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2008 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Jan Krawitz

As always, we've had a very busy year. We are thrilled to have a new Assistant Professor teaching in the program. Jamie Meltzer was at Vassar before coming to Stanford in September. This June, we will graduate our inaugural class of MFA students. During the past year, student films have screened at many festivals including SilverDocs, Full Frame, Slamdance, Telluride, Black Maria, and Ann Arbor. Ben Wu's ('06) thesis film, Cross Your Eyes and Keep Them Wide won first place in the Student Academy Award competition last June and Erin Hudson's ('06) thesis film, Long Haul, was the recipient of the David L. Wolper Student Award conferred by the International Documentary Association. In late June, I will be traveling with first-year student Michael Attie ('09) and second-year student John Kane ('08) to a meeting of film schools hosted by the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) in Mexico City. We are the only American university invited to participate in the event along with film schools from Argentina, Australia, France, Poland, and the host school. We will be showing a 50-minute reel of current student films and an 80-minute retrospective reel of past student work. Over the course of a week, we will share ideas and strategies with faculty and students from the other five programs. We hope to see some of you at the first-year screening on June 10 and the thesis screening on June 14.

Jamie Meltzer

It's been an eventful and inspiring first year teaching in the new MFA program. So far I've taught two classes to the first year students, a class with the second year students and their thesis projects, as well as an undergraduate production class that is currently underway. All this while moving into a new home in San Francisco. Its been a whirlwind, but made extremely rewarding by the projects the MFA students are producing, the quality of these films can sometimes make me feel a bit spoiled. I came from working as a documentary filmmaker in New York, and teaching film production at Vassar College in lovely Poughkeepsie, NY. I've long had roots in the Bay Area though. I received an MFA from San Francisco State as well as produced a documentary (Off the Charts: the Song-Poem Story) while living in San Francisco. Recently I finished an hour-long documentary called Welcome to Nollywood, about the bourgeoning movie industry based out of Lagos, Nigeria. The film has played at festivals (Full Frame, AFI, Melbourne International and others) over the last year, and it will be on PBS this summer as part of National Black Programming Consortium's AfroPOP series, a collection of films on modern Africa. Looking forward to meeting some of you at our end of year screening.

Kris Samuelson

It has been a particularly busy year. The Days and The Hours, a short film that John (Haptas) and I made about a homeless program in the Tenderloin, screened at the Mill Valley FF, San Francisco Intl. FF, SilverDocs, Black Maria FF, and others. The film won the Best Short Documentary prize at the Mendocino FF and the Ondas Curtas Award at the Vila do Conde Shorts Festival in Portugal. We attended this festival last summer--had a great time and saw wonderful films--and then also went to the Regensburg Film Week in Germany. We are now just finishing a tiny film (just five mins.) entitled I Can See Everything. It is a haiku on Yuri Gagarin and the first manned space flight. I'm also currently serving as Chair of the Art & Art History department, learning a lot about our new academic home at Stanford. John and I finally have a website for our work:


Mark Urbanek

Still going strong after 18 years! This year, I was given the opportunity to hire an assistant. So in January, Christian Gainsley joined us down here in the Sub-Basement! He comes to us from the San Francisco Art Institute and has quickly become THE Final Cut Pro expert (having studied under Brook Hinton) as well as handling all equipment checkouts. He is adapting to our subterranean ways and I am thrilled to welcome him!

Christian Gainsley

Still going strong after 4 months! And I'm still completely excited about the prospect of working here at Stanford in the Documentary Film and Video program. The level of support I will have the opportunity to provide to the students is a dream come true. In the past I've worked at Film Arts Foundation, San Francisco Art Institute, and freelanced in the indie scene earning my chops doing it thehard way and I hope to pass on those merits. Can't wait to see my first end-of-the-year projects!

Class of 2006

Jasmin Gordon

I am currently living in Europe and working on two projects: a doc feature about immigration through marriage (funded by the Swiss Department of Culture and the City and Canton of Bern) and a baby girl expected in mid-July(!).

Kathy Huang

Since last year, I've had nothing but Indonesia on the mind. I've been helping to co-edit 40 Years of Silence , a feature-length documentary by Robert Lemelson. Using footage shot over a decade, the film explores the 1965 mass killings of Indonesia (the largest unrecognized mass killings of the 20th century!) and their aftermath on four families in Java and Bali. In early June, I'll be traveling to Indonesia to begin my own film. I'll be working closely with a long-standing transgender community to document their way of life in the world's largest Muslim country. I'm bracing myself for some intense heat, mosquito bites, and an adventure of a lifetime. Please feel free to drop a line if you're in that corner of the world!

Erin Hudson

I enjoy living in Santa Fe and working primarily on a broadcast-length portrait film about an elderly New Mexican titled In Place Out of Time. I was lucky to receive a grant from the New Mexico Filmmakers Program that supports the post-production of the film. I am very grateful that Ben Wu ('06) is helping me edit the film. Thanks to video chat, Santa Fe and Brooklyn, where Ben lives, can feel very close! In the past year I've also established my business, Rotation Films, and produced a few short promotional videos and worked as a freelance shooter and editor. I've also been doing a bit of teaching and look forward to returning to Colorado College for two months this fall to teach Documentary Filmmaking and a class titled Directed By Women: The Documentary.

