It’s inspiring to read the updates from so many of our alums and realize the large footprint that our small program continues to make in the world of documentary. As always, the current students are making terrific films. We had four films selected as finalists for the Student Academy Award competition this year. Recent student work has screened at numerous festivals including IDFA, Cinema du Réel, Silverdocs, and Full Frame. You can learn more about the student work of all of our recent grads at: http://art.stanford.edu/graduate/mfa-documentary-film/student-projects/
I just returned from the Doc Lab, a workshop for mid-career filmmakers at HotDocs in Toronto. I am working on a new short film about altruistic organ donation that I will begin to edit this summer. We hope to see some of you at the upcoming screenings.
I've had a wonderful second year teaching in the program. It has been truly astonishing to see the fresh-faced students who entered in Fall 2007 evolve into such accomplished filmmakers as they finish up their thesis projects. This past year I saw my last feature-length documentary Welcome to Nollywood air on PBS, as part of a new series called AfroPop, and continue to travel around the world, most recently in Poland at a series of screenings put on by the AfryKamera festival (apparently the film was a huge hit in Poland!) I've also finished up a short documentary La Caminata (www.lacaminata.com) about a small town in Mexico where they run a simulated border crossing event (700 miles from the real border), created to attract tourists to their town and as a way to raise awareness about the difficulties of the real journey. The film premiered at True/False in March, and it was an amazing festival to be a part of, one of the best I have ever attended. I will also be at the upcoming Silverdocs Festival and hopefully many others. It's been fun to make the festival rounds with some of last year's alumni and their thesis films, as well as running into Stanford graduates from years past. Hope to see some of you at upcoming festivals or at this year's thesis screening!
Greetings everyone. John and I are in the midst of production on our new project, An Abundance of Crows. This film looks at the coexistence of humans and urban wildlife-crows, in this case-- in cities. We filmed last summer in Tokyo, which has tons of crows and has had to make all kinds of adjustments. Now we are collecting footage documenting crow intelligence and also hoping to capture a cycle of nesting. We just put up a "crow cam" outside Green Library (had to use a crew and a cherry picker) above a huge nest. Ravens just finished nesting there and now the crows have arrived to customize the nest with bits of twig and fluff. They keep lying in it and wiggling around as if they are trying out a new bed. Stay tuned!
Class of 2008
Right after graduating I started working for Klutz Press on kids books about film. The first book we did is called Tricky Video. It teaches simple special effects to 9 to 12-year-olds such as turning camera and subject upside down to reverse gravity. I'm now working on my second book for Klutz, which will teach stop motion animation. While working at Klutz I've gotten a chance to travel to a number of film festivals with my thesis film, Nutkin's Last Stand. Some highlights have been traveling to Amsterdam for IDFA and Berlin for Sehsüchte. The film was also featured on Wholphin DVD Magazine and will screen on POV this summer, as well as Worldwide Short Film Festival (Toronto) and Silverdocs. Nutkin's Last Stand is a finalist for the Student Academy Award.
I worked as an AD and additional camera on a French documentary about the psychological traces of the Iraq War, for Alice Films. I spent months living with soldiers and recording their therapy sessions in a rehab facility in the North Bay Area. I have also shot more interviews around my Stanford spring film Song of a Sperm Donor and am now cutting a longer version of the film here in Paris, while freelancing and working on a fiction screenplay.
Since graduating last June, I've been living in Brooklyn, NY (and loving it!) I've held an array of freelance positions since my arrival, ranging from story developer for producers Meghan O'Hara (Sicko), Nick McKinney (IFC Media Project) and David Schisgall (Very Young Girls), to a number of other AP/videography gigs. Last month I began work as the lead cinematographer on Forever Home, a documentary feature by director Jay Hodges (Trinidad). I'm also producing a feature documentary with director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan titled The History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman. The film looks at the history of fiction's longest running superheroine as part of a larger conversation about the possibilities and contradictions of representations of women as popular action heroes. We received a development grant from the California Council for Humanities, and after nearly nine months in research and development, we are currently in the early stages of production.
Right now I'm working with Facebook to create their first outward facing video series, telling the stories of how their most awesome stuff was built. I've also been traveling with my thesis film, which received a best short nomination at IDFA and awards at Big Sky and Arizona. Last July, Charlene Music ('09) and I directed a film in Kenya, Tanzania, and Costa Rica about the difficulty of persuading tourists to become philanthropists. And we will return to Costa Rica this summer to assess the impact of large-scale cruise tourism on local communities. Although none of this appears on my website, www.localfilms.org, hopefully it will very soon. I'm also developing a personal project about artisanal night fishermen in the open sea.
