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2015 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter

In Memoriam

Henry S. Breitrose
(1936 – 2014)

Henry Breitrose, Professor of Communication Emeritus, founded Stanford’s M.A. Program in Documentary Film and Video in 1965 and served as its director for thirty years. In addition to teaching and directing the Film and Television Program, Henry served as Chair of the Department of Communication from 1977 to 1983. Henry continued to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in film for more than 45 years – well into his retirement. He loved teaching about the history of film, especially documentary film, often stating his belief that the documentary form could be a major force for political, social, and cultural change.  Henry is survived by Prudence, his wife of 46 years and his children: Becky of Portland Oregon, and Charlie of Watertown, Massachusetts.

The Henry S. Breitrose Memorial Fund has been established to benefit the MFA in Documentary Film program. Gifts should be made out to Stanford University with a designation for the Henry S. Breitrose Memorial Fund and sent to:
Denise Ellestad
Office of Development
326 Galvez Street
Stanford, CA 94305

or via the web at

Please address any questions to


Jan Krawitz

I had a sabbatical in fall quarter which gave me the opportunity to present Perfect Strangersat conferences, universities, and community-based screenings around the country. The film was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival last December and was broadcast on the PBS World series America ReFramedin April. I caught up with Signe Taylor (’94) during my Visiting Artist appearance at Dartmouth and with Emmanuel Dayan (’08) who attended the screening at Ethnografilm in Paris. How exciting to see Mark Becker’s (‘96) new film Art and Craftas one of the movie choices on a recent United flight.  Paul Meyers (’12)  is adeptly managing the social media for Perfect Strangersand re-tweets are inundating my “in box” so I know he’s doing a terrific job! We hope to see some of you at the upcoming spring screenings!

Jamie Meltzer

It’s been a busy year, I’m currently ramping up post-production on my documentary Freedom Fighters, hoping to have it out by early 2016. Thanks to many former students who have collaborated on the film (David Alvarado ('10), Peter Jordan ('08) and many others). I spent the last few months remastering my first documentary Off the Charts (originally shot on 16mm film) and am self-distributing it on Vimeo on Demand at the moment. In the even more exciting news category, my wife Rebecca and I are expecting a second child in late May. Talia is now two and a half years old and she is getting ready to attend some short documentary screenings this June -- hope to see some of you at the Spring film and Thesis screenings.

Faculty Emeriti

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

It has been a really busy and wonderful year, launched by our trip to Japan to finally screen Tokyo Wakain Tokyo itself.  Many of the characters in our film were able to attend the screenings and it was fantastic to connect with them once again.

Our dance short, Barn Dance, also continued its festival run, domestically and also overseas in Poland.   As well, we shot another dance film this past January and are close to a locked picture.  Like the other, it is a collaboration with Amy Seiwert and Imagery, her dance company, only this time with fourteen dancers instead of two.  Lots of moving parts in the editing room.  John and I are also pursuing a doc feature topic but it requires an interview in prison with the central character.  We’re in touch with him but still not sure if he will give us the core interview we need.  As usual, access is the challenge.   That said, we have had plenty of access to our wonderful 3-year old grandson, Desmond, who lights up our lives.


Mark Urbanek

Preparations are well underway for the move to our new home in the McMurtry Building.  To see a fly-through of the building, please visit this page.  In addition to the 16 graduate student edit rooms, we will have a green screen studio as well as a 44 seat screening room.  We will once again have an audio mixing facility, updated for Pro Tools, which includes an adjacent audio recording room.

The upcoming Spring and Thesis films projected in Annenberg Auditorium will mark the end of screenings in that location.  The Nathan Cummings Art Building, along with the auditoriums below it, is slated for demolition late summer.  Please be on the lookout for the new location screenings will take place in for the fall, winter and spring.  In July, the spaces in McClatchy Hall that the Documentary Film Program has occupied lo these many years will be vacated for other University programmatic needs.  The Stanford Library system has graciously agreed to accept our collection of past  student projects on 16mm film, 3/4" U-Matic, BetaSP and DVCam.  A digital version has been made or will be made before the last of the collection is transfered over. 

On a personal note, my son graduates from high school in June and will be heading off to college in the fall!

Class of 2014

Alexandra Liveris

I moved back to my former home, New York City, after graduation and am enjoying walking to the IFC, Angelika and Sunshine theater many evenings with fellow East Coast alumni. My first film is a commissioned piece by the architect Santiago Calatrava and I am loving the experience of setting up a production company and executing a directorial vision for a client that has developed out of long term dialogue and consideration. We film through the spring and will finish post production in the summer.

Class of 2013

Laura Green

It’s been an exciting year, and as always, I can’t believe how quickly it’s flown by! I continue to be happily immersed in teaching a range of classes – including the undergraduate Film Production 114 at Stanford! I am also teaching editing courses at the Art Institute, and workshops for aspiring professionals at BAVC. This year, Anna Moot-Levin (’12) and I have launched a documentary project following rural health care providers in Northern New Mexico and we are having a blast on production. I’m also excited to be collaborating with Kevin Gordon (’11), editing his series of short docs, Shine. San Francisco keeps getting crazier and crazier but I still don’t want to live anywhere else!