Leigh Iacobucci

Since graduating almost two years ago, I have been working as a freelance videographer and field producer in the New York City area and feel like I spend more time on trains and planes than in my own apartment. Last year, I was hired on a feature doc as a cinematographer in Philadelphia (the film, Pressure Cooker, will premiere at LAIFF on June 1st) and I earned some money this winter working for MTV's True Life series. In January, I discovered a blog hosted by a German DJ who lives in West Africa, where he spends his life digging for rare, vintage Afro-beat and Afro-funk records. Two months later, I was headed for Ghana and Benin to shoot and direct my first documentary film. Can't say it was all roses and sunshine, but I didn't get sick, my equipment didn't break, and I am now sitting here with 32 hours of footage to log and capture. I flew back from Ghana to Switzerland just yesterday, where I hope to do some more shooting for Jasmin Gordon's ('06) documentary film here and begin looking for more production work in Geneva. 

Revere La Noue

I have been working as a Producer and Creative Consultant on two feature length documentaries due to be released this year, collaborating with Stanford alum Elisabeth James ('03) to wrangle these projects into shape. Taking a break from the inertia of big budget filmmaking, I am tucking myself away to develop a business model for a new company, Light Rain is due any day now, and will be named

Ashley Tindall

I am in living in San Francisco, working with the Earth Island Institute and continuing to produce Losing Sacred Ground (working title), a PBS documentary film series on indigenous communities' battles to protect their sacred lands and environment. It's tough but incredible work and has so far taken me to the Altai Republic of Russia and Australia's Northern Territory for weeks of filming and months of just talking! We'll be shooting in Peru, Ethiopia, Hawaii and India this year and trying to keep up with post-production in between. We're aiming to broadcast nationally in the fall of 2010, so you'll probably be hearing more about this in next year's newsletter. We're also getting ready to move our digs from woodsy little La Honda in the Santa Cruz mountains to Earth Island's uber-green Brower Center in downtown Berkeley in the coming months and take advantage of the new editing space for independent filmmakers -- something desperately needed in the Bay Area, as many of you know. Check out our blog and the clips we're posting along the way at

Class of 2005

Christie Herring

I have been staying busy in the Bay Area. Recently I wrapped a series of three short films for Winton/duPont Films in which I directed and edited profiles of award winners from UC Berkeley School of Law. The 6-minute films will be posted on their website. In the fall of 2007, I spent several months helping manage post-production at Kikim Media on projects for NOVA, Frontline, and various nonprofits. At Kikim, I had a chance to work with several editors including John Haptas, Gail Huddelson ('97), and Jeffrey Friedman. Currently, I am back at Winton/duPont and am the second editor on a film about Tigers for National Geographic Explorer and EP Jon Halperin ('94).
In addition to my editing work, I have been exploring the world of new media. In November of 2007 I was invited to participate in the NBPC's New Media Institute (Jacquie Jones '95), which was held this year in Jackson, MS. Six weeks of study, web conferences, and pre-production preceded the week. Along with two other filmmakers, I went to my hometown of Canton, MS, where we created a locative documentary project about two blocks of Hickory Street and its history with the blues. You can learn more about the other GPS-enabled locative project we created here. Also in Fall 2007, the Duke Center for Documentary Studies invited me to talk about filmmaking in MS, as part of the "Engaging Documentary" series about community filmmaking.
I am continuing the work I began before the New Media Institute, developing new media projects on my own and consulting with other filmmakers about new media and social networking. I had the opportunity to teach a two-part workshop about New Media at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke in February 2008 and am also working to develop a social networking campaign for Ask Not (Johnny Symons '97).

Gretchen Hildebran

I am living in Brooklyn, NY and recently completed two public health videos for the California Department of Public Health. I also have several harm reduction related projects in development, including an overdose prevention video for prescription opiate users in North Carolina and a documentary about radical treatments for heroin addiction in the New Mexico prison system. In addition, I work as a freelance cinematographer and editor.

Davina Pardo

Hi everyone. I live in Brooklyn and have been working as an associate producer on a historical doc directed by Deborah Shaffer. I've also recently started a new project, a film about a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse and the two men who have lived in it for the last 40 years: a 93-year-old American journalist and his adopted son, a 63-year-old Japanese architect. In March, with a grant from the Graham Foundation, I completed an initial shoot in Hawaii with cinematographer Liam Dalzell ('04) and co-producer (and my husband) Andrew Blum, and a research trip to Japan. Now I'm busy fundraising so we can go back to Japan for a longer shoot! Other news is that last spring I had the chance to go back to Rwanda (where I filmed part of my Stanford thesis) to shoot urban landscape photos for Metropolis Magazine, which was a thrill. Hope you're all doing well.

Lila Place

We are now back in Brooklyn! In the fall, we finally moved back to the states from Sardinia, Italy where we spent the past few years. It's been wonderful to be back in an exciting city with such a strong documentary community. I've been seeing a lot of my Stanford pals as well as meeting new ones. As for work, I've edited a documentary segment on the new superintendent of DC's ailing school district for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and I start on a short documentary for the United Nations Development Program next week. I'm always looking for great documentary projects to sink my editing teeth into!

