From the history of struggling jazz musicians to the intricacies of wartime friendship, award-winning documentary filmmaker Hugo Berkeley’s storytelling knows no bounds. Here’s why he’s found recognition as a director and about his next unmissable projects.

Who is Hugo Berkeley?

Intriguing characters and compromising situations are the driving factors behind English-American director Hugo Berkeley documentary filmmaking. Berkeley is drawn towards stories that challenge common narratives and let us see the world in new ways.

Also a producer, writer and editor, Hugo has been at the helm of presenting stories as diverse as great jazz musicians’ struggles against racism to complex murder investigations.

Hugo Berkeley’s filmmaking style

Berkeley’s films follow strong characters navigating challenging personal journeys. Never judging and presenting multiple viewpoints, he gives audiences insight on a subject’s struggles but leaves us to make up our own minds.

Hugo Berkeley films

A Normal Life (2003)

A Normal Life from Chai Vasarhelyi on Vimeo.

Hugo Berkeley burst onto the scene with this film following the social intricacies of seven young friends during the chaos of the Kosovo War. This intimate story of trauma, despair and recovery typifies Berkeley’s filmmaking ability.

Watch Hugo Berkeley’s A Normal Life

The Market Maker (2009)

A stunning portrayal of Ethiopian economist Eleni Ghabi-Madhin’s battle to end the country’s famine. She designed the nation’s first commodities exchange, revolutionizing the ancient market system behind Ethiopia’s food shortages.

Watch Hugo Berkeley’s The Market Maker

Land Rush (2012)

Who owns Africa? Berkeley sets out to answer this question, centering on a US agro-developer who wants to “do well by doing good” and struggles to build a massive sugar cane business in Mali, West Africa. Contradiction? You decide.

Watch Hugo Berkeley’s Land Rush

Unknown Male Number 1 (2017)

Inside one of the most high profile, shocking murder investigations in Italian history, Unknown Male Number 1 follows Italian prosecutor Letizia Ruggeri’s painstaking journey to find a 13-year-old girl’s murderer.

Watch Hugo Berkeley’s Unknown Male Number 1

The Jazz Ambassadors (2018)

This artistic portrayal of struggle follows musical titans Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck as they travel the world as cultural ambassadors, in the face of 1950s racism and Cold War tensions.

Watch Hugo Berkeley’s The Jazz Ambassadors

hacker: HUNTER Wannacry: The Marcus Hutchins Story (2019)

Berkeley created Tomorrow Unlocked’s hacker:HUNTER series covering notorious cybercrimes with a focus on strong characters and their journeys. This story follows a cybersecurity researcher who stopped a worldwide cyberattack, only to find he was the one on trial.

hacker:HUNTER “Cashing In”, Episode 1: Jackpotting

Berkeley also directed Cashing In as part of the hacker:HUNTER series, following the infamous Carbanak gang’s stealthy, high-profile ATM robbery.

What’s next for Hugo Berkeley?

He’s been working on TV documentary series Veleno for Amazon Italy, featuring the balmy Italian countryside, missing children and Satanism. Veleno goes back 20 years to reexamine a case of 16 missing children removed from their families in rural Italy. Not for the faint-hearted.

Are you living in Italy? Watch Veleno right now.

Fans of our hacker: HUNTER series will be glad to know there’s another Hugo Berkeley-directed episode in the pipeline. Keep your eyes on Berkeley’s Twitter for the latest, and see the Hugo Berkeley website and Normal Life Pictures Vimeo channel for his full back catalog.