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2012 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Jan Krawitz

It's been a busy and productive year.  I was able to make significant progress on my feature-length documentary about altruistic organ donation during my spring sabbatical last year. Editing has been more sporadic since the start of school last September but I hope to complete Perfect Strangers (working title) by this fall. A rough-cut screening with the second-year thesis students will take place soon. After two years of critiquing their work, I look forward to receiving their feedback on my own film!. The first-years, film faculty, and staff were treated to a screening of "trailers" for the thesis films a few weeks ago and the final public screening in June promises to be a fantastic event, as always.
In February, I was a juror for the the Next Reel Film Festival in Singapore, hosted by NYU Tisch Asia. Sara Mott ('12) and Jenni Nelson ('11) presented their films to an international group of student filmmakers. In  April, I travelled with five students to the Full Frame Film Festival where we were invited to be part of the Fellows program there.  We hope to see some of you at the two spring showings of MFA student work.

Jamie Meltzer

I've been on a Junior Faculty Leave this past year, which has given me the opportunity to finish shooting and editing my latest documentary feature, Informant. The film just premiered at San Francisco International Film Festival in April, which was a wonderful experience. I hope to take it to festivals throughout the next year. Looking forward to seeing many of you at the Thesis Screening, and to returning to teaching classes next September.

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

It has been a busy year completing our new film, Tokyo Waka, and pushing it out into the river.  We just finished our premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival and will next be in festivals in Seoul and Bangkok.  John [Haptas] and I are also relocating to the East Bay as my retirement nears.  Fall term [2012] will be my last full time quarter as a Stanford faculty member.  I'll then move to emeritus status and return to teach halftime in Fall quarters 2013 and 2014.  After thirty years of teaching, I'm looking forward to more time for my own work and the opportunities that lie ahead.  I look forward to seeing all of you during my retirement travels.

Johnny Symons ('97)

I’m in early production on a new project about LGBT activists running for national political office in conservative parts of the developing world.  My co-director/producer Leo Chiang and I are recently back from shooting in Kenya and the Philippines.  More info on the film, currently titled Out Run, is here:
I’m dividing the rest of my time between teaching in various Bay Area film departments (Stanford, California College of the Arts, and University of San Francisco), freelancing (see, and parenting my two boys, who are frighteningly close to being teenagers.

Class of 2011

John Rory Fraser

I live in Oakland and work in San Francisco as a freelance filmmaker.  After graduation last summer, I got married to fellow Tennessean, and all-around classy gal, Carolyn Benedict. First year out of school has been slow, but have had some good projects, including a longer corporate ethnography piece for the SF design firm Cooper. I've also had work through other Stanford alum (thank you!). My 2011 thesis film, SAINT, won Best Short Documentary at the Oxford (MS) Film Festival this year, and was a western regional nominee for the Student Academy Award. As always, I stand by my offer to score anyone's entire film with an all banjo soundtrack. It's a surprisingly versatile instrument. Think about it.

Ryan Malloy

Since graduation I've been settling into the routine of freelance filmmaker in San Francisco. Luckily I'm sharing studio space with Nick Berger ('08), Rory Fraser ('11), and Dogpatch Films in a building I like to call "Little McClatchy". Having so many Stanford filmmakers around has certainly made the transition to the working world easier. I've also had the opportunity to do a little bit of traveling (Spain and Germany) for festivals with my thesis film, Everything Is Going to Be Fine. I'm well on my way to achieving my personal ambition to being overlooked in the States and huge in Europe. Now that almost a year has passed since graduation, I'm eager to get a personal project going again. I never thought I'd say this, but what I miss most about the program are the strict deadlines.

Briar March

After graduation I moved to Fort Lauderdale in Florida to begin my first year as a full-time teacher in documentary film production at Florida Atlantic University. The semester has just drawn to a close and I feel an incredible sense of achievement for both my students' growth as filmmakers, and my own development as a teacher. I just finished organizing a screening of my students' short films, and in true Stanford style, I got each of them to answer questions from the audience after the screening. They all found this experience to be extremely rewarding and I was very proud of their work. Unfortunately I've had to leave this job and move back to New Zealand in the coming months, but the experiences I have had here have been very formative and I am certain that I'll continue my career as an educator in the years to come.
In other news I've been very busy with the distribution of my films. There Once Was an Island, a film I made before Stanford, is still screening at festivals to my surprise! And we just celebrated its first PBS broadcast in the last few days of April. The film is being distributed in the educational market through New Day, and I'm learning a lot more about self-distribution and marketing strategies. For Earth Day the documentary was mashed up by filmmaker Ari Gold, to the music of the Beach Boys and Philip Glass. You can see it here:
Smoke Songs, my thesis project at Stanford is currently a national finalist for the Student Academy Awards, and is slowly making it's way through the festival circuit. When I return to New Zealand I have a lot more plans for how to get it out to community groups, especially high schools and libraries in Native American communities.
My next project is a fictional short film which I am starting to work on as soon as I get back to New Zealand. I've also got plans for a new feature documentary set in New Zealand. Hopefully next time I write an update I can tell you that both are in production, or even complete!