Mike Seely

A jam-packed year full of travel and marriage! In personal news: I am happily living in San Francisco, got married last May, honeymooned in Thailand and visited new in-laws in Poland. As for work life, I continued to direct and shoot my Health By River and Road documentary project about a visionary mobile hospital project for impoverished people in Ecuador. I am currently making a push to raise funds to finish editing the film. I co-edited a short journalistic version of the piece for Frontline World's website (which you can watch here). I am also working to finish a short 16mm doc about a local clock repairman. Otherwise, I have been doing more and more DP work and the occasional sound gig. One big highlight was a 3-week shoot in Madagascar DP'ing a short film about the social and environmental effects of gem mining, produced by Serene Fang. I had the chance to work with producer/DP Marisa Pearl ('04) on a couple of MTV True Life shoots and worked as DP with Christie Herring ('05) and Winton Dupont on a few doc pieces for UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School. Plus, I'm happy to be DPing on occasional shoots around the bay with Leah Wolchok ('05) and Ashley Tindall ('06). I also continued my work as an AP for Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newnham ('94) out of the Program in Bioethics and Film at Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. We traveled to DC and Puerto Rico on shoots for a doc titled Citizen Scientists, a moving film about the increasing role of patient advocacy groups in scientific research. You can find updates on my work at

Leah Wolchok

After an extended period of pre-production, I finally started shooting the feature doc about cartoonists that I've been threatening to make for 2 years. My Stanford buddies in NYC (Liam Dalzell '04 on camera, Lila Place '05 and Gretchen Hildebran '05 on sound) were incredibly generous with their time and energy, and together we captured some great interviews and observational footage. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, opening in San Francisco this summer, has asked me to screen a short trailer in conjunction with the exhibition "From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig." But the biggest news in my life is that I'm becoming a true Noe Valley cliché and having a baby in the fall. Pete and I are thrilled, overwhelmed (and at times completely freaked out) about becoming parents. Our families are already taking bets about when we'll move back to the East Coast.

Class of 2004

Richard Harris, III

Hello everybody. Just moved back to New York from Amsterdam, and I am currently directing and producing a few projects for Brand Jordan. It feels great to be back in the states! I also want to add that I worked with Liam Dalzell ('04) and Lila Place ('05) and they are both excellent shooters/DPs.

Sally Rubin

I am still up to no good. Now living in sunny la-la land, I am driving a hot new Silver Subaru, and living in a pimped out studio in West Hollywood. But more importantly... I am editing feature-length documentaries (Robert Greenwald's Iraq for Sale with Carla Gutierrez ('04), Greenwald's The Freedom Files and currently Beer Wars slated for theatrical release) while continuing to direct my own show, Ghosts of Appalachia. Ghosts is a feature-length documentary for national broadcast about the human impact of environmental destruction. Co-directed by Jen Gilomen and executive produced by David Sutherland (The Farmer's Wife, Country Boys), the film paints a portrait of the relationship between a man and a woman in eastern Kentucky and its division at the hands of mountaintop removal mining in their backyards. More about me and my dubious work at

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

I am still living in Brooklyn and enjoying life immensely. Mostly, I'm glad that winter is over and grateful for the beautiful flowering trees on my block! Professionally, I've been working as a Producer, Director and Editor on a variety of documentary and narrative feature projects. The Bobby Bowden and ivory-billed woodpecker documentaries - The Good Fight and The Lord God Bird - that I produced for White Mountain Films/George Butler, with fellow doc film alum Revere La Noue ('06), should be finally coming out this year - they have just started playing in festivals. I am also collaborating with Revere in cutting the promo/demo film for Burning Bright , an IMAX film about the endangered man-eating tigers in the Sunderbans region of India and Bangladesh.
I've recently started consulting on a narrative feature that may be shooting in the Congo river basin of the Central African Republic this summer called Oka! Amerikee, written and directed by Lavinia Currier. The story is based on the manuscripts of ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno, and is a socio-political comedy (if there is such a thing) set amidst the hunter/gatherer Bayaka pygmy people. If we get the necessary permits and go ahead, and the political climate allows us to proceed, it will be the first narrative feature ever filmed in CAR. My role will likely be on the documentary side of things, directing the wildlife unit as well as second unit - though the details have yet to be determined as we will surely be a small crew. On that note, if anyone knows French speaking professional crew in Equatorial Africa, please send them my way....
Most importantly, I continue to adapt Doug Marlette's Magic Time for the screen, which I would love to begin shooting on location in Mississippi in the next 12-18 months. It is my first attempt at a feature screenplay adaptation, but I'm really enjoying the challenge. My timeline is ambitious but I hope that by the next newsletter I'll have much to report!

Dantia MacDonald

This year I had a new short film premiere at BAM in Brooklyn, worked as Development Advisor and Assistant Editor on a book of oral histories entitled Underground America for McSweeney's publishing house, and am currently in Prague, CZ on a Fulbright grant where I am working and researching at FAMU.

Class of 2002

Adam Burgess

I am still working with my ODYSSEY: Driving Around the World series. ODYSSEY has been licensed for worldwide distribution with National Geographic Adventure Channel, The Extreme Sports Channel UK, LifeTV UK, Drive TV Russia, OLN Canada, and recently on DirecTV. It will premiere in the US on DirecTV this summer. I am now gearing up to produce a season 2. Visit

John Neely

I think it has been a long while since I sent an update on my whereabouts and activities, but that's because it has been a busy time. For almost a year I've been working as a Documentary Producer at the Museum of Science, Boston making documentaries and media for a national science education initiative. Working in the museum world has been both challenging: progress can feel glacial, politics and protocols are unfamiliar... and rewarding: contact with the audience, engagement with Government and Ivory Tower (our grantors), and freedom to experiment. I'm also now married (this past July, 21 in Hancock, NH) and as if that wasn't enough change for one year, my wife Justine and I are expecting our first child around the end of August. Happily, I am finding that documentary work can be compatible with domestic life, and we've even managed to do some travel, including Vietnam, Mexico, and weekends up North. And let me know if you make it to Boston! I'd love to swap war stories over a pint of Smuttynose at the Thirsty Scholar. 

