Vince Giordano—There’s a Future in the Past (2017)

What does it take to keep Jazz Age music going strong in the 21st century? Two words: Vince Giordano — a bandleader, musician, historian, scholar, collector, and NYC institution. For nearly 40 years, Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks have brought the joyful syncopation of the 1920s and ‘30s to life with their virtuosity, vintage musical instruments, and more than 60,000 period band arrangements. This beautifully crafted documentary offers an intimate and energetic portrait of a truly devoted musician and preservationist, taking us behind the scenes of the recording of HBO’s Grammy award-winning Boardwalk Empire soundtrack, and alongside Giordano as he shares his passion for hot jazz with a new generation of music and swing-dance fans.

Produced and Directed by Dave Davidson & Amber Edwards, for Hudson West Productions.

ManchesterKC Filmfestcarmel

“Critics Pick! The next best thing to walking on air.” —Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“Masterful! Joyous Performance. It swings.”—The Hollywood Reporter

“One of the best music docs ever.”—Film Journal International


Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook (PBS, 2010)

Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook starts viewers on a three-season, nine-episode journey through the glorious history of 20th Century popular music. Follow Feinstein on stage as he performs familiar standards and little-known gems. Then peek behind-the-scenes into the surprises and challenges of life on the road. Even with a private plane, it’s not easy doing 150+ shows a year! Amazingly, Michael also finds the time to maintain a vast personal collection of music, recordings, and memorabilia. And much of the material was acquired from show business legends who he’s known personally. Actually, Feinstein admits, if he weren’t such a busy entertainer, he’d spend all his time collecting. Thus, we see him combing through flea markets, basements, attics, even storage lockers. It’s all part of Feinstein’s lifelong mission to find and preserve the treasures of classic American popular music. Rare archival audio and film footage are woven throughout each episode. Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook offers a close-up portrait of a unique entertainer as well as an illuminating cultural history of the American Century.

Directed, produced, and edited by Amber Edwards; Dave Davidson, Co-Producer and Director of Photography

Winner, 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award   Finalist, 2011 IDA Awards for Best Series

“A quirky, thoughtful mélange of history and biography…”—The New York Times

“Superb ……A funny, candid portrait of Feinstein.”—The Seattle Times

“Let [Feinstein] work his magic on you. The songs, and the stories, are well worth hearing.”—TV Guide


Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, Season 2 (PBS, 2012)

Time Machines, Episode 1

On a coast to coast tour that with stops in New York, Palm Springs, Kansas City, upstate New York, and even the storied Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, Michael Feinstein introduces viewers to Soundies (the original music videos,) the historic Kansas City building where “jam sessions” were born (which still hosts after-hours gigs,) and an eclectic array of performers and collectors who help keep the music alive, including the avid collector and music lover Hugh Hefner, who shares rare footage of cabaret legend Bobby Short, and the British crooner Al Bowlly.


Lost and Found, Episode 2

Did Michael discover an unpublished Irving Berlin song? As he investigates, he persuades another musical legend, Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, to teach him an unpublished, unrecorded song from his songwriting “trunk” that’s never been prior transcribed or recorded. Guest appearance by Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole.


Saloon Singers, Episode 3

Musical nightlife, from Mississippi juke joints, to the Cotton Club in Harlem, to Sinatra’s Rat Pack and the neon of Las Vegas, where Michael gets a private tour of the now-closed Liberace Museum, and plays one of the rhinestone encrusted pianos. He dives into the archives of composer Jimmy McHugh—whose career spanned Vaudeville to Vegas—and visits with nightclub pioneers Rose Marie (who literally “opened” Las Vegas in the 1940s, long before her stint on the Dick Van Dyke Show) as well as  the poet and author Maya Angelou, who used to make her living doing a calypso club act in San Francisco. Who knew?

Directed, produced, and edited by Amber Edwards; Dave Davidson, Co-Producer and Director of Photography

Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, Season 3 (PBS, 2013)

In its star-studded third season, America’s most passionate music preservationist explores the enduring popularity of Broadway show tunes, the pas de deux between music and choreography, and the indelible impact of radio on popular music in the golden age. This time some of the biggest stars in musical theater, stage, and screen come along for the ride. Featured guests include Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, and Joshua Bell, with rare archival footage of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and George Gershwin.

Directed, produced, and edited by Amber Edwards; Dave Davidson, Co-Producer and Director of Photography

A Place Out of Time—The Bordentown School

(PBS, 2010)

The little-known story of the last all-black, publicly funded, co-educational boarding school North of the Mason-Dixon Line. In a segregated society, The Bordentown School was an educational utopia and cultural oasis for black citizens in the Northeast and beyond for more than 70 years. Founded in 1886, and forced to close in 1955 after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the story of Bordentown is also the story of black education in America, across three centuries.

Directed and co-produced by Dave Davidson; co-produced and edited by Amber Edwards. Narrated by Ruby Dee.

Winner of the 2010 Christopher Award for television programs that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.”  

