Why Not Now (documentary) Riley Hooper, director
At the age of 49, blind and afraid of water, Vivian Stancil dove in to save her life.
Riley Hooper is a documentary director and editor. Her award-winning short documentaries have screened at festivals across the U.S. and internationally, and have appeared on The New York Times — as part of their Op Docs and Made with Kickstarter series — as well as Vimeo Staff Picks, Short of the Week, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. Her documentary short FLO was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the shorts program at the 2012 DOC NYC film festival. She has directed commercial content for such clients as Charles Schwab and John Frieda.
Women Who Score (music documentary) Sara Nessan, director
Out of the 250 highest grossing films in Hollywood in 2016, only 3% of the film scores were composed by women. Despite winning 25 major awards including Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, and countless nominations, women composers have a long way to go. This short film, which was nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media Award (HMMA) for Best Music Documentary, celebrates women composers changing the score in Hollywood and documents the time-crushing rehearsal process running through 20 scores in 2 days to perform a one-night-only concert.
Director Sara Nesson is best known for her Oscar and EMMY nominated documentary Poster Girl, featuring a female Iraq War Veteran who tries to heal from PTSD while navigating the maddening maze at the Department of Veterans Affairs. With an aesthetic for emotionally expressive realism, Sara explores human driven narratives that deal with timely and relatable issues of adversity and transformation. Sara is in collaboration with HeLo on The Berklee Seven, a film about what it takes to be the next John Williams. Sara is currently taking a more cinematic approach with a feature narrative adaption of Poster Girl, and directing a new music documentary about the making of a record in Cuba with the musical director of Dancing with the Stars. Sara loves a creative challenge, working with good people, and prides herself as a veritè camera operator, shooting and editing her own work.
Beatrice (documentary) Lorena Alvarado, director
Beatrice Vio cultivated a passion for fencing when she was five years old. At 11, she contracted severe meningitis. In the hospital, the doctors gave her an unimaginable choice: Keep her limbs and risk death, or amputate all four to ensure survival. She chose life.
Lorena Alvarado is a producer/director working within the intersection of film, journalism, and art. With a focus on personal stories and social issues, she has developed social campaigns for non-profits and NGO’s such as the United Nations as well as directed her own documentaries. Lorena was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and earned a B.A in Media and Film Studies from Emerson College. Most recently she concluded a fellowship at Fabrica Research Center in Italy.
Katya Wild: More Than Skin Deep (documentary) Ruth Eckles, director
Katya Wild began painting her face as a daily meditation, as well as a way of expressing herself more authentically on social media. Trying to write a profile felt superficial. There were a million things about her life that were factual or informative, but what if there were a color that could depict an emotion?
“The art on my face is a reflection of my inner state and I wanted to be open about that on social media. That was the scariest thing for me. I didn’t want people to know I was depressed. But when I painted a grey scene on my face and posted it on social media, I heard “me too, me too.” People clicked “like” and “love” and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.”
This short film portrays Katya’s journey to connect more deeply to herself and to the people around her through the art of face painting.
Ruth Eckles is a Durham-based freelance producer and videographer. A fierce believer in the beauty of the struggle, she’s a sucker for stories of unlikely heroes, underdogs, and everyday people making a difference.
Canyon Song (documentary) Dana Romanoff & Amy Marquis, directors
Within the sacred walls of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, two young sisters, Tonisha and Tonielle Draper, learn about their Navajo culture and history. Above the rim, the girls compete in “royalty” pageants by singing songs in Navajo. But throughout the region, Navajo culture is fading. Beginning in the 1890s, native children in the U.S. were ripped out of their homes and forced into boarding schools in an effort to assimilate Indian tribes into the “American way of life.” Today, elders have less cultural knowledge to pass down to youth, and fewer than half of the country’s Navajo children entering school know their native language. This makes the Drapers’ story especially compelling. While their lives reflect many of the familiar aspects of a modern American family, they keep close ties to the land and work hard to teach their children the Navajo Way. This film illustrates the sacredness of a people and a place, the effort to define identities in both modern and traditional worlds, and the movement to honor Navajo culture for generations to come – all while reminding viewers of the critical role national parks play in preserving our country’s greatest stories, cultures, and landscapes. This film is part of the National Park Experience (NPX) shorts series celebrating diversity and youth in our National Parks.
Dana Romanoff is a filmmaker dedicated to making a difference. She has received prestigious awards and recognition for tackling significant social issues including her recent film “Noah” which won awards at the 2017 W3 Awards, Telly Awards and Communicator Awards and the 2017 Spirit of Activism Special Jury Award at the Crested Butte Film Festival. Dana is the co-Director and Director of Photography of National Park Experience, an independent film series celebrating diversity and youth in the National Parks, whose short docs are featured on PBS, Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic Digital Showcase and touring worldwide with film festivals. The most recent film in the series, “Canyon Song” won the 2017 Director’s Choice Award at Flagstaff Mountain Festival.