Class of 2001

Isabel Sadurni

For the last six months I've sped on planes, trains and vans traveling to 21 countries on the world's five continents for a project sponsored by Microsoft, producing and shooting documentary portraits of the worlds technological heroes, people that are undeniably shaping how we will be communicating far into the future. You can check out a sampling of them at After a blink of respite, I'm finishing an hour documentary on Guy Maddin's Brand Upon The Brain for the Criterion Collection and heading into pre-production to shoot and co-direct a documentary feature set in the five boroughs of New York City.

Class of 2000

Anne Alvergue

Last year I edited a film about female genital mutilation for director Paula Heredia, directed and produced an episode of MTV's Made, and two months ago gave birth to our first child, Milo Isabell.

Hope Hall

I live (happily) in New York City and work as a cinematographer ( Purcell Carson's ('00) upcoming feature on the greening of the banana industry; an upcoming feature on Barack Obama; MTV/VH1 live music shows like Unplugged & Live@VH1), a director (OneTakeNewYork's contributions of live bands performing in unlikely places for Paris'; a profile of Sekou Sundiata and of San Diego's tribal digital village), teacher (the New School, the Kitchen), and gardener. This year I was selected for residencies at Guapamacataro (art + ecology), Kopkind (in partnership with The Nation magazine) and i-park, where I am developing my own films.

Kristen Nutile

I recently collaborated with producer, Tanja Meding and legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles on a documentary called Sally Gross - The Pleasure of Stillness. The film chronicles critically acclaimed dancer and choreographer, Sally Gross, who has been dancing for over 50 years. It premiered at last year's Locarno Film Festival and made its U.S. debut at the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Anne Alvergue's ('00) cinematography is featured in the film.

Gabriel Rhodes

After seven years, I have finished my film about movie projectionists, Behind the Glass. It will have its premiere at Hot Docs. It's a 22 minute, 16mm documentary, shot in part by Ferne Pearlstein ('94) with sound assistance by fellow alum Roger Sorkin ('00). Work-wise, I just finished editing a feature documentary called Zhinan, which is about a women's rights activist who investigates honor killings in Kurdistan.

Sadia Shepard

I am currently producing RJ Cutler's film about Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine for A&E IndieFilms. My first book, The Girl from Foreign, is a memoir of the two years I spent living in India documenting my grandmother's Indian Jewish community, and will be published by The Penguin Press on August 4th, 2008. I'll be making two stops in the Bay Area as part of my book tour; on August 12th I will read at Books Inc. in Mountain View and on August 13th I will read at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, CA. My film on the same topic, In Search of the Bene Israel, is edited by Purcell Carson ('00) and will premiere at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on August 10th, 2008.

Lauren (Popell) Velasco

I'm an Associate Professor, Director of Forensics, and Communication Studies Department Chair at Foothill College. I started a doctoral program in Education during my recent sabbatical, but did so with a growing belly! The arrival of Kyle Alexander last August put an end to further doctoral efforts for now. He is a joy! My teaching schedule is family-friendly and allows Mike and I to care for Kyle without outside help. Life is good!

Class of 1999

Christopher Jenkins

Several big changes for me this year. I married, moved to Santa Barbara and became a partner at NaturalVIP, a production company that specializes in capturing live performances with multiple HD cameras. It's been fun to work with some great musicians from around the world. Some personal highlights this year were getting to know Mama Booker (Bob Marley's mom) before she passed away, filming in Jamaica and working with the Tropical Forest Group at the climate negotiations in Bali. Lastly, two more films made their debut: Riverwebs, a film about "Life, Death, Science & Streams"; and The Matador, about a modern-day bullfighter, had it's World Premiere at SXSW 2008 and has since been picked up for Theatrical & DVD release.

Laura Murray

Almost 10 years post-program, I have some very exciting filmmaking news to report: this upcoming year I will have two (that's right, two) feature-length docs out as director.
I'm collaborating with Stanford doc. alum and my long-time friend and producing partner, Katie Cadigan ('94) on both projects. The first film, When Medicine Got it Wrong, is about the first parents in the nation to reject blame for causing their children's schizophrenia. Their activism helped revolutionize treatment forever and their stories reveal the origins of the tragic state of mental health care today. (FYI - up until the early 1980s, schizophrenia was thought to be caused by "schizophrenogenic mothers" - cold, cruel, and rejecting moms who never wanted children anyway....)
Happily, we won a grant from the California Council for the Humanities to get the project off the ground, and this past Fall we nailed a LINCS finishing-funds grant from KQED and ITVS. The show will be delivered to PBS in Sept. '09, with national air-dates beginning in early 2009.
*Technical note: We shot the above project on the Panasonic HVX200 camera with P2 cards, and have embraced this new work-flow. It took a little while to feel comfortable with the "tapeless" set-up, but now we love shooting in HD on cards, and don't anticipate ever going back to tapes. (Ahhh - the slow and steady march of "progress.")
Our second film, Predator House, about convicted and "rehabilitated" sex offenders transitioning out of prison and back into society, was a featured documentary-work-in-progress at the 2007 IFP Market. The market was a wonderful experience, ripe for networking, pitching, and attending surprisingly good indie film workshops. Currently, Predator House is in early post-production, and we recently made it into the final round of ITVS' "Open Call" finishing funds grant. Both of the above projects were work-shopped when I attended the CPB/PBS Producers' Academy in the Summer of 2005. So it seems that persistence, perseverance, and patience actually do pay off.
In other news, I'm still living and working in L.A, and I recently started teaching documentary production and doc. history in the "Film & Social Justice" Program at Mt. Saint Mary's College. (It's a small women's college with a very new non-fiction program. Lots of fun for me, and hopefully for the students, too.)

