Skip to content Skip to navigation

2017 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter

In Memoriam: Emeritus Professor RONALD ALEXANDER (1923-2017)


Jamie Meltzer

This year marks my tenth year at Stanford, it’s been such a thrill to work with students on their films all this time, and to keep in touch with former students and alums from the program. My newest documentary feature True Conviction (about a group of wrongfully convicted men who start their own grassroots detective agency post-exoneration) just had its world premiere at Tribeca this April. It was a long, hard five-year struggle to get the film made, to follow the subjects closely and film all the changes in their lives, and to see to closure two of the cases they worked on. The screenings were exciting to both see the finished film with a festival audience and to witness the appreciation and warmth directed at the documentary’s subjects, who did an amazing job at the Q&As. The film will air on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2018, and hopefully have a release on digital platforms around that same time. Hope to see some of you at our upcoming campus screenings!  For those in the bay area, True Conviction screens at SF DocFest this June 3rd, my first feature Off the Charts screens on the June 4th, and a block of recent Stanford short docs screen on June 8th - hope to see you at one of those screenings!

Srdan Keca

Having just put some 10 years worth of rushes onto a single RAID, I’ll say two things: 1) files used to be a lot smaller and 2) some ideas can be around for a decade, but they only start to become films when they — for want of a better word — happen to you. Last summer I tried an experiment in Bosnia, where for a few weeks I simply went and filmed things that I’d been thinking about for years, and followed threads that emerged. This summer I’m looking to wrap up one of those threads, centered around a World War II memorial site that was devastated in the Bosnian war of the 1990s. I am working to expand my installation project Museum of the Revolution — that I’ve continued filming over the past three years — into a feature-length documentary. Flotel Europa screened at Anthology Film Archives as part of their Displaced Persons program, and Sara (Stojković) and I applied for our green cards. It’s been a year of getting to know the U.S., in oh so many ways.

In the Fall quarter I taught International Documentary — redeveloped with the help of Sami Chan (’16) and Swati Guild (’16), and a grant from the VPTL (Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning) — which turned out to be an intense 10 weeks of discussing the politics of our work through a barely manageable number of films. We started a Cinematheque in our new department building, with films presented weekly by faculty and students alike. We tried a bunch of changes to production courses, perhaps most notably prohibiting any use of interviews in the Fall 16mm films. I was thrilled by the films the students came up with in response, and I continue to enjoy the intensity of our program.

Jan Krawitz

I have had a busy year teaching at Stanford programs away from campus. Last spring, I taught a documentary studies course at the Stanford in Washington program. During the Autumn quarter, I was teaching at the Stanford-in-Berlin campus. It was a terrific opportunity to connect with undergraduates and introduce engineering and computer science majors to the wonders of documentary!  While in Europe, I screened my films for students and faculty at Dalarna University in Falun, Sweden. I was a guest of Pelle Eriksson ('03) who is a Lecturer there. I also was invited to do a presentation at the Internationale filmschule in Cologne, Germany. Back home, Perfect Strangers was rebroadcast on the PBS series America ReFramed in December 2016 and continues to screen at conferences.  In April, I had an unexpected invitation to attend the Full Frame Festival where In Harm’s Way was programmed as part of their 20-year anniversary retrospective. We look forward to seeing alumni at the student screenings in June.


Faculty Emeriti

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

It has been a great year with a lot going on.  Highlights include teaching two documentary workshops to emerging filmmakers in Zambia (last July) and Nepal (in January.)  The students were great and made short films in five days.  Quite amazing.  John (Haptas) and I continue to work on our film about Conflict Kitchen—we are currently editing—and we just shot a short film about children’s responses to the immigration threats.  These elementary kids were born here but most of their parents are undocumented.  Hope you are all well.  Come say hi if you are ever in  Berkeley!


Paul Meyers ('12)

As some of you know, in February I officially joined the department as the new Film & Media Studies Technologist.  I returned to the Bay Area to pitch in on a few things last November and soon found myself engaged full-time! I am enjoying working closely with the esteemed Mark Urbanek and our dynamic faculty trio: Jan Krawitz, Jamie Meltzer, and Srdan Keca.  It has been interesting getting used to the striking new McMurtry building which has brought a whole new dimension to the program.  In other news, I am researching a potential first feature– to be filmed in the Bay Area–and continuing with some writing projects.  If you happen to be visiting campus, please stop by and say hi!

Mark Urbanek

After almost nine years of dedicated service to the Documentary Film Program, Christian Gainsley has moved on to greater glory in San Francisco.  We all wish him the very best with his future endeavors.  Fortunately, it has been a relatively painless transition with Paul Meyers ('12) coming on board to fill those shoes.  Welcome back, Paul, and welcome aboard!