“You could listen to a lot of dry lectures by a lot of windy history professors and not learn as much about race issues a century after the Civil War as you do in A Place out of Time.” — Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

“Builds a fine historical documentary into a larger issue – the price we paid for eliminating Black institutions when racial integration arrived in the mid-20th Century.” — David Hinckley, The New York Daily News


Words and Music by Jerry Herman (PBS, 2008)

Jerry Herman wrote the words and music for some of the most successful and beloved musicals of the 20th century—”Hello Dolly”, “Mame”, and “La Cage aux Folles.” Best known for his ebullient, optimistic, and hummable songs that personify the “show tune,” Herman is one of the last of Broadway’s Golden Age. This 90-minute documentary chronicles his rise from witty off-Broadway revues during the 1950s, to his first Broadway triumphs in the 1960s (“Milk and Honey”, followed by “Dolly” and “Mame”) through the 1970s (“Dear World”, “Mack & Mabel”—which achieved cult status—and “The Grand Tour”) to his triumphant smash hit in 1983, “La Cage aux Folles”, which made social and political history. The film features a truly remarkable collection of photographs and archival footage—much of it never seen in public—and boasts a star-studded “supporting cast” that includes Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Charles Nelson Reilly, Marge Champion, Arthur Laurents, Michael Feinstein, Charles Strouse, Fred Ebb, George Hearn, Phyllis Newman, Jason Graae, Leslie Uggams, music director Donald Pippin, and producer Barry Brown. (2008, PBS.)

Directed, produced, and edited by Amber Edwards.

“The last great show tune composer working in a pre-rock Tin Pan Alley idiom, Jerry Herman is such a living legend, whose greatest Broadway successes have been so inescapable (“Hello, Dolly!,” for one), it’s hard to believe he’s never received feature documentary portraiture before. ” —Dennis Harvey, VARIETY

“Amber Edwards’ film is a great reflection of its subject’s work: simply presented and unforgettable.” —Tom Nondorf, PLAYBILL.COM

“It’s the welcome return of a beloved favorite – the old Broadway regular who makes us remember our happy past and a glorious era, a musical elder back for one more embrace before the parade passes by.” —Frank Rizzo, Hartford Courant; Los Angeles Times

“Filmmaker Amber Edwards goes beyond the standard “and then I wrote” biographical picture to explore what made Herman so successful. It was his innate ability to write music that sounds simple, even if it’s not. His music sounds as if it’s always been there, somewhere in your mind, even when it wasn’t.” —Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald Tribune

“Showtune lovers can look forward to a grand and glorious gift, courtesy of filmmaker Amber Edwards.” —Michael Dale,


The Dancing Man – Peg Leg Bates (PBS, 1992)

Documentary about the famed one-legged black tap dancer and resort owner, Peg Leg Bates.  The inspiring story of Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, tap dancer extraordinaire and entrepreneurial resort owner, has never been more relevant. Overcoming the double challenge of a physical disability and Jim Crow era racism, Bates rose to become an international jazz dance star of stage and television. Refusing to rest on his laurels, he then parlayed his celebrity to found and operate The Peg Leg Bates Resort, an oasis for African Americans in New York”s Catskill mountains. Peg Leg Bates narrates his own extraordinary saga of Black empowerment with additional commentary by Gregory Hines, Ruth Brown, Percy Sutton and Honi Coles.

Produced by Dave Davidson & Amber Edwards. Directed by Dave Davidson, for Hudson West Productions

“An exceptional documentary… A virtual treasure chest of spiritual inspiration which should be viewed by dancers and non-dancers alike… We should be permanently grateful that such a documentary now exists.”    -David Stine, Attitude Magazine

George Segal: American Still Life (PBS, 2008)

“I think a minute of existence is miraculous and extraordinary,” said artist George Segal, whose famed sculptures of ordinary people caught in the daily act of living force us to see the magnificence in the mundane. The internationally acclaimed sculptor created art out of life’s seemingly uneventful moments—waiting for a bus, drinking coffee in a diner, listening to the radio. But Segal’s sculptures are more than just frozen moments; his trademark white plaster figures—created by wrapping his friends and relatives with plaster-soaked surgical bandages —stand in real bus stops and sit on real park benches, offering a unique mirror to our own lives. “Daily life has a reputation for being banal, uninteresting, boring somehow,” said Segal. “It strikes me that daily life is baffling, mysterious, and unfathomable.”

Filmed during the last two years of his life (Segal died in June, 2001), GEORGE SEGAL: AMERICAN STILL LIFE is very much a present-tense biography of an artist at the peak of his powers. Producer/director Amber Edwards was given unprecedented access by the artist, and the documentary is culled from dozens of hours of interviews in which Segal —charming, funny and insightful—muses on his career, life and the art world he inhabited. The film weaves together scenes of Segal at work casting a model in his studio to commentary from critics, historians, dealers, and fellow artists; rare archival footage of the Pop Art scene on the ’60s combines with Segal’s own thoughtful analysis to tell the story of one artist’s search for self-expression.

One of America’s best-known artists, George Segal’s work is in the collections of major museums around the world and his public sculptures are popular tourist attractions, from the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC to the Holocaust Memorial in San Francisco. Every day, thousands of travelers pass his installation (and have their pictures taken with) “The Commuters” in New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. And in 1999, President Bill Clinton presented Segal with the National Medal of Arts.

But before his fame, Segal was a struggling New Jersey chicken farmer who also taught school in order to support his family. It was the Pop Art movement of the ’60s—which also launched the careers of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg—that vaulted him into the limelight. But, as the film shows, Segal was different from his contemporaries. In a priceless archival clip from 1966, Segal is queried by a young Mike Wallace: “Are you hopeful you’ll become a classic?;” after a long pause, Segal replies “I’m trying to be a human being.”

Directed, produced, and edited by Amber Edwards

Original Music Score by John Musto