Mina T. Son

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since graduating... the past few months seem like a blur. I'm currently in LA and have been warmly welcomed by Thomas Burns ('02), Sally Rubin ('04), and the rest of the Shuttergrlz crew. 
Sara Newens ('11) and I have been working on our first feature-length documentary, Top Spin, about a group of table tennis phenoms trying to make the 2012 London Olympics. I think it was three days after graduation when we launched our Kickstarter campaign to start filming. Looking back, we were probably out of our minds (or severely sleep deprived) to even consider diving straight into another project, let alone our first feature, but hey, we raised $26,100! That was the beginning of a crazy adventure that has taken us to China, Mexico, Germany, and all over the U.S.  We recently filmed our last big shoot in North Carolina at the Olympic Trials, where two of our athletes qualified to go to London! It's been an incredible learning experience and we would not have made it this far without support from Rebekah Meredith ('11), Kathy Huang ('06), David Alvarado ('10), Jenni Nelson ('11), Ryan Malloy ('11), and all the other wonderful alums!
I'm also happy to report that my thesis film, Making Noise in Silence, has been traveling around to various festivals. Last year, it won Best Short Documentary at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and recently won the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

Class of 2010

David Alvarado

I suppose the only news I have to report is that Jason Sussberg ('10) and I are still marching forward with our feature documentary about human immortality called Long for this World. Website is here:

Emile Bokaer

I'm writing from the Dogpatch Films studio, where I'm lucky to share space and work with Theo Rigby ('10), Anthony Weeks ('10) and Jason Sussberg ('10), as well as our next-door neighbors Nick Berger ('08), Ryan Malloy ('11) and Rory Fraser ('11).  I'm still trying to find balance between filmmaking as a commercial practice and filmmaking as a creative practice.  Dogpatch has been able to pursue both at the same time, which is exciting.  I was thrilled to attend the premiere of Jamie Meltzer's Informant at SFIFF this month -- so happy and very proud that I had the chance to work on that film.  I finally completed a longer version of Pure Fruit [my thesis film] which premiered at the Thin Line Film Festival in February.  Since then it has been viewed online in over 100 countries, and volunteers are translating it into Greek, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.  A lot of people watch the long version all the way through even on the internet, which warms my heart.  I'm going to start charging $2 a pop, to try and earn back the money I spent making the film…we'll see.  In between contract work, I'm slowly and surely working on a story about my father and his lifelong dream to make films.  And I have not given up hope that I will help Geoff Pingree complete The Return of Elder Pingree.  Maybe this year.

Maria Fortiz-Morse

Last year, I was commissioned to make a short documentary The Mountain Between Us by two non-profits working in Nepal. The film exposes the challenges that girls face when trying to pursue an education in the remote Everest region.

Jason Sussberg

Dogpatch Films-- a documentary collective co-founded by alums Theo Rigby ('10), Emile Bokaer ('10), Anthony Weeks ('10) and myself-- just celebrated it's first-year anniversary this spring. We are keeping busy with surprisingly fulfilling contract work and independent film work as well. We are in the second year of our serial documentary project with the Thiel Foundation, following the fellows from the 20 Under 20 Fellowship. Check it out:
David Alvarado ('10) and I are in the throes of production on our feature documentary on the scientists of the longevity movement (scientists trying to radically extend human life span) Long for This World-- We are totally lost, broke and clueless, but learning through failure everyday! We hope to have a rough cut this fall.
I got married last fall to a fellow documentary filmmaker, which means my life is completely devoured by documentary and I couldn't be happier.

Class of 2009

Nilima Abrams

I have been living in Vermont this past year, and finally launched the social-business startup I founded, while teaching at the University of Vermont (UVM) and doing a few film projects on the side. The business is based around a mobile/web app that supports volunteers; here is a Mashable article describing it. I'm learning a lot, meeting great people and having my stereotypes about business people both affirmed and challenged. Meanwhile, I applied for a Fulbright last fall to support the finishing of a documentary in India and the fellowship came through, putting me closer to completing a goal I've had for many years. The film is about an innovative, multicultural home/school for ex-street children, and will include many years of home-video footage, the older children's footage, and my own. So. . . how does one pursue filmmaking abroad and entrepreneurship in the US? Good question.

Michael Attie

Very busy…I am now teaching Film Production at Seattle University, doing a mix of freelance work, mostly short-form documentary for non-profit clients, as well as working on a feature doc with Stanford MFA grad, Meghan O'Hara ('09).

Matt Harnack

I'm at Facebook full-time trying to pull as much of the Stanford Doc Mafia into the social networking scene. Half of my time is spent doing live video production and the other half is spent making short form doc style content for the company.

Charlene Music

This year I moved to Chicago to the Obama campaign headquarters to work as a cinematographer on the President's re-election campaign! It is exciting and challenging and has meant non-stop travel around the country to document people's stories as they relate to the President's accomplishments and goals for the next four years.  Last summer, Ben Henretig and I filmed the World Culture Festival in Berlin, where we followed people from different parts of the world -- spiritual leaders, politicians, youth, etc. -- coming together to celebrate cultural and religious diversity at the Olympiastadion, the same space where Hitler delivered his Nazi propaganda. I am also collaborating with Mike Seely ('05) and Peter Jordan ('08) on a film about two indigenous women on a mission to use family planning methods to fight poverty and malnutrition in Guatemala. These are both works in progress, yet to be edited, now that I'm working on the campaign. I also had the opportunity to work on short films for great clients like Facebook, the Stanford Cochlear Implant Center, and Rocketship Education. It has been quite a ride!

Tanya Sleiman

Building on my time in Cuba in 2011, I have had two projects emerge this year.  The first is supporting Cuban filmmakers to attend the annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in June 2012 in upstate New York.  I've been working on the exchange program for more than a year and this year, we have grant funding from the Ford Foundation and other grant-makers.  If all goes well with visa applications and paperwork, three Cuban artists will participate this year in the "Open Wounds" Flaherty Seminar, programmed by the first international guest curator, Josetxo Cerdán Los Arcos of Spain.   I'm looking forward to attending the second half of the Flaherty Seminar, just after Stanford graduation events in June. 
My second Cuban project is a multi-channel sound and image installation based on materials I gathered in Havana.  It will explore themes of stasis and motion, action and inaction and is currently titled Getting Things Done.  I will be working on my multi-channel installation piece in San Francisco, where I'm happy to share a studio with artists working in sculpture, printmaking, performance art, and drawing.  Come stop by and say hello!  My feature documentary on Helen Levitt has received great feedback in excerpt-screenings held at Union Docs, New York, and the Eli Ridgway Gallery in San Francisco.  I am applying for post-production funds this year and plan to release the film in 2013.   In new projects, I was recently commissioned to create a documentary on a live performance of Bach's Cellos suites with a baroque cello from 1704.  We will share the project in web content and via DVD.  I continue to live in Palo Alto and will likely be near Stanford as my husband Phaedon Sinis will start a Ph.D. in computer graphics this fall.  A nice benefit is being able to attend several of the first-year MFA screenings and see the wonderful work that continues to be created from the program.

