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2019 Documentary Film Alumni Newsletter


Srdan Keca

Producer Vanja Jambrovic and I presented our feature-length project Museum of the Revolution at several co-production markets and pitching forums in Europe. We were delighted by the reception: at ZagrebDox the project won the HBO Europe Development Award, while at East Doc Forum in Prague it received both the main prize and the IDFA Forum Award.

Thanks to the amazing work and dedication of the second year cohort, particularly Dinesh Sabu ('19), Ellie Wen ('19) and Inês Pedrosa e Melo ('19), we’ve hosted a number of guests on campus this year, including Kirsten Johnson, RaMell Ross, Susana de Sousa Dias, and Lyric Cabral. One event stood out for me personally, though: a visit by Dick Fontaine, who was my professor at the National Film and Television School in the UK, and who retired from his position as Head of Documentary Directing this year. We discussed his groundbreaking film I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1980), in which James Baldwin retraces his time in the South during the Civil Rights Movement.

On a personal note, Sara and I are relishing every second we spend with our son Soko, who was born this past September.

Jan Krawitz

I am teaching the spring thesis course and, as always, the films represent an eclectic array of subject matter and approach. Check out the trailers. Last fall, I taught undergraduates in the Stanford in New York program and was able to connect with a number of grad alumni (Camilla Calamandrei ('89), Bob Edwards ('96), Gretchen Hildebran ('05), Melanie Levy ('09), Davino Pardo ('05), Ferne Pearlstein ('94), Lila Place ('05), Justin Schein ('94), and Andy Schocken ('04)). While there, I was invited to speak about my filmmaking at Hunter College and Sarah Lawrence College. Last summer, I was awarded the George C. Stoney Award by my peers at the University Film and Video Association. I feel honored to be recognized as a filmmaker who has upheld the social issue vision of such an esteemed documentarian.

Jamie Meltzer

After releasing True Conviction on PBS last year, and doing a variety of community and non-theatrical screenings, I found myself completely depleted - five years of shooting and editing left me hesitant to jump right into another long-term, large scale project. I’ve been reflecting on my approach to filmmaking and trying to find new ways of engaging deeply with it, yet also balancing filmmaking with family, teaching, and all the stuff of life that seems to get woefully unbalanced as one gets deeper into a film. So this past year I’ve been developing a few short documentaries, experiments that hopefully move into new formal territory for me, meant to challenge the way I’ve worked before, and help me balance my working and family life as well. In March I finished production on a short documentary about parolees being released from a prison in Huntsville, Texas. I discovered this place, where around 100 inmates are released daily, while shooting True Conviction a few years ago. The film restricts us to the space of a bus stop outside the prison, where the parolees call loved ones on the phone, shop for clothes, take in the fresh air, and just sit and wait, starting to process the trauma of what they have just been through and the uncertainty and potential of where they are going. I'm co-directing the short with recent grad Chris Filippone (’18), and we hope to have a cut ready this summer. I’ve been expanding my teaching into new areas this past year, co-teaching a short fiction film production and screenwriting course with Adam Tobin called Script to Screen, and offering a two week intensive course called Expanded Cinema (combining Virtual Reality tools and experimental film approaches) in the Arts Intensive program held in September.

Faculty Emeriti

Kris Samuelson (’73) (with John Haptas)

It's been an incredibly busy year for us, with two final shoots in Sweden and then finishing the cut for our new film, Life Overtakes Me.  We were thrilled to premiere in the Shorts Program at Sundance in January and have since screened it at Aspen Shortsfest, the Florida Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Chicago Critics Film Festival, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for best short film.  It will launch on Netflix in June!


Paul Meyers (’12)

Another year has flown by here at McMurtry and we are already preparing for our Spring MFA and Thesis screenings in June.  After much deliberation this past fall, the program purchased a group of Canon C300 Mark IIs which are a welcome (and popular) addition to our equipment pool. We anticipate further updates to gear as we cycle through our older equipment.  Canon has been a great partner to the program and continues to generously loan us gear for other uses.  On the post front, our first year of 4K production has gone fairly smoothly — while encountering a few idiosyncrasies here and there. As always, it’s a learning process for both ourselves and the students.

