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2018 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Jamie Meltzer

I’m writing this update from New York City, where I am currently teaching a course (just for one quarter!) for Stanford undergrads called “Documenting New York”.  They learn about documentary film history and aesthetics through films set in New York, and also produce their own short city symphony-like film about a neighborhood in NY. Its been great fun, and I’ve connected with alums in the program who live and work in NYC, as well as re-invigorate my own practice through engaging with this amazing city. My film True Conviction premiered on PBS this April, and I’ve been traveling around with the main subject sharing the film at law schools and universities- that has also been really fulfilling. Now looking forward to diving into a new film--I’ve been developing a few ideas--and hope to start shooting this summer.

Srdan Keca

I’ve spent most of the past 12 months working on Museum of the Revolution, my upcoming feature-length documentary centered around the remnants of one of the most prominent architectural projects of socialist Yugoslavia. On the side, Prof. Pavle Levi, graduate student Zulfiya Hamzaki (’18) and I together made a video essay/installation titled Montage Fever, an exercise in — and on — the process of montage in Soviet cinema of the revolutionary era.
In the fall I taught a new course titled Archival Cinema, that combined film studies with making short archival pieces. It was encouraging to see that many MFA students enjoyed stepping away from the grind of production for a moment to reflect on images together. This is a direction I’m very excited to continue developing.
The 2nd year cohort hosted a series of inspiring conversations with filmmakers including Natalia Almada, Jay Rosenblatt, Evan Briggs (’08), and the producers of The Work (2017) James and Miles McLeary. We were also delighted to host masterclasses with Sergei Loznitsa and Mila Turajlic, among others. Have these influences found their way into student films? Come and see them on June 14 (1st year spring films) and June 16 (thesis films).

Jan Krawitz

I started the academic year with a one-quarter sabbatical in fall and used the time to attend two international film conferences, and to show Perfect Strangers at the DeCamp Bioethics Seminar at Princeton. Back home, I began to poke around in a box of 16mm archival footage that I acquired in 1992 when I was working on my film  In Harm’s Way . "Selects" have been digitized so I am now in the discovery phase to figure out what film lies within... a counter-intuitive way of working for me! In March, I presented a talk called "Two Part Harmony" at the CILECT-CNA conference on "Sound and Storytelling." I will continue to focus on the importance of sound design and music in documentary in a talk titled "Harmonic Convergence" that I will present at the UFVA conference in July.  In Fall 2018, I will be teaching at the Stanford in New York undergraduate program so I hope to connect with local alum during my three-month stay. As always, I am excited about our first-year and thesis screenings in mid-June as I have had the privilege of watching these films evolve in my production classes this spring.

Faculty Emeriti

Kristine Samuelson ('73)

Since last August, John (Haptas) and I have been working on Life Overtakes Me This is the most challenging project we have undertaken thus far in our filmmaking work.  Here's the logline:

"Hundreds of refugee children in Sweden who have fled with their families from extreme trauma have become afflicted with uppgivenhetssyndrom, or Resignation Syndrome.  Facing deportation, they withdraw from the world into a coma-like state, as if frozen, for months, or even years."

This project began last April when we read a New Yorker article on this topic.  We felt compelled to follow up and contacted the key character in the piece.  She was overwhelmed by contacts from all kinds of media companies worldwide--VICE, Al Jazeera, BBC Radio, but we explained what we wanted to do and were eventually granted access.  All the other pieces were news reportage and so our film will be distinctly different.  We've spent about three of the last six months living and working in Sweden, following the stories of two main families and two other families who may also be included.  We currently have enough footage to start cutting and we've just finished all the translations and subtitling (the film is in five languages.)  We'll return to Sweden for pickups in August.  

Last fall was also special because we had the opportunity to spend a month as Bogliasco Fellows in northern Italy.  We had a wonderful cohort of co-residents and many amazing discussions on every topic imaginable.  We feel the work we accomplished there was much enhanced by all these interactions in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.  If any of you are interested, do look up further information at or contact me, Ramona Diaz (’95), or Leslie Tai (’13), all former fellows.


Paul Meyers ('12)

It has been an eventful year here in the program.  Students continue to produce great work and it's been great seeing them progress.  We continue to have a full slate of filmmaker and alumni visits, recently welcoming Evan Briggs ('08) (accompanied by classmates Tim O'Hara ('08) and John Kane ('08), bonus!) for a screening of her feature documentary The Growing Season.  Other highlights include a visit from the filmmakers of festival favorite The Work, who gave a rousing post-screening Q&A in Oshman Hall.  Both events were organized by our thesis student-run group KinoDocs, which we anticipate will continue operating next year after the graduation of the founding class this June.

On the technical side of things, this past year saw the implementation of a new checkout/database system, as well as the research phase of our plan to upgrade some essential equipment for the program.  Technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, and we are doing our best to keep pace.  The coming year will see our long-planned entry into 4K production and more.  Stay tuned!

Mark Urbanek

Another awesome year has flown by!  It was great having a mini-reunion with Evan Briggs ('08), Tim O'Hara ('08) and John Kane ('08) when Evan came to town to screen The Growing Season and hold a Q&A with the doc film grads.  A tour of the McMurtry building was on the agenda which is a standing offer for any doc film alum that comes to campus.  I'm currently working on a promotional video for the Film & Media Studies program, as well as a tribute video to Stanford legend  Amy J. Blue.  