Class of 2008

Evan Briggs

I am keeping busy with my two little boys, teaching a couple of classes at the Seattle Film Institute, and doing various freelance projects. I'm hoping to get started on a 'fun' film project one of these days, but don't seem to have enough hours in the day to accomplish even basic tasks like laundry, dishes, etc.  So sad to see Tim [O'Hara ('08)] leave but excited about his new job! 

Emmanuel Dayan

I am still working on my feature documentary project, Boom Horses, which will follow the story of Ireland's stray horses through the recession. I have started filming and have been doing a lot of travels to Ireland - where I am now residing with a French research grant. The people I have met have amazing stories and I am filming while submitting many funding proposals in France and Ireland. This year, I have also been teaching documentary filmmaking, making a music video, filming some Israel-Palestine peace talks, and have gone to Morocco to film a behind-the-scenes video for a feature film. Let me know if you visit Paris/ Dublin and happy documentary making!

Kelcey Edwards

After four years in production, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines (formerly The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman), a documentary feature I produced with director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, is finally complete! And I'm proud to report that we recently had an incredible premiere at SXSW film festival, where we had four sold-out screenings and a world premiere that was attended by Joss Whedon himself! The film is continuing on the festival circuit - with upcoming screenings in Ireland, Australia, Mendocino, and Seattle. The film is in negotiations for educational and online distribution and will be broadcast on Independent Lens in 2013. Finally, we received an incredible honor at the Tribeca Film Festival where we were awarded a Media Fellowship by Tribeca All Access, and where I ran into fellow TAA award-winner/Stanford alumnus Johnny Symons ('97) to boot! Many incredible alumni participated in the making of Wonder Women!, including Carla Gutiérrez ('04), Melanie Levy ('09), Meghan O'Hara ('09), Charlene Music ('09), Sara Newens ('11), John Kane ('08) and Theo Rigby ('10).
I also recently co-produced Words of Witness, a documentary feature by director Mai Iskander (Garbage Dreams). The film had its world premiere at Berlinale, which I was thrilled to attend for the first time this year. Recent freelance directing work has included live streaming videos of Slavoj Žižek for Verso Books, an artist profile for a galley in Peru, and a sizzle reel for Live Star Entertainment. 
Finally, since last August, I have been serving as Program Director at an arts center for developmentally disabled adults in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I am beginning directing work on a new documentary project (more information to be included in the next newsletter). Otherwise, just living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with my boyfriend (Ben) and his dog (Boba Fett). Neither of them make documentaries.

Peter Jordan

I've been working in house this year at Facebook, where I produced and directed a variety of product advertisements, including the launch of Timeline, which was viewed over 25 million times. I've also been traveling extensively for a series of short films that will be released later this year. And I've been collaborating with Charlene Music ('09) and Mike Seely ('05) on a short film about two Guatemalan women's fight to provide family planning to rural families in the face of fierce opposition from the Catholic church. I'm now working with Jamie Meltzer on a new project about a group of wrongfully convicted men who were exonerated and are starting an investigation team to free other innocent prisoners.

John Kane

The last year has been a big one for me. For starters, I got married last fall here in San Francisco.
In terms of work, I co-edited my first feature-length documentary - Jamie Meltzer's Informant. The film received funding from Cinereach and recently premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival. It was wonderful to collaborate with Jamie, and I learned a huge amount along the way. The film also provided me a rare moment in front of the camera, playing a Molotov-cocktail-throwing anarchist in a reenactment.
Most recently, I co-edited Theo Rigby ('10) and Kate McLean's short documentary The Caretaker, which will screen at the Cannes film festival later this month. 
I joined the New Day Films co-op (and its many Stanford alumni members) with my thesis film, Frontier Youth, which I am happy to be distributing to colleges and universities around the country. In the background, I am cutting my child prodigy film, which I plan to finish this year. Finally, I am teaching an editing class at De Anza College in Cupertino, where I find myself passing along gems gleaned from Jan.

Tim O'Hara

I've recently returned to the Bay Area, after an incredible three and a half years up in Seattle, WA, working freelance with Evan Briggs ('08) and teaching at the Seattle Film Institute.  I'm very excited to be joining Peter Jordan ('08) and Matt Harnack ('09) at Facebook to be their Marketing Video Producer.

Class of 2006

Kathy Huang

My first feature film Tales of the Waria premiered last year and I've spent much of my time since traveling with it to festivals and college campuses. The ITVS- funded project follows a community of transgender women in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, as they search for love and companionship. A national broadcast date has just been announced: we'll be airing on June 3rd at 10pm on PBS's Global Voices. More information can be found on our website ( I hope you'll tune in!
After completing the four-year odyssey that was Tales of the Waria, I decided it was time for a change and moved from LA to NY last year. I've been very happy consuming bagels and thin crust pizza, and communing with all the Stanford alum in the area. My Brooklyn days are drawing to a close though, as I've just accepted a Blakemore Fellowship to study Mandarin in Beijing for a year. I'm excited to live in China, and to start cooking up some new film ideas!