I’ve spent the last year freelancing around the bay area, primarily as an editor. I just finished editing Mike Seely’s (‘05) film about Ecuadorian doctors working in remote corners of that country. I also worked as an assistant editor for John Haptas, Bonni Cohen ('94), and Jon Else (‘76) on Explorer: Inside Guantanamo, which recently aired on National Geographic channel. Finally, I helped Jamie Meltzer edit his short film La Caminata. I am now aiming to transition more into shooting and teaching. To that end, I just did a great shooting and lighting workshop with veteran cameraman Bob Elfstrom. In my free time, I’m enjoying living in Oakland and developing ideas for my next film. www.middlepathfilms.com
Class of 2006
I’m working as a Production Manager for SRI International (www.sri.com), and it’s great. I alternate between on-site production and supporting field projects around the country, and it’s a healthy mix of working with equipment and local crews. I am hoping to work with Ben Wu ('06) for a weeklong shoot in Wyoming in June. Outside of work I’ve done some silly and non-silly video stuff (http://www.globalnarratives.org/documentary.html), and the last few years I’ve been getting back into music. I’ve even found myself on-stage with sound mixer Dan Olmsted a few times. I recently got FCP certification and I’m collaborating with Kathy Huang ('06) on a project in Indonesia about tarsiers.
For the past year, I've been working on Tales of the Waria, a 60-minute documentary about transgender individuals in Indonesia. The film follows three waria, biological men who live as women, as they search for love, intimacy, and acceptance in the world's most populated Muslim country. I was in Indonesia for six months last year living with the waria and am planning a return trip this summer. I owe a great debt of gratitude to fellow Stanford alums in Los Angeles (Sally Rubin ('04), Marisa Pearl ('04), Carla Gutierrez ('04)) who have held my hand through the excruciating process that is known as "fundraising." You can learn more about the film and view a trailer at www.thewaria.com.
I finished the film, In Place Out of Time, in August 2008 (with the editing help of Ben Wu (’06)) and have enjoyed screening it to audiences this year. Instead of aiming for festival status, I premiered the film at a local community center in rural New Mexico (where I shot it), to a packed house of friends and locals who appeared on the big screen. For other work, I continue to keep busy with contract teaching jobs at Colorado College and New Mexico State University. In addition, I enjoy the smattering of freelance jobs that come my way. I recently moved from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and now live in the bosque next to the Rio Grande, a riparian haven! I’m currently inspired by my garden and the Red Camera and I’ve been thrilled to be able to work on projects that are using “The Red.” If any of you need a cinematographer with access to this revolutionary technology, please be in touch! www.rotationfilms.com www.inplaceoutoftime.com
Revere La Noue
On Super Bowl Sunday, I moved into a restored cigarette warehouse in Durham, NC with Stanford Film Juggernaut, Elisabeth Haviland James ('03). A month later, we added a furry third to our happy home, a rescue puppy named Veruka (as in "salt"). Although she is still learning Final Cut, she's pretty good on a Steenbeck. I am excited that my company, Light Rain Media, has gone brick and mortar. As part of the Bull City Arts Collaborative, I have an editing suite and a painting studio downtown with a window front and everything. Light Rain Media specializes in fundraising media, "full-service" trailers and theatrical commercials. However, my latest endeavor is making fine art prints that tell the history and tradition of college mascots. If you are in Durham, stop by. www.lightrainmedia.com.
Things are good -- living in New York. I’ve just recently started up a small production company, Lost & Found that will mainly focus on creating non-fiction content for the web. I’m also starting work on a series of short documentary web video portraits on some of the quirky, inspiring, and fascinating characters that live among us. The site should be live this summer, and will be found at: www.atwarwiththeobvious.com. I’m continuing to pay the bills working as a freelance cinematographer, editor, and field producer, having recently worked on various programs for National Geographic, MTV, the Food Network, The New York Times, and others. But above all I’m excited to start shooting a long-form documentary project about night workers in New York in the next couple months, tentatively titled Never Sleeps. I know I put that espresso machine somewhere…
Class of 2005
This year my life has revolved around No on Prop 8! After shooting and editing several PSAs for the campaign’s website, I dropped what I was doing and continued shooting the fight against Proposition 8 throughout the election. Election Day started at 3:30AM with Mike Seely ('05) heading to Berkeley and me filming in San Francisco. Ashley Tindall (’06) and May Lin Au Yong ('08) were also on crucial shoots. Nearly 150 hours of footage later, I am steeped in the issue, am having a blast working on the film, and fundraising to complete it. Learn more about The Campaign, view the PSAs, and look out for a fundraising house party near you! I continue to shoot, edit, and produce in the Bay Area. I recently finished a short film with Winton duPont Films for Leadership Public Schools and produced a music video, shot by Jon Shenk ('95), for local favorite, the Extra Action Marching Band.