As Paul mentioned above, we will transition to 4K over the summer in preparation for Academic Year 2018-19 as well as a purchase of new cameras for the Winter Quarter videos.  I just uploaded the trailers for the 2018 Thesis Documentary Film Screening, so please check them out!  And once again, I encourage you to join the Alumni Facebook group.  I realize some of you may be cutting the cord to Facebook, but it still remains the best way to get out the word in a timely fashion without sending out mass emails.  

Class of 2017

Dane Christensen

The first year after the program has lived up to its expectations with healthy does of twists, turns and stress. My thesis film has screened at handful of festivals where I always seem to run into a Stanford alum. It’s motivating to see the program’s alumni staying active in documentary. I’ve had several opportunities droning for feature docs––one of which premiered at Sundance this year. The drone has been my way to get my foot in the door on these larger feature films and network with other filmmakers. Currently, I’m the editor for a film about Hurricane Maria, working on a short VR piece and am producing a film about Mormon millennials.

We had our second kid in February––a baby boy. Life is good and epically chaotic.

Sam Ellison

After graduation I moved back to New York, discovering that Queens is where it’s at!  I’ve been busy on set, shooting for films like Over The Rainbow (feature doc) with director Jeff Peixoto, fiction features Vox Lux and Luce, and the upcoming TV series Strangers.  

And aside from cinematography, I’ve had the opportunity to continue work on my Stanford thesis film... the full length project has recently been selected for the 2018 IFP Documentary Labs, and we hope to finish by the end of this year.

Priscilla Gonzalez-Sainz

I am a freelance producer and editor, working in education. I will begin to teach Producing Documentaries at UCLA Extension this summer. I am also currently producing the feature documentary Rez Metal. The film follows a Navajo metal band's journey from the reservation to Denmark to record their demo with Metallica producer, Flemming Rasmussen. I recently participated in the National Minority Consortia Producer Lab, hosted by Vision Maker Media, in Lincoln, Nebraska this past April. 

Lyntoria Newton

Since graduating I have been doing a lot of creative producing and editing work for docs and podcasts all around the bay! I'm currently loving the strong community of passionate doc filmmakers here in the bay. I've been working with a lot of Stanford folks too! Currently working as an AP on Anne Flatté's ('95) feature film, A River City Drum Corps, which follows a youth drum corps in Kentucky, producing with Reid Davenport ('16) on his podcast Basic Able which is all about deconstructing representations of disability in the media, and assistant editing with Max Good ('15) on his thesis turned feature doc film, The Assassination & Mrs. Paine

I also recently made a (very good) Crème Brûlée for the first time! Woohoo!

Class of 2016

Lauren Knapp

The past 12 months have been a whirlwind for me. Balancing freelance work, teaching, personal projects and mothering is a work-in-progress itself. I've enjoyed bringing documentary and my background in journalism together in the classroom to teach video journalism at Georgetown University and Northwestern University's Washington DC campus. I was even able to take a class to Iceland for a 360 reporting trip last summer. It turns out more hours of daylight just means more time to film.

I've been exploring issues surrounding maternal health and notions of American motherhood for some time now. I just wrapped shooting a piece in Memphis about the city's first free-standing birth center that provides midwifery care to low-income women and women of color for the PBS NewsHour. And I began a much bigger project following women from a variety of backgrounds into the early months of motherhood. I'm interested in how external factors (environment, class, family support, religion, etc) all affect a woman's emotional transition. I'm calling it Passage for now.

Kadri Koop

In the end of 2017 I moved to NYC to explore the east coast doc scene. This summer I'm finally starting to shoot my first feature in China. It's a co-production with fellow Stanford doc film alumni Adam Smith ('12).  In August I'll be moving back to the West Coast to attend AFI's cinematography MFA program. Hope to run into some of our alumni in LA! 

Class of 2015

Elizabeth Lo 

I spent the early part of 2018 filming all across Turkey for Stray, my passion project about stray dogs, with the support of grants from the Rooftop Filmmaker Fund, ARRI Inc, and the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship. I’ll be making sense of all this footage in the coming year in LA and Asia, as well as at the Yaddo and Bogliasco residencies. I am full of trepidation and excitement as I embark on what I hope will be my first longform documentary, but I look forward to where this Stray journey will take me. 

Class of 2013

Sarah Berkovich

I’ve had a lot of big changes since moving to LA nearly a year ago. Last fall, I began teaching a Virtual Reality course at the Emerson College Los Angeles Center. This spring it became a Virtual Reality for Social Change course, and I was awarded an innovation grant to support it. Students worked in small groups with different nonprofits to develop short immersive video pieces showcasing the work that these organizations do, and help them engage community members in their causes. You can read more about my work with this course in this article. The final student projects are on Youtube 360 and can be viewed here.

Last year I also participated in a program supporting emerging virtual reality creators called Oculus Launch Pad, and my project Being Henry won a development grant. I will be completing production on it and launching an app for Oculus Go later this year.

This spring I began a new full-time job as a Film Education Manager at Film Independent. It’s a brand new position for developing citywide high school film programs, programming a youth section of the LA Film Festival, and further developing their online film education programs. I’m very excited to join their team, and think the position fits perfectly with the educational and new-media projects I’ve been working on recently. They have a new office located very close to where I live, so it’s also a major perk that I get to avoid the typical LA commute. It’s been a very busy year of wearing a lot of different hats, but I’m enjoying all of these projects and slowly settling into life in LA.