Thanks to a generous loan from Canon, the students were able to shoot their Winter Quarter films on the Canon C300 camera!  The films, of course, looked great.  We are always looking for opportunities to expose the students to new/different equipment.  Once again, the Spring Quarter films are being shot with the Sony F5 thesis camera.  Please come see the amazing results by joining us for the Spring and Thesis film screenings!

Class of 2016

Reid Davenport

Howdy, howdy!  I just shot and I am currently editing a short documentary about the politics surrounding accessible taxi cabs in New York City, and how the proliferation of ride-shares have only made it worse.  In April, I was honored to have the privilege of giving a TED Talk at the TED Conference in Vancouver, where I talked about how filmmaking helped me reflect on the role that disability has played in my life.  

On Beat, my winter film that was co-directed by Cheng Zhang ('16), got into Reelabilities - a festival / tour of films featuring disability.  I have also joined several alumni as a member of New Day Films with three of my short flicks - RAMPED UP, A Cerebral Game and Wheelchair Diaries: One Step Up.

Lastly, I co-founded an organization called Through My Lens  that is committed to amplifying the voices of young people with disabilities through video.

Lauren Knapp

I've had a pretty demanding creative project going - Mary Aurelia "Ray" Coakley, born 2/23/17. JP and I found out that we were going to be adding a member to our family a few hours before graduation day last year. Aside from staring at a small human many hours a day, I've been guest lecturing at George Mason and Georgetown Universities, did some work with NPR for a series called "Been There", joined a great filmmaking co-op/co-working space in Washington DC, and have been doing some freelance editing work. I'm hoping to start making waves on my next creative endeavor soon. It will most likely take the shape of a film about DC musicians thriving in a time of resistance or how the undervaluation of caregiving relates to the anti-feminist movement.

Cheng Zhang

It has been a challenging and exciting year for me since last June's graduation. Apart from working towards an artist visa and then realizing that it's still unrealistic for me at this moment, I got a taste of the mixed feelings of better understanding this country by making a documentary about it. I've been expanding my thesis film (No Harm No Foul) into a feature (Unsafe At Any Level: the Story of Lead in America's Drinking Water, fiscally sponsored by Docs In Progress). Right now I'm finishing up shooting in Flint, MI, and hopefully I can wrap up production in other cities by August when my visa expires. I've also been editing a documentary about Professor Xiaoze Xie's latest art project on book censorship.

Class of 2015

R.J. Lozada

Had some recent festival play for Mother's Day, a film that I collaborated and co-directed on with Elizabeth Lo ('15). The film premiered at Tribeca this year, and is rolling out on New York Times' OpDocs. We're hoping for more festival play. I'm currently developing more shorts, including but not limited to, a fabled Balut king of Central Valley, CA., an experimental profile on Anthony Silva, infamous mayor of Stockton (2013-2017).   I'm somewhat gainfully employed at the moment, paying those bills! #UnitB

Class of 2014

Teddy Symes

This past year I moved back to New York City full time to take a job in Business Development for People's Television working for clients such as Facebook, Google, and Dropbox.  Henry Wiener ('14) hired me to work as a cinematographer on his series Between the Pines in November filming local Mississippi sports legends.  
I curated an art exhibition including Stanford MFA Studio Artist Eleanor Oakes (’14) alongside ten other emerging artists at a space in The West Chelsea Arts Building in New York City during Frieze Art Fair Week.
This May 13th, I will screen Black Magic Piano at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village.  Black Magic Piano is a 42 minute visual album of music that I co-wrote with modern composer Doran Danoff and a film I collaborated on with modern dance choreographer Elizabeth Wilkinson.  Black Magic Piano is being self distributed on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play this spring.

Class of 2013

Sarah Berkovich

This year I've been digging deeper into the field of virtual reality and interactive media production. I've worked on projects with several startups and tech companies such as Variable Labs, Jaunt, and Mind VR on project management and content production. I have loved the learning process and innovation involved, but working with new technology brings many challenges as well. I'd love to continue working in this area, and am seeking out more opportunities. My husband and I are planning to move to Los Angeles this summer to be closer to family, but will miss the Bay Area!

J. Christian Jensen

2016 brought with it a new job and a change of location for me and my family. Last summer, after wrapping editing on the Netflix Original Series Last Chance U (season 2 coming in July!), and doing some additional editing on Jamie Meltzer’s True Conviction, as well as editing for a bio-doc about writer-theologian Henri Nouwen, we left friends and family in the Bay Area to move to Chicago where I currently teach in Northwestern’s MFA Documentary Media program. It has been an incredible and intense experience that leaves me very grateful for what I learned in Stanford’s Documentary MFA program. I have a new appreciation for the work the Stanford Doc faculty did on behalf of my peers and me.