Mark Urbanek

As Paul Meyers mentioned, we have been fortunate to have a relationship with Canon that has helped us out the last several years with loans of cameras and lenses.  This spring, Canon was generous enough to loan us six Canon C100s for our undergraduate FilmProduction114 class, allowing us to retire the Panasonic HPX170 cameras which started out as the Thesis camera back in 2007. 

Class of 2018

Chris Filippone

After graduation, Erin Kökdil ('18) and I drove across the country, culminating in attending the Camden Film Festival with Paloma Martinez ('18) to screen Erin’s film Unheard and Paloma’s film Crisanto Street. Then we looped back across the U.S. (and a bit of Canada) to the Bay Area, settling in Oakland.

Jamie Meltzer and I are currently co-directing a short doc in Texas called Release (working title) about the daily inmate discharge at Huntsville Unit Prison. I’ve also taken over second editor duties from fellow alum Katherine Gorringe ('14) (who is editing her first feature!), working under Bay Area editor Sari Gilman on a feature documentary about the first Nepalese woman to summit Mt. Everest. I’m also working as cinematographer and editor on Erin Kökdil’s first project after Stanford called La Caravana, a short doc about a caravan of Central American mothers who travel through Mexico in search of their missing children who disappeared while migrating north on the migrant trail towards the United States. It was an intense 10-day shoot on the bus with these mothers and now we’re working our way through a no less intense edit. And recently, I re-cut my Spring film How to Breathe in Kern County, which had its World Premiere at the Berlinale this year. It was a pretty unbelievable experience to have my work in such a large and incredible venue, so I’m pretty proud of that.

Other than that, I spend most of my days in Oakland, editing a bunch, researching, having barbecues, etc. Be sure to reach out and come over to Erin and I’s place for coffee, beer, wine, or La Croix. We even cook fairly gourmet dinners!

Zulfiya Hamzaki

It's been quite a year filled with transitions. After graduation, I moved to Portland, Oregon to join Blue Chalk Media. I directed in-studio hosted explainer videos for Pearson Education’s digital college curriculum in humanities. It was a unique learning experience working on scripted content and heading a larger production crew. It also gave me a perspective on the growing online video space in education.

Earlier this year, three of my shorts aired on cable TV in Multnomah county. These included two films from Stanford - fall film Doori, winter film Unearthed co-directed with cohort mate Erin Semine Kökdil ('18), and one I had earlier made in India. The films had prime time telecast on the channel Pulse of Portland, curated by Open Signal: Portland Community Media Center.

I recently moved back to India, but not without visiting New York City which was on my bucket list! It’s nice to be back with my family after a long time away and I'm excited to see what adventures lay ahead!

Erin Semine Kökdil

After graduating, Chris Filippone ('18) and I went on the most epic road trip, traveling from Palo Alto to the East Coast...and back. Highlights along the trip included seeing the Grand Canyon, going on an informal Breaking Bad tour of Albuquerque, and spending time with Paloma Martinez ('18) at the Camden IFF in Maine. We ended up in Oakland, CA, and shortly after settling in, we bought tickets to Mexico and shot a short documentary. The film, working title La Caravana, follows a group of Central American mothers who travel through Mexico each year, searching for their children who migrated North, but disappeared en route. It was the most intense shoot of my life. I'm still processing the emotions and trauma, and easy to say, editing has been a slow process. But after the quick pace of graduate school, I'm trying to be okay with that and give this process as much time as it needs.

Apart from that, I've been working as an editor at OMG Yes, a female pleasure website (y'all should check it out!), editing short videos for the New American Story Project, doing sound on various documentary projects (if you need sound on a shoot in the Bay, hit me up!), and settling into life in Oakland.