Helen Hood Scheer

Greetings from Venice, CA. I’m in the midst of producing a documentary feature (directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan) that explores the nude female body in Hollywood media—hyper-sexualized, under attack, exploited on- and off- screen. From a wide range of perspectives, the film examines how actresses protect their bodies, how studios push back, and how unions have fought for better standards. The film also looks at how the female and queer gaze are redefining desire and sexuality. From the first body doubles in the 1920s to the digital enhancements of the internet age, the film asks: when scenes are about sex, to whom are they sexy? By what standards? How do race, age and body type factor in? We started on this project about a year ago, before the topic become so timely and urgent. It’s the most ambitious project I’ve worked on both intellectually and artistically, and I’m psyched to be stretching (and growing) so many muscles. We recently won grants from California Humanities and Sundance, and still have a long road ahead. I’m also teaching at California State University Long Beach, where I spearhead the creative nonfiction track. I love my students and bringing in guest speakers, so please drop word if you’re interested in coming by.

J. Christian Jensen

My second year here on the faculty of Northwestern's MFA Documentary Media program has been a good one.  I've had even more opportunities to work closely with our grads as they develop their thesis projects and the program continues to improve.  I've been particularly impressed with the calibre of our incoming class . Stanford's doc program will always be #1 in my book, but it's good to see some healthy competition in the documentary graduate program ecosystem. I think you'll hear more about Northwestern MFA grads in the coming years.    

One memorable Stanford connection occurred just last week when our MFA program partnered with the Block Museum's new Curator of Media Arts, Michael Metzger (Stanford Ph.D. '18 from Art & Art History), to sponsor a screening of Jamie Meltzer's latest film, True Conviction. Jamie spent the afternoon doing a master class with our Doc Media students and he joined one of the subjects of his film for an enthusiastic Q&A after a public screening of the movie that evening.

I continue to be amazed and excited by the incredible work that the Stanford peeps are up to, and it's a treat to run into you at festivals and the like – especially since I've been living afield of the nexus of grads in CA and NYC. Big changes are afoot as we've made the decision to not renew my contract here at Northwestern in order to pursue a lifestyle "experiment" that we've been working toward for a long time. We bought 25 undeveloped acres in the Teton Range about an hour from Jackson Hole and are currently in the midst of building a homestead cum-creative-retreat in the woods there. The move will deflect my academic track trajectory, but it will also open the door for some really exciting full-time creative collaborations that are coming down the pipeline. As a family we are giddy with excitement for the change of scenery (mountains!) and when we get the place up an running, we hope our Stanford friends and acquaintances won't hesitate to drop us a line on your next Yellowstone/Grand Teton road trip.  

Class of 2012

Duygu (Didi) Eruçman

Hello hello, I just finished editing my short documentary, The Voice of Hagia Sophia, exploring the reverberant soundscape of the 1500 year-old church. I co-produced it with Prof. Bissera Pentcheva. Mike Seely ('05) shot some wonderful footage for it at Stanford, and we used the beautiful images of Hagia Sophia shot by Ben Wu ('06) back in 2010. We are planning for a screening at Stanford soon. Meanwhile, my husband Paul and I moved to Rockville, MD where I have been enjoying the four seasons and terribly missing the Pacific Ocean. I'm also trying to figure out what's next in terms of projects. Make sure to say hi if you are in the DC area!

Laura Green

The last three years have been an incredible / incredibly exhausting, journey making The Providers with Anna Moot-Levin ('12). The absolute highlight of my year was premiering the film at Full Frame with all four of our main subjects in attendance. I didn’t really anticipate ahead of time what how much it would mean to me to get to be with our subjects when we first shared the film with an audience. I am also having a blast cutting season two of Nicole Opper’s documentary web-series The F-Word, a comedic take on a queer couple’s foster-to-adopt journey, and continuing to love teaching!

Anna Moot-Levin

Laura Green ('12) and I just premiered our debut feature documentary The Providers in April at Full Frame. The film is an ITVS co-production which follows the stories of three healthcare providers bringing care to those living on the margins, in a rural American community struggling with a shortage of doctors and the ravages of the opioid epidemic. We had an incredible reception to the film at Full Frame, with our subjects who traveled from New Mexico to take part in the Q&A and festivities. We are so grateful to all those in the Stanford community (of which there are many) who have supported us on this three and a half year journey! Bay Area folks can catch the film at SF Docfest on Sunday, June 3rd - we would love to see you there. Otherwise, I continue to relish the snow storms, MTA nightmares, odor-producing humidity, and grumpy curmudgeons of Brooklyn, and swear I will never move back to the West Coast.

Class of 2010

David Alvarado

Jason Sussberg (’10) and I are still working hard at science documentary production. This year was the broadcast premiere of Bill Nye: Science Guy on POV nationally and Netflix worldwide. Jamie (Meltzer)'s film True Conviction came out on broadcast this year, I am proud to be a Producer/Cinematographer on this project. We at Structure Films and our partners at Freethink Media launched Season 2 of our shorts series for Facebook called C0DED about coders fighting for privacy and security. There are two projects on the horizon for us: the first is our third feature documentary about silicon valley legend Stewart Brand and his fascinating life of environmentalism and controversial biotech ambitions. The second is a commissioned national 2-hour special for WGBH about Diabetes, slated for broadcast in late 2019. If you like character-driven science docs and want to work with us at Structure Films, email me! 

Class of 2009

Melanie Levy

Hello all! Can't believe it's that time of year already... this year has been gratifying and very busy. One of the first in full working stride, along WITH toddler and motherhood. To my Stanford mentors and classmates who also manage to juggle family with film-babies... my admiration for you all has been quadrupled. How do you all do it!?