Erin Hudson 

I hope that by the next newsletter, the film I've been working on for the past couple years will be complete and I'll have a title to share! For now, I'm deep into post-production on a coming-of-age documentary about six rural New Mexican teenagers. The film is the outcome of a program I helped develop called Turn the Lens, which utilizes collaborative means for communities to be engaged in filmmaking and storytelling.  I'm currently working with editor Tom Shepard, who many from the Stanford community know.  He's a fabulous editor and I'm so grateful to be working with him!  If any of you find your way to New Mexico, please stop by for a visit!  And here's to Kris [Samuelson], wishing you all the best in your retirement - you have influenced and inspired us all!

Revere La Noue

I have enjoyed being a part of a lot of really interesting projects this year.  It was great to see The Loving Story move from a makeshift editing suite in our loft to an HBO premiere and dozens of other of special screenings.  I have started a traveling “clinic” on the art of giving and receiving creative feedback.  I’m collecting advice from creative professionals on how they offer and process feedback, so please e-mail me your tips.  I am working as Art Director/Creative Consultant on Biz’s [Elisabeth Haviland James ('03)] current project, which has me building snow globes and helping break a few rules of documentary storytelling.  A 6,500 sq. ft. fine art print of wild horses I created for ArtPrize did not win the competition, but was later awarded 3rd best mural in the United States for 2011; not an Oscar but I’ll take it.  This spring I had the grand opening for my new studio and gallery in downtown Durham where I presented a portrait of Buenos Aires through 20 artworks of painting, print, and photography.  Most recently my gallery hosted The Southern Documentary Fund’s annual party for the Full Frame Festival.  Among the many celebrities on the red carpet was Jan Krawitz

Ben Wu

Things are good!  Running a small production company here in NYC, Lost & Found Films, focusing on non-fiction storytelling and editorial and commercial work.  We've been producing our own short web-based documentary series as well, called This Must Be The Place (, about curious homes and spaces.  And finally we have started shooting a feature project on the Guardian Angels here in NY.  

Class of 2005

Gretchen Hildebran

I have been living in Brooklyn since 2007, freelance editing for TV, commercials and for the United Nations Development Programme. I'm co-producing a feature, Decade of Fire, with Vivian Vazquez, about Vivian’s experience growing up in the South Bronx as it burned down in the 1970s, and her present day search to find out why the fires burned for over 10 years. That film has been in the works for several years but is now picking up steam.  I also shot Ramona Diaz’s ('95) The Learning (way back in 2006-2007) which played on PBS last year.

Katherine Leggett

I'm still working as a Sr. Project Manager for a digital marketing agency in Seattle, called ZAAZ. It's coming on five years since I've been there - and have learned a ton. I work with clients (producing websites essentially) such as Audi, Godiva, The Gates Foundation, Coke and Microsoft. I still see my fellow Stanford classmates as much as I can - whether it's here in Seattle, New York, Sardinia, Switzerland - or somewhere in between. The best news of all is that I'm having a baby girl in about six weeks and couldn't be happier! If you're ever in Seattle, please get in touch; I'd love to meet you. 

Lila Place

This past year has probably been the most exciting of my entire life as I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Chloe.  I continue to work as a film editor and completed Ipuina Kontatu, a feature about Basque identity, and am currently working on Furever, about pet preservation.  I'm also still working for the United Nations, where I enlisted Gretchen Hildebran ('05) and other Stanford alumni to help edit videos.  I joined Davina Pardo ('05) and Katherine Leggett ('05) at the True/False Film Festival for the premiere of Davina's gorgeous film Minka, which was such a joy to edit. I also hope to make it out to the west coast soon to visit my dear classmates and teachers, whom I miss dearly.

Christie Herring

My big news this year is that thanks to ITVS, I’m in final post-production on The Campaign – my doc following the fight against California’s Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage.  It’s been a roller coaster few years, and we expect to finish this fall.  I’ve also been busy freelance producing and editing for various projects.  Last October, I attended the WGBH PBS Producer’s Academy, a great experience that I highly recommend. And I continue to love living in San Francisco!

Class of 2004

Sally Rubin

I am a full-time documentary film professor at Chapman University in Orange County. My last film, Deep Down (, broadcast on PBS Emmy-award winning national documentary series, Independent Lens, in fall 2010. Deep Down was nominated for an Emmy Award for its outreach work. I'm currently in production on a film about two teenage girls growing up on the US-Mexico border, and on top of all my other gigs, I continue to work as a freelance documentary editor and live on the east side of Los Angeles.

Andy Schocken

I’m in Brooklyn these days, shooting and producing.  I’ve had the pleasure over the last year of DP’ing Charlotte Lagarde ('96) and Carrie Lozano’s Fred Hersch Now, and traveling to India with Mark Rinehart ('03) to work on Decoding Deepak.  I’ve freelanced recently for alums such as Jon Shenk ('95), Nicole Newnham ('94), Justin Schein ('94), Aaron Lubarsky ('97), Liam Dalzell ('04), and Leigh Iacobucci ('06).  I also worked on the ballet documentary First Position, which will be released nationwide in May.
It’s always fun to see old friends when you pass through New York, so make sure to give me a shout!

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

Durham is still home for us, though this last year has seen a lot of travel to places far and farther (I'm writing this update from Tajikistan, for example).
In November I shot the majority of my new film, currently untitled LUCY film, which I hope to complete this summer.  I had the pleasure of working with the talented cinematographer Andreas Burgess (husband of Sadia Shepard ('00)), and Revere La Noue ('06), who not only created hauntingly beautiful custom sculptures for the film but has also been a creative consultant and ally in crafting the story, which straddles the line between documentary and narrative. The Loving Story has also kept me busy, on the film festival and HBO promotion circuit - - an exhausting but rewarding adventure that seems to be winding down. Our television premiere was, fittingly, on Valentine's Day. 
As always, it was great to see so many Stanford folks (and a bunch of current students with Jan [Krawitz]) at Full Frame. If you are ever passing through North Carolina, please look us up!  I'm excited to hunker down in the edit room and be at home with Revere and Veruka (dog) in the coming months. 

