Skip to content Skip to navigation

Documentary Film and Video

Share by Barna Szasz and Ellie Wen (2018) as featured on The Guardian YouTube Channel.


Students in the Documentary Film and Video Program become conversant with the documentary tradition as well as with alternative media and new directions in documentary.  In addition to the training in documentary production, graduates gain substantive research skills in film criticism and film analysis.  The MFA degree is designed to prepare students for professional careers in film, video, and digital media, with the qualifications to teach at the university level.

Two recent thesis films from 2018 were featured in the New York Times’ OpDocs series. Nathan Reich’s Calving Season  (a shortened version of his 2018 thesis film The Warming Shed) is a sensitive observational portrait of a Montana cattle ranch. Understated and poetic, the film chronicles a teenager's coming of age in this snowy landscape. Paloma Martinez’s timely film Sanctuary City Hotline (a shortened version of her Stanford thesis film Enforcement Hours), focuses on the grassroots resistance against ICE intimidation tactics in San Francisco. The film, featuring audio from a 24-hour hotline where residents report the presence of ICE, reflects a growing sense of fear and uncertainty in local communities. Paloma was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film  Barna Szasz (’19) and Ellie Wen’s(’19) Winter quarter film Share, about a social media influencer coming out to his fans and family, screened at numerous festivals and was recently featured as part of The Guardian Documentaries series. The film is also screening theatrically in Los Angeles, in order to qualify for the upcoming awards season.

A number of recent Stanford films have been picked as “Staff Picks” on Vimeo this past year, including: A View from a WindowRoom 140  Unheard  Crisanto Street  and Almost Freedom
Paloma Martinez’s Spring quarter film Crisanto Street will be broadcast on PBS’ POV series. In 2018 the film swept the short film awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival, taking both the Documentary Short Winner and Best Family Film at the Festival. The film also garnered the Best Documentary Short Award at DOXA Documentary Film Festival (2018) and played at the HotDocs International Documentary Festival (2018).

The Clinic (Elivia Shaw ’18) and Enforcement Hours (Paloma Martinez '18), both thesis films from 2018, were selected for the Shortlist of the BAFTA Student Film Awards. Read an interview with Elivia Shaw (’18) about The Clinic here
Laura Green (’12) and Anna Moot-Levin’s (’12) film The Providers, which was funded by ITVS, premiered at Full Frame Documentary Festival, and was broadcast in April on PBS’ Independent Lens to rave reviews  The film follows three “country doctors” — health care providers working for a network of clinics in northern New Mexico — confronting the challenges of keeping those in their poor and opioid-plagued communities healthy and safe. The Providers was co-directed, a recent trend that we view as a testament to the community we build within our program - fostering a collaborative environment at Stanford that results in long-standing professional relationships among our alumni.