It's been a busy year shooting one film in Japan and beginning another closer to home in Brooklyn. This past fall I finished shooting the documentary I've been working on about a farmhouse in Japan, and have spent the year in pre-production on a new project that Lila Place ('05) and I are co-directing. We've just begun shooting the film, a longitudinal feature about an amazing public high school in Brooklyn where the student population is exclusively immigrants and refugees. I've been working as a freelance producer on independent and corporate projects as well, and Lila and I recently launched pardoplace FILMS to direct and produce corporate and non-profit videos. I've enjoyed reuniting with the West coast contingent of our class: I had the chance to visit Leah Wolchok (’05), Christie Herring (’05) and Mike Seely (’05) in SF this winter, and just returned from Seattle, where I saw Serena Down (’05) and Katherine Leggett (’05). And one other bit of personal news I'm excited to share is that Andrew and I are expecting a baby this September.
It's been another great year back in Brooklyn. I feel so lucky to have so many Stanford pals around with whom to work and play! Davina Pardo ('05) and I have started a production company called pardoplace FILMS and have produced a few videos that Katherine Leggett (’05) passed our way. We have some other exciting documentary projects in the works that Davina mentioned in her update. I finished two short films, one about my poet cousin who struggles with manic depression, and the other about the Red Hook Pool in Brooklyn. I continue editing short documentaries for the UN Development Program and the Newshour, and I edited and co-directed (along with Jonathan Stack) a short film about female combatants in Liberia that screened at IDFA. In January I took a wonderful trip out west and got to catch up with classmates Christie Herring ('05), Mike Seely ('05), and Leah Wolchok ('05), and meet baby Oz for the first time.
San Francisco is still my home base, but we are currently living for a few months in my wife Paulina’s birthplace: Lodz, Poland. The town has a rich film history and I’m enjoying poking around, trying to meet some more European documentarians. I made one final production trip to Ecuador last November with cinematographer Romi Chiorean to gather the final elements for a half-hour festival version of Health By River and Road. The film takes the viewer on a journey with the visionary Ecuadorian doctor, Edgar Rodas, as he provides health care to hard-to-reach rural communities. I also had the pleasure of collaborating on the project with John Kane (’08), who edited the film. I am currently working hard to raise finishing funds and looking for distribution. Besides producing and directing my own work, I continue to work as a freelance DP. The past year’s highlights include: shooting for Jan Krawitz’s film Perfect Strangers, about anonymous kidney donors; and traveling to Hanoi in September to do a piece for Frontline World about the Vietnamese perspective on the US elections. I also had the chance to shoot on Christie Herring’s (’05) film, The Campaign, about the fight against Proposition 8 in California. I am looking forward to returning to Poland in 2010 on a Fulbright grant: my plan is to make three short films as a way to explore the Polish documentary film tradition.
Pete and I welcomed our first child, Oz Aaron Axelrod, on October 2. I'm temporarily putting all film projects on hold while I enjoy the first precious months of motherhood. Before going on maternity leave (if there is such a thing for independent filmmakers), I screened a fundraising trailer for my feature doc about New Yorker cartoonists at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in SF. I look forward to continuing production on the film later this year. And Oz is thrilled to hear that three of my Stanford classmates are expecting playmates for him this fall.
Class of 2004
Elizabeth (Pearson) Garr
I am expecting my second child any day now (our daughter Katherine just turned 2), so needless to say I am not doing much documentary filmmaking these days. Perhaps one day I will document the joys and travails of childrearing, but for now I am just trying to get enough sleep to stay semi-sane!
Rich Harris, III
We're back in the Bay Area after being in Amsterdam for four years and New York briefly. I just finished directing a documentary about the founder of Jansport, Skip Yowell.
Sally Rubin is in the thick of post-production on Mine, her current feature-length documentary about mountaintop removal mining in eastern Kentucky. The project has received LINCS funding from ITVS, and will be showcased at BAVC's Producer's Institute in June. With funding from ITVS Interactive, Sally and co-director Jen Gilomen will be creating a 3D mountaintop mine in virtual reality, as part of a larger outreach campaign for the project focused on education through new media. Previous to Mine, Sally co-produced and edited Without a Home, a feature-length documentary about homelessness, edited Beer Wars (in theaters now), Riverwebs (PBS) and Iraq for Sale (with Carla Gutierrez ('04)), as well as associate producing David Sutherland's Country Boys (Frontline). She is currently teaching documentary film at Chapman University, where she is working to develop a Center for Documentary, and allow many more young people to join this wonderful field. In June, she will be attending the PBS Producer's Academy with her current project (www.minedocumentary.org). When she's not working, she's hanging out with a gang of women documentary filmmakers based in LA. Known as the "Shuttergrrlz," this group includes Kathy Huang ('06), Carla Gutierrez ('04), and Marisa Pearl ('04).