Class of 2002

Adam Burgess

I am still producing exciting documentary adventure and auto-based adventure series.  The latest series is currently in post-production and will start airing this summer on Travel Channel International.  Wreck Trek follows six people as they buy cars from a wrecking yard in East Berlin and attempt to drive 10,000 miles south to Cape Town, South Africa.  Not only are the cars wrecks but the adventure winds up being a bit of a wreck.  Cars blow up, credit cards and passports are lost and half of them leave before making it.  Season one Trabant Trek has been picked up by broadcasters beyond Travel Channel and will now be airing in New Zealand and throughout Latin America on SUN and DLA.  Party Chasers is another series being produced this summer with interest from New Zealand and other territories.  Grease Trek, Season Three of the Trek series is scheduled for production next summer.

Michelle Cabalu (Zaslav)

This past year I wrapped up my job as an Assistant Editor on the animated feature Puss in Boots at DreamWorks Animation. Our team was elated to be nominated for several awards such as the Annie Awards, the Eddie Awards, the VES Awards, and the Academy Awards. After Puss in Boots, I also did editorial work on the upcoming animated film Rise of the Guardians and short films for the Kung Fu Panda franchise and the upcoming film Sherman and Peabody.

David Kneebone

Professionally, I've been keeping busy here in LA. My production company, Abso Lutely Productions, has two shows in post-production right now with premieres looming; one for IFC (Comedy Bang! Bang!) and one for Adult Swim (The Eric Andre Show). Simultaneously, we're preparing two other shows, both for Comedy Central, which will go into production later this summer (Nathan for You and Review with Forrest MacNeil). Our feature film Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is lingering in a few theaters across the nation, and the DVD will be released next week. 
Meanwhile, my wife Casi and I are mystified daily by the workings of Eli's 2 year old mind. Also, the garage needs painting.

Kristin Pichaske

This has been quite a busy year on the personal front.  I got engaged and married, adopted the world's most adorable dog, bought a fixer upper, fixed it up, moved in, and now have a baby girl on the way next October.  I also just finished my 5th year of teaching full-time at Columbia College (has it really been that long?!) and will go up for tenure in the fall.  In my spare time, I've resurrected an old project that I've fallen in love with all over again: Zuluhoops (shot with John Neely ('02) and Thomas Burns ('02)) is now a rough cut and I hope to finish this year, time and baby willing.  Check out the trailer at

Class of 2001

Isabel Sadurni

This year I had the pleasure of working with Anne Alvergue ('00) contributing as Editor to a wonderful and inspiring series of portraits of contemporary American women making history ( for AOL/Huffington Post. Earlier in the year, I was delighted to have edited a three-part film in collaboration with artist Greg Holm. Attending the live screening in Detroit's historic movie theater accompanied by live orchestra, children's choir and pipe organ absolutely knocked my socks off. I'm currently finishing up a series of stories for The American Nurse Project which introduces some of America's most controversial issues (immigration, U.S. at war, rich/poor dichotomy, healthcare reform) as seen through the eyes of American nurses on the front lines of US healthcare. And I'm in development for a film project in collaboration with artist Kara Walker.

Class of 2000

Purcell Carson

I'm spending this spring happily seeing my editorial work out in the world. Semper Fi: Always Faithful, which won last year's editing award at Tribeca, just received the Ridenhour Documentary Prize for "defending the public interest and illuminating a more just vision of society."  On a less lofty note, the music doc, How to Grow a Band began it's theatrical run in New York. Meanwhile, I've shifted gears a tiny bit.  I'm teaching part-time at Princeton (exploring how documentary intersects with public policy and teaching social scientists how to think visually!), and working on my own film.  I'm always keeping an eye out for the next editing project.

hope hall

I am almost a year into being the President's videographer, and I still think I'm dreaming. My job is to document the Presidency for the public record (available in 25 years from the National Archives) and to release as much footage as seems appropriate in the meantime. Mainly the latter comes out in the form a 5-7 minute video I make every week called West Wing Week, and which becomes public domain as soon as I upload it to And yes, it reminds me of my first year at Stanford, but with the timeline sped up to weekly instead of quarterly. I miss my NYC cohort terribly, but that's the one downside of what is otherwise the best job ever. If you're coming to DC, let me know, and don't forget to vote.

Kristen Nutile

I'm still based in Brooklyn and working as an independent documentary film editor.  Unfinished Spaces, a documentary that I edited, premiered last June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  It recently won the "Jameson FIND Your Audience" Award at the Independent Spirit Awards and it is currently screening as part of Sundance Film Forward 2012. Last month, I had the great pleasure to catch up with fellow alumni and Jan Krawitz at the Full Frame Film Festival.

Gabe Rhodes

In November, I completed an episode of This American Life (radio) which was made as a work-in-progress of a film I'm making, titled The Cure. It was a challenge and a treat to work in audio and I loved every part of the process. I hope there will be more radio documentary work in my near future. The show can be streamed on the This American Life website. The episode is called "So Crazy It Just Might Work". Clips from the film can be seen at
In January, I started editing a film about Pakistan, currently titled Without Shepherds. The film is slated to be completed in July. While that's being color-corrected and sound mixed I will be editing another feature documentary that is currently untitled but is aiming for completion in time for a Sundance submission. So it's been quite a busy 6 months! I had a fantastic time hanging with my classmates Anne Alvergue ('00), Purcell Carson ('00) and Kristen Nutile ('00) at Full Frame. And all of us were pleasantly surprised by having Jan Krawitz in our midst. It was great to catch up with her and hear about the happenings in the department.