Over the last year I’ve also been playing a modest story and consulting role in Luke Lorentzen’s (Stanford undergrad ’14) next feature, which follows a family running an unlicensed ambulance in Mexico City. We recently had an editorial retreat for the film and I’m very excited at the prospects. Finally, I continue to do occasional micro-doc directing work for Facebook under the kind leadership of Tim O’Hara (’08).

My wild toddlers (ages 3 ½ and 1 ½) fill the rest of my life with endless craziness, imagination, and periodic projectile vomiting.

Abhi Singh

I am reaching out with the happy news that my latest film No Vacancy will be playing at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on June 4 & 6 as part of the Shorts 2: Bay Area Voices program in the 16th San Francisco Documentary Festival!

No Vacancy explores the struggles of San Francisco artists as they contend with exorbitant rent prices, developers looking to convert art spaces into luxury condos and a city that doesn’t have room for them anymore.  All the artists in the film face the prospect of being priced out of San Francisco in the near future.

I hope you can make it to one of the screenings!

Leslie Tai

I wrapped principal photography on my feature project How to Have an American Baby in late 2016, and am now officially in post-production. We’ve been lucky to receive grants and fellowships from Tribeca All Access, Chicken and Egg, California Humanities, Berlinale Talents, SFFILM, The MacDowell Colony and Bogliasco Foundation, among others, and are still trying to raise finishing funds. We’re aiming to finish the film in 2017 – let us pray. I recently won a pitch competition sponsored by The New York Times, Pulitzer Center and Tribeca Film Institute to make a short film about wealthy Chinese couples who hire American surrogates that will premiere on Op-Docs, probably sometime next year. I am now based in Belmont, CA.

Class of 2012

Paul Donatelli

I am working as a Senior Video Editor at Al-Jazeera's digital channel, AJ+, in San Francisco. I am in the Short Docs department and we just completed a six part documentary series called Guns in America, of which I edited three parts. We are now in production on a four part series that cover a range of domestic topics, from immigration to super wealthy survivalists.

Life at home continues to be busy with Bennett (3) and Will (1) keeping us on our toes. And my wife and I will welcome our third son this August! The name is TBD but possibilities include D.A., Frederick, Albert, Flaherty, and Dziga.

Class of 2011

John Rory Fraser

I am an assistant professor in cinema production at Ithaca College. My wife Carolyn finished her MFA in photography at Cornell last spring, but there is still hope she might decide to become a photographer/heart surgeon. I continue to work in experimental non-fiction with extreme fringe underground works like "Dove Hunt Como, MS", and am in eternal pre-production for the sequel to my Stanford classic, Wooden Boat, with Wooden Boat 2: Legend of the Haunted Mast. As always, my offer stands to score any MFA alum's film with average to fairly decent banjo music. One brave alum actually took me up on this a few years ago, and they still haven't said whether or how much they regret it. I am looking forward to summer break and shooting 16mm on a new project down in Tennessee, to be released in 2018 only at ultra-fringe under-underground film festivals in foreign cities you can't get to.

Kevin Gordon

Hey all, I’ve been busy plugging away with my partner Matt Clarke at Sub64Films here in Berkeley. We’ve been focused on client work including projects for Genentech and VMWare as well as director for hire projects for other production companies. We shot the third episode in our Shine On Series which is now in post production. You can check out all our latest work in our hot off the presses reel!

Mina T. Son

Hi, all! Proud to announce we have a new member joining Sara Newens ('11) and me at Wild Pair Films... Hazel Louisa Suha Croney. She's only seven weeks old but is already gearing up for her first VR shoot for our Syrian refugee project, which Sara and I hope to finish this year. I also spent the past 8 months working with Sara Mott ('12) at Facebook; an unforgettable experience for which I am extremely grateful. Lastly, I'm hoping to get back to editing my feature about a Japanese town recovering from the 2011 tsunami. Please say hi if you are ever in LA!

Class of 2010

David Alvarado

Jason Sussberg ('10) and I have recently premiered our second documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy at SXSW. We have sold it to POV/Netflix and we are hopefully moving forward now with the next feature, currently in pre-production. We continue to fight for the spread of science literacy in world increasingly hostile to reason, science and... well, facts! I had the honor to work with Jamie Meltzer as Producer/Cinematographer on True Conviction which has premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Maria Fortiz-Morse

This past year was an adventure. I was honored to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign as the embedded videographer for Senator Tim Kaine, following his epic journey from the VP Announcement all the way through Election Night.  Additionally, I was assigned to be the cinematographer and Spanish-language interviewer for several noted campaign videos, including the Trump Victim series profile of "Miss Universe" Alicia Machado, which received over 44 million views across platforms. It  made a big impact with Latina viewers in the USA, which was really gratifying for me personally.  Right now, I'm looking to do whatever I can to support progressive filmmakers of all stripes.  If you need a cameraperson or a field producer, please find me on Facebook.