I spent last year in Seattle, and enjoyed hanging out with the burgeoning Seattle Stanford scene (Howard Shack ('94), Katherine Leggett (’05), Serena Down ('05), Tim O'Hara ('08), and Evan Briggs ('08)). While there, I shot and co-produced a short film for HBO, entitled The Last Campaign. A few months ago, I packed up my C-stands and moved to Brooklyn. As always, the Stanford crowd has been a huge help, and I've been freelancing as a shooter/DP for a number of doc projects. I also came on board recently as producer and DP for a feature documentary about a New York high school for immigrants and refugees, directed by Tanaz Eshaghian.
Class of 2003
Elisabeth Haviland James
I recently moved from Brooklyn, NY, to Durham, NC, with Revere La Noue ('06). The last year has taken me on many adventures, but most remarkably a recce deep in the Congo River basin jungle of the Central African Republic. In addition to exploring the amazing culture of the Bayaka pygmy people and avoiding forest elephants while making a production plan, I got to spend an afternoon with wild western lowland gorillas. The trip was a life altering experience. My projects in collaboration with White Mountain Films are nearly finished – The Lord God Bird is actively playing the festival circuit; we are still raising finishing funds for The Good Fight, no thanks to the current economy. I'm thrilled to be producing a new documentary and narrative feature based on Loving v. Virginia, and am still struggling to adapt the novel Magic Time for the screen. Finally, I'll be teaching a course at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke in the fall. Please check out my website for more about my projects, I'd love to hear your feedback. www.thornapplefilms.com
The book I worked on for McSweeney's publishing company, a collection of oral histories entitled Underground America was released this year. It is about undocumented workers in the U.S., and the numerous human rights violations many suffer due to the fear surrounding their legal status. I also spent over half the year in the Czech Republic, finishing up my Fulbright Grant; I studied Czech Surrealism at FAMU in Prague. Hope everyone is well.
Class of 2002
2008 and 2009 seem to be a good couple of years for my documentary travel series Odyssey Driving Around the World. The independent production was completed in 2007 but distribution to broadcasters takes time. Acquisitions of the series include Nat Geo Adventure Channel, Outdoor Life Network, DirecTV 101 Network, The Extreme Sports Channel, The Israeli Travel Channel, Drive TV, and most recently Odyssey has now entered syndication in the U.S. I am preparing a second season of Odyssey along with another driving adventure.
I continue to work as a cinematographer in Los Angeles, working on fiction, non-fiction and commercial projects. Wunderkammer, a fiction piece I shot last year for director Andrea Pallaoro, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January and recently received the award for Best Cinematography at the European Independent Film Festival in Paris.
I am living in Los Angeles working as an apprentice editor on the next Shrek (yes, Shrek 4!) at Dreamworks Animation Studios.
For the past couple of years, I worked as a producer at the Museum of Science in Boston, but I recently decided to take the private sector plunge. I'm now developing a History Channel series that will go into production this summer. I live in Arlington, just outside Boston, with my wife Justine and our 8-month-old daughter Rose. If any alums are in the Boston area, I'd love to hear from you.
I’m back in the States after four action-packed years in South Africa and happily ensconced in the world of academia at Columbia College. It’s hard to believe that I ended up back in Chicago after all that traveling, but I love my job and feel like I have found my calling. In the fall, I will be launching an exciting new interdisciplinary documentary arts lab here. My pilot course will bring together the top 12 students from six different departments to create a series of multimedia documentary projects around a single social issue. Hopefully, this is the first course in a growing interdisciplinary documentary curriculum that will result eventually in a new MFA program. In my spare time, I completed a PhD in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and have been writing and publishing on the evolution of South African documentaries since the end of apartheid. On the filmmaking front, Testing Hope, a documentary I shot about education in South Africa’s townships, has been making the international rounds, including a special screening and discussion at Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg. Sadly, there don't seem to be too many Stanford alums here in the middle of the country -- holla' if you are out there. And if any of you coastal dwellers are ever in the neighborhood, look me up!
I currently work with Sturm Media (www.sturmmedia.com) as VP/Creative Director. We are a full production company located in downtown Saratoga. Erick Sturm, the CEO is an amazing editor with strong graphics/animation skills and it has been a great learning experience. We work on a wide range of projects from commercials, product promotion, trade show, and educational videos. I also continue to work on smaller projects for individual clients through my own company, rhythmus. My new passion is belly dance and I enjoy going to classes in my spare time. I am also working as manager/promoter for a phenomenal belly dancer, Farasha (http://www.farasha.jp/profile_e.html) who I went to high school with. I am working on her promotional video and hoping to book performances in the bay area in the near future.
Class of 2000
I'm editing two feature projects here in New York this spring. Rachel Libert's Semper Fi, about toxic contamination on U.S. military bases, is back in my edit room after earning a Sundance Documentary Fund grant and support from Chicken & Egg. I'm balancing out the seriousness with a music documentary, How To Grow A Band, which follows the bluegrass band, Punch Brothers. In February, I travelled to L.A. and walked the red carpet at the Oscars with Megan Mylan, a Berkeley grad. Her short film Smile Pinki, which I edited last year, happily won the Academy Award. Work on my own documentary, about Chiquita and the global banana business, continues at a sedate and civilized pace. The project is supported by the Kendeda Sustainability Fund, Hope Hall ('00) is the film's D.P., and we're in post-production.