J. Christian Jensen

It's been a fun year with a lot of neat new opportunities. I had a delightful time in June with Helen Hood Scheer ('13) at the Student Academy Awards and enjoyed the good company of a great many alums (Helen Hood Scheer ('13), Mike Attie ('09), Emily Fraser ('14), and Katherine Gorringe ('14) to name a few) in beautiful Montana at the annual UFVA conference. Most recently I got to see a host of alums (too many to list) at my annual pilgrimage to Full Frame. I love that festival.
My work life continues to affirm the power of Stanford relationships. A good chunk of 2014 was spent editing Johnny Symons' ('97) film Out Runand after wrapping up my role there, I was able to do some projects at Facebook under the amazing Tim O'Hara ('08). The most recent Stanford work connection is that I've been teaching FilmProd 106 since January. It’s been fun to build off the excellent curriculum that Laura Green ('12) and Jamie Meltzer designed. Teaching in a good environment with eager students is such a joy! 
My thesis film White Earthwrapped up the brunt of its festival run in 2014 and got a surprise boost of extra life with an Oscar nomination. It was unexpected and a bit surreal to ride that train for a couple months and I was glad to have thesis filming partner Abhi Singh (’13) nearby on the red carpet. It was nice to be validated in a way that the Oscar brand can only do, but I was also glad the moment was brief and life is now back to normal. A note for the next alum that gets nominated: Swag bags only go to A-list actors and actresses so don't get your hopes up there. ;) Although White Earthis currently available on Vimeo On Demand, it will be neat for it to find a much wider audience with a forthcoming Netflix release.
On the home front, life is full of little pleasures (and occasional pains) mostly related to our adorable 18-month old boy, Whitman. Lanée and I continue to enjoy the unreasonably nice Palo Alto weather while wondering if all that pleasantness is making us weak of constitution and unable to survive elsewhere. Time will tell.

Class of 2012

Paul Meyers

In the last year I've continued to work on various freelance production projects, mostly from the East Coast where I landed after finishing work on a longer editing gig.  I am now back in the Bay Area attending SFIFF where I contributed some writing (as well as screener time!) again this year.  During the festival I've had the good fortune to see Helen Hood Scheer ('13), Laura Green ('12), Paul Donatelli ('12), Didi (Duygu) Eruçman ('12), Bonni Cohen ('94), Dan Geller ('85), Rachel Rosen ('94), Kris Samuelson ('73) and Jan Krawitz.  Alumni work has been really well represented at the festival this year, as a glance at the program will tell you.  I have also been helping Jan with some outreach for her film Perfect Strangerswhich just had its broadcast premiere on PBS. It's been a pleasure to see the film get out to more and more people.

Adam James Smith

I’ve had a busy year so far touring with The Land of Many Palaces,the documentary I co-directed with Chinese filmmaker and NYU Tisch alum, Song Ting, about the relocation of thousands of farmers to the ‘ghost city’ of Ordos, Inner Mongolia. We held a preview week of screenings for press, diplomats, artists, and academics in Beijing, before premiering at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the end of January. Since then we’ve screened at over 50 locations around North America and the world, to a variety of audiences, at festivals, universities, organizations, museums, and independent theatres. We have also focused on garnering press about the film and Ordos, in outlets such as The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Art Forum, China Daily, The New York Times, Il Post and more, which has made it easier to secure screenings. We recently decided to go with Journeyman Pictures as our worldwide distributer, plus the Beijing based production company that funded the post-production of the film is helping with distribution in China. In the autumn, Ting and I plan to tour Europe with the film. Thanks to Kathy Huang ('06) for sharing her advice and wisdom during the production and post-production of The Land of Many Palaces,and to other Stanford MFA alums for offering feedback on cuts of the film during the editing process. You can learn more about the film here:
This summer I will begin production on my second feature documentary, Americaville(working title), and pre-production on the third, A Window Looking Out(working title). Americavillewill follow residents of Jackson Hole, Hebei, a replica of the Wyoming town, as they live between the urban chaos of Beijing and weekends of respite in their secluded American style town in the mountains. Many of the residents have not only embraced the architecture and furnishings of the American West, but also the lifestyle, ideology and mythology. American festivals such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Independence Day are celebrated. Some residents dress in cowboy attire and only cook and eat imported American food. The community even has its own movie club in which residents recreate and film scenes from famous Hollywood movies. I will look into somehow working these scenes into my documentary so the film may be somewhat hybrid in nature. The documentary will be set over the period of one summer. I’ll be working on the film with Producer, Qi Zhang, who has been working on Zhang Yimou’s Great Walland the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 bid over the past year, and Beijing Film Academy alum and current Parsons New School student, Yi Tang, who will be my production assistant.
In October I will begin a graduate program at the University of Cambridge, which will involve working at the Cambridge Visual Anthropology Lab. As part of the program I will shoot a third feature documentary in China during early 2016, with the working title A Window Looking Out. The film will follow visitors and workers around the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen, Guangdong.
You can follow the progress of my next two films on my blog:

Class of 2011

Kevin Gordon

True Sonwrapped up its festival run with a limited theatrical release to great reviews and a cable broadcast premiere on the new Fusion Network. It was a huge thrill to screen alongside so many other Stanford Films on the circuit last year (The Immortalists, Top Spin, In Country, Regarding Susan Sontag, Art and Craft, White Earth) with a new batch coming out now!

As much fun as the festivals were, I’ve decided to experiment in the world of digital media and am producing a project that is a series of short online films. Expect to hear more soon! Aside from that I’ve been directing corporate and commercial projects as well as a short film for the Mental Health Channel.

In personal news, I moved from SF to the East Bay which seems to be the new home of choice for Bay Area filmmakers. Holler if you’re around!