Vanessa Warheit

I've just returned from a whirlwind week at HotDocs and the Toronto Documentary Forum... a real shot in the arm for me, after years toiling away on my doc in my living room, to be in the company of SO MANY documentary filmmakers, distributors, programmers, commissioning editors, and film lovers. You should all make a point of going at least once to HotDocs! There may not be a lot of money in this field, but there are sure a lot of people doing amazing stuff, and they all seem to descend on Toronto in April. (And, I have to say, while Canada has its share of problems - largely due to corporate media agglomeration and government bureaucracy - it does have a lot more funding available for documentaries than the good ol' USofA. Which, as a new permanent resident of Canada, I am finally eligible for. Hallelujah.) At HotDocs I handed out DVDs with my freshly-minted rough cut of The Insular Empire (yes, the same film I've been working on for over 6 years now) to try to build some buzz & garner distribution interest, and now I'm waiting to find out how much (if anything) I'll get from the $150k+ worth of grant proposals I've just finished submitting... for FINISHING funds. I know that I'm nearing the end because (God help me) I'm starting to develop ideas for new documentaries!

Class of 1998

Tony Sehgal

I recently began work at eBay in San Jose as Sr. Manager of Emerging Media. It's been a phenomenal opportunity thus far. My primary job is managing the video component of the corporate intranet which entails producing original content and sourcing content globally throughout the eBay, PayPal and Skype family for repurposing on the site. After just three months at eBay, I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel to Cambodia and India for MicroPlace, an eBay company, to capture testimonials from microloan borrowers. Some short clips have been put on YouTube for promotional purposes, but a longer format video is in the works. Here are some samples of what I shot.
Being the only video producer at eBay, I'm constantly getting requests for video support that are out of the scope of my job. In these cases I can choose to do what interests me if time permits. I feel that eBay is quickly recognizing the benefit of having a video producer in-house and that my job responsibilities will broaden. I've worked in several corporate video environments and I have to say that this opportunity offers the most creativity and fun so far. The next phase of my job will be focused on the 'emerging media' component. I'll be working with IT to add more interactive/media 2.0 features to the video components of the site. I think corporate video can be a great place to exercise your creativity if you find the right environment. I feel that creative opportunities for video producers will be increasing rapidly with more robust corporate intranets being launched and the growing realization that video is a great way to engage employees.

Class of 1997

Gail Huddleson

I'm keeping busy editing documentaries in the Bay Area. Currently, I'm cutting a piece for Frontline on Parkinson's Disease, which is directed by Dave Iverson. Later this year, I'll be working on a documentary based on Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. The most recent piece I finished, Paperback Dreams, will be broadcast this year as part of KQED's "Truly California" series.

Malinda Maynor Lowery

I am currently an Assistant Professor of History at Harvard University, teaching Native American History and U.S. History. I'm trying to finish a book on Native American identity in the segregated South, and will be in North Carolina next year on a sabbatical at UNC-Chapel Hill. Best of all, my husband Willie and I had a baby girl last August, Lydia Louise!

Aaron Lubarsky

My production company, Flicker Flacker Films, recently moved offices to Brooklyn where I'm currently producing & directing a feature documentary with Jon Stewart's Busboy Productions & the History Channel. My previous film, Sportsfan, premiered at last year's Full Frame film festival.

David Mehlman

I am currently editing a film about Chuck Jones (the creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and friends), which is due to air on TCM in a year or so. I am also co-producing a feature doc about dyslexia, that Justin Schein ('94) is co-directing and shooting. For most of the past year I worked with Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, editing a new verite series about subcultures. Alas, the network put an end to it before it aired. We're hoping it will get out there someday, somewhere soon. Before that, I was supervising editor of Cynthia Wade's ('95) Oscar-winning Freeheld, and I edited an episode of The First 48, A&E's documentary series about homicide detectives. The Moon and The Son, an animated documentary that I edited and sound designed, won an Academy Award for best animated short in 1995. My wife Marcy and I moved from Brooklyn to Maplewood, NJ last summer with our two sons. We are expecting another baby in June.

Yuriko Gamo Romer

I am currently in development of a new film. Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful is about a journey across continents, through barriers against the odds, for one brave and powerful Japanese woman, Keiko Fukuda. The four foot nine inch martial arts master recently celebrated her 95th birthday on April 12, 2008 by teaching her usual Saturday Judo class and then gathering with her students for lunch. Her life story will be told primarily through oral history interviews conducted in Japanese; interviews of her students, verite footage of her interactions with students; demonstrations of Fukuda's other arts such as brush calligraphy, flower arrangement and shamisen (stringed instrument); archival footage of pre/post War Japan and Fukuda's Judo; archival still photography; and Japanese woodblock prints of the samurai world. (Due to her advancing age, I have shot a preliminary interview and the Judo class and party on her 95th birthday.)
Fukuda's life spans most of the 20th century and her story reflects the profound shifts that would turn Japan upside down and forever alter the status of women on both sides of the Pacific. Fukuda holds a ninth degree black belt and reigns as the highest ranking woman in the history of Judo, an honor that she earned only after breaking down the sexist and archaic barriers of the Judo world.
Other than my film, I stay busy in San Francisco with my husband Bill and son, Niko (nine) who will be taller than me by the time he's ten. All three of us practice the martial art of Karate-do.

Johnny Symons

My new documentary Ask Not, about gays and lesbians serving in the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy," had its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival in April. Lots of Stanford alums were integrally involved in the project, including Leah Wolchok ('05) (co-producer), Andy Schocken ('04), Christie Herring ('05) , Tim O'Hara ('08), Goro Toshima ('96), and Mike Seely ('05) . The film will be screening at various mainstream and LGBT festivals this year before its broadcast premiere next year on PBS' Independent Lens. Check out to see clips & details. Besides launching the film, I've been busy teaching part-time at Stanford and the Art Institute of California-SF, and raising our two sons, Zachary (8) and Kenyon (6).