Class of 2009

Nilima Abrams

This year, a film I made in collaboration with Indian teenagers, The Tent Village, has been getting into the world through festivals and community screenings, and aired nationally on PBS as part of a series celebrating women and girls. I'm trying to use the film both as an educational tool for people in the U.S. (as there are many universal themes about inequality, stereotyping, social mobility, etc.) as well as for a specific fundraiser for children in India who live in roadside tents -- as such, I've organized fundraising screenings and am lining up more. I'm also teaching a social issue documentary course at the University of Vermont and doing other non-film work and creative projects, including comedy and cartoon/design. I'm living in VT, which is great, but not for a film community, so I'm hoping to connect to Stanford Doc film alumni this year, too.

Tanya Sleiman

In 2017, I presented my in-progress Helen Levitt film at Stanford in the photography department. Thanks to Andy Schocken ('04), I discovered Oregon Documentary Camp and will participate for the first time this year! Hoping it becomes an annual tradition where I see more alums each time.

Class of 2008

Peter Jordan

The big news this year is that our son Arthur was born! And the second biggest news is that we've moved to Costa Rica! I'm finally leaving Facebook after six years in-house to work more closely with Charlene [Music] ('09) and to return to freelance directing, shooting, and editing. We've kitted ourselves out with a C300 Mark II, Leica Primes, Ronin/Easyrig and are ready to travel. Our first project will be a new film for the outdoor educational group that I first filmed nine years ago for the closing scene of my thesis. Working at Facebook was a tremendous growth experience and the work we did had amazing reach (my last piece, about the Aquila drone was viewed over 100M times). But we are very excited for the next chapter, to be raising our kids on the rim of a national park, and to be independent again.

Class of 2006

Revere La Noue

I continue to work with Biz (Elisabeth Haviland James ('03))finishing up our global odyssey about three extraordinary characters using the ancient tradition of falconry to find their way in a modernizing world.  In addition to some commercial work, I made a short documentary featuring opera singer Debbie Voigt and her unlikely path to becoming a world famous diva.  In between productions, I am working on a number of painting commissions ranging form pure abstraction, to mediterranean markets, to rowing. It was great to see everyone at Full Frame again this year.

Class of 2005

Davina Pardo

Hi, everyone. Leah Wolchok ('05) and I had the chance to take Very Semi-Serious to the Emmy Awards this past fall, where we were honored to receive an award in Arts and Culture programming. I recently finished up a new short doc, 116 Cameras, made with editor Lila Place ('05) and sound master Judy Karp ('82), and supported along the way by countless Stanford friends who went above and beyond to give feedback and advice. The film premiered at Full Frame, and we’re making the festival rounds now. I’m so grateful for the chance to see Stanford doc friends near and far; my family went to Italy this spring to visit Lila Place and Katherine Leggett ('05) and their families, and home in Brooklyn, Gretchen Hildebran ('05), Kristen Nutile ('00), Melanie Levy ('09) and I gather for ramen every few months. Sending love to all.

Mike Seely

I made another movie! This time, I directed, produced and photographed a half-hour film Exiled portraying two deported US veterans living in Tijuana, Mexico.  The project has been an intense two-year long collaboration with John Kane ('08), who edited and co-produced the film.  Exiled premiered at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, won best short doc at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, and continues to make the  festival rounds.  Emile Bokaer ('10) and Kathy Huang ('06) also contributed their fine production skills to the project on shoots in L.A. and Tijuana.  Pending funding, we plan to push the film out with an extensive social impact campaign.   I'm still based in Berkeley working as a freelance DP, mostly on doc projects.  Recent projects include: Saving Capitalism (with Robert Reich) directed by Jake Kornbluth for Netflix; Torn Fabric a short directed by Jason Cohen for Sundance Now (edited by John Kane ('08)); and Life Crime, a feature doc directed by N.C. Heikin.  Other Stanford folks I've been lucky to work with over the past couple years include: Christie Herring ('05), Andy Schocken ('04), Liam Dalzell ('04), Rich Harris III ('04), Nicole Newnham ('94), Tijana Petrović ('12), Abhi Singh ('13), Katherine Gorringe ('14), Helen Hood Scheer ('13), Veronica Lopez ('14) and Yael Bridge ('13).

Class of 2004

Sally Rubin

My new film, Hillbilly, is an urgent exploration of how we see and think about poor, white, rural America, and a call for dialogue between urban and rural communities. Supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the film will be released later this year. Alum Melanie Vi Levy ('09) is currently cutting away on the film, while I continue to teach documentary full time at Chapman University in Orange County. About to turn 40, I recently chopped off all my hair, got a second sleeve tattoo, and enjoy playing with Millie, my two-year-old, trying to punk out my mom-car, a Subaru Forester, and causing a general ruckus in LA with alum Kathy Huang ('05).

