Sarah Pillsbury


Sarah Pillsbury, a film producer and philanthropist, received her bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1974 and moved to Los Angeles where she attended the UCLA Film School. She began her career working in documentaries and was the Associate Producer on The California Reich, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1976. Three years later, she produced Ron Ellis’ Board and Care, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject.

In 1981, Sarah joined forces with Midge Sanford to form Sanford/Pillsbury Productions, creating the movies Desperately Seeking Susan and How to Make an American Quilt, among many others. In addition, they have produced television films, including the Emmy Award-winning HBO film And the Band Played On.

In 1976, Sarah co-founded the Liberty Hill Foundation to support progressive organizing in Los Angeles. Today, the Foundation is a leader in promoting social justice in our community.

Sarah serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees of Occidental College, the Board of Trustees of Artists for a New South Africa, and the Board of Trustees of the California Association of Nonprofits.

In 2005, Sarah helped launch Nonprofit VOTE and worked with the LA-based California Participation Project, which partners with nonprofits to increase voter participation in traditionally underserved communities.

Selected Awards:
Focus Award
YWCA, 2010

Academy Award (Best Live Action Short Film)
For Board and Care
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1980

Emmy Award
For And the Band Played On
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1993

Independent Spirit Award
For And the Band Played On, 1993
Film Independent, 1993