instigated the building of Carnegie Hall.