Michigan State University

Carleen Ling-An Hsu

painting of a woman in a restaurant with black hair, black glasses, and purple tanktop

Contact Information

Office: 523 Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Email: hsucarle@msu.edu

Website: burningboxstudio.com


For over 20 years Carleen produced and co-produced long form non-fiction films for HBO, PBS, the Learning Channel, BBC, CBC, and Channel 4 UK with subjects ranging from the obesity epidemic in America to gender identity in Thailand to faith healing in Africa.  The documentaries have been recognized for their exceptional storytelling and original content with a Royal Television Society Award, a Genesis Award, a Foreign Press Association Award for Best Documentary, a nomination for a national News and Documentary Emmy and two prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards. Themes of health, science, and the environment permeate much of her work.

She is a recipient of media grants from the MacArthur Foundation, ITVS, New York State Council for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, Latino Public Broadcasting, and the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

Currently she is a Professor of Practice in the College of Communication Arts and in the Film Studies Program in the College of Arts and Letters.

Carleen is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


American Exile
Producer and Editor

This hour-long documentary film for PBS tells the story of two brothers who volunteered and fought in Vietnam.  Forty years later they are being deported to Mexico, even though the state of Colorado insists they are American citizens. Currently in production.

The Head of Joaquin Murietta

This half-hour documentary film for PBS tells the story of a legendary Mexican outlaw who was lynched 160 years ago, and the filmmaker’s quixotic journey to bury his purported severed head. PBS broadcast in 2017 (national distribution to local stations).


Selected Awards

three laurels that read best of festival, best documentary film, and diversity and inclusion award

Producer, Writer, Director

This short personal documentary examines the underlying causes of the world’s impending food crisis by exploring a novel approach to food security – farming insects for human consumption. Currently in production.

For Neda
Co Producer

This feature length documentary for HBO and the BBC tells the story of Neda Agha-Soltan who was shot and killed in Tehran in 2009. Within hours footage of her dying moments – captured on cell phone – were uploaded to Facebook and YouTube for the world to witness.  Her image came to symbolize Iran’s Green movement and post election struggle.  For Neda interweaves the story of her life and death with the larger Iranian fight for democracy.

  • George Foster Peabody Award, 2010
  • Documentary of the Year Award, The Foreign Press Association, 2010
  • The Clarion Award for Best Documentary, The Association of Women in Communications, 2010

The Tank Man
Co Producer

This 90-minute film for the primetimePBS series FRONTLINE and Channel 4 UK examines the erasure of historical memory in modern China.  On June 4, 1989 a lone protester stood against Chinese tanks at Tiananmen Square in a lonely act of defiance that stunned the world.  What became of him?  Seventeen years later, has China succeeded in erasing this event from its history?

Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She

The feature length documentary film for HBOand Channel 4 UK examines the diversity of human sexual and gender variance around the globe, with commentary by scientific experts and first-hand accounts of people who do not conform to a simple male/female binary.  The film promotes tolerance and an appreciation of diversity.

  • GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)Media Award -Outstanding Documentary, 2005

Flesh and the Devil

This 90-minute film for HBO and Channel 4 UK delves into sex – the most powerful biological drive – and the priesthood. By examining the sexual crisis at the heart of the modern Catholic Church, the film tries to make sense of the relationship between enforced celibacy, power, and sexual abuse.

A Question of Miracles

This 90-minute documentary for HBO explores the world of big money through the work of televangelists, Benny Hinn and Reinhardt Bonnke, who claim to heal the sick and cure the dying by channeling the will of God.  This film examines the psychology and neurology of their claims that they can heal the sick.

  • Best Documentary, The International Festival of Cinema, Religion, and Society, 2001
  • Silver Award, Hamburg Media World Festival, 2001

Christie’s Story

This 90-minute documentary film was produced for The Learning Channel and ITV UK.   Christie Martin, who is 24 and stands 5 feet tall, weighs over five hundred lbs. Without a radical bariatric operation to reduce her weight she will die.  Filmed over the course of three years, Christie sheds over 350 lbs and is forced to confront deep psychological issues from her childhood that were the roots of her obesity.

Co Producer

This hour-long film for primetime broadcast on the PBS series Frontline, The Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and presented as a 6-part series for ITV UK, explores the obesity epidemic across North America and Europe. Inundated by tens of thousands of food ads each year, influenced by an unattainable standard of beauty, while fighting primeval cravings – we are losing the war on fat.

  • Best Documentary, The British Medical Association, 1998

Body Doubles
Co Producer

The 90-minute film for HBO, ITV UK, and The Canadian Broadcast Corporationexplores the strange and revealing world of twins.  From the macabre experiments of Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, to current genetic research, the study of twins has both illuminated and darkened our understanding of ourselves.


  • FLM 260 – Introduction to Digital Film and Media
  • MI 351 – Introduction to Producing for Cinema and TV

Awards, Honors, and Recognition

  • George Foster Peabody Award (twice)
  • Foreign Press Association Award for Best Documentary of the Year
  • Royal Television Society’s Grierson Award
  • Genesis Award for Outstanding Premium Cable Documentary
  • GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award for Outstanding Documentary
  • Association of Women in Communications’ Clarion Award for Best Television Documentary
  • British Medical Association’s ‘Medicine in Media’ Award
  • National Academy of Television of Arts & Sciences Emmy Nomination for Craft in News and Documentary research
  • Hamburg Media World Festival Silver Award
  • International Festival of Cinema, Religion and Society Award for Best Documentary
  • Association of Women in Communications’ Clarion Award for Best Television
  • National News and Documentary Emmy Nomination, Research Craft
  • World Award, New York Festivals
  • Best Factual Program, The Royal Television Society
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