Sadia Shepard

I've spent the last three months in Pakistan, where I'm directing a series of short documentaries about women working for social change created in collaboration with Asia Society and New England Foundation for the Arts. The films are co-produced by my mother, artist and author Samina Quraeshi, and are shot by my husband Andreas Burgess. It has been incredibly fun to work as a family on this project and we are looking forward to diving into post-production. We share an editing suite in Brooklyn with Stanford classmate Gabe Rhodes ('00) and enjoy catching up with Presidential videographer Hope Hall ('00) and new Princeton lecturer Purcell Carson ('00) when they are in NYC.

Class of 1999

Inbal Diskin

I am very excited to resume work on a documentary film which has been put aside for about twelve years.  In 2000, I had conducted a series of interviews with renowned master acting teacher and theater pioneer Earle Gister in hopes of creating a documentary about his life, his passion for theatre and his acting technique. Earle was a leading acting teacher who raised, influenced and mentored a whole generation of actors in the United States including many renowned actors such as Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Angela Basset and many more. His greatest passion was for the plays of Anton Chekhov. This January, Earle passed away in his sleep at the age of 77. The sad news brought many people who knew him together, sharing memories and reconnecting.  A group of us decided to join forces and complete the film in Earle's honor and as an important document that captures a piece of the history of theater and the acting development and approach in the USA.  We will soon have a website up and running as well as a Facebook page where we will share filmmaking process news and stories, interview excerpts and other news related to the film. I would love for all of you to join.
I guess this year should be labeled as a year for completing big projects.  I have finally completed the novel I've been telling you about for the past couple of years. In addition to the novel, I still write children's books and there are a few more on the way.
Alongside an extremely creative team, I am about to launch the first production company in Israel which will devote itself to producing book trailers as well as other arts and cultural projects. Needless to say, I am excited about this because this kind of work combines my greatest passions: filmmaking and the written word. There are also a lot of documentary oriented projects heading our way, such as short documentaries which will focus on writers and the process of writing and an online streaming show which will feature interviews with writers, illustrators as well as other people from the literary scene.
I would also like to take a moment and thank Kris Samuelson once again. It has been a great privilege being your student, Kris, and I will carry memories of you and my days at Stanford in my heart forever.
Last but most definitely not boys are growing up too fast. Amir and Ron are now 10 yrs old. They play competitive tennis and are loving it!  Yonatan is now 11 yrs old. He swims, plays the guitar and...check it out...lately he's been showing a lot of interest in becoming a filmmaker. Mark? Prepare yourself...

Brett Schwartz

I've slowly let my last film Mashed Media fade away following its local PBS broadcast last spring in Chicago and a handful of national screenings.  It showed at a number of festivals and venues, including Northwestern University, The Film Anthology Archives in New York, Tribeca Flashpoint Academy during Social Media Week in Chicago, The Illinois Int'l Film Festival, The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Cleveland, and others.  It was picked up by Films for the Humanities and Sciences (see link):
I am bringing out the old notebook (and iPad) and starting to research the next film and flesh out my ideas.   I hope to ramp up research and start shooting by this coming July.  Look me up in Chicago: getting kind of tired of the one-man band deal...

Vanessa Warheit 

Not too much new to report for this year. I'm still teaching film and video part time at the Lycee in San Francisco, and I'm planning on structuring my course next year around 'films that make a difference' - I'm collecting names of films that qualify, so please send me your ideas! I'm also looking forward to having my students make some short films geared towards youth around sustainability issues. I am still representing New Day Films at the National Media Market in Las Vegas (and still scared of the blackjack tables), and still ruminating on my next film. I guess the biggest news is that we are moving back to Palo Alto, and I'm looking forward to being more centrally located after two years in sleepy San Jose. I'm currently looking for a small shared office space in Palo Alto - so if anyone knows of something, please let me know.

Class of 1998

Tony Sehgal

I have a photo exhibit of Ladakh, India on display at the Santa Clara County library in Milpitas. The exhibit features about 20 images of this arid region in Northern India at the base of the Himalayan mountain range. The photos will be on display until June 14th. Here is a brief article about the display:
I'm still at Oracle managing their live webcast operations and infrastructure. I'll be speaking on a panel about live corporate webcasting at Streaming Media East in NYC on May 15.
Here is my website which is primarily focused on photography right now:

Will Zavala

I remain at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, a media arts organization that partners with the local universities to teach film, video and photography courses.  I was recently promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, and it’s a sure sign you’ve entered the academe when you can be excited about such a thing!

Class of 1997

David Mehlman

In the past year I was one of the editors  on the Oscar nominated feature doc Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, and I have been working with Banks Tarver on a variety of television projects including two new series: The United Stats of America which begins airing May 8 at 10pm on the History Channel, and Small Town Security which will air on AMC this summer. 
Most exciting, Marcy and I had a baby in September--our fourth boy. His name is Henry. My house is very loud. Mostly with screams of joy.

Yuriko Romer

I just premiered my film, Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful. It was a very energetic screening to a packed house at the Castro Theater, during the SFIAAFF. Since I was finishing (still working on music) up till the last minute, I'm just now getting started on getting the film out in the world. But my film subject Keiko Fukuda and I will be at the Commonwealth Club on May 16th. On the home front, my son Niko will be entering high school next year and towers over me (I know, I know, that's not saying much) at 5'10" and Bill is now teaching middle school.
Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful tells the inspirational story of Keiko Fukuda’s lifelong journey, spanning four continents, ten decades, and two distinct cultures, to overcome adversity and become the highest-ranking woman in judo history. She is the only woman ever to be awarded a tenth degree black belt, the pinnacle of judo.

Class of 1996

Mark Becker

I will be getting my own new film going this summer, as I'm just finishing an editing job, and have a little hiatus. Nadine and I just had our second daughter, and our NYC apartment has become more crowded but also more lively. My older daughter is now 8, and I'm going to start her documentary apprenticeship soon (but no, I won't exploit her as a child laborer, so don't get ideas...). my website:

Charlotte Lagarde

I just celebrated my first year in NY and am loving the new life. My new documentary Fred Hersch Now on composer, pianist and AIDS activist Fred Hersch received funding from the Catapult Film Fund. I am producing Deann Borshay Liem's Geography of Kinship, which received development funding from the NEH. My short documentary Slow Looking, Fast Painting, a portrait of artist Amy Hardie will premiere at the end of April at the Scottish Royal Academy.