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

Greetings from Durham!  I've been hard at work on multiple projects - cutting a PBS television series, writing an immersive half-dome show about "the South" for the Morehead Planetarium, and continuing our work on Overland, which should be ready to debut about this time next year!  Revere La Noue and I are headed into an epic production trip to Italy, Scotland and South Africa this June, and then we will have only two short trips left to complete production.  Phew. On a personal note, I'm enjoying discovering the world through the eyes of our four year old daughter Marcelle, who keeps us laughing and reminds us to take in the moment on a daily basis. And I'm feeling especially relieved that her ambition has suddenly morphed from princess to biologist.

Class of 2002

Michelle Cabalu

I'm in Los Angeles, working as an Assistant VFX Editor on the upcoming Justice League movie.

Renee Fischer

I just started my 12th year at Johns Hopkins directing, editing and sometimes shooting short documentaries illustrating the impact of philanthropy across our nine schools and the health system. One recent piece I enjoyed producing was a tribute to Bud Meyerhoff (the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is named after his father). But this winter/spring, I've also begun an independent project on a family reunification and literacy program that enables incarcerated fathers to have contact visits and read with their children. I began filming in April!

David Kneebone

Things have been active as ever at Abso Lutely Productions. It’s gratifying watching our small company grow and evolve. We’re launching several new shows this year, and preparing for the 10th Anniversary of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Comedy is still the bread and butter here, but I’m exploring the possibility of producing a documentary in early 2018.  It would be my first since graduating from the program 15 years ago! I hope everyone is happy and healthy. I look forward to learning what you’re all up to.

Kristin Pichaske

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa, where funny enough, I have been commissioned to shoot a follow-up to my thesis film, Guguletu Ballet, which tracks the unbelievable success stories of the dancers I profiled 15 years ago.
Since my last check-in, I've gotten married, had a daughter (now 4) and settled down in Chicago, where I am a tenured professor at Columbia College. When not teaching, I make films with a local documentary collective called Kindling Group.  This past year, we produced a documentary series called Veterans Coming Home (VCH) for CPB/PBS, which is aimed not only at bridging the military-civilian divide but also creating new storytelling and distribution models for public TV stations in the digital era – a perfect intersection of my producerly and scholarly interests. I also created a short science documentary series in collaboration with Northwestern University, which includes my first-ever animated doc. And I’ve been dabbling in VR, including some fun videos I shot for the NY Times’ Daily 360 featuring my daughter, Sasha.
On the horizon:  I’m gearing up to produce a second season of VCH and also just got word that ITVS is funding my next big project, which I am not supposed to talk about just yet.  Stay tuned…

Eriko Yamato

In April 2016, we moved out to Georgia to be closer to my fiancé’s family. It is definitely different compared to California but I am loving the South! Yes, there is almost as much traffic here in the Greater Atlanta area as Silicon Valley, it does get hot and humid, and yes, I had to get a special mosquito Terminix service so that I don’t get 10 bites just being out on the deck for a few minutes.  But I love the four distinct season that Georgia has to offer! I loved seeing the foliage grow after the cold winter; the backyard is filled with green and blossoming flowers. There are a lot of beautiful mountains to hike at. People are so welcoming and genuine.

I have shifted my focus to marketing from video production over the past several years. I currently work as marketing manager for a high-tech company developing websites, creating collateral and managing trade shows. I recently had the opportunity to shoot interviews and it reminded me how much I enjoy filmmaking! My goal is to incorporate a little bit more filming and editing this year.

Class of 2000

Hope Hall

I just finished the best job ever -- as Obama's official videographer -- and am starting to register, as I rest, research, and restore what it took to do that crazy job, that it was also the hardest job ever. So thus begins my sabbatical, am focusing on the the three aforementioned r's but am also going lateral and visiting the visionaries, while doing some cinematography and speaking to support it all. Am, as ever, so grateful for my two foundational and life-changing years with you all and with my magical cohort, h.

Gabriel Rhodes

Last year was busy! I had two films I edited released in theaters: The Witness and Newtown. The Witness was shortlisted for the Academy Award and Newtown just had its television premiere on Independent Lens in March. Shortly after finishing those films I began work on a series for HBO (which is now on hiatus) and I’m currently editing a feature documentary about the battle over the creation of a national park in Maine. I had the pleasure of joining Kristen Nutile ('00) and Purcell Carson ('00) in Princeton to critique the work of Purcell's students. It was a blast and we definitely quoted from the Krawitz/Samuelson playbook in our critiques.

Roger Sorkin

Following on the success of my last film, The Burden, about the military’s transition to clean energy, I have just released this new film Tidewater, on how the military is responding to sea level rise. It comes as part of the launch of the American Resilience Project, which harnesses the power of film to influence public policy, catalyze investment and inspire behavioral change to address our environmental threats.