Nathan Reich

After graduation in June I spent the summer living rent free as caretaker for a very unique SF property; a three story victorian that was once a full service hospice guest house. I lived there completely alone and kept an eye on the place while the hospice company put the property up for sale. In that time I searched for jobs and awaited my fate. It came down to moving back to NYC to teach part-time at The New School or pursue an editing/associate producer job on the acclaimed Netflix documentary series Last Chance U. I chose to go the production route and expand my skillset before leaping head first into the teaching path. This brought me to the concrete sprawl of LA, a place I never in a million years thought I'd end up. My job on Last Chance U garnished many new learning opportunities, but after six months the show came to an end of production and I was kicked back out onto the freelance curb. Since then I've doubled back down on my musical pursuits, bought a new guitar and have been writing every day and am planning to record a new record by end of 2019. I am also picking up freelance jobs wherever they pop up, and am about to embark on my third cinematography shoot for the amazing director and alumni Kristine Stolakis ('15) and her documentary feature Pray Away that is currently in rolling production. The future looks optimistic - I have lots of light in my apartment and the street corner is filled with cursing and honking and peeing dogs and the Scientology Celebrity Center Castle looms above my building just across the street. More will be revealed. Revenimus!

Class of 2017

Dane Christensen

It’s been a whirlwind year––we added a little boy to our soccer team and moved four times. I’ve been working as an aerial cinematographer and get passed from filmmaker to filmmaker. It’s a great way to work with a lot of talented folks!  I’m fully immersed (pun intended) in VR film production. I made a couple VR shorts last year––most recently one about education as a solution to poverty in Southern Mexico and another about a 12-year-old mormon girl who came out to her congregation only to be met with her microphone being cut off.  My short film about Hurricane Maria just premiered at Thin Line Fest in Texas. But we perhaps will turn this into a feature.  I enjoy that no matter the festival, it seems, you can always find fellow Stanford doc grads. I was just in Denmark attending CPH DOX and ran into Mike Seely ('05). Small world!

Sam Ellison

I had a very good year!  My first feature documentary, Chèche Lavi (based on my thesis film at Stanford) premiered this winter at Rotterdam and Guadalajara.  And on the fiction side, I had the privilege to work on films like Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Antonio Campos’ The Devil All The Time.  I’m currently shooting an HBO series called I Know This Much Is True for director Derek Cianfrance.

Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz

I'm currently in production on Untitled Immigration Lawyer Documentary, a chronicle of the personal and professional lives of five Mexican-American immigration lawyers in Los Angeles.  The project won Tribeca Institute's IF/Then Shorts Pitch for the West Coast at Big Sky Doc Film Festival and will be completed later this year. It's been amazing to work with Tribeca and with alumni such as Vero Lopez ('14) on sound! My thesis film ROOM 140 was distributed by KQED as part of Truly California and also a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Class of 2016

Kadri Koop

A few quick updates on my end. I've re-located to LA where I'm a cinematography fellow at American Film Institute. With my newly-gained skillset, I'm now shooting everything from verite docs to narrative pieces and commercials. I'd love to connect with other alumni who might be in LA or passing through. Feel free to get in touch. This is my email.

Class of 2015

Kristine Stolakis

This year has been a crazy and wonderful one. I am almost finished with production and am in the midst of editing my debut feature Pray Away (about the history and continuation of the "pray the gay away" movement) with fellow Stanford alum Carla Gutierrez ('04). Working with her has been exceptional. The Pray Away team is full of awesome Stanford alumni - one of our EP's is Johnny Symons ('97), our DP is Melissa Langer ('15), and we've had additional cinematography/sound recording/editing support from Daniel Enrique Chávez-Ontiveros ('16), Nathan Reich ('18), Catharine Axley ('15), and Lauren Knapp ('16). Our film got support from IFP, Tribeca, Catapult, and Chicken and Egg this year, and we are working towards a 2020 launch. I still teach film around the Bay Area which I genuinely love. I also got married this past year, learned how to make pasta from scratch on my honeymoon, went on lots of runs in Golden Gate Park, and started piano lessons which has been a great creative outlet that doesn't include carrying 50 pounds of gear through various airports. Much love to this community!

