He obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1982. His first film to win national acclaim (a Peabody Award) was his 1997 PBS Democracy Project film "Vote for Me: Politics in America" is s behind-the-scenes exploration of running for public office by chronicling American politics, including Chicago machine veterans, consultants creating negative ads in Alabama, and legislators` arm-twisting on the floor of the Texas Statehouse. The film also follows Maggie Lauterer a folksinger turned TV reporter who runs for congress. Stekler follows Lauterer as she learns the ropes of running a campaign. The Peabody committee called the film "a glimpse of our system that ultimately turns the surprising trick of making viewers more appreciative of and less cynical about the political process."
In 2000, Stekler received the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for the three-hour documentray "George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire" which the New York Times called "a full-blown Shakespearean saga."
Paul Stekler was nominated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in 2004 for outstanding achievement in television writing for his documentary film "Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style" which aired nationally on the PBS series "P.O.V." The film takes a behind-the-scenes look at Texas politics during the 2002 elections, which pitted President Bush's Lone Star state Republican Party against a historic multi-cultural DEmocratic ticket. The film receieved widespread acclaim from the Dallas Morning News, indieWIRE, New York Magazine, Variety, and the Washington Post.
Stekler's other award winning work for PBS includes "Vote for Me: Politics in America," (1997) a four-hour television special about grassroots electoral politics; two segments of the 1990 "Eyes on the Prize II" series about the history of civil rights; "Last Stand at LIttle Big Horn"; and Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics."
Recently Stekler has served as host and executive producer of the statewide PBS television series, "Special Session," which covered issues and politics confronting the Texas State Legislature. His most recent films include "Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt" (2004) and "Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home" (2006).
"Eyes on the Prize II" (2 episodes, 1990) "The Keys to the Kingdom: 1974-80" and "The Promised Land: 1967-68" (producer, director, writer)
"Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics" (1992) (producer, director)
"Vote for Me: Politics in America" (1996) (producer, director)
"George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire" (2000) (producer, director, writer)
"BBC History: Timewatch" (unknown episode, 2002) TV series (producer, director)
The American Experience: "Miss America" (2002) (historical consultant)
Independent Lens: "Los Trabajadores/The Workers" (2003) (advisor)
"Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt" (2004) (executive producer)
"Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style" (2004) (TV) (producer, director)
"Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home" (2006)