Class of 1999

Sarah Harbin

I am still firmly entrenched in my Mission district home in San Francisco. I am currently working at a  tech company called Splunk that does a lot of things that I don't understand very well - like big data analysis and IT security stuff. I'm in their video department working on some cool projects that partner with non-profits like the Global Emancipation Network - they scour the internet trying to stop human trafficking, and Team Rubicon - an org that connects veterans with disaster relief efforts. I am also doing a series about Women in Technology.  And, in addition to paid work, I have a couple passion projects, one is doc about an opera singer who is becoming one of the singing gondoliers of Lake Merritt in Oakland, and the other is a narrative about a little girl who skips school and spends the day in San Francisco.  Life is good!

Vanessa Warheit

After a brief stint doing communications for a dysfunctional non-profit, I am taking advantage of my temporarily unemployed status to be a full-time activist. (Because let's be honest, there is no shortage of bad stuff to fight at the moment, and no shortage of good work that needs to be championed.) In between marching in weekly protests and organizing volunteers as part of Indivisible Berkeley, I am organizing the Northern California speaking tour for Les Leopold on Reversing Runaway Inequality.

Class of 1997

Yuriko Romer

I will be going to Japan late May for Diamond Diplomacy to shoot the opening of an exhibit commissioned by the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo. I have been consulting on this exhibit and a couple of my baseball history advisors are part of the curatorial staff. I will be filming them at the opening along with Mashi (first Japanese Major League Baseball player) and other key baseball and diplomatic figures. Earlier this year I spent a lot of time with Mashi at the Tokyo Dome among a very international crowd for the World Baseball Classic. It was especially exciting to be involved with the WBC this year as Team USA took the championship for the first time. I have been working closely with Major League Baseball. Last fall we had a successful Kickstarter campaign supplementing funding from Cal Humanities and the U.S.-Japan Foundation. Our next adventure in fundraising will be new and different, corporate sponsorship. If anyone has experience with this I would love to hear from you.  We plan to complete the film in 2018. Please like our Facebook page, @diamondiplomacy twitter/instagram.

My last film, Mrs. Judo is currently being distributed in Japan by Pandora Films. I was in Japan for the press screening last fall and got to meet judo celebrity, Yasuhiro Yamashita. Between the two films I have been back and forth to Japan, practicing my Japanese and eating plenty of yummy food.

Johnny Symons

My feature doc Out Run, about a transgender woman running for Congress in the Philippines, premieres on the PBS series Doc World at the end of May. The broadcast follows a year on the festival circuit that started at Full Frame and took me to some novel destinations including South Korea and Myanmar. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to teach documentary at San Francisco State, where I've started a new program called the Queer Cinema Institute. Filmwise, I’m working on a short much closer to home, about a Black teenager (my son) navigating the complex racial landscape of Oakland.

Class of 1995

Ramona Diaz

My latest film, Motherland, had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it won a special jury prize for Commanding Vision and then had its international premiere at the Berlinale.  It will have a limited theatrical this summer (please watch out for it), and will be broadcast on POV in October, and available on Amazon in November. 

Class of 1994

Richard Berge

Over the past year, Bonni Cohen (’94), Jon Shenk (’95) and I have been hustling without stop at Actual Films in San Francisco, grateful to be doing meaningful work and to have that work get out into the world.  Audrie & Daisy, our doc about the intersection of teenage sexual assault and social media abuse, premiered at Sundance ’16, where it was picked up by Netflix, which launched it in September of last year.  Just last month, the film received a Peabody Award.

Bonni Cohen

This past Sundance (2017) we played our newest film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power as the opening night film.  It is the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore.  The film will be coming out July 28th, released by Paramount and will be opening on 500 screens.

I continue to co-run the Catapult Film Fund, which gives development money to documentary film projects.

Ferne Pearlstein

It has been an incredible year for me and my film, The Last Laugh, produced by my husband/producing partner Robert Edwards (’96). After premiering at Tribeca last year, the film has travelled to over 85 film festivals around the world including Munich, Jerusalem, London, Rome, and IDFA. We opened theatrically in NY, LA, Toronto and a handful of other cities in early March and on April 24th had our broadcast premiere on Independent Lens / PBS. Now you can find me taking a few weeks off, hanging with my 6-year-old daughter Eloise in Brooklyn while I get my head around the next one! (Special thanks to the Stanford doc friends who worked on the film including Mark Becker (’96) and Melanie Levy (09); and to Kris Samuelson, Jan Krawitz, Mark Urbanek and Kim Roberts (’96) for hosting critical screenings! We are hoping to come out and screen in the Bay Area sometime soon, but until then you can catch The Last Laugh on Amazon Prime.