Class of 2013

Sarah Berkovich

I’ve just celebrated my one-year workaversary at Film Independent as Film Education Manager for Youth programs. It’s been a really busy year full of changes, but some highlights have been putting together a high school film showcase called Future Filmmakers, launching a mentorship program with local school districts, and becoming an Arts for LA Activate Fellow, working to bring more equity in the arts education to LA schools.

I have also recently finished teaching my third semester of a Virtual Reality workshop at Emerson College LA Center. It’s been rewarding to help develop a new course and see students get excited about storytelling in new media. I really enjoy teaching, and though some of my personal creative projects have been a bit on the back burner lately, I’ve had my hands extremely full with the work I’ve been doing in education.

J. Christian Jensen

A year of big changes. With a mixture of sadness and excitement, I chose to depart from my teaching role in Northwestern's MFA Doc Media program so our family could build a homestead and someday creative retreat in the Idaho/Wyoming Tetons.  It's been a massive undertaking involving huge lifestyle shifts, several months in a tent, and a lot of building first-times. In December I completed a work studio which we're temporarily living in while the main home is being completed.  The process is all-consuming, interspersed with brief moments where we realize just how spectacularly beautiful and wild this place is. Our ultimate vision for the place is a lifetime of work ahead, but the dream is alive and well and my partner and two  growing boys are fully on board for the ride.

Some filmmaking endeavors and personal passion projects have taken a backseat this year, but I've kept busy on the side with some producing and editing and am about to tuck into editing a feature-length doc that takes place at a school in a remote community of the Navajo Nation in SE Utah.

A recent highlight of the year was attending the Sundance premiere of Stanford undergrad ('14) Luke Lorentzen's feature-length premiere Midnight Family. I was an early consultant on the project and have been a long-time champion of Luke. It's been so exciting to see his film take home awards at top festivals as he really comes into his own as a true directing force.  At Sundance/Slamdance I also got to interact with Stanford Doc Alumni old and new whom I hadn't seen in several years. The bond still holds firm.

Class of 2011

Briar March

I haven't written for a while so I might have to cover two years. In 2017 I released my film The Coffin Club, which is a 3-minute documentary musical about seniors who build and decorate their own coffins. The film was made for the Internet to be screened for free. It survived the noisy web well, getting lots of views on major web channels like National Geographic and Upworthy, and then went onto screen at SXSW. I then had my second child Esteban who is now 1.5 years old. He had lots of health challenges which made me wonder how I was going to continue making films, but it did not stop me! I am now in pre-production for a feature-length docudrama about Greenham Common, a big women's peace protest in the UK during the cold war. The film is for Universal Pictures, who have secured worldwide distribution. Working for a studio is a completely foreign experience which I am learning about on the job.

Class of 2010

David Alvarado

Still producing science docs here at Structure Films with Jason Sussberg ('10). We've opened a new and larger office in Gowanus, Brooklyn, as well as a new office in the Mission, SF. We are in full post production on our feature doc about legendary silicon valley iconoclast Stewart Brand, set to be picture locked this Fall. We will also be locked later this year with a commissioned feature by WGBH about the devastating wave of diabetes in America, a film called Blood Sugar Rising. It should premiere nationally on PBS in spring of 2020. And much more exciting news on the horizon! As always, if you know anyone who wants to work in character driven, cinematic science docs please do reach out!

Class of 2008

John Kane

For the last few months, I've been cutting a doc-series about puppies training to become guide dogs for the blind; it's for Disney's forthcoming streaming platform. I've been enjoying the challenges of episodic storytelling, canine characters, and collaborating with a bigger team than I'm used to (two show runners, three more editors, three story producers, a post supervisor, etc.) Before that, I did some additional editing on Q Ball, a feature doc about an elite basketball team at San Quentin prison. It premiered at SFFILM in April and will broadcast on Fox Sports starting on May 28.

But my biggest, happiest news is that my wife Laurie and I welcomed our daughter Siena into the world last May. We just celebrated her first birthday, she's taking her first steps, and I'm delighted to be her father.