Class of 1995

Ramona Diaz

I am currently cutting my latest doc, The Learning, about Filipino teachers recruited in the Philippines to teach in inner city Baltimore. It's funded by Sundance, CAAM and ITVS. I should be done by Feb/March 2009. I am also prepping my next film; I'm about to fly out to California to shoot a trailer as I write this. I can't totally disclose it yet (contracts still being negotiated, etc.) but it's about a retro band who just hired a Filipino lead singer through YouTube, we're following his first year with the band. It's being executive produced by Emerging Pictures in New York.

Class of 1994

Sean Anderson

Well, let's see...I'm still in Lexington, Kentucky, where I string together freelance work on various projects and get just enough work on interesting documentaries to keep me sane.
I am still working on a project about William Goebel, a Kentucky governor assassinated in 1900. I am putting together a second rough cut now and plan to finish it this summer. Last summer, I also received an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, which means I got a bit of money, which is going to the Goebel movie. It is the biggest award the Arts Council gives.
Last June, I shot for the PBS news show Now; it was for a hour-long special that aired in September, about the 3rd Infantry Division on its third deployment in Iraq. I spent two days with a family who'd come to northern Kentucky to bury their husband and father. The producers couldn't leave New York due to a storm, so I acted as cameraman, field producer, etc. I actually remembered to collect permission forms on top of everything else. While I can't say I enjoyed the job, it reminded me of what attracted me to this field. It was something real and perhaps needed to be recorded. And the family seemed somehow gratified that I was there to document it. My footage did get its own small scene in the final cut.
In January, I worked on an odd project about Nick Nolte, which required me to spend three days at his jungle compound in Malibu. Pretty spot, crammed with 5 or 6 houses surrounded by lush and flowery vegetation, raised-bed gardens, Buddhist and Hindu icons, a small plaza-like area with a manmade stream and stone arch...I expected to glimpse Col. Kurtz ducking through the bushes. Nolte himself was very pleasant and amiable, easy to work with despite undergoing multiple root canals the day before we shot. He did need occasional breaks to deal with the pain: perhaps that contributed to his amiability. Anyway, don't ask me what it was all about. I was never quite sure and haven't seen any of it since the shoot.
Those are the highlights, as far as work is concerned. Otherwise, my wife Sarah still works as a counselor at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, sometimes a grim duty these days. And Maggie turned 7 this past Sunday. 'Nuff said about that.

Sue Faulkner

I am an ethnographer at Intel Corporation in Portland, OR. That word always needs a little explanation. My job is to help Intel see the world through other people's eyes. I go into people's homes with my video camera and hang out, enjoy refreshments (there are always refreshments), interview and observe the household members, and try to figure out how technology fits (or doesn't fit) into their everyday lives. I also spend a lot of time communicating insights about those real people to technologists back at Intel. I get to meet people I would never encounter otherwise in some pretty far-flung spots -- and I get to spend time with them in their homes. Last year I was in Dubai and Seoul. The year before I was in Cairo, Bremen (Germany), Rio, and Seoul. This year I have been to Seoul (have I mentioned Seoul?), Madrid and Barcelona, and will be in China soon. I have become the go-to person for media-related research which is great because I'm a media hound and if someone is going to talk to people about TV I want that person to be me.

Emily Hart

I am living in Chicago and have been working with Steve James and Peter Gilbert at Kartemquin Films on At the Death House Door, the story of a former death house chaplain and a wrongful execution at Huntsville Prison in Texas. The film premiered at SXSW and is enjoying a short tour on the festival circuit before its broadcast on IFC on May 29th. I have also been shooting a variety of documentary, non-profit and corporate pieces.

Ferne Pearlstein

I recently shot the American portion of the controversial documentary 2 Million Minutes, by Frontline reporter Chad Heeter, comparing high school education in the US, China and India. I'm currently shooting a new feature documentary directed by Debbie Hoffman and Frances Reid and edited by Ellen Bruno ('90), about women leaders and global security, that took me to Uganda last fall. I'm also doing some shooting on a pair of documentaries for the German filmmaker Katja Esson (director of Ferry Tales), one about Mohawk ironworkers in NYC, the other about an international group of poets who are survivors of genocide.

Signe Taylor

I wanted to send a quick note to say that I am working on Circus Dreams, a feature-length documentary about the only traveling youth circus in the country. The footage was beautifully shot by Stanford alum Erin Hudson ('06) and is now being edited by Peter Rhodes. We look forward to finishing in September!

Class of 1993

Howard Shack

After almost twenty years as a freelance Cinematographer, I have settled into a staff position as the Senior Producer at Seattle's KSTW (the CBS owned CW affiliate). I am in charge of producing Underground, a documentary series about the best and brightest stars from Seattle's rich tapestry of musicians, artists, dancers, choreographers, chefs, skateboarders, spoken word poets and more. Our first two stories were nominated for Emmy Awards.  After spending almost 50% of my time on the road, I'm now home for dinner every night and am spending more time than ever with my wife and two kids. Life is good.

Class of 1992

Eva Ilona Brzeski

I recently finished editing the documentary feature, Under Our Skin, directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson ( - uncover the epidemic!) Described as an infectious new film about microbes, money and medicine, the film premiered on April 26th, 2008 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York to great acclaim. A disturbing investigation of a misunderstood and controversial disease, Under Our Skin goes on to additional screenings in NYC, at the Berkshire International Film Festival and Silverdocs. As distribution of UOS rolls out, I am starting research on a new project. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Class of 1990

Inez (Robinson) Odom

My company, IMO Productions, continues to flourish. Recently completed a 90 minute DVD for La Jolla Country Day School and am currently working with UC Irvine on a DVD on creating Elder Abuse Forensic Centers around the nation.

