Jesse Moss was born in San Francisco, grew up in Palo Alto, and graduated from UC Berkeley on his way to a brief stint as a speechwriter and policy aide in Washington, DC while he was in his early twenties. His next fifteen years were spent in New York City, learning the documentary craft, and eventually making films of his own. Early experience with Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple and as associate producer of the Oscar nominated doc "On the Ropes" (1999) gave Moss the direction to make his own film. In 2002, HBO/Cinemax aired "Con Man," a one-hour documentary about the con artist who attended Moss's own high school under one alias, and Princeton under another. "Speedo" (2003) was Moss's first feature length documentary. This time, his subject was Ed 'Speedo' Jager, a potential Demolition Derby hero. His next feature subject was "Full Battle Rattle" (2008), a documentary he co-directed about the Iraqi town that the US Army built in the Mojave desert to train US Army soldiers. It premiered at Berlinale 2008 and won a Special Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival. Moss returned to his personal style of letting the camera tell the story of one person for his next feature length subject. In this case, the film was "The Overnighters" (2014) and the subject was Pastor Jay Reinke, trying to preach to the Williston, North Dakota locals as well as the influx of workers who flooded in to work the oil fields created by fracking. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was widely hailed as one of the best documentaries of the year.
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