Class of 2005

Gretchen Hildebran

I am so excited that my documentary Decade of Fire was released at the end of 2018, after 10 years of work.  The film had its theatrical release at the Metrograph cinema in NYC in May 2019 and will be engaging with housing justice groups across the country for the next year.  We are also on the festival circuit and hope to see other Stanford people out there!  I was lucky to hang with Kris Samuelson, Davina Pardo ('05), Lila Place ('05), Melanie Vi Levy ('09) and Katherine Leggett ('05), and more folks when Decade of Fire played at the 2019 Full Frame Festival!

Katherine Leggett

The highlight of my year was a reunion at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where I shed lots of tears and had barrel laughs over a marathon viewing of 10 docs with Davina Pardo ('05) and Lila Place ('05). It was incredible to see the films directed by Gretchen Hildebran ('05) and Kris Samuelson and as always, I was so proud of the work that comes out of this program. I live in Seattle and produce advocacy content for non-profits and work with grassroots organizations on the big issues of climate change and elections. Please get in touch!

Lila Place

This past September I made the big move back to Brooklyn after four years in Sardinia, Italy.  I just finished editing a feature documentary about a quirky criminal defense attorney and enjoyed working with Davina Pardo ('05) on a short doc about the women weavers of the Bahaus.  I had a blast at Full Frame where I caught up with so many Stanford pals and Kris Samuelson.  Happy to be back and surrounded by so many doc lovers!

Class of 2003

Elisabeth “Biz” Haviland James

I'm thrilled to be on the brink of finishing a longterm feature doc with Revere La Noue ('06)!  Four plus years in the making, spanning three characters, seven countries and lots of ideas, we have just achieved picture lock and are heading into our finishing stages now.  Phew!  As always it was wonderful to see so many Stanford folk at Full Frame, an annual highlight of my year.

Mark Rinehart

I am still cranking away at Official, a company I founded back in 2015 with another partner.  We recently moved our offices to Atwater Village from West Hollywood.    We focus on branded content and non-fiction series.  Also put out a few feature documentaries in past years (#ChicagoGirl and Joshua: Teenager Vs Superpower). Joshua picked up an audience award at Sundance.  If there are any alums in LA, I would love to reconnect!

Class of 2002

Thomas Burns

I now work as the creative director at Coda Story, a journalism start-up in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I manage the organization’s visual portfolio (docs, animation, VR, photography, interactive, etc.). We recently released a three-episode doc series that I produced, A Ukrainian Love Story,about a former fascist in Kiev who fell in love with a feminist activist, and will soon release Generation Gulag, a constellation of short docs about Gulag camp survivors, which I executive produced. We’re always looking for doc project pitches that fit Coda's editorial focus (“disinformation" and “authoritarian tech”), and I’d love to see more doc program alumni in our production pipeline. I live in Tbilisi with my wife and two beautiful daughters.

Michelle Cabalu Zaslav

Last year I worked as an Assistant VFX Editor on Mile 22, directed by Peter Berg, and was lucky enough to also get my SAG-AFTRA card out of it, having lent my voice talent for a line as Ronda Rousey's ADR double! Who knows, could this be a new career direction? I also worked as a VFX Editor on Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, directed by Rob Letterman, which comes out on May 10th. Currently I have been busy as the VFX Editor on an upcoming Warner Brothers/DC Comics film, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), due out in 2020.

Peter and I have also welcomed a very energetic puppy by the name of Leonard into the household, and he's been a delight. His most recent adventures have been documented on his Instagram account, @leonardpaws.

Class of 2000

Hope Hall

I’ve been working freelance, as a documentary cinematographer and filmmaker, with projects ranging from independent features to episodic tv to campaign videos. And, as the honor of a lifetime, I wrote a chapter (with crucial help from classmates Sadia Shepard ('00) and Purcell Carson ('00)) for "West Wingers," released September 2018. Now, as of February, I am on the best job ever 2.0, as Senior Advisor for Video and Senior Road Videographer for Elizabeth Warren 2020. (The team is hiring on a rolling basis, so please let me know if you’re interested in joining in any way.)