I also have some McClatchy Hall-related news: Nine years ago, Markus Prior and I met at the short-lived, department-wide event, Thirsty Thursdays, organized in part by Hope Hall ('00) to introduce the different tribes of McClatchy Hall. As proof of its success, Markus and I were married last week in Hamburg! Hope Hall ('00), Sadia Shepard ('00), and a few Stanford Ph.D.s made the trip to celebrate with us.
Hope just finished the best job she's ever had, on staff as propaganda filmmaker, videographer, photographer and blogger for the Obama campaign (July - November 08) and then for the presidential transition team, in their new media departments. Current cinematography credits include: barackobama.com, whitehouse.gov, moveon.org, takeawayshows.com. Feature film cinematography credits include: (Amy Rice, Alicia Sams), Racing Dreams (Marshall Curry), The September Issue (R.J. Cutler, co-produced by Sadia Shepard ('00)), MTV/VH1's Unplugged, live@vh-1, and Soulstage. She is the New York contributor to onetakenewyork.com and to the online One Take music video series concerts a emporter/la blogotheque. She recently shot a feature comprised solely of single takes of songs performed in unlikely places for the Generiq music festival in France. She is the proud collaborator of Purcell Carson ('00) as her cinematographer for her upcoming feature on the greening of Chiquita and the banana industry.
After nearly a year of work, a film I co-edited called Quest for Honor premiered in the International Documentary Competition at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film explores the still-prevalent practice of honor killings in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
I continue to live in New York City, although lately I seem to be living mostly out of a suitcase. I recently produced The September Issue, a feature-length documentary directed by RJ Cutler about the making of Vogue magazine and its iconic editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, which won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and will be released theatrically in the U.S., Europe, and Asia in September 2009. I continue to tour and speak about my memoir The Girl from Foreign, an exploration of my grandmother’s Indian Jewish community, which will be released in paperback by Penguin in July 2009. My short documentary, In Search of the Bene Israel (edited by Purcell Carson (’00)) travels along with me, most recently on a tour of India sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and to Jewish film festivals worldwide. I’m excited to spend the summer at Yaddo, an artist’s community in Saratoga Springs, NY, and in September will return to New York City to teach creative non-fiction writing at Columbia University.
I am the owner and executive producer of Sorkin Productions LLC, a production company in the Washington, DC area. The company produces work for a variety of nonprofit organizations, NGOs and trade associations. www.sorkinproductions.com
Class of 1999
I am currently working in San Francisco for CBSinteractive. I produce, direct and edit four weekly shows for CNET: CNET TV Tech Weekly for Tivo, the Buzz Report, CNET Top 5 and CNET Mailbag. After three of four years specializing in pretty gory TV and film productions about crime, murder, and suicide, it's a nice change of pace to focus on technology news.
I’m still based out of Santa Barbara where I’ve recently begun lecturing and teaching video production in the UCSB Film & Media Studies department. I also have a few more doc projects in production, including one about victims in the conflict zone of northern Uganda that I’m excited about. In my spare time, I continue to direct the photography and editing of multi-camera live concert productions throughout California, most recently releasing Anthony B at Reggae Rising. Updates from previous productions: The Matador was purchased by City Lights Entertainment and has been well received by the press, receiving a Critic’s Pick from the New York Times. Riverwebs, a film about life, death, and streams, has been airing on PBS. A sad note about Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, the bass player Malam Bangura unexpectedly passed away just as the band released their latest album, Positive Revolution.
Inbal (Diskin) Sella
The kids take a lot of my time...of course...so i've been doing more and more writing. I'm about to publish my fifth children's book and I'm working on a novel. I'm also doing some freelance music video clips and writing for children's tv programs. Recently, I've completed a screenplay but don't know what will become of it.
I'm proud that our second fiction feature will have its world premiere at the Cannes film festival on May 20th. We are in the competition of the International Critics' Week. Altiplano was shot mostly in the high Andes of Peru last summer. Khadak, our first feature, had a fine life! You can now order it on amazon.com. Our little girl is now 6…and joyous.
Class of 1997
I'm producing and directing a feature documentary about immigration and citizenship called The Naturalized. It's a co-production with Jon Stewart's Busboy Productions for A&E Indie Films and The History Channel. I recently wrapped up production that included superb work from Stanford alums (and soon-to-be-alum) Justin Schein ('94), Tony Sehgal ('98), and Melanie Levy ('09). Currently I'm in post-production wrangling a terrifying amount of footage.