This year, for much of the year, I had the great pleasure of collaborating with fellow alumn Sally Rubin ('04) on her soon to be released NEH supported feature Hillbilly co-directed by Ashley York. We worked mostly remotely with me based in Brooklyn and the team based in LA and had great fun boot-camping the film for 2-3 intensive weeks together on the west coast this past fall. Excited to announce that the film will be premiering at Nashville Film Fest this month. Earlier in the year I also had the chance to work as editor for several months with the great team for United Skates - a dynamic, fast paced feature film that explores a national underground roller skating scene... rich in history but almost invisible to mainstream media up to now (shout out classmate CM. my one and only roller figure skating friend ... I was thinking of you all the time!) The film just had its premiere at Tribeca where it won the audience award and will follow up with an international premiere at Hot Docs. Recently had the pleasure of producing, co-directing and editing a series of short profiles for the Children's Defense Fund. Am currently editing a short personal film by a filmmaker exploring his mom's diagnosis with early Parkinsons and his family's coping, called Shake with Me which should wrap in late May. And in the meantime... thrilled to be expecting baby number two in late July (a girl!) ... will take a few months "off" while hustling for dream projects slated to begin in late fall/ early winter 2018. Ellis Bear Engle, my red-headed miracle babe, will be turning three in June... he's a joy every day, his red curls are ever expanding (as is his love of animals, music, people and general wonderment) and he is already looking forward to being a big brother.

Class of 2008

Evan Briggs

My first feature length film, The Growing Season, premiered at DOC NYC last November. Paloma Martinez ('18) saw the film there and invited me to present it to the current MFA students, which I did in April. It was a super fun weekend of visiting old friends, checking out the fancy new building and enjoying Markaritas with Mark (Urbanek), Jan (Krawitz) and various other affiliates :) I'm still producing video content for Seattle Children's Hospital, my kids are 9, 7, and 2, and like a crazy person, I've just started pre-production on my next film. Holler if you're ever in Seattle- thanks to Katherine Leggett's (’05) organizing efforts, we've got a decent alum scene going on up here!

Kelcey Edwards-Segal

This has been a busy year! This winter, I launched a gallery, forum and art market in the Hamptons area of New York called Iron Gate East: Last month, I also had my first work of fiction published: a short story, "The Survivor" which was published in StorySouth, and I have another short story, "A Forensic Reading of Images," which was selected for publication in Border Crossings (forthcoming this fall).

As far as film work goes, over the past year I have been freelance producing for Winton/duPont Films, and through that work I have been reconnected with fellow alumni Melanie Levi ('09) and Davina Pardo ('05). I also continue to participate in the New Day Films Coop distribution of the feature film I produced in 2012, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Recently, through one of my art world colleagues, I met Stanford film program alumnus Stuart Zuckerman ('71) and I am helping him produce our mutual artist friend's documentary about memory and collaborating on coordinating an upcoming exhibition of the paintings referenced in her film. Finally, last summer we had a nice visit with Nicholas Berger ('08) who came to visit us out at our river house in Sonoma, and I look forward to seeing my former professor Jamie Meltzer at the NYC based reunion being organized by fellow alumni David Alvarado ('10) and Melanie Levy ('09)!

Most significantly, my husband and I have had our hands full with three small children: twin 4-year-old daughters Kaia and Zoe, and a 2-year-old son Oliver. The girls start Pre-K in the fall and I'm hoping to have more time to pursue film work in the coming year.  In the meantime, we visit our Stanford film crew as often as possible, and encourage film friends in the New York area to come visit us at the beach whenever they are out this way.

Class of 2006

Nick Davila

Last year my partner and I quit our jobs and bought a giant van to convert into a tiny home. We drove almost 25,000 miles around North America, visiting Canada's National Parks, the total solar eclipse in Oregon and friends we haven't seen in years. We also hiked to Mount Everest base camp in Nepal and just returned from the Great Wall of China.

She is a neuroscientist / science writer, and we recently launched a company together, Vantastic Media (Insta We're getting married in September at the Grand Canyon.

Revere La Noue

I spent a lot of time in customs this year.  After shoots in Scotland, Italy, South Africa, Dubai, and Azerbaijan, we finally wrapped a 3-year production on our film about the adventures of three falconers.  In addition to writing, directing, and producing, I now have the privilege of editing the film with Biz (Elisabeth Haviland James (’03).  I've also been doing workshops that teach documentary concepts to students and professionals in other fields.  Best of luck to everyone working on such amazing projects!    

Class of 2005

Katherine Leggett

I am happy to say that after several years of working in the tech industry in Seattle, I am back in the documentary film world. This past year I made several advocacy videos for local, Seattle-based organizations, working together with Stanford alum Howard Shack ('94) who is also based in Seattle. I am currently in preproduction for a short film about a well-known lobbyist in Seattle who navigates the government system to work tirelessly for progressive laws that support women and children. Occasionally, I'm able to hang out with other local, Stanford alum including Serena Down ('05) and Evan Briggs ('08). I live in Seattle with my two young girls and very awesome husband.

Lila Place

Greetings from Sardinia where I've been living for the past few years with my husband and two daughters after coming for a "sabbatical" year from New York.  We've finally decided to return to Brooklyn at the end of the summer and I'm filled with excitement and sadness.  It's been an unusually intense year since receiving a breast cancer diagnosis last summer and losing my father last month, but I seem to have pulled through (in no small part thanks to my Stanford buddies) and like to think I'm stronger and wiser for it.  I've continued to edit movies and am currently editing a film about a prison theater company in Tuscany mounting a production of Jean Genet's work. 