Class of 1991

Berry Minott

I finished my film Good Girl in the Fall of 2016.  It showed at Broken Knuckle Film Festival, Documentary & Short International Film Festival, Dam Short Film Festival and recently screened at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater.  It won an award from the Best Short Film Festival.  It soon will be available to download through the New York Dog Film Festival On Demand site.  

Good Girl is about love, dedication and going the distance. Frankie, a Cairn terrier trains to be a certified pet detective to find missing cats. Shot in 2005 and finally edited in 2016, filmmaker Berry Minott--along with her 8 year old son Will -- train Frankie to be a Sherlock Holmes to the pet set with some surprising twists and turns to their shared adventure.

In the United States, over 62% of people have a household pet.  What purpose do pets really serve in human lives? Are they an outlet to misplaced love or to satisfy our unmet needs? Is it morally acceptable to place our pets as "valuable" as a human life. Good Girl raises these questions with decidedly biased answers.

Class of 1990

Ellen Bruno

My short film Split about kids of divorce has taken the family court system by storm - required viewing for many divorcing families in the US - and we are now editing a sequel - 12 kids 6 years later.  I have been teaching an investigative doc class at the Yangon Film School for a few summers now - an exciting time to be in Burma. 

Class of 1989

Camilla Calamandrei

Hi All!  Still living in NYC with my husband, 12 year old son, and the felines Bella and Sherman. Spent the last few years as Head of Public Programs for Urban Green Council and then as Program Manager for CGI America (Clinton Global Initiative, casualty of the election). Looking for my next gig and also hoping to start a new film of my own - but early days in the research. Feeling befuddled as I think of the end “user” of the film (distribution and platforms). Who and where will people be watching the work and how should that influence my approach to the work, how I frame it, pitch it, etc.?  Should everything be short form? Or does it need to be a serial piece in order to be funded. Is there a place for documentary one-off?  Obviously time for me to go back to film school to discuss all this! Anyone who has interesting reading material on this, please send it my way.  Impressed by everyone’s productivity. Cheers!

Suzanne Kessler

My latest documentary projects revolve around two iconic figures: one music sensation who perished far too young (at age 30) in a plane crash over 50 years ago, and one animated sensation whose creators escaped the most harrowing of circumstances to bring their character to life.  I am an Executive Producer of the new Patsy Cline documentary, made with exclusive access to the legendary singer's estate, that premiered during Women’s History Month in March 2017 on PBS nationwide as part of the acclaimed American Masters series.  Singer-songwriter Roseanne Cash narrates the film.  In addition, I'm an Executive Producer of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George's Creators, which will have its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in mid-June 2017 and be distributed by The Orchard, with a planned release in late summer 2017.  Monkey Business explores the lives of Hans and Margret Rey, authors of the beloved children’s book series "Curious George," who fled occupied Paris during World War II, carrying with them a manuscript of the first Curious George book.  My production company is currently working on a music project for release in the near future. I continue to practice entertainment law and teach in the Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Program at Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, TN, while pursuing my film and music activities.

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

After four years of hard work, I have finally launched my new documentary Tribal Justice into the world.  On May 31st I will screen the film at Stanford, so I hope many compadres will come - details will be in an upcoming eblast soon. Tribal Justice premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in February and is in the middle of its festival run, with screenings coming up in June at the Mendocino Film Festival, Cinetopia (Ann Arbor and Detroit), Berkshire Film Festival, and the Brooklyn Film Festival.   I am thrilled to announce that Tribal Justice will air on POV on August 21st.

Class of 1984

Kim Bromley

I'm still living in Marin County, directing and acting in local theater and available for professional voice over work. Life is good.

Becky Smith

I am currently Vice Chair and Head of Production for the production/directing program in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Taking on the Vice Chair position has proven challenging to the completion of my second feature August In Berlin but it is now fully finished, and I am beginning to look at festival strategies.  My first feature 16 to Life was just picked up for a second six-year distribution contract with Gravitas Ventures, a terrific company that sold the film to Warner Brothers Digital and many on-line platforms. I am at work on the screenplay for my next feature.  I hiked Patagonia in December, with only a still camera and my Penguin copy of In Patagonia in hand. The final stop was a week in Peru, to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu, then back to LA to begin Winter Quarter at UCLA.

Class of 1983

Maggie Stogner

My indie doc about the death penalty In the Executioner’s Shadow is hovering at the finish line. We are working on music, sound design, and raising money to clear rights to archive footage. If you know anyone who cares deeply about criminal justice reform and has some funds available, let us know! It’s a powerful, personal film. Many thanks to all of you who have already lent your support!