Class of 1989

Camilla Calamandrei

After a few slow years, things here are bubbling with activity. I have spent most of my time this year working as a live action producer/director on a new children's television show that is being developed by the Jim Henson Company and KCET (PBS) in Los Angeles. The show is called Sid the Science Guy and will debut on PBS Kids in September. It will be fun to turn on the TV in the fall and be able to tell my 3 1/2year old that the show he is watching is something that his mother made. Then again, he would probably prefer to just think of it as the magic story box that fun stuff comes out of, rather than something his mother does. It also looks like we may be on the road to raising the completion funding for my documentary The Tiger Next Door, about a man who has been breeding and selling tigers out of his backyard for over fifteen years.
Just recently I pitched The Tiger Next Door at the Toronto Documentary Forum at Hot Docs -- 7 minutes for presentation, 7 minutes for Q/A in front of a table of 60 Commissioning Editors from around the world and a room full of another 200 - 400 people. I had attended the Forum last year as an observer (worthwhile) and knew what was involved, which didn't make the pitching any easier but did make it more familiar. Fortunately, this year I was also able to attend a pitching workshop for the two days prior, that was led by a Canadian named Jan Miller. It was fascinating to see how all of us in the workshop were able to really change the content, tone and/or effectiveness of our pitches by reworking the language or reorganizing material. Invariably, less was more. (I highly recommend Jan Miller's workshop for any one who can attend one. She holds them at various events around the world).
Looking back over the two days of public pitches, it was interesting to see that a strong pitch was critical for unknown filmmakers, but in some cases a subject, or a known filmmaker could get away with a pretty weak pitch--and still get good feedback. While a couple of strong presentations were negatively received because the content of the film (or main character of a film) was perceived as lacking. Very interesting.
For my part, I was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed doing the pitch. I felt very prepared and was thrilled that Tiger got a great round of comments and interest from Commissioning Editors. So now its all about the follow up!
If anyone is going to the TDF next year (or even Amsterdam Forum which I haven't seen but is similar in structure) I would be happy to share whatever crumbs of potentially useful info that I can.
I have a new company called Rolling River Films, LLC...which is, among other metaphoric ideas, a little tribute to the Hudson River which I see from my home office and swam across twice last year.

Class of 1988

Roxanne Frias

I am an American documentary producer working in Paris, France. With the production company, "Point du Jour", I am producing and hosting an educational series for the French Parliamentary Channel on the American Presidential Elections 2008 entitled Objectif Novembre. This series is divided into six episodes, each explaining a different aspect of the American election process and issues. For each new program I travel to a different city in the United States, and speak to people living there about issues pertaining to them, and to the American people in general, during this election year. So far, we have been to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Tucson and the Arizona desert, Portland, Miami, Rapid City and the Black Hills of South Dakota. If I had to decribe the goal of my documentary film project in a few lines, it would be this : To transform the faceless, national concerns during this important election year into personal local stories. Each city that I visited allowed me to bring the issues of the national campaign into a local perspective. The television viewers for the Parliamentary Channel, "La Chaîne Parlementaire, LCP", on which our program is broadcast, are quite an eclectic group: public policy makers, educators, media professionals, government officials and students. Here's the link of the last show shot in Arizona. It's in French.

Pam Walton

I have been working with Silicon Run Productions (Ruth Carranza '86) on Ruth's next trilogy of films about microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology. Ruth's recent grant from the National Science Foundation will help us pay the mortgage for the next three years! In the meantime, I've been working on Raging Grannies, a lively 60-minute piece about a group of local older women activists who get themselves into all kinds of trouble in the name of social justice. We expect to have a finished production this summer. You can find out more about Raging Grannies and watch a preview clip at Ruth and I are also working on a 20-30 minute video about the green remodel of Iris Harrell and Ann Benson's home in Portola Valley. Harrell Remodeling will use the video to show off green construction possibilities to their clients. In return, Iris will help us remodel our kitchen. My work with New Day Films continues: Gay Youth, completed in 1992, is still selling after 16 years, and Liberty: 3 Stories about Life & Death is finding a life in oncology nursing programs, college gerontology courses, and university libraries.

Class of 1986

Ruth Carranza

After years of trying, I finally received a production grant from the National Science Foundation to produce three new technical films on the subjects of Microelectromechanical Systems, or MEMS, and nanotechnology. These films are designed for undergraduate science courses and industrial training programs. It is such a privilege to be able to immerse myself in the subject matter and explore the possibilities. I am learning tons and will be working on these films for the next three years.

Class of 1985

Dan Geller

It seems we can't start a documentary project without it rapidly becoming far more involved than we originally thought. When we scouted locations in the Galapagos Islands last May for what we expected would be a murder mystery set in the 1930s, Dayna Goldfine and I were introduced to other fascinating people who have over the past 70 years settled in this harsh outpost - and each with their own stories to tell. We shot for six weeks this past fall and will be shooting some more in early June. For all the trouble wrestling with this mess of footage will give us in the editing, I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything. We've both been taking Spanish lessons - and conducted about half of the interviews in that language. We sound like imbeciles, but the subjects graciously have responded in full. As is the rule with independent work, it starts out one thing and becomes another. What that other thing will be is something beyond my knowledge right now, but step by step a movie will emerge.