Roger Sorkin

My new nonprofit American Resilience Project wields the power of strategic narrative through film and other media to address civilization’s most pressing challenges like coastal adaptation, food security and other fun stuff. Our latest film, Current Revolution, is the first in a series designed to accelerate grid modernization, and with some fine cinematography from legendary classmate Hope Hall ('00). We’re now seeking to bring other filmmakers into our orbit in various ways including fiscal sponsorship, distribution, crew and other creative work. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss.

Class of 1999

Brett Schwartz

I’ve been working on a project since last summer that focuses on Windy City Harvest, a Chicago urban farm network that actively recruits and hires ex-offenders for transitional jobs and strives to tackle the related issues of food deserts (neighborhoods that lack access to nutritious foods), obesity, and diabetes in some of the city’s most distressed and segregated neighborhoods. At the moment, I’m not committing to a duration, and I’m simply following the story through the eyes of subjects, largely African-American men, who are embracing urban agriculture as a gateway back into society, rebuilding lives shattered by violence, systemic racism, and poverty. The goal is to showcase Chicago in a way that counters the dominant negative narrative we see too often in the media and to highlight authentic stories of hope and second chances.  In other news, a short film that I co-produced and co-directed with Mexican filmmaker Sebastian Hernandez for the local chapter of Sister Cities International was nominated for a regional Emmy by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this past fall.  I'm still teaching Film & TV Production, World History, and Journalism at a high school in the northern suburbs.  Finally, my 14-year-old son, Jonah is heading into high school next year, and my wife Aviva and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this June!

Vanessa Warheit

As the climate crisis worsens, I am continuing my work as a climate campaign manager and organizer. [Last fall I was the California Organizer at for Rise - the largest climate march ever on the West Coast. Earlier this spring, I organized a 3-day, 34-mile march for 350 Silicon Valley, targeting "Oily Wells" Fargo for their lending to the fossil fuel industry.] Currently I'm working with Fossil Free California on their campaigns to get CalSTRS and CalPERS, the two largest pension funds in the US, to divest $$billions from fossil fuels. Last week, we brought over 20 #ClimateStrike youth to Sacramento, where they gave powerful testimony on the urgent need for divestment; the board was so freaked out, they shut down their cameras and live feed! But we got some press coverage, and (of course) live-streamed the whole event, and I have been using my rusty editing skills to create clips of their amazing testimony from pixely iPhone footage. We've been posting these clips on social media -- you can see them on Twitter hereherehere and here. Please share with your networks! (We are particularly interested in reaching public school teachers, as it's their retirement savings that are being used to fund climate disruption). If you're feeling overwhelmed or panicky about the climate crisis and would like ideas on how to help, please reach out!

Class of 1998

Laura Almo

Last year I earned tenure at El Camino College in Torrance, CA where I oversee the Film Department. I am in the throes of revising the curriculum to up the documentary/creative nonfiction offerings including the world of podcasting/sound design and storytelling. I am piloting the podcast “Dispatches from El Camino" which features nonfiction stories and morsels of truth written, produced and edited by students in the Audio Production class. I always welcome guest speakers so please drop me a note if you are interested.

Over the summer I am gearing up to work on a personal project which looks at the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) from the perspective of doctors working in a hospital in Prague where I taught English shortly after the Velvet Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s a little bit Michael Apted-esque as I have remained in touch with several of these doctors and others over the years, tracking their lives as much as I’ve been tracking the changes in the former Eastern Bloc.

Tony Sehgal

I'm producing short format videos for farm animal sanctuaries for marketing and public awareness purposes. I'm also working on a long format documentary on the disastrous impacts of the dairy industry and the rise of plant-based dairy alternatives. I continue to pursue my interest in 19th-century wet-plate photography.

Will Zavala

I’m writing you from Kampala, Uganda, where I’m leading a 3-week documentary workshop.  It’s free of charge to all who were accepted (22 remarkably engaged men and women).  Back home, my 13-year teaching position at the Pittsburgh Filmmakers is over, as the media center has severely downsized.  Now working freelance and doing some adjunct teaching.