Class of 2004

Carla Gutiérrez

Hi everyone! I’ve continued editing docs for the past few years, which I absolutely love. I had the chance to edit RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsgburn, which is in theaters right now. The film premiered at Sundance and it has been getting great media attention. Some media outlets have even wanted to talk the editor! My favority article was an interview I did for Ms. Magazine.

Since my last newsletter entry I’ve also edited Chavela (Berlinale Premiere) about the amazing Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, and When Two Worlds Collide (Sundance Premiere, Cinema Eye honors nomination, Netflix).

My dog Luna often keeps me company in my office. She snores loudly while I edit. And my boys (11 and 8) usually tell me that I need more “humor” in my films. But what do they know?

Sally Rubin

I live in Los Angeles with my wife and daughter, and teach documentary full time at Chapman University. My latest film, hillbilly, funded by the NEH and the NEA, will premiere in May 2018 as the Closing Night Movie at the Nashville Film Festival. The film, which looks at stereotypes of the South, Appalachia, and rural America, is endorsed by Dolly Parton, who says this about the project: "I'm happy to see somebody trying to cover us as we really are and not what some people think we are. It's wonderful the attention you've paid to so many areas that are so important to all of us. I'm proud to have been mentioned in the film a time or two." hillbilly will be released nationally later in 2018.

Class of 2003

Elisabeth Haviland James

Having had an intense three-year period of filming, ten days at a time, involving the kinds of obstacles that keep everything interesting (masked bandits, permissions from the Pope, warthogs, parasites, mud volcanoes - typical stuff), I'm thrilled that Revere La Noue (’06) and I have successfully wrapped production on our latest project, which you can follow here: The story is coming together in the edit, and we can't wait to share it with all of you, sometime in the next year. In addition to the falconer film, I've been busy writing a full-dome planetarium show featuring historical stories from the American South, commissioned by the Morehead planetarium, and cutting an episodic series on PBS about traditional American crafts. Please let us know if you are coming through Durham!  

Class of 2002

Matt Black

Greetings from 9000 feet! My wife Amanda and I recently moved from Seattle, Washington to the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado just west of Boulder. Amanda is pursuing her PhD in English at CU Boulder while I’m holed up in our little cabin/home finishing my film Art & Belief. We recently had a work-in-progress screening at the Northwest Film Forum with the Seattle Documentary Association and the response to our rough cut was fantastic! Looking forward to getting this film out in the world. If any of you alums out there live in Colorado--let's connect!

Class of 2001

Rachel Antell

Jen Petrucelli ('01) and I joined forces in 2014 to found Sub-Basement Archival (an homage to our beginnings in the sub-basement for those of you who remember McClatchy Hall!)  Over the past several years, we have had the good fortune to serve as Archival Producers on some amazing documentaries including Dolores, which premiered at Sundance and aired recently on Independent Lens, Let It Fall for ABC, and Saving Capitalism for Netflix.  We are currently in production on a number of exciting projects including CripCamp, Worlds of Ursula Le Guin and Decade of Fire. It’s been gratifying to watch our little business grow and to have the opportunity to work with many fellow Stanford Grads, including Yael Bridge ('13), Sara Bolder ('77), Nicole Newnham ('94), Nancy Kates ('95) & Gretchen Hildebran ('05).

Class of 2000

Purcell Carson

Hi all!  Spring 2018 finds me juggling work in Princeton with editing in New York.  As part of my urban studies/documentary seminar at the university, I’m directing a film about 1968 and the police shooting of an African American college student in Trenton.  Turns out I really enjoy archival filmmaking (despite the horrors of navigating rights and licensing) and love the quirky intensity of getting deeply enmeshed in local history (despite the challenge of making a small story resonate outside this zip code).  I’m working closely with terrific colleagues — historian Alison Isenberg and editor Mark Meatto — but along the way I’ve managed to rope in classmates Gabe Rhodes ('00), Kristen Nutile ('00), Hope Hall ('00) and Sadia Shepard ('00).  Meanwhile in New York, I’m editing a feature doc about the Syrian refugee crisis with director Megan Mylan and producer Robin Hessman.  My focus on migration will continue in the Fall. Thanks to my urban studies work at Princeton and a recent fellowship from the Fulbright Scholar Program, I’m turning my attention to the topic of Central American migration and will be working in Guatemala in the coming months.  I’m eager to see who among you I can lure into the next project — having such wonderful classmates and fellow alums has been one of the continued joys of the Stanford program.  Cheers!

Hope Hall

After serving as President Obama’s second-ever & first female Principal Presidential Videographer in the Office of Digital Strategy (aka the best job ever), I have been on a speaking tour in order to support a treasured sabbatical! I have been balancing that with freelance cinematography, directing, and advising work, and as the tour and sabbatical wrap up, I’ve been having so much fun being able to say yes to some amazing projects in production in the world, including that of my beloved friend and classmate Purcell Carson (’00), after so many years of being totally unavailable. I wrote a chapter for a book called “West Wingers” which is coming out in September, an endeavor that only worked out in any sort of way because of the incredible input, support, and vision of another beloved friend and classmate, the incredibly talented writer Sadia Shepard (’00). And in order to reacquaint myself with global developments that took place while I was in the very isolating bubble of the White House, I've devised a personal project called “Visit the Visionaries,” seeking out folks who inspire me, whatever their medium, at the intersection of art, social justice, and tech.  ……..