This past year I've been editing The IFC Media Project, a new documentary series on the Independent Film Channel that takes an incisive and sometimes humorous look at how the news media’s relationship with politics and corporate America impacts its ability and willingness report fairly and protect the public. The show is created/produced by Meghan O'Hara (Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11) and Nick McKinney (The Daily Show, Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days). I also edited a film about Chuck Jones (the creator of Bugs Bunny), which aired on Turner Classic Movies in March. I am co-producing a feature doc about dyslexia that Justin Schein ('94) is co-directing and shooting. Last year, I worked with Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, editing a new verite series about subcultures. I also was supervising editor on Cynthia Wade's ('95) Oscar-winning Freeheld. I edited two episodes of The First 48, A&E's documentary series about homicide detectives. The Moon and The Son, an animated documentary that I edited and sound designed, won an Academy Award for animated short in 2006. My wife Marcy and I live in Maplewood, NJ with our sons Ari (7), Jules (2 1/2), Theo (1).
Yuriko Gamo Romer
I've been working on a new, 60-minute film, Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful. In 1934, at 21 years of age, Keiko Fukuda embarked on a long journey with judo as her vehicle. Giving up marriage, family, and her Japanese citizenship, she has endured war and discrimination to become the highest-ranking woman in judo history. At 96, she still teaches judo three times a week in San Francisco. Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful is a film about her inspirational journey and I just got a grant for the film! I still have a long way to go and will be hosting a fundraising demonstration event by a Bay Area women's martial arts organization and conducting conversations with people in Japan about co-production. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. My posting of a clip on YouTube has been a very good thing. Almost 3,000 hits later, I've gotten emails from around the world giving me great feedback and funding ideas. One guy has put in a monthly donation through my fiscal sponsor, indefinitely. I'm traveling to Kodokan, Japan (the home of judo) in June to begin some archival research. I am keeping busy in San Francisco with my husband Bill and 10-year old, taller-than-me son, Niko.
My documentary about openly gay military service Ask Not, is screening for free in 50 cities in May as part of PBS’ Community Cinema series. The national airdate is June 16th on Independent Lens. With the recent debates in the news about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, it’s turned out to be a great time for the broadcast premiere. Meanwhile, I’ll be participating in BAVC’s Producers Institute for New Media Technologies later this month with a new project and moving into a temporary co-chair role at New Day Films. I’m continuing to teach documentary part-time at Stanford and at the Art Institute of CA – San Francisco. The kids are now 9 and 7 and we’re all still in Oakland. Busy, but doing great.
Class of 1996
I recently co-directed and edited the documentary Pressure Cooker, which has been on the festival circuit for close to a year now, starting at LAFF and IDFA. Check out our website for the trailer and www.nonsequiturproductions.com for theatrical dates and particulars. It's opening theatrically on May 27th at The IFC Center in NYC. I really want it to play in the Bay Area, but it depends on how we do in the first few cities. Right now, I'm editing a film about a traveling family circus in Mexico. My best to everyone in the sub-basement.
I am co-producing Deann Borshay Liem’s In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee, which is scheduled to air on POV in 2010. In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee is a follow up to Deann’s First Person Plural. I am doing research and development for a documentary on poet, essayist, and activist June Jordan. The film will be co-directed and produced with Carrie Lozano (The Weather Underground, Reporter Zero). I am starting my 6th year as a film teacher at The Lycee Français La Perouse in San Francisco and I enjoy singing along with Karen Davison ('05) at the Berkeley Community Chorus.
I’m living in Los Angeles and editing feature docs. Last year was a big one for me. I gave birth to our second child, Quincy Rose, won an Emmy for my work on HBO’s Autism: the Musical, and I cut the film Food, Inc. for Participant, about the industrial food complex (which will be coming out theatrically in June). This year I’m recuperating, hanging out with my kids, and writing with my husband. I’m also trying to figure out what to work on next. If you’ve got a project to cut in LA, drop me a line!
Class of 1995
Since completing the 2004 Voting in America Project (co-executive produced with Charlotte Lagarde ('96)), (www.votinginamerica.org), I've been working pretty much full time on my feature documentary about Ant Farm, which I began in 2000, gulp. Not quite giving the When We Were Kings guys a nudge in terms of longest post-production, but...seriously, I did complete a 30 minute version last fall that showed at the SF Museum of Modern Art as part of a group show called "The Art of Participation". While valiantly trying to finish editing the feature length version by this summer, I also do some teaching and continue to make short films so that I don't lose touch with the feeling of FINISHING something. I've been enjoying teaching a class on the History of Doc Film at the university here in Houston, where I still live. And yes, I really do make them watch Man with a Movie Camera in its entirety--with interesting results!