Class of 1984

Becky Smith

I'm a professor in the UCLA graduate film directing program. Wrote and directed a feature in the fall of 2007 on location on the Mississippi river. It's a coming-of-age story called Duck Farm No. 13, about a rural American teenage girl obsessed with the Cultural Revolution in China. We are currently in post. Am also in post on a feature documentary called The Daring Project. Starting preproduction on the second season of the television show How To Look Good Naked with Carson Kressley.

Dan Woodard

I still operate my own production company, White Light Productions. But for the past few years I've been in what I like to refer to as "semi-retirement mode." For me this basically means that I'm not out searching for new projects, but generally don't refuse any that come my way. So far this seems to meet my present needs...I have enough income to pay the bills, and I have the free time to devote to my most recent passion, sculpture. It is, indeed, a good life. On the film and video side of my life, I've been primarily working as a scriptwriter. Recent projects have been completed for Hewlett Packard, The Federal Reserve System, the Masons, and Shinnyo-en Buddhism. Occasionally I still produce and direct, but it seems to cut into my sought after lifestyle of the middle-class and unknown.

Class of 1982

Lauren Cardillo

I just finished a documentary about Afghanistan for VOA, and am currently working on a series for Discovery. A film I co-produced, STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age, just started airing nationally on PBS. It's part of the "America at a Crossroads" project from CPB. My independent documentary, The Mother Road, continues showing on PBS too. This summer I hope to do nothing.

Anne Makepeace

I recently received news that I will receive a Guggenheim Fellowship to support my new project, a documentary about the return of the language among the Wampanoag, a small tribe based on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. I received a Sundance Documentary Fund development grant for the project last fall, and very recently learned that I have been awarded a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship which provides a generous stipend, an office, proximity to the Wampanoag, and access to the amazing Earl Native American Archive at Harvard. So I am off and running on this new project, tentatively called Âs Nutayuneân - We Still Live Here (working title).
I am also developing a documentary about Ted Turner for American Masters, and filmed Ted, Kofi Annan, Muhammad Yunus, and other United Nations Foundation board members meeting with Olmert, Peres, Fayad, Barak and other leaders in Israel, Palestine and Jordan last fall, with Joan Churchill and Alan Barker as crew.
My most recent completed work, Rain in a Dry Land, premiered as the lead show on POV in June and has won many awards, including the Full Frame Working Films Award, a Gold Plaque Hugo Award from the Chicago Television Festival, a Gold Statuette at the Columbus Film Festival, an Award of Excellence from the Society of Visual Anthropology, a CINE Golden Eagle, and Best Documentary Awards from the Indianapolis Film Festival, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, the Brooklyn Arts Council Film Festival, and the Fire Island Film Festival. The film also screened at MoMA, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at Lincoln Center, and many other festivals. Rain in a Dry Land is a feature-length verite documentary about Somali Bantu refugees which I produced independently with grants from ITVS, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Pulitzer Foundation, POV et al.

Class of 1976

Jose Esteban Arcellana

I worked as a writer and producer at KTVU for a couple of years, then after a few more years somewhat circuitously fell into user interface design at Apple, where I worked for a long time. I've been in high-tech design ever since. Currently, I'm a UI design manager at TiVo. While some may think it's a stretch to get to UI design from film, there are key skills that I learned in film production that transfer well into UI design and design management: working in multidisciplinary teams, combining art and technology, holding on to a vision that tells you how to make the appropriate compromises in order to make it-- or some version of that vision-- real. Anyway, I thought the more recent graduates may find my career trajectory interesting. And one of these days I might still make a short film and post it on YouTube.

Class of 1974

Bonnie MacBird

I have been working steadily in the entertainment business in Los Angeles ever since graduation. A former studio exec at Universal, Emmy winning television producer, and screenwriter (Tron), more recently I've been busy in the past year picketing for the WGA, and writing and directing a musical for The Noho Arts Center. I've also been teaching my unique multidisciplinary screenwriting class "Screenwriting on the Write Side of the Brain" at UCLA Extension, with guest lecture appearances at Screenwriter's Expo, SAG Conservatory, Women in Film, and elsewhere, and preparing a book of the same name for publication. As a SAG actor, I've been acting onstage and in numerous film projects around town.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

I recently finished a half-hour documentary entitled 19 Arrests, No Convictions, about an Italian-American bar owner with a fishy night life who redeems himself as a San Francisco Bay open water swimmer, "escaping" from Alcatraz to the mainland. The film premiered at the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival in February, and will be on public television soon. Right now I'm producing and editing a new DVD about wild parrots, which will be the second disc in a two-disc "Collector's Edition" re-release of my feature documentary, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, due out this Fall. The new DVD will include updates on the San Francisco parrot flock, as well as sequences on wild parrots in LA, NY, and around the world.

Class of 1972

Paul Cowan

I recently finished shooting a $2.2 million docu-drama based on the six months in Paris after World War One. Canada/France co-prod. Based on the best-seller Paris 1919. Set for release early 2009.

Class of 1971

Stuart Zuckerman

I continue to work for PBS's Nightly Business Report as the program's VP/Sales and Marketing. In that capacity, my chief responsibility is high-level corporate fund-raising to secure the production budget (ie "this program is made possible by..."). I negotiated a multi-year, low eight-figure renewal of long term sponsor, San Mateo-based Franklin Templeton Investments, that exends their support of the program thru mid-2011. By the time this Newsletter comes out, I'm hopeful that I will have also signed a major energy company to return to its national support of PBS after an absence of 4 years. While not shooting or editing, I'm happy to be bringing in the money so talented folks can still do those things. I do keep my creative juices flowing by writing and producing our annual marketing presentation.