Mina T. Son

Sara Newens ('11) and I are thrilled to report that our feature-length documentary Top Spinis finally finished! We had our World Premiere at DOC NYC last November and have since been traveling to festivals. Also super excited to announce that the film has been acquired by First Run Features as well as Fusion for our U.S. broadcast, and will be part of the American Film Showcase (the Department of State's film diplomacy program). 
I'm continuing to work with Sara on my next project about a Japanese town devastated by the tsunami. We're about to start editing and hope to finish next year. I also started educational distribution of my thesis film, Making Noise in Silence, through New Day Films. Still living in Los Angeles with my husband... please say hello if you're ever in town!

Class of 2010

Theodore Rigby

This last year has been very full, and the past few years since I wrote into the newsletter even more full.  In 2013 we welcomed my not-so-small-anymore daughter Naiya into the world, and fatherhood has been an amazing whirlwind of every human emotion, and then some.  She is currently loudly talking to herself as I type, significantly past her bedtime.
In April of 2013 I launched an interactive project called Immigrant Nation (iNation), by taking over the lobby on Ellis Island for 2 days and engaging the crowds with interactive storytelling activities focused on personal immigrant narratives.  Since then we have launched an immersive storytelling platform <> with about 1000 user-created stories on it to date, finished three short films (one of which was on NYT Op-docs and will be broadcast Nationally on POV this summer), screened films and mounted live events at film festivals including The New York Film Festival, and have had the project used by numerous educators, museums, National orgs, and community-based orgs.  Throughout the journey of iNation I've had the pleasure of  working in various ways with Jason Sussberg ('10), Emile Bokaer ('10), Anthony Weeks ('10), David Alvarado ('10), John Kane ('08), as well as working alongside Ryan Malloy ('11) and Nick Berger ('08) in the same studio space.
I'm excited to see the Bay Area community of Stanford grads grow every year, and have been very grateful to return to Stanford this quarter to teach one of the Spring Film classes in the MFA program alongside my former professor Jamie Meltzer.

Class of 2009

Nilima Abrams

Finally, (dare I say) *nearing* the end of the feature I've been working on (WIP trailer). The film is about 35 ex-garbage collecting kids and the multi-cultural family that took them in in S. India. What I saw as a frustrating, multi-year process, I'm now embracing, as footage from years ago adds a dynamic element because it shows kids growing up over the years, dealing with life's challenges from the lens of their unique upbringing. As new dramas keep unfolding, the 'ending' just became apparent. I've been working some with Charlene Music ('09) and others, and a lot alone, in a dark editing room. On the side I've been doing marketing/building charitable partnerships for Solid Threads (vintage-style t-shirts) and other freelance creative consulting at Splice Cream

Mike Attie

First, I'm finishing up a year-long position at Northwestern as a lecturer and associate director of the Documentary MFA program. Starting this fall I'll be an assistant professor of film production at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 

My film In Country(co-directed by Meghan O'Hara ('09)) was funded by the Sundance Documentary Film Program in 2014, then premiered the following spring at Full Frame. It played at Hot Docs, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen and many other festivals. Our theatrical and digital release just happened on April 28th!

Matt Harnack

I'm continuing my work at Facebook supporting executive video requests. I've been posting my public facing projects on my Facebook Page. I'm particularly proud of a short piece I made about the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. I've also enjoyed learning to fly a DJI drone and photographing the new Facebook building. The biggest and most important news of all is that I'm married. Monica and I got married in October during a small family ceremony encircled by redwood trees. Monica has three wonderful children. Please write me directly and I will tell you all about them. I have some privately shared folders of the wedding if you are interested. We have been spending our free time grounding ourselves through hiking in the forest with friends. You can see some of our hike if you follow us on Instagram @Mattonica. Monica is the amazing photographer for at least 80% of our posts. She is an amazing partner who is always encouraging us to find balance in the chaotic world that swirls around us and I feel very lucky to have found her. 

Melanie Levy

This has been a very busy and quite incredible year!

First of all, thanks to fellow alumni Ferne Pearlstein ('94) & Bob Edwards ('96) who both sagely introduced me to a very unique, very kind and wonderful filmmaker person named Jeremy Engle, two years ago ... I am now as of March 21st, 2015 married... and with child! (a whirlwind of the very best kind). 
It's been an incredible two years of partnership on every level and he and I are so excited for this next stage. To all Stan-fiosas who have graciously managed to juggle a life in the arts and parenting... I would sincerely love to hear from you and glean from your wisdom! 
This year has also been a fulfilling and busy one creatively. 
After nearly a year co-editing a documentary about Roseanne Barr we just premiered the feature doc Roseanne for Presidentby director Eric Weinrib at the Tribeca Film Festival. A big shout out and thanks to Gabriel Rhodes ('00) for his guidance and support along the way. And hugely exciting to be such great company at this year's festival with Ben Wu's ('06) beautiful work In Transit, the vivid and perfectly pitched Very Semi Seriousby Leah Wolchok ('05) and Davina Pardo ('05) and films featuring the photography of Andy Schocken ('04), production savvy of Christie Herring ('05), not to mention the narrative premiere of When I Live My Life Over Againby Ferne (Pearlstein ('94)) & Bob (Edwards ('96))...such incredible work and the list goes on!
The festival represented such an exciting year overall.  I have been thrilled to see recently the wonderful Meghan O'Hara ('09) who along with Mike (Attie ('09)) are continuously blowing me away creatively (In Country - what a movie!) and in their ability to gracefully blaze a trail through the festival and press circuit with this feature premiere--not to mention, this year's Top Spin and The Immortalistsall proving that work-marriages can, in fact, work (Jason Sussberg ('10) + David Alvarado ('10) Mina T. Son ('11)) + Sara (Newens ('11)). All of this has really made for an exciting and inspiring time.  A big shout out to all of you and big congrats!
This month I'm working to complete a documentary short about a powerful storytelling theater work exploring Muslim Identity in New York City. We just finished shooting (with a really great NYC based doc DP Meg Kettell) and hope to have the short doc completed by June. You can check out a great NY Times article on the theater project here.
Jeremy (new husband) and I are plugging away at raising the necessary financing for his feature narrative film The Teacher, along with fellow producer Vanessa Roth. Would love to hear your thoughts on this exciting hybrid project:
I know this is probably many more words than are required (or even apologies Mark!)  but I think of you all so much and so often, and it's great to have a chance to share all of this news. Huge congrats again to the incredible successes this year. Look forward to hearing from all of you.