Class of 1997

Johnny Symons

These days I’m working as a professor at San Francisco State University, where I’m coordinating the documentary program and directing the Queer Cinema Project  I got tenure last year, so I’m in it for the long haul! I’m thrilled to have been joined by fellow Stanford alum Laura Green (’12), who is a stellar new addition to our School of Cinema faculty. Meanwhile I’m in post on a mid-length doc called Hoodie, about my 17-year old son’s experience growing up as a Black kid in Oakland with a gay white filmmaker dad.

Class of 1990

Inez (Robinson) Odom

I am assistant head of school for enrollment management and outreach at La Jolla Country Day School. I produce and am also the host of a podcast, Roots & Wings: Voices of Independent Schools, that provides thoughtful, in-depth conversations concerning some of the more detailed aspects of independent school life.  Our current families have found the podcast series to be a wonderful way to stay in touch with the life of the school on their own schedule. Many of our alumni have expressed great enthusiasm and pride in the series.
My eagerness to develop a podcast series at LJCDS stems from my background as a documentary filmmaker. Before joining the LJCDS community, I owned a multimedia production company, IMO Productions, where I conducted hundreds of interviews for storytelling. I am a huge fan of the spoken word.

Class of 1989

Camilla Calamandrei

I am living in NYC and working on my independent feature doc Middle School  --  alternately enjoying it a lot and feeling like I am rolling a huge boulder up hill.  Otherwise living the glamorous "sandwich generation" lifestyle with a towering, but very entertaining, teenager in the house and aging parents in circulation.

Did just see two interesting docs at Hot Docs (among many others) that will be a bit off the beaten path, if you can find them worth seeing: “Beloved” (shot in Iran, fascinating) and “Shooting the Mafia” (quite an unexpected film set in Italy by Irish filmmaker). Also “Scheme Birds” is intense, but just won big award at Tribeca so prob will get distribution. Cheers.

Suzanne Kessler

The PBS “American Masters” documentary, Charley Pride: I’m Just Me, aired in February 2019—for which I served as Co-Executive Producer.  Made with the cooperation of Charley and his family, the film celebrates Charley’s trailblazing country music career.  This is my second “American Masters” project featuring a musical superstar, following the Patsy Cline documentary in 2017.  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 1985

Andrea Butter

It's hard to believe that I have been running my company for over 10 years now, dividing my time between Maui and "the mainland", namely Menlo Park, CA a few miles from the edge of Stanford Campus.  

My product line of leather accessories with Polynesian tattoo art is still the most inspiring to me. I've developed a real passion for the art and it's cultural significance, and have become an "auntie" to a number of Hawaiian tattoo artists.  Last year, I also spent some time hanging out with traditional tattoo artists in Samoa (loved it!) and New Zealand (loved it!) before a short vacation nearby in the Cook Islands. You can see the line at  

Class of 1984

Becky Smith

I continue to teach in the Production/Directing area of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The festival run with my second narrative feature, August In Berlin consumed a lot of my free time in 2018, with screenings across the US and in Canada. A few highlights were Best Feature at LA Femme Int’l Film Festival, Best Director at Hot Springs Int’l Film Festival, Selected for Third Screening at Sarasota Int’l Film Festival (which is a big deal at that wonderful festival), Orson Welles Award at Tiburon, and Artistic Director’s Pick at the Ojai Film Festival. In the summer of 2019 I plan to seriously focus on the next feature by clearing my mind with a three month drive in a converted cargo van on the Alcan highway to the Arctic - then across Canada to Newfoundland - and back home by way of every cool spot I can think of. Dog and partner will be in tow.

Class of 1983

Maggie Burnette Stogner

Wearing two hats these days. HAT ONE (well-worn and a bit road-weary by now):  my indie film In the Executioner’s Shadow that examines the death penalty in the U.S. is now available through New Day Films. Since its launch a year ago, it has been used across the country in grassroots and community screenings through national and state organizations including the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, and abolition groups in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, and others. The feedback we’ve been receiving has underscored that the film is a powerful catalyst for meaningful discussion about criminal justice reform far and wide.   If you or someone in your community would like to host a screening and especially as the 2020 elections approach - go to the New Day Films website.  HAT TWO (new, too starched, but starting to acquire some character): I’m the new director for the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University in D.C. Website: I’m keen to expand the Center’s environmental justice programming and create opportunities for more diversity behind and in front of the camera. We are working on several productions, including a youth climate activist film called Our Future Now! following several teenagers in different parts of the U.S. as we head toward the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020. 