I continue to work on Regarding Susan Sontag, a feature-length documentary. We pitched it at IDFA in Amsterdam in November 2008, where I also had the pleasure of hanging out with fellow alums Emily Hart (’93) and Mark Becker ('96). Our first shoot took place in January 2009. It was quite an experience to interview Sontag's friends and colleagues in Paris, London, and Johannesburg; our visit with Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer was a career high. I had a great residency last summer at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks, and am excited about having been invited to MacDowell for September. I also want to encourage graduates of the program to apply to the Kopkind Film Camp in Vermont, which I have participated in several times. I have been serving on the board of Film Arts Foundation for the past two years as it transitions out of existence. The demise of FAF is a sad moment marking the end of an era, but everyone on the board is excited about the new filmmaker programs offered by the San Francisco Film Society, which largely continue the work of FAF.
Freeheld has screened in 86 festivals, won 16 film awards and has been broadcast in five countries thus far. It won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary in 2008. I am directing a year-long documentary about the Milton Hershey School for the Sundance Channel. The Hershey School is a residential school for at-risk, low-income kids (ages 5-18) in rural Pennsylvania. The film will air on the Sundance/IFC Channels for two years, starting November 2009. I am heading to Cambodia this spring/summer to direct a new documentary and I taught advanced documentary camera work at the New School's graduate-level certificate program this school year, channeling Jan's voice throughout.
Class of 1994
I finished ...damn bad oyster: The Times of William Goebel, governor, last year. It is about a tumultuous period in Kentucky history that climaxed with the assassination of the governor in 1900. It premiered on Kentucky Educational Television (the state's PBS affiliate) in January and continues to show up at odd hours on one of KET's several channels. It will screen in towns across the state later this year at part of a tour of films sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council. I also worked with Sally Rubin ('04) in December, helping her and Jen Gilomen shoot a public hearing for their documentary Mine. When they hired me, neither Sally nor I had any idea of our shared Stanford connection, so it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to discover that while waiting for the meeting to start.
I am still in Brooklyn. No Impact Man, a film I shot and co-directed, my wife produced, and Liam Dalzell ('04) did some wonderful shooting on, screened at Sundance in 2009. Pressure Cooker, a film I shot with Leigh Iacobucci ('06) and Mark Becker ('96), will open in theaters in NY and LA this spring, as will Four Seasons Lodge, a film I shot along with Albert Maysles. I continue to shoot Upside-down and Backwards, a hybrid doc-animated film directed by Peggy Stern and edited by my partner at Shadowbox Films David Mehlman ('94). My other full time collaboration with my wife Eden is our son Micah, who will be two in June. I credit my time in the changing bag loading mags for my superior diaper changing skills.
After almost 20 years working as a freelance cinematographer and producer, I've made the leap into the 9-to-5 world as the Senior Producer at KSTW, a CBS owned television station in Seattle. My family and I moved to Seattle in order to be closer to my wife's parents and so that I could take some time off from all the travel I've been doing for so many years. My kids are coming up on 6 and 4 years old and I'm seeing them a lot more than I used to--which is awesome. Here at KSTW I am the Series Producer of Underground -- a collection of short documentaries (think spring quarter films!) about musicians and artists in the Northwest. We won a local Emmy award last year and were nominated for two more this year. The work has been very satisfying and I'm able to craft the docs just as I like them to be -- which is something I feel very fortunate about. You can check us out at www.kstw.com/underground. The last film I worked on before taking this job was Robert Stone's Earth Days. The film was chosen as the closing night film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and it was a beautiful way to transition into my current position.
Class of 1993
After more than 10 years as an independent producer, director and writer, I am now the executive producer of National Geographic's documentary series Explorer. We produce twenty films a year, on a wide range of subjects, from Guantanamo to Aztec archeology to the science of gender. Since graduating I have worked with many Stanford graduates, including Bonni Cohen ('94), Jon Shenk ('95), Joanne Shen ('00), Justin Schein ('94), and Howard Shack ('94).
Class of 1992
Eva Ilona Brzeski
I am happy to report that I have finally returned to the Bay Area, after many years in New York and then Los Angeles where I made several films of my own and edited documentaries, features, and TV shows. Upon returning to the Bay Area I edited the documentary feature Under Our Skin about the hidden epidemic of Lyme disease. The film is currently on the festival circuit where it is winning numerous awards and honors, and it will begin a theatrical run this summer. I am currently working on my own project and doing free-lance editing and producing in the Bay Area.
Class of 1989
My new feature doc, The Tiger Next Door, just had its world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto. Hoorah! It's a very filmmaker friendly festival, with large, intelligent, enthusiastic audiences. We got some great reviews in local papers. The projection looked amazing (like film -- and we shot mini dv) but there are things I would change in the sound mix now that I have heard it in a large space. In fact, I wish we had a (Dolby) 5.1 but I didn't have the money to finish it that way. Meanwhile, we are waiting for a U.S. premiere. It has been brutal trying to get into a U.S. festival this year--apparently the festivals are swimming in films. The Tiger Next Door was pre-sold to Animal Planet last year (which is what paid for post-production) and they will air a very cut down version later this year or early in 2010. The film has also been licensed for broadcast in Japan, Israel, Belgium and Canada through Films Transit, the international sales agent. Season two of Sid the Science Kid (I was live action director/producer) has been postponed so I am looking for work and really hoping we make some serious international sales of Tiger. Cheers!