Tanya Sleiman

A very exciting year as Phaedon Sinis and I welcomed our daughter Clementina to the world! Our baby made her world premiere during Stanford's 2014 commencement weekend, so we missed the MFA screening that year, and will be celebrating her first birthday during 2015 commencement. We look forward to introducing Clementina to department screenings in the coming years. I'll be returning to my Helen Levitt documentary when I transition from full-time parent. Phaedon, Clementina, and I live in Palo Alto. Come rendezvous with us at the Stanford campus!

Class of 2008

Emmanuel Dayan

Hello all!  This year has passed very fast and has been centered on the editing and postproduction of Boom Horses, my first hour long doc, shot in Ireland. I'm excited to say Martin Wheeler, a french/ british composer is creating the soundtrack, and the film will start its' festival run in about a month.... 
Other than that, I'm working on a Kenya doc about water rights ( which you can find here) and I will be traveling back to the US this summer after five years !

John Kane

In February, I finished editing a feature-length doc called Daughters of the Forest (Dir. Samantha Grant.) The film follows students at an innovative high school for poor and indigenous girls located in the last old-growth forest in Paraguay. It will be broadcast on PBS later this year.  I’ve put together a new website for my editing work at:
In other news, I’ve recently been doing some assistant teaching at Mills College, helping a public policy class collectively produce a documentary on an east Oakland neighborhood.  And in April, I traveled to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. where I saw some Stanford pals and got to meet a sizable group of current students and alumni – too many to list here.  I highly recommend Full Frame if you haven’t been. 

Class of 2006

Revere La Noue

Having spent the last five years as a professional artist and consultant, I have been chomping at the bit to get back to hands-on filmmaking.  Biz (Elisabeth Haviland James ('03)) and I founded The Falconbridge Collection LLC as a platform to cultivate international projects in documentary film as well as other alternative media.  Our first endeavor is a feature-length documentary exploring the mystique and traditions of falconers around the world.  We were awarded an NEH Bridging Cultures grant to cover a large portion of our preproduction.  I just came back from a three week scout and six day shoot in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,  filming with the world’s finest falcons, shampooed camels, glistening “starchitecture”, as well as Emirates who were some of the kindest, gentlest, most hospitable people I’ve met.  It was very gratifying to discover that our work will indeed replace stereotype with nuance in a time when impulsive broadcasting is out-shouting thoughtful journalism. I was eager to request that my new Arab friends include us (documentary filmmakers) as part of their perception of American media.  Lastly, we had another great reunion at Full Frame.  After meeting several “newer” alums, I continue to be proud of the work and character of people coming through our program.

Ben Wu

It’s been an exciting, awesome, but also bittersweet year for me.  I had the enormous pleasure of directing a film with the great Al Maysles, along with my friends and collaborators David Usui, Nelson Walker, and Lynn True. It was a real privilege to work with and get to know Al over the years - he was a true pioneer, who lived and breathed documentary filmmaking.  Our film  In Transit was his final film.  It had its premiere at Tribeca in April, and we’re hoping to continue to have a good festival run, and some theatrical distribution down the line.  
I’m continuing to stay busy with the my production company, Lost & Found Films, making documentary content for the NY Times, VICE, Wired, Al Jazeera, and others.  We also continue to add to our short doc series, This Must Be The Place.
I also got married to my amazing wife Carolyn last year, and we went and had a kid! Levi Merriman Wu, who’s currently 4 months old, and pretty much the cutest baby around. I lull him to sleep with tales of crashing on a mat in the sub-basement.  He falls asleep immediately.  We made the move from Brooklyn to Austin, Texas recently, so I’m starting the first Stanford Doc Alumni chapter here.  Anyone want to come on down, the first breakfast taco is on me!

Class of 2005

Christie Herring

 This year has been a busy one! I just returned from the Tribeca Film Festival for the premiere of CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,a feature doc I edited and produced this year ( CODElooks at the reasons why so few women thrive in the fast-growing field of computer programming and how that might change in the future. Camerawork on the film included Mike Seely (’05) and Andy Shocken (’04). I also helped edit Vanessa Hope’s All Eyes and Ears,which screened at the festival as well. While at Tribeca, I was thrilled to overlap with so many other Stanford filmmakers -- Leah Wolchock (’05) and Davina Pardo (’05) with Very Semi-Serious, Andy Shocken (’04) with Song of Lahore, Ben Wu (’06) with In Transit, and Melanie Levy ('09) with Roseanne for President. Go Stanford!
The Campaign,my film about the fight against Proposition 8, continues in distribution, as we again look to the Supreme Court for a legal decision on marriage equality. In Summer 2014 we aired in about 85% of public television markets in the US. Soon after, we launched educational distribution through New Day Films, like so many Stanford folks before me.