Kim Roberts

I'm still in Los Angeles, editing away.  In the last year I cut Last Call at the Oasis for Participant, which will start playing theaters in May.  Plus a fun micro-budget doc on radical Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs, called American Revolutionary.  I'm now working on a film about income inequality with Robert Reich.  More importantly, my editing room is finally walking distance from my house!  I feel like I've found the secret to happy LA living- staying out of my car.

Class of 1995

Laura Harrison

Since last year, which I spent distributing my feature doc about Ant Farm (Space, Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm) far and wide, I am taking a break from filmmaking for a while to focus on running the Bogliasco Foundation. As of March, I am the president of this Foundation, which runs an international residential fellowship program for artists and scholars in Bogliasco, Italy. ( I'm enjoying having the opportunity to give out fellowships rather than request them for a change! We are in the process of increasing our film/video program, which is not open to students (sorry!) but is the perfect place for talented filmmakers to spend a month writing, researching, or editing a project in a setting that is both gloriously beautiful and highly conducive to productive, creative work. Although I still live most of the time in Houston, I'm now spending a week out of every month in Manhattan, where our NY office (and my whole family!) is located. I'm enjoying the new challenges, the travel and meeting incredibly talented people from all over the world. Would love to see any of my NY based film school buddies any time: laura.harrison at

Jacquie Jones

For the past six years or so, I have been the executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium, an organization funded by CPB to support black documentaries for public television and now original online content as well. In this capacity, I’ve acted in many roles to produce or EP shows that ended up on public television. This past year, however, I have been back in production – for real – producing and directing a 4-hour limited series about a public school in DC for PBS. It will air in 2013.
I also became troop leader of my daughter’s Brownie Troop this year – Troop #2180 in the nation’s capital! Equally exciting!

Mylène Moreno

I've been working with an old friend on a series for Detroit Public Television, Arab-American Stories, and made several mini-docs this winter profiling artists, a labor organizer and a MacArthur genius/engineering innovator.  These have just started airing.  At the moment I'm developing another public television project about the late 60s, early 70s that's tangentially related to an earlier piece.  It's very exciting to revisit a pivotal moment from a new angle and in more depth.  Can't say more yet.

Cynthia Wade

I directed a prime-time hour-long Sunday night special for Sesame Street about hunger.  The show included four documentaries of different families facing food insecurity. I liked the challenge of having to tell four completely different stories, each with a new voice and style, about the same theme.  (The highlight for my own children was meeting Elmo.)  I directed three films for Bristol Meyers Squibb about HIV.  The third film was a deliberate break from traditional documentary storytelling — we used props, placards, jibs and dollies to weave together a film about 5 very different Americans living with HIV.  
I finished directing my 5th film for HBO – a two-year project chronicling what hair means to a woman when she is diagnosed with cancer.  Losing one’s hair in the face of a cancer diagnosis appears to a minor detail, and the loss often starts a cascade of dramatically changing events inside relationships, marriages, jobs, and families.  The film is based in a Long Island beauty salon and follows several women for two years – it is called Mondays at Racine and is on the festival circuit now (to be on HBO in 2013).
I am embarking on a new film about an ecological disaster in Indonesia.
I am teaching some master classes, starting to run 10K races again, and getting more involved in community life in the Berkshires.  My children are growing fast (soon to be 7 and 12) and my whole family is enjoying the outdoor activities up here in New England (skiing, skating, hiking, biking, yoga, soccer, and lacrosse!).

Class of 1994

Ferne Pearlstein

Robert Edwards ('96) and I have begun production on a new doc about taboos in humor, using the Holocaust as the ultimate off-limits topic. For some unknown reason I am shooting on Super 16. Even the labs are annoyed with us.

Howard Shack

I've stepped out of the freelance circuit for a while and am currently working as a staff photographer/editor for our local "Evening Magazine" show here in Seattle.  My kids were getting the short end of the stick with all the travel I've been doing the past few years.  They are six and eight and I don't want to miss any of it.  So these days,  I jump into my company van every morning and film the show's host in one fabulous location or another and then jam a sandwich down on the way back to the station where I edit the footage and hand it off to the show editor by 4pm.  "Evening Magazine" is a daily show that's been on the air here in Seattle for 25 years.  It's a great group of people and one of the last of the locally produced magazine shows left.  It's an interesting place that I've sort of stumbled into.  But, of course, if you find yourself in need of a DP in Seattle, please give a call.  I'll always make time for interesting projects with Stanford folks!

Class of 1989

Camilla Calamandrei

I moved home and office back to NYC from the 'burbs last summer. So very happy to be in the concrete jungle again!   I am directing and producing live action pieces, both TV/corporate and documentaries.  New website:

Pam Walton

Ruth Carranza ('86) and I just finished Nanotechnology: The World Beyond Micro, which is the culmination of a National Science Foundation Grant for two films on emerging technology that Ruth received five years ago. Now we begin the marketing phase. I finished shooting 3 Women Making Art in January and begin editing this spring. It was a real treat to finish production in New York City with Tina DiFeliciantonio ('87) and Jane Wagner ('86), our old classmates from the film program.  