Class of 1988
My partner Ruth Carranza ('87) has finished the first of three films on MEMS and nanotechnology and I've been editing for her. Thank god for the NSF grant during this recession! I've finished Raging Grannies: The Action League, which premiered at Cinequest to a sold out theater and a standing ovation, a real thrill for both the Grannies and me. Raging Grannies will screen at Frameline 33 in June even though it isn't a gay-themed film. Frameline is expanding its vision to include non-gay films by gay and lesbian filmmakers. I'm still devoted to New Day Films and in addition to distributing Gay Youth and Liberty: 3 Stories about Life & Death, have been in charge of print promotions for the last two years. We'll be sending out a newly designed catalog this fall to go with our newly designed website. Jan Krawitz and Karen Davison ('05) and I have lunch once a year at Café Barrone. Ruth and I just planted our vegetable garden; my pugs and I are getting gray, and life is generally very good.
Class of 1987
Tina DiFeliciantonio ('86) and Jane C. Wagner ('87)
We just completed a documentary feature collaboration with Tom Shepard on Whiz Kids, a coming of age doc about teens who are passionate about science. We are currently completing a short film about arts education that was shot in Istanbul, and beginning a new film entitled Seeking Refuge, which was just funded by the Sundance Documentary Fund. The film is about the survivors of foreign torture who are living in the U.S. Our son Luca is turning six this summer and enjoys skiing, chess and non-stop talking. www.NakedEyeProductions.com
Class of 1985
My husband Don Sellers (’88) who was also in the film program and received his MA in 1988 and I live on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle), and produce historical and social issue documentary films. Our production company is Stourwater Pictures. We are currently working with Irv Drasnin (who taught documentary film writing while I was at Stanford) on a feature length documentary on Sidney Rittenberg who was the only American citizen who joined the Chinese Communist Party. You can view clips from our interview on our website.
I spent 2008 in post-production on my first feature 16 to Life. I also directed the entire season of the Lifetime show How To Look Good Naked as well as the Nikon web series Look Good in Pictures, both hosted by Carson Kressley. I (finally) completed the feature documentary The Daring Project, which premiered in Colorado Spring in October. My feature 16 to Life premiered at Method Fest in Los Angeles in April 2009, and won Best Feature and Best Supporting Actress. It will screen in Beijing on May 22nd. I continue to teach in the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Digital Media, where I'm a full professor and head the Graduate Admissions Committee.
Class of 1983
Maggie Burnette Stogner
In early 2005, I launched a media design and production company, Blue Bear Films, which creates documentaries and other media primarily for exhibitions and museums. The exhibitions I've worked on include the world-touring Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs which opens at the De Young Museum on June 27th. Other projects are: the award-winning films for the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures exhibition, sponsored by NEH and National Geographic. It is currently in Texas and will be opening at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in June. A longer version of the film is airing on PBS. Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs is at the Atlanta Civic Center and has over 20 media elements integrated throughout the exhibition. Real Pirates: the Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship is currently at the Field Museum in Chicago. My oldest son just earned an MA in Film and Media Arts (he didn't fall too far from the tree) from American University and is soon joining his girlfriend in Austin. If anyone has any good contacts for him, please send them my way.
Class of 1973
Last summer a young, confused, hungry brown pelican landed by mistake on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular traffic jam and providing me with the narrative arc I needed for a film-in-progress entitled Pelican Dreams. I followed “Gigi,” named for Golden Gate, from her “arrest” by bridge police, through rehab at a pelican aviary north of San Francisco, to her release back to the wild, and am now filling in her probable life history before that (filming courtship, nesting, and chicks on the Channel Islands this spring/summer). This will probably be another multi-year documentary project, like The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. If you have any great pelican stories, photos, or funding for this nonprofit movie, please be in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org, www.pelicanmedia.org.
We mourn the death of Lesley Gilb Taplin who was killed in an auto accident on the Hollywood Freeway last month. Lesley spent a lot of time around Spruce Hall in the late seventies, attended the Summer Institute, and had many friends in the Stanford filmmaker community in the Bay Area. Lesley was 62 and is survived by two children, Nicholas and Blythe and a sister, Tyra, who lives in Menlo Park.
Class of 1969
I'm still working (for now...) at WGBH Boston. I am also finishing up editing an American Experience episode on the Allied bombing of Germany in WWII and did some editing on the new series We Shall Remain, especially on the show on Geronimo. Last year I co-wrote & edited a program on Chicano music for an upcoming 4-part series Latin Music USA. My biggest news is that my son, Mike, a film/video composer (music, that is...) is engaged! He might be of interest to some of you film/videomakers out there. Check him out at www.mgespar.com.