 I am in San Francisco, am freelance editing and producing on a range of projects, and have several new things in-the-works.

Lila Place

It's been a big year. I finished editing a film about women kidnapped in Guatemala called La Prenda, which is doing the festival circuit - Guadalajara, Thessaloniki, Hot Docs, and so on.  It was a great experience working with the Swiss director Jean-Cosme Delaloye and the Swiss production company Tipimages.  At the end of the year, we decided to move back to my husband's hometown in Sardinia, Italy (again) for a year or so to be closer to his family.  The girls have quickly adjusted to life, playing with their hundreds of cousins and speaking fluent Italian.  I recently participated in a week-long Emerging European Producer's conference called the Maia Workshops, that took place nearby.  It was fun to be back in a classroom learning all about European co-productions.  If there are any Stanford folk living in Europe, please get in touch!

Davina Pardo

Hello from Brooklyn. This past year has been all about finishing Very Semi-Serious,the documentary about New Yorker cartoonists Leah Wolchok (05') and I have been working on for the past 100 years. It was a thrill to premiere the film at Tribeca last month, and a real highlight of the festival was seeing our many Stanford friends who also screened films there. Walking into a party or screening and bumping into Andy Schocken ('04), Christie Herring ('05), Ben Wu ('08), Melanie Levy ('09), and Cynthia Wade ('06)…it made for a pretty wonderful festival experience! Leah and I are now working on getting the film out into the wider world, and I’m starting a new short doc. It’s hard to believe we graduated 10 years ago this spring - miss you all!

Mike Seely

I am still working primarily as a freelance DP, occasionally producing and directing, based in Berkeley, and sharing an office with John Kane ('08).  A few recent films I've worked on as cinematographer are: Hard Earnedproduced by Kartemquin Films for Al Jazeera America; Daughters of the Forest,directed by Samantha Grant (edited by John Kane ('08)), set to premiere on PBS this spring; and CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap(edited by Christie Herring ('05), premiered at Tribeca 2015.  I'm also thrilled to be working with director Tom Shepard (Scout's Honor,the Grove) on a documentary about LGBT asylum-seekers.  I recently tried my hand at directing "branded" commercial stories, and I'm diving into production on a new doc of my own about deported US veterans.  Thanks for the constant reminders of the depth and breadth of talent in the Stanford documentary grad pool.  I feel ridiculously lucky to have the privilege to work with you people on a regular basis!

Class of 2004

Sally Rubin

I live in Los Angeles and co-run the documentary film program at Chapman University, where a new MFA in Documentary Filmmaking program will be launching this fall. My last film, Life on the Line, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2014 and broadcast nationally on PBS as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. I'm  currently working on The Hollywood Hillbilly,a documentary about stereotypes of the Appalachian region and rural folks in film and television. Just recently I gave birth to my daughter, Millie.  I'm enjoying motherhood. 

Andy Schocken

I recently produced and directed Song of Lahore,a feature length doc co-directed/produced with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.  It tells the story of a group of Pakistani musicians brought together to keep their classical traditions alive in the face of rising fundamentalist opposition and the general denigration of arts in society.  When the musicians release an unexpected album covering jazz standards with their South Asian instruments, it becomes a hit, and they're invited to New York to perform with Wynton Marsalis at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  We had a great premiere recently at Tribeca, and were named runner-up for the Audience Award.  I also helped shoot a couple of other Stanford projects at the festival: Very Semi-Serious(Leah Wolchok ('05), Davina Pardo ('05)), and CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap(Christie Herring ('05)).

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

I'm very much enjoying directing and producing my new project with Revere La Noue ('06) - it will take us all along the Silk Road with some of the worlds best falconers, and is sure to be an amazing adventure. Our other joint project, Marcelle, is happily plotting her take-over of, well, anything and everything, and is almost two and a half. Both the film and the daughter can be sources of frustration, but mostly of joy and reward.
My latest film, Althea,which I produced and edited, will be broadcast nationally on PBS in early September on American Masters,and has been on the festival circuit for a few months. If you are at the US Open, look for the trailer on the jumbotron! 
As usual, I loved seeing so many Cardinals at Full Frame - always exciting to see new work and talk about fresh ideas!

Class of 2002

Thomas Burns

Тhe big news is that I have moved overseas to Tbilisi, Georgia, where I continue to work as a director of photography on narrative and commercial work, but always with a healthy stream of doc projects mixed in. After 10 years in Los Angeles it’s been wonderfully refreshing to collaborate with filmmakers in this part of the world (Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, et al.). I’m also in the process of opening the country's first professional color grading facility (, and I hope this provides more opportunities to work with fellow Stanford doc alumni. The grading possibilities these days are truly inspiring, and I’m always happy to chat with fellow doc alumni about how to get the most out of the grading options available.

Michelle Cabalu Zaslav

Greetings from Los Angeles! I am currently working as an assistant editor on Croods 2at DreamWorks Animation. Prior to that, I was working on an animated film called B.O.O. - Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, which was recently put on hold and back into development. 