Class of 1974

Bonnie MacBird

I am coming out with the second of my Sherlock Holmes trilogy for HarperCollins.  Unquiet Spirits:  Whisky, Ghosts, Murder (A Sherlock Holmes  Adventure) is set in the South of France and the Highlands of Scotland.  It will hit UK bookstores in  late July and US in September.  It follows my first Victorian-era Holmes thriller, Art In the Blood and continues the adventures of the great detective and his friend Dr. Watson.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

Pelican Dreams was translated into 16 languages and is out there on Netflix in lots of countries, including the U.S. I finished a short sequel, Morro’s Dream, which is the true finale to the pelican movie, last fall.  Dark Circle and Cormorants in the Crosshairs were both shown at the recent San Francisco Green Film Festival. Dark Circle, 35 years old and still relevant (sadly!), was screened in 35mm to a nice crowd at the Roxie Theater on April 23rd. It’s being remastered at Fotokem (on film and digital formats) and will be re-released in this new Trump age of nuclear saber rattling.

Bill Zarchy

I received my MA from the Film and Broadcasting program, then a part of the Department of Communication, in 1973, then worked as a freelance cinematographer for more than 40 years in the Bay Area. Much of my career was spent shooting for technology companies and medical companies, though I did also shoot a lot of musical performances and a couple of independent features.

The only time during those decades when I was not freelance occurred in the mid-80s, when I was the staff Director of Photography at One Pass Film and Video in San Francisco for six years.

I retired from my career as a cinematographer in 2015. Since then, I’ve been writing. I published my first book, a memoir, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil, in 2013.   I have had a number of book talks, events, and readings, and I taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for 12 years.  I would love to do a book talk with current film and video students about the rewards and trials of pursuing a freelance career in the business.

Here’s more about Showdown at Shinagawa:
"Bill Zarchy’s new book tells true stories from his long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil.

The book is available now on Amazon as a 216-page paperback and on the Kindle Store as an e-book, as well as from Book Passage in Corte Madera CA, and from other independent bookstores using Indiebound (see below). All versions include 21 pages of color photos.

Showdown features 18 tales in all, the rich experiences of a cinematographer whose assignments have taken him to 30 countries and 40 states.  Zarchy brings us along for the ride on a darkly funny bus trip down India’s deadly Bombay-Pune Road in “Wrecks and Pissers,” drags us through the disorienting milieu of one of Singapore’s high-tech cleanrooms in “No Worry, Chicken Curry,” faces a surreal Japanese bowling-for-budget match in the title story “Showdown at Shinagawa,” and shares the challenge of filming former President Clinton while dealing with family tragedy in “Dog Years.” And so on, across six continents, over three decades of his work as a director of photography."

Class of 1971

Stuart Zuckerman

First of all, I was Class of '71 in the graduate program in Broadcasting/Film, and was one of a very few who were more focused on broadcasting rather than film.  I finished all the course work for the M.A. but didn't stick around to write my thesis, or produce a film as I was eager to start my career.

I had taken a Broadcast  Management Course at Stanford with Dick Block, CEO of Kaiser Broadcasting (who was also an Adjunct Professor). Dick introduced me to his senior management at KBHK-TV in SF and I ended up going to work there as Promotion Manager.  That led to subsequent jobs within Kaiser at their radio station & TV station in Boston, before a brief return to KBHK .

I decided that the route to career growth in the broadcasting biz was in sales. I joined Metromedia in NY as a sales trainee in mid 1976, and spent the next six years in TV sales and sales management at Metromedia.  Katz Television took over sales representation of the Metromedia stations in 1984 so I joined Katz as NY sales manager.  Metromedia stations were sold to Fox, which led to the launch of the Fox TV network... the most exciting launch of a new broadcast network. I remained with Katz until 1995

At age 47, I was downsized from Katz, and decided it was time to apply my sales skills in a different arena...public TV.  From 1998 until I retired two years ago, I secured national corporate sponsors for high profile national PBS programs, including Washington Week, Teletubbies, 3 Tenors Live from Paris, Nightly Business Report, and BBC World News.

I have fond memories of the department when it was located in Redwood Hall, and was led by the late Henry Breitrose.  Instructors with professional film experience included Ricardo Diaz and Ron Alexander, two wonderful gentleman.  I've stayed in touch with classmates Bill Zarchy ('73), and Buff Parham ('72)...and am also still in touch with Dick Block, who I first met in the 1968 Summer Broadcasting & Film Institute.

Class of 1968

Patricia Edgar

I turned 80 this year. I have just published a book called PEAK Reinventing Middle Age with my husband Don Edgar (PhD Stanford 1969).  The publisher is Text Publishing Melbourne. The World Summit on Media for Children Foundation, which I Chair, will be hosting with the BBC and the City of Manchester in December 2017 the 8th Children’s Global Media Summit.

Class of 1966

Nick Iuppa

I've worked for MGM Animation, on an apprenticeship that Henry Breitrose set up with the great Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss (on How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who). Also worked for Disney and Paramount Pictures. These days I'm retired and write novels with fellow Stanford Film alumni John Pesqueira ('78). We've published about seven novels together.