Class of 1985

Andrea Butter

I continue to enjoy running my small company (focused on high end tourist souvenirs for tropical areas, currently primarily sold in Hawaii).   The past months saw the launch of a new line of hand painted leather accessories which I designed and developed with a company in India (which included sitting on the floor with an artist on the outskirts of Kolkata for two weeks straight).
My next big focus is to develop another product line with a delightful Vietnamese woman-owned company in Hanoi.  I believe strongly in the power of trade to help lift the standard of living in third world countries, and I am especially happy about having found a Fair Trade company that has been employing people long-term, including a few handicapped people with few other options. 
And I attended the screenings of the first-quarter films of this year's batch of film students this fall! It was fun as well as nostalgic for me to see the short films, realize that the assignment of what they had to do hasn't changed at all since our days (including doing it in 16mm film!).  Anyone who is still here in the Bay Area: go to the screenings when they come up.  I certainly will.

Lisa Sonne

Some highlights since the last time I wrote in include renewing wedding vows in Antarctica, and my book EVERYTHING 101 ( debuting, which includes quirky bits on eight subjects, stuff that you might have learned at Stanford or wondered about late at night.  Jay Leno wrote on the book: “Cool!”
My husband and I are still running the nonprofit Charity Checks offering Giving Certificates as gifts that can help any 501c3,  as well as Charitable Literacy programs for schools. From the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan to the island paradise of Palau,  I am still traveling and exploring with cameras and writing about places and people for multiple media (  Spruce Hall alum & Doc maven Margaret Burnett (aka Maggie Stogner ('83)) joined me in the Galapagos and we shot underwater video while scuba diving for a new web site I am developing. I also enjoyed visiting Page Konrad ('85) in San Francisco between her travels to Papua New Guinea and New Mexico.
Best wishes to fellow alums and hats off to alums making films that inspire, educate, and motivate.

Class of 1983

Maggie Burnette Stogner

I crossed into May at 40,000 feet en route to Cape Town for an International Congress in documentary filmmaking. I was recently tenured at American University in Washington DC. Blue Bear Films is still going strong, creating docs and other media for large traveling museum exhibitions ( I've finally launched my pet project, a living lab for a virtual, story-driven exhibition site called The Peace Innovators Project ( Feedback and story ideas are welcome!

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

There has just been so much going on with my film We Still Live Here that I don't know where to begin.  I would love to direct people to my News page at where they can see photos and news about various travels and screenings.  One of the highlights of the past few months was visiting Kris Samuelson's class on February 7th, the day of my screening for Stanford's Anthropology and Linguistics Departments organized by the Native American program.  It was great to be back at Stanford again.  After Stanford I drove down to Los Angeles for orientation meetings with the American Film Showcase, a State Department-funded program at USC that sends films and filmmakers to developing countries around the world to give screenings, workshops, talks and classes.  I was honored to be in a group that included Steve James (Interrupters), Les Blank, 2012 Oscar winners Dan Lindsay and T. J. Martin (Undefeated), Renee Tajima-Peña (Calavera Highway)  and many others.  I am looking forward to bringing We Still Live Here to places the film and I have never been.  And to top it all off, we just got a grant from the NEA to add enhancements to the ITVS-funded companion website for We Still Live Here, Our Mother Tongues.  Lots more work to do!

Lucy Ostrander

My husband Don Sellers ('88) and I recently completed a feature-length documentary film titled The Revolutionary.  It was co-produced, written and narrated by Irv Drasnin, who taught in the program from 1980-82.
Not only does this film have strong production ties to the film program at Stanford but our subject, Sidney Rittenberg, studied Chinese at Stanford when he was enlisted in the U.S. Army's foreign language program in 1944. Rittenberg lived in China for 34 years, the only American citizen who joined the Chinese Communist Party.  During China's Cultural Revolution Rittenberg was considered the most important foreigner in China since Marco Polo. But he also ended up spending a total of 16 years in solitary confinement.
I first met Sid Rittenberg when I was producing my Stanford Masters thesis film Witness to Revolution: The Story of Anna Louise Strong, which won a Student Academy Award in 1985.
The Revolutionary will have its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 27th. Our trailer can be viewed here:

Kirby Walker

I am co-producing and directing a feature length documentary with my friend and colleague James Redford.  Our working title for the  project is Toxic Hot Seat. Check out the description:
Check under the cushions of your couch at home; odds are high you’ll find the TB-117 tag, and you’ve been sitting in toxins for years. Toxic Hot Seat will follow a passionate group of individuals from diverse backgrounds as they fight a powerful chemical industry determined to protect a unique California standard.  The film will use intimate personal stories to humanize this debate of national importance. A loving mother whose contaminated breast milk had dangerously high levels of flame retardants. A renowned mountaineer-chemist who has tirelessly fought against these chemicals for years.  A courageous firefighter whose rare cancer compelled him to fight the use of chemicals linked to high cancer rates in his profession. A MacArthur Genius who survived a childhood burn and beat the tobacco industry in a long battle for fire safety and has turned his passion to flame retardants. Toxic Hot Seat will reveal how their dramatic experiences have united them in a battle to protect public health in the halls of Sacramento in the coming year.
We have shot about half of the film and are currently editing a concept reel. We're having fun, and really think it is a good project.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving 

Pelican Dreams production/editing continues (see website for details). The next big shoot is in Baja this spring, where we’ll try to get a pelican dive from the point-of-view of a fish, helped along by the loan of another high-speed camera from Vision Research. Do pelicans dream? How well can humans “know” a wild animal? Pelican Dreams is another multi-year documentary project, like The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Please send pelican stories, photos, or funding for this nonprofit movie my way:

Class of 1971

Stuart Zuckerman

I retired in June '11 after 10+ years as VP/Sales & Marketing for PBS' Nightly Business Report, during which I secured over $55 million in corporate sponsorship funding for the daily half-hour business news program. This came from long-time underwriters A.G. Edwards and Franklin Templeton Investments but I'm proudest of bringing in revenue from new categories such as consulting (Deloitte),  technology (Microsoft), automotive (Mercedes) and energy (Exxon Mobil).  I'm now consulting for a number of producers who have national series on PBS...including BBC World News and Great Museums.