David Kneebone

This has been a very active and exciting year so far. I'm still making comedy shows. Sadly, I have no documentary news to share. 
My company, Abso Lutely Productions, is chugging along and trying to keep pace with the demands of our slate of shows. We're currently deep in production on a number of projects including: Nathan For You(Comedy Central), Comedy Bang! Bang!(IFC), The Eric Andre Show(Adult Swim), Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories(Adult Swim) and the latest, With Bob and Davidstarring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross (Netflix).  If you're a fan of sketch comedy, look for that this Autumn. 
Between those projects and pounding the pavement to sell new shows, I've been fortunate to stay very busy. We're launching a digital studio in the coming months to feature short form comedy ideas that don't fit the typical pipeline of network distribution, and also stuff that's too weird for Funny or Die!I'm looking forward to that challenge as well. That'll be coming to your phone later this year, barring the typical setbacks, delays and overages that will surely arise.   Technology!

Class of 2000

Roger Sorkin

My new film, The Burden,recently premiered at the DC Environmental Film Festival. It was co-produced with the Truman National Security Project. The film tells the story of fossil fuel dependence as our greatest national security threat, and how the military is leading the fight for clean energy.

Hope Hall

I continue to work as the President's Official Videographer, and treasuring every moment of the best job ever. After January 2017, who knows?

Class of 1999

Sarah Harbin

I am still in San Francisco, been working at CBS/CNET for nine years producing technology journalism videos: "News, Reviews and How-tos" How did I fall into tech journalism? Honestly I don't really know--it just happened and has been pretty great. Last week I got to help destroy an Apple Watch just a few hours after they became available to the public.  Yesterday, I was making a video explaining the physics of a convection oven, and today I am in LA at the Tesla Design Studios covering their new batteries that will change how solar energy is stored.  Speaking of LA, I have been thinking a lot about moving to Los Angeles lately, so if you hear of any interesting projects, please keep me in mind. I am not really sure what the next step in my life will be, but I am really open-minded about opportunities and at this point and looking forward to the next adventure.

Christopher Jenkins

?!? Multiplied. I mean...had a baby girl...with my super-significant other ?!? She'll turn 2 in June ?!? Accepted a position teaching production at UC Santa Barbara, developing some great new classes in collaboration with theater and dance ?!? Feel lucky to still be traveling, shooting projects in interesting places like Uganda, Haiti, Ghana, Jamaica, South Sudan, etc. ?!? Fun projects with good intentions and hopefully lasting impacts. Spent time with Bob Marley's mom before she passed, some of which I filmed and which is featured in the film Marley?!? Walked with giant jungle giraffes and peddle-sailed my small boat with a family of whales, seriously ?!? And I'm always amazed to see the work Stanford filmmakers are doing.  Please get in touch if you're ever in Santa Barbara and would like to give a guest lecture or get a tour of UCSB's expanding production wing.

Vanessa Warheit

I succeeded in raising $25K on Kickstarter last year for my short film on CO2 pollution, Worse Than Poop!- and we finished the film in time to premiere at the Boston Intl. Kids Film Festival. The film is now playing in film festivals on three continents, and has been getting rave reviews from kids, teachers and families. My favorite review so far is from a 6th grader named Hunter, who wrote: "It was pooptastic!  And put this issue into poopspective.” 
But now Professor Elliot is almost ten, and the ice caps are melting faster than ever - so I’ve decided to put down my camera, take off the indie-filmmaker hat, and actively look for a full-time position within an organization working on climate solutions. It’s proving challenging to get people outside the documentary profession to understand that making documentaries involves more than running a camera! But I’m ever-hopeful. Let me know if you have leads to externally-facing roles in the climate-solutions space, ideally with an international focus.

Class of 1998

Tony Sehgal

I'm focused on historical photographic processes such as wet plate collodion and the variety of contact printing techniques associated with the process. I'm focused on portraits and landscapes and enjoy making images at living history events such as Civil War reenactments. I have some ideas for moving image production in this area that I hope to pursue. I recently launched a website focused on my alternative photography work:

Class of 1997

Ian Aronson

I am currently working on my second NIH-funded grant to examine how video can be most effectively used to increase HIV testing among hospital emergency department patients. For a full description, and an explanation of the study’s importance, please see: 
For a list of my recent related publications, including a description of my previous NIH-funded study, please see: 

Yuriko Gamo Romer

It's been busy year straddling two films. Mrs. Judo broadcast in May on PBS nationally through CAAM's new Asian American Lives thread, now has domestic and Japanese distribution and was part of the Association for Asian Studies Conference. In the meantime I started production on my new film Diamond Diplomacy: U.S. Japan Relations Through a Shared Love of Baseball. (Please like my Facebook page and/or check out I filmed at the Giants game last May for the 50th anniversary celebration of Masanori "Mashi" Murakami as the first Japanese Major Leaguer. I've been to the Baseball Halls of Fame in Tokyo and Cooperstown, attended a Baseball research conference and hung out in the clubhouse with the Giants at spring training. With a small pot of production money, I am moving forth on more production this summer. I will also be on a book tour with Mashi and his biographer Rob Fitts this summer - to drum up some enthusiasm for my film. Good thing I love baseball! I'll be in Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco and maybe get to see some of you. Bill, Niko, Mohawk and I still live in SF. Niko is six feet tall and finishing up his junior year! (Just for reference he was in-utero when I handed in my thesis film!)
Mashi 50th anniversary Youtube clip:

Johnny Symons

I’m wrapping up my second year as a tenure-track professor at San Francisco State, where I’m coordinating the documentary program. It’s been a challenging and exciting gig, and overall a great fit for me. I’m also finishing up Out Run,an ITVS-funded feature doc about a group of feisty transwomen running a campaign for Congress in the Philippines. Meanwhile my boys are now both teenagers - an adventure of its own.