The art of filmmaking stole Amy’s heart on a shoot in Yosemite in 2011. Shortly afterwards, after two decades editing publications such as National Parks and National Wildlife magazines, she left her desk job to pursue film full time. Amy is the founder and co-director of the award-winning National Park Experience film series (NPX), where diverse cultural stories have since appeared in national parks, in film festivals, at brand-sponsored events, and on PBS.org. She’s currently working on two feature documentaries: “CONFLUENCE,” the last in the NPX series; and “RAMRO” [working title], a 25-year-long journey about a climber whose life veered sharply off-course after he suffered a mysterious invisible wound during a Himalayan expedition in 1992.
Backyard Echoes (experimental) Angela Alford, director
Angela Alford’s children are quickly becoming teenagers so her backyard is no longer used for safaris and swinging. This experimental short film is her way of dealing with the sweet sorry of watching their childhood slip away, leaving only echoes in her memory.
After a career as an engineer and motherhood sabbatical, Angela Alford started her own video production company in 2007. Her love of telling personal narratives led her into documentary work. Angela graduated from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies in 2011. Her first film “Granny’s Got Game” played in film festivals across the United States and received several distribution deals. Angela also directed the short film “Girl Power” with her daughter, Aggie.
The Reservoir: 5:00 a.m. (documentary) Lana Garland, director
What does it take for Black people to survive – emotionally, economically, psychologically, spiritually – in America today? First in a series that explores strategies taken by individuals who are making their ways through life, this short film introduces us to a woman who has lost two of her sons to men in uniforms.
Lana Garland has worked as a Creative Director, Director, and Writer/Producer in television and film in the US and Europe. Her work has included creating content for HBO and BET in America, and TV2 in Denmark. In documentary film, she has freelanced on films such as Bowling For Columbine, HBO’s Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. Lana is a Gordon Parks IFP screenwriting finalist, a Worldfest Houston finalist, and a Telly Award winner, and a NATPE fellow. As a Fulbright Specialist, she taught film at Makerere University in Uganda. She is the recipient of the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Award from the Durham Arts Council and a Filmmaking Grant from the Southern Documentary Fund for her project on African American washerwomen.
Tokio (animation) Eri Yokoyama, director/animator
Tokio, a man with a mustache, waits for butterflies that travel from thousands of miles away to visit the plant he bought. He may have to wait for a very long time. This animated short film was made as part of a year-long left hand drawing project by the director.
Eri Yokoyama is an animator and filmmaker based in Durham. She studied filmmaking in New York City and has worked on film productions including the 2014 Oscar-nominated feature documentary Cutie and the Boxer and the 2018 Spirit Award nominated documentary The Departure. Eri had always wanted to make an animated film, but had one problem: she didn’t know how to draw; so in 2015, she started a daily drawing practice, and made her first animated short Tokio a year later. She has been animating ever since. Eri is currently working on her second animated film.
Lotte Reiniger (animated documentary) Anna Humphries, animator/director
Born in Berlin in 1899, Lotte Reiniger earned recognition for her use of cut-out silhouettes that she would move frame by frame. Capitalizing on a German fascination with “shadow plays,” a technique stretching back to the time of the Egyptians, Reiniger began work on a project in 1923 drawn from the 1001 Arabian Nights. Released in 1926, the first feature-length animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, is a delicate, whimsical, enchanting film built around tinted silhouettes, with some sets and figures constructed from wax, soap, and sand. After a screening in Berlin and a premiere in Paris, the film became an international hit. This short film tells the story of how Lotte Reiniger became one of the great pioneers of early animation using silhouette animation inspired by Reiniger’s work.
Anna Humphries runs Infocandy, an animation studio in London that specializes in unusual animation techniques. She loves making beautiful films and hopes to inspire others with her work.
Waiting For Hassana (documentary) Ifunanya Maduka, director
In 2014, 276 teenage girls came together for exams in Chibok, Nigeria – by dawn, nearly all had disappeared and their school was burnt. Jessica, an escapee, shares her haunting account of a friendship violently interrupted by Boko Haram.
Ifunanya Maduka was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She studied at Cornell and Harvard. Waiting for Hassana (2017) is her debut documentary.
In the Footsteps of Regina Jonas (documentary) Gail Reimer, director
Regina Jonas was the first woman rabbi, ordained in Germany in 1935. She first served the Jewish community of Berlin and then continued to guide the Jewish community of the Theresienstadt concentration camp after her deportation there. After her death in Auschwitz, her story was lost for decades. In 2014, for the 70th anniversary of her death, a group of women rabbis and scholars traveled to Germany to retrace Rabbi Jonas’ journey, reading her sermons, discussing her impact, and dedicating a memorial plaque at Theresienstadt in a moving ceremony honoring her memory.
Gail Twersky Reimer recently stepped down from her position as executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive, the not-for-profit organization she founded in 1995 to document and make known the stories, struggles, and achievements of Jewish women, both celebrated and unheralded. Reimer led the organization for its first two decades, initiating plans for its pioneering digital archive, oral history projects, and educational programs, producing Making Trouble, JWA’s film on women comedians, and teaching and lecturing widely on Jewish women’s history. Reimer’s leadership of JWA has been acknowledged with numerous awards including the Dr. Benjamin J. Shevach Memorial Award for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership by Hebrew College of Boston (2011); the American Jewish Distinguished Service Award from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion (2012) and the Lee Max Friedman award for distinguished service in the field of American Jewish History by the American Jewish Historