ABIGAIL SEVERANCE'S films are concerned with family and community, politics and history, the hazards of memory and the powerful act of witnessing. She works in many cinematic forms from fiction to essay to formal experimentation. Her body of work is an ongoing excavation of nostalgia both as addiction and inspiration.


As a Fulbright U.S. Scholar, Severance will be artist-in-residence at University College Cork, Ireland in 2020. Her first film, Pump, won five best short awards and her work since has screened widely in the U.S. and abroad, including Sundance, the Broad Museum, MOCA Los Angeles, Los Angeles Film Festival, REDCAT, Studio Museum of Harlem, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Cinematheque, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Black Maria Film & Video Festival, Antimatter (Vancouver), Curta Cinema (Rio de Janeiro), Women in the Director’s Chair, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Mix Experimental Festival (New York and Sao Paolo) and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, among many other galleries and festivals.

Severance received a 2018 CalArts Research & Practice Grant to make We The Devoted, a near-future narrative about borders and labor, made collaboratively with its ensemble cast. She will shoot a related essay film project, The Edge of the Flat Earth, during her Fulbright stay in Ireland in 2020. Other current work includes the narrative features Winterkill and The Summer We Drowned, which earned her a Film Independent Fellowship and was a Sundance Creative Producers project. She is currently in post on Acadia, an essay film on migration, homesickness and running from the law in Nova Scotia. As a cinematographer and co-director, Severance has collaborated with Kadet Kuhne (Holding Pattern series: Infinite Delay), Jenni Olson (The Joy of Life and The Royal Road), Gary Mairs (Retreat) and Julie Tolentino (Eye Witness Evidence).


Raised in New York, New England and Nova Scotia, Severance is based in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in cultural studies from Hampshire College and an MFA in film directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Digital Media, where she was a Wasserman Fellow, a Carl David LBGT filmmaker, and twice won the Spotlight Award for Directing. She teaches at the CalArts School of Film/Video where she is currently the Interim Dean.