Class of 1996

Robert Edwards

My new fiction feature When I Live My Life Over Again, starring Christopher Walken, Amber Heard, and Oliver Platt, just premiered at Tribeca.  My partner Ferne Pearlstein ('94) was one of its producers and the second unit director. We also recently made the inevitable move to Brooklyn after 16 years living in Chinatown NYC. 

Class of 1994

Ferne Pearlstein

I’m still working on my new feature documentary The Last Laugh,about taboos in comedy, with a projected completion date of this coming fall. We recently filmed Sarah Silverman, Martin Amis, and Martin Garbus, among others. Our next scheduled interviews are with Chris Rock and Art Spiegelman. My partner Bob Edwards('96) new narrative film, on which I  was a producer, just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Justin Schein

I am excited to nearing the end of a five year journey on my documentary Left on Purpose. Its a feature doc about my friendship with an aging anti war activist who decides that he wants to end his life. It is very much a Stanford effort: edited and co-directed by long time collaborator David Mehlman ('97) and co-produced by Yael Bridge ('13). We will be launching a Kickstarter in a few weeks to build a community around the project and raise some finishing funds.

Class of 1992

Eva Ilona Brzeski

The last couple of years have kept me very busy. I edited & co-directed two soon-to-be-released documentary features by first-time filmmakers: Twitch - a story of fate and genetic testing by Stanford undergrad Kristen Powers, (recently completed) and As She Is by Megan McFeely, an exploration of feminine consciousness (in postproduction). This year I have been doing more work as a finishing/consulting editor, on Izzy Chan's The Big Flip - a documentary feature about female breadwinners and stay-at-home dads, and next up as a finishing editor on Kè Kontan l Joyful Heart,a feature length documentary portrait of Haiti, as seen through the journey of a remarkable classical music school located in the heart of Port-au-Prince, produced by Anne Flatte ('95) & Christy McGill and directed by Owsley Brown. Meanwhile I'm gathering materials for my own "crock pot" film Kindness the Movie,and getting ready to teach this summer as a visiting filmmaker at The Youth Documentary Academy in Colorado Springs. I also study and teach Buddhist meditation at Kadampa Meditation Center San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area, and attend lots of very joyful Buddhist festivals and retreats at various spots around the world as well. 

Class of 1988

Pam Walton

I recently finished Triptych 3: Women Making Artabout three women in their seventies who let us eavesdrop on their creative lives. It is in educational distribution with New Day Films and screened on April 26th and 28th at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Ruth (Carranza ('86)) and I are still married after 28 years and are beginning to think about retirement, which just might lead to another documentary.

Class of 1987

Tina DiFeliciantonio

We hope everyone is well and thriving!  Jane (Wagner ('86)) and I just completed a film entitled Sideshow of the Absurd,which premiered at Aspen Shortsfest.  Here’s the logline:  "Inspired by nostalgia for early 20th-century freak shows, the film is the cinematic reflection of a fantastical exhibition by internationally recognized artist Pamela Joseph.”  This past fall Jane produced and edited The Jewish Journey,which recently aired on PBS.  We’re currently in post-production with Seeking Refuge,which is a longitudinal film about men and women who have survived torture in their home countries and who come to the U.S. to heal.   I’ve been increasingly involved with local politics in Manhattan, which is fascinating!  And we’re both trying to stay sane raising a loquacious eleven-and-a-half-year old boy — our biggest and most challenging ‘production' to-date.

Class of 1986

Ruth Carranza

I continue to work on science education films. I recently expanded my series to nine films on semi-conductor manufacturing with the completion of MEMS: Making Micro Machines and Nanotechnology: The World Beyond Micro. I'm currently fundraising for what I think is my “last film”: an update on the series called Nano Fabrication.

Class of 1985

Dan Geller

Dayna Goldfine and I are winding down touring with The Galapagos Affair:  Satan Came to Edenafter a year of supporting the release at festivals and theaters around the world.  Now it’s time to start again; we’re in the early stages of developing a couple of new documentaries and should hopefully be shooting by the fall.

Becky Smith

I am in post production on my second indie feature Berlin,which I wrote, directed and shot in - Berlin!  I recently D.P.’d a portion of a new documentary by filmmaker Rory Kelly in New York, and continue to collaborate with Stanford colleague Zeinab Zaki ('81) on a documentary about an Egyptian jazz singer. I teach narrative film directing in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Lisa Sonne

I love hearing about the creations of my talented classmates Dr. Joe Sachs ('87), Margaret Burnette aka Maggie Stogner ('83) and Lauren Cardillo ('82) who are all managing to be successful professionals and parents of wonderful kids.    The creative Page Konrad ('85) and I went to Henry Breitrose's Memorial Sevice and it was inspiring to see Ron Alexander, classmates Joe (Sachs ('87)) and Sandy (Hain ('86)), and so many other Spruce Hall folks too, though I wish the gathering had been for a different reason.
I continue to travel with my camera and laptop. My current book is with Quarto Publishing:  MY ADVENTURE'S: A Traveler's Journal (part muse, part resource and some essays and many pages for journalling on your adventures). Coming out this August is a Handbook for Happiness for Barnes and Noble.
The nonprofit , volunteer-run Charity Checks I co-founded continues to offer Giving Certificates "as a meaningful gift option that can help any nonprofit" --- over $1.2 million so far for good causes.
I plan to expand, so if anybody has one minute travel videos they want to post let me know. Maggie Stogner created one on diving in the Galapagos. And if anybody has travel destinations or story ideas I shouldn't miss, please email me.