Roger Sorkin

Following on the success of my last film Tidewater, on how sea level rise affects national security, I formed the American Resilience Project, which harnesses the power of filmmaking to influence public policy and inspire behavioral change around resilience, mitigation, and adaptation to our environmental challenges. ARP works in association with groups like Environmental Defense Fund, Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Union of Concerned Scientists to convene key audiences and leaders in positions of influence. My new film series, Current Revolution, is designed to unite the auto, utilities, tech and defense sectors around accelerating modernization of the electric grid. But the coolest part of this update is that fellow classmate Hope Hall (’00) served as DP!

Class of 1999

Sarah Harbin

I recently sold my soul to the devil to pay my San Francisco rent, mwuaahaahaa. It's not so bad, really. I am working at a tech company (Splunk) doing some cool documentary-style corporate videos. I actually have some pretty cool projects that are focused on Diversity and Inclusion - just spent part of last week in DC and the world's only university for the deaf and hearing-impaired. We were filming a project that helps deaf students get into IT -- it's a pretty great job for deaf people because they can do it mostly on computer using email and chat for communication. What I especially like is taking my story-telling skills and figuring out how to approach complicated technological concepts and make those ideas accessible to a broader audience. I also like being able to afford the medical bills for all my rescue kitties - I just got a new one who was a wild fire refugee.

Chris Jenkins 

This year came with some big surprises, in particular the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslide. Thankfully my family remained safe throughout and our community has rallied to help those hit the hardest. In the meantime, I became the Head of Production in the Department of Film & Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. It’s been great to have the chance to design new courses and hire top-notch professionals to share their knowledge. One of the highlights has been the creation of the Lazarus Sound Lab, a state-of-the-art sound mixing room, and bringing in a brilliant ProTools master to teach students the fine art of post-production audio. On that note, I would like to invite all of the Stanford alum to visit UCSB if you get the chance. Better yet, we program all kinds of films and lectures, so please feel free to get in touch with me.

While teaching and parenting—we have 2 girls, ages four and one—have taken over much of my life, I continue to work on a variety of passion projects. My most recent short film, called Lost Crops, is the story of a naturopathic doctor and a botanist-humanitarian who travel around the world in search of highly nutritious and sustainable superfoods. At the heart of their journey is a desire to link communities, create economic opportunity, promote healthy living, and conserve the environment.

Class of 1998

Will Zavala

In December 2018, I led a 3-week documentary workshop for fledgling filmmakers in the Karamoja region of Uganda.  And I continue to hold an Associate Professor position at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

Class of 1997

Yuriko Gamo Romer

March of 2017 I went to Japan for the World Baseball Classic, then returned in June to film the opening of “Pacific Pitch” photo exhibition at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Warren Cromartie, who was a star hitter for the Tokyo Giants 1984-1990 is a new character for Diamond Diplomacy as we finally begin to edit. We also finalized a licensing agreement last year with Major League Baseball. That, combined with a bit more to shoot, leaves us with need for more fundraising and looking into corporate sponsorship and co-production partners.  In the mean time I was invited to speak about sports and diplomacy last fall at Pomona College, Occidental College and SFSU’s Pluralities Conference.  I’ve also been invited by the Embassy of Japan to speak in DC this year during the All-star week, being played in DC this year.  

With Diamond Diplomacy becoming much bigger than I planned for, it was a nice break to edit a three minute short!  With all the media attention on immigration, I was reminded of my own path to becoming an American citizen.  My Immigrant Story premiered at 2018 CAAMFest as part of their “Memories to Light” program where they encourage and support archiving of home movies. So any Asian Americans wanting their home movies digitally transferred, contact CAAM!

Gail Huddleson

These days I'm working at the Film Center, editing a piece for Jon Else ('76).  Makes me think a lot about my days at Stanford.  My daughter just turned three.  I have a couple of projects of my own that are on the back back burner for the moment.  Life is very full!

David Mehlman

Over the past two years I edited and co-produced Invisible Killers, a three-part series about viruses for Discovery; each hour tracks the history, science and a modern-day geopolitical story relating to Smallpox, Ebola or Influenza. I also edited three episodes of the doc portion of Ron Howard's hybrid series, Mars (seasons 1+2), for NatGeo, and the Acid episode of the upcoming Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat for Netflix. Next I begin editing an archival-only series about Nixon for CNN.

Class of 1995

Beth Cohen

Hopefully it’s not tmi to share that my first son, Mateo, was conceived right around the time that I graduated from the program. Which means that for 22 years I’ve juggled kids, paying work, and humanitarian video projects. 

But with my youngest having just graduated from high school, my world has opened wide up. In another week I’m heading overseas to document the work of a group of do-gooders, hell-raisers and world-changers working on the ground in Bosnia where there has been a upsurge in the number of refugees en route to the heart of the EU. 

Coincidentally, I recently came across the transcript from an interview I held with Biba Hadziavdic, one of the subjects of my thesis film (Farewell Bosnia) about two Bosnian girls who escaped the violence in the former Yugoslavia. While I was afraid that she might find it too painful to remember how it felt to be a teenager torn from her beloved family, friends and country, she was eager to read it, and has invited me to meet with her family, who are still in Bosnia, while I’m there.  It’s interesting how the older I get, the more the pieces of my life seem to come full-circle.

After raising my kids in Camden, Maine, my home base this winter was in San Francisco, and I’ll be there when I return to the States at the end of May.  If you’re in the area and want to connect, please don’t be a stranger.