Let me know of any environmental films and projects you’re doing!

Class of 1982

Anne Makepeace

I continue to travel around with Tribal Justice as well as with some of my earlier films (see our spring newsletter).  I have also just begun shooting a short film about first responders in my little town in Northwest Connecticut.  No travel!  No fundraising!  What a boon!  More seriously, I feel lucky to be digging my roots deeper into my sweet hometown here in the Southern Berkshires, and to be getting to know our local heroes.

Class of 1976

Cheryl Fabio

In 2017 I finished a feature length documentary film titled, Evolutionary Blues... West Oakland's Music Legacy. The production company was the City of Oakland's Government Channel, KTOP TV and my non-profit was co-producer. As the director and producer, I steered the ship of 35 Blues and Funk entertainers and we included a great range of historians, including Isabel Wilkerson, author of Warmth of Other Suns.

Class of 1974

Bonnie MacBird

I just completed my third Sherlock Holmes novel for HarperCollins.  THE DEVIL’S DUE, A SHERLOCK HOLMES ADVENTURE will debut Oct 28 of this year, and pits Holmes and  Watson against a serial killer in London, taking them to many undiscovered nooks and crannies of the great city in pursuit of a fiendish villain who delights in taking out friends and family of his victims as well. This book, set in 1890, follows  ART IN THE BLOOD  and  UNQUIET SPIRITS.

Class of 1973

Judy Irving

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences donated a 4K scan of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill made from the A/B rolls, and  we’re now working on color correction, dust-busting, etc., hoping to be done by this summer. I shot another experimental music film called “Settling In,” about Vaux’s swifts settling in for the night in some tall unused smokestacks at McNear’s Brickyard in San Rafael, with music by Bruce Kaphan, and I’ve just started a new documentary, “Cold Refuge,” about the philosophical/spiritual/psychological/nature-immersion aspects of swimming in San Francisco Bay (after 33 years of doing it myself, I finally realized it was a topic worth looking into!)

Class of 1971

Stuart Zuckerman

I’m wrapping up my involvement with the upcoming PBS series, “Family Pictures USA” which will be seen nationally on Mon 8/12/19 9-10p, and Tues 8/13/19 8-10p To get a feel for the content of the series, see the trailer at

And for fun, I’m producing some brief music videos to get my fellow undergraduate classmates at Dartmouth to get excited about attending our 50th Reunion in  June 2020. The most recent video had classmates hanging a sign on the balcony of the student center on campus.  Here’s a link to the video.

Class of 1969

Joseph Keyerleber

Guess what?  Some of my video and film productions are finally getting digitized and posted online.

Below are the links to videos I produced during the 1980’s that were recently posted on YouTube by the Center for Applied Linguistics.  The programs include a series for the State Department about Vietnamese and Cambodian refugee resettlement training programs.  These were filmed in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.  They won numerous awards, including Cine Golden Eagles and the New York Film Festival.  I looked at all of them recently, and I feel that they have held up pretty well over all these years.

I invite everyone to check them out, and if so, I’d be happy to hear any comments.

PASS: Preparation for American Secondary Schools
PREP: Sing a Song Together
Teaching for Tomorrow
Skillpac – English for Industry demo
PETCO:  An American Workplace Simulation
Language in Action
Communicative Math and Science Teaching

I also have a number of my earlier film productions now on .mp4, with the intent of getting them up on YouTube.  I just need to get a round tuit.

Class of 1968

Patricia Edgar

I have now published 12 books. Last year I published Patricia Edgar, Kids: Technology and the Future.,  Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018.
There are two further World Summits on Media for Children planned. In Indonesia , July 6-8th, 2020 and in Dublin in 2021, World Summit Foundation. After Chairing the Summit Foundation for 18 years I became Deputy Chair following the Summit in Manchester in December 2017.