Class of 1983

Margaret (Maggie) Burnette Stogner

In Fall 2013, I took a one-year sabbatical from Washington DC’s American University to make an independent documentary about the death penalty with author Rick Stack, working title: Grave inJustice. Nearly two years later, we have 25 hours of powerful footage, mostly shot by yours truly with my Canon 5D Mark III and the help of talented AU grad students. We’ve had the huge benefit of following our stories over time. . .a Boston Marathon victim who struggles to come to terms with her conflicted feelings about whether Tsarnaev should be executed, the parents of a young woman who was raped and murdered and their decision to fight the death penalty, and the revealing tales of Virginia’s former State Executioner. Southern Documentary Fund is now our fiscal sponsor, PBS is interested, and we just submitted our proposal and work sample to ITVS. Searching for more funding. Wish us luck! 

Through my production company, Blue Bear Films (, I continue to create films and immersive media for large traveling exhibits. Most recently, “The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” that spans 5,000 years of ancient Greek culture, opening in Ottawa at the Canadian Museum of History. The exhibit and will travel to Chicago and DC in 2016. Love this work! 
Sending a shout out to Ron Alexander who I think of frequently as I stand in front of my students. Best wishes to all my fellow filmmakers!

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

It was great to see some fellow Stanford Mafia filmmakers at the American Film Showcase meetings last weekend: Kris Samuelson ('73), John Haptas, Ramona Diaz ('95), Sarah Newens ('11), and I made up the Stanford Film School alum group.
I'm still working on my Tribal Justicedocumentary, spending a lot of time in California with Yuroks on the North Coast and Quechan down near Yuma AZ.  Info about Tribal Justiceis at

Class of 1974

Bonnie MacBird

Hello!  Wanted to let you know that my debut novel,  ART IN THE BLOOD, A Sherlock Holmes Adventure will be released in hardback and audiobook by Harper Collins in September of this year.  It has already been announced in eight languages. A thriller in original Conan Doyle style, and set in the winter of 1888, it tells the story of a kidnapping, art theft, and trail of murders which challenge  Sherlock Holmes’ artistic nature and his friendship with Watson to the limits. My background after Stanford was feature film development exec at Universal,  screenwriter ( the original writer of Tron), a multiple Emmy winning producer, and theatre actor, director and playwright. I’m at work on a sequel to ART IN THE BLOOD for Harper Collins.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

Finally finished Pelican Dreams! The 80-minute film screened in 100 cities theatrically thanks to Shadow Distribution, and Ro*Co Films has the international broadcast rights. I’m in that post-frenzy phase, that in-between-projects phase – not my favorite. Miss the creative work! Edited 25 mini-movie Bonus Features for the DVD – Cinedigm’s “street date” was April 7th – totaling another 80 minutes. Pelican Media has more info. Although it’s also up on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon, you can get a DVD or Blu-ray at our nonprofit store and help fund our next project:

Class of 1969

Joseph Keyerleber

After a long and fascinating career that began with the Peace Corps in 1961 followed by the Stanford documentary film program, 1966-1969, I am now more or less retired in Washington, DC.  And yet, I seem to be as busy as ever, but nobody pays me for it anymore.  In Chile and El Salvador with the Peace Corps, I made 8mm films and became friends with a cinematographer from Tampa.  His view was that making films beat working for a living.  That inspired me to apply to Stanford, where I earned a master's degree in documentary film and international communication.  I was a student of Henry Breitrose and documentarian George Stoney in the early days of the Stanford program.
After Stanford, I was fortunate to become involved in all manner of film and video productions, ranging from underwater adventure documentaries in Florida and the Caribbean, to a documentary with the Yagua tribe in the Amazon jungle, to State Department-sponsored films for the Vietnam and Cambodia refugee resettlement programs in the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.  Other projects included television PSAs combatting juvenile delinquency in St. Louis, training films for the United States Steel Corporation, interactive videodisc training for the Indonesian oil industry, and the first video report to Congress on nuclear power for Navy submarines, as well as press conferences with Attorney General Janet Reno, and video town meetings with Al Gore. A number of these productions won awards in competitions such as the Cine Golden Eagles, the New York Film Festival, the International Underwater Film Festival in Santa Monica, the National Travel and Outdoor Film Festival, the Public Relations Society of America, and the Argus-Poseidon Club in Trebic, Czechoslovakia.
After all this, I went back with the Peace Corps in 2000 and served as country director in the Republic of Kiribati in the central Pacific (formerly the Gilbert Islands) for three years.  I now live with my wife, our golden retriever, and our old Maine coon cat in the town house by Rock Creek Park that we bought in 1978.  These days I am working on organizing my film and video archives, trying to digitize at least some of it and get it up on the Internet.  Part of my thesis film, Treasure Salvors of the Florida Keys,is on YouTube.  This was an award-winning film, my first professional production, probably my all time favorite, and the one I submitted to Stanford in 1968 as my thesis film.