Anne Flatté

This past year I completed Symphony for Nature, a short documentary now airing on PBS and nominated for two regional Emmys. I am a producer on Serenade for Haiti, which featured the beautiful editing work of Eva Brzeski (’92). This film had a great festival run beginning in 2016, and is now available through Good Docs. I’m currently co-directing a feature documentary called A River City Drum Corps (working title), centered around the lives of people in a youth drum corps in Kentucky. I received a year-long San Francisco FilmHouse residency for this project, and have met some other great Stanford alum there too! Currently working with Lyntoria Newton (’17) who is AP on the project. I continue to live in San Francisco with Matt, and our two now-teenagers!

Ramona Diaz

I spent 2017 rolling out Motherland.  It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Awards and a Peabody early in 2018.  I am now at work on my new film which explores the relationship between fear and the institutions empowered to protect us.

Laura Harrison

I am still working as the Executive Director at the Bogliasco Foundation, which is a residential fellowship program for international artists and scholars based in Bogliasco, Italy, on the Italian riviera near Genoa. By now, we have even welcomed a few filmmakers from the extended Stanford network, and I hope more will apply in the future. We are a US nonprofit, so we have a small office in midtown Manhattan. I am now based in NY and look forward to reconnecting with any of you who live here or who come through. 

Cynthia Wade

My feature documentary Grit, about a young girl growing up in the midst of a massive environmental disaster in Indonesia, had its world premiere at the Hot Docs International Film Festival in May 2018. The film took six years to make and was supported by Catapult Film Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, Fork Films & others. I've been directing TV commercials which enables me to experiment with new cameras & lenses and work with new DPs which has been great.

Class of 1994

Signe Taylor

I've spent the past year touring festivals, theaters, colleges, high schools, big town halls and teeny tiny libraries showing It's Criminal. This 80-minute doc about a Dartmouth College class that takes students to a jail to work with incarcerated women on writing and performing a play grounded in the life experiences of the imprisoned women -- has been such a pleasure to share with audiences. At its core, the film is really about breaking down boundaries and connecting across visible and invisible societal walls. I usually show the film with formerly incarcerated women with me and it's amazing to witness people, who normally would not have the chance to meet, authentically connect. It's Criminal was picked up for broadcast by FUSE (a cable channel) and will be premiering in June. And I have to say a huge THANK YOU to Charlene Music ('09), who did a knock-out job as DP. She kept the camera rolling under all sorts of crazy circumstances and captured awesome footage to tell this tale!

Class of 1992

Eva Ilona Brzeski

Last year I made the short film Fellow American for the compilation Filmmakers Unite (FU) (curated by Ellen Bruno (’90) and Jay Rosenblatt) which premiered at DOK Leipzig and is now screening at festivals internationally. Very pleased to have my work showcased along with so many filmmakers I admire, including several from our program. 2018 finds me editing Unsettled, a documentary feature directed by Stanford undergrad alum, Tom Shepard. Tom spent four years following several LGBT refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa as they tried to establish new lives in the Bay Area. We are racing for the finish line, with an ITVS deadline this fall. I was also an editor on Serenade for Haiti, produced by alum Anne Flatte (’95), which has been having a great festival run and receiving many accolades. For the last three years I have been teaching a documentary bootcamp for high school students in the Youth Documentary Academy in Colorado. This year I will be there as an artist-in-residence, editing Unsettled and showing my own work. I have a couple of my own projects in progress, three short pieces I am informally calling three verses and a longer doc with the working title Kindness, which is a follow-on to my Stanford film This Unfamiliar Place. My recent work both as an editor and as a filmmaker finds me owning my voice more fully, riding the line between documentary storytelling and a more impressionistic approach. I'm having fun and I think the work is more interesting. I also love collaborating with our community as an editor or edit doctor. In my spare time I study, practice and teach Kadampa Buddhist meditation in San Francisco, and am a co-owner and project manager of the Railroad Exchange, a commercial real estate project in development in Winters, CA. Hope to connect with lots of you in the coming year!

Class of 1991

Stephen Wessells

I’m going freelance and refining my skills as an abstract painter. Just “retired” after thirty one years producing and directing docs for the U.S Geological Survey. I purchased a 5.7K Panasonic EVA-1 and have close ties to the freelance writers, shooters, editors, music pros and voice talent I’ve relied upon to finish clean shows. Attached is a link to recent Kilauea volcano piece. I still live in Fabulous Las Vegas, NV.

Class of 1989

Camilla Calamandrei

Middle School is a tough time of life. Profound changes to the brain, the emergence of sexuality, increased desire for independence, and increased pressure to perform create a mix of experiences and behaviors that are confusing to kids and adults alike. Some say it must be one of the worst time of anyone’s life — if not THE worst time. 

I myself did not love Middle School and had never known any one who did, until I met the students and teachers at one particular public school in NYC. For the past year, I have been filming in this highly unconventional middle school that is still led by the iconoclastic woman who founded it 35 years ago. It is a school that has found a way to embrace the awkwardness of the age, eliminate bullying and somehow spur the kids on to rely on themselves, think flexibly, and achieve academically.

Not sure if this will end up as a portrait of just this one school — or a jumping off place for a project that features middle schools from around the country. Ultimately I think the work (as a full length doc, short doc, or series of shorts) will be a vehicle for exploring what kids from 10-14 years of age need in order to thrive in today’s society, hopefully of use to educators, parents and administrators. There are a host of built in challenges to this since it is not a character driven doc, and there are limits to what I have in hand, AND there are questions about what length pieces of media are useful to various audiences, but we shall see!

Class of 1987

Nicole Grindle

I can only say that I am producer on Incredibles 2, along with John Walker, opening domestically on June 15. But that sounds like such a shameless plug for the movie!  We are literally on our last day of the mix as I type this message. I managed a technical department on the first film, and was production manager on Ratatouille with writer/director Brad Bird, so it is nice to be back on this film with this team.

Class of 1986

Ruth Carranza

Pam Walton ('88) and I are on our way to retirement…..or so we think.  We have moved to Fountaingrove Lodge, an LGBT and Allies senior community in Santa Rosa, CA.  Becoming retired people has been challenging and enlightening.  It may even be the beginning of another film!

Class of 1984

Andrea Butter

Aloha from Maui or an airplane or sometime from the Bay Area, which is still officially my main residence, though I am not there a lot.  

I'm still creative, though not with film (which I miss), but in designing products and imagery for my company.  My relatively new product line NA KOA lets me live out my passion for Polynesian tattoo art, and I get to know people I would never have met either in my birthplace Austria, or the SF Bay Area:  Pacific Islanders from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti etc.  I'm learning tons about the history and culture of the Pacific, and really loving life because I keep traveling and learning.  

I also still own the Hawaiian tourism product line Maui by Design and still enjoy designing imagery and products for that brand, too, because it requires to consciously stay aware of the beauty of Hawaii rather than take it for granted, which happens to long time residents.

Becky Smith

I am finishing my second year as Vice Chair & Head of Production in the Production/Directing area of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. It has been challenging and rewarding to take on this task - and we have had exciting recognition for our student work, including an Academy Award Nomination in the Short Live Action category, DGA Awards for best Female Director and Best Latino Director, and more.  I have been busy on the festival circuit with my second narrative feature, August In Berlin - including a reunion with Stanford friends (Marilyn Waterman (’83), Page Konrad (’85), Amy Adrian (BA, Stanford), Nancy Thompson, (BA, Stanford)) at the Tiburon Int’l Film Festival.  I’m working on screenplays to get my third feature into production sooner rather than later.

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

I continue to travel around the country for screenings of Tribal Justice, which aired on POV last August.  Just in the past few months we have screened at the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC, at the World Trade Center for judges and attorneys working in NY state restorative justice programs, at Harvard Law School, the Autry Museum in LA, and many more.  Our newsletters, with lots of pictures and information, can be found at, including the latest one that we sent out on May 9th about recent and upcoming Tribal Justice screenings.  And please see the new article Real to Reel in the current edition of Stanford Magazine, pp 36-37 in the print issue, and online.

Maggie (Margaret) Burnette Stogner

 In the Executioner’s Shadow - an indie doc about justice, injustice and the death penalty is finally rolling out. We are currently working on distribution including a national grassroots screening strategy. In October, we will do a West Coast tour at UCLA (thank you Becky Smith!(’84)), at Stanford (thank you Jan Krawitz and the Stanford Law School), in San Francisco with Death Penalty Focus, and at University of Oregon.  If you’re interested in arranging a “critical discourse” screening, email me. Many thanks to all of you who have supported us with great advice, funding, and encouragement.

Class of 1976

Kent Gibson

I seem to change focus every so many years, so here’s the latest.  I started 25 years ago with Carl Sagans’ COSMOS and now have moved full steam into Facial Recognition.  I have authenticated images of Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, Pat Garrett, Jesse James, Frank James, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, Edgar Allen Poe, US Grant, and many others.  Recently I completed a new project for The History Channel involving Amelia Earhart, and a two hour National Geographic special on Billy the Kid. Now I am pioneering a new series on History based on facial recognition.  Tintypes are a wonderful format from around the turn of the century because they actually have very high resolution so they can be blown up, and typically they are “one of a kind originals” thereby greatly increasing their value.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

I just screened the new high-definition re-master of  Dark Circle, my personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons, in Boulder Colorado, 35 years after the film was first released. Given Trump’s saber-rattling, it’s suddenly relevant again. Next up is a 4K scan of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, pending fundraising. Both films were shot on 16mm film. Standard definition is becoming increasingly inaccessible as online distributors move away from that format, necessitating these upgrades. I’m also shooting a couple of music videos to accompany my husband Mark Bittner’s memoir, “Street Song,” and continuing to research “Species of Time."

Class of 1971

Stuart Zuckerman

Filmmaker and art gallery owner Kelcey Edwards (‘08) and I met at an artist’s loft in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. We were introduced  to each other by a mutual friend, and are now both helping that friend produce a documentary about memory. The film is being created by stop-frame animation of the friend’s paintings. By the time you publish this newsletter, there should be a short trailer about the film at

I’m also consulting two filmmakers who are producing three 1-hour episodes of a program which will likely air in June 2019 nationally on PBS.  More at

Class of 1969

Joseph Keyerleber

My wife Jodi and I had a great time last August visiting friends in Wyoming and viewing the amazing total eclipse of the sun.  We had ideal conditions, and the group included a number of serious photographers.  We came up with some great pictures and video of the entire spectacular event.  We also visited the Wind River Indian Reservation and had some interesting discussions with members of a youth group regarding the motion picture Wind River.

In January we traveled around Florida, visiting Miami, the Keys, the Everglades, Orlando and the small town of Gulfport.  During the NPS Shark Valley Tram Tour, we found ourselves up to our ears in alligators, all at very close range—like, arm’s reach.

Otherwise, I’ve been trying to work on my film archives, digitizing some of my early projects, such as the treasure salvage documentaries in Florida made during the late 60’s.  Time for this effort is currently limited because in February we acquired a golden retriever puppy, who seems to take up a lot of time and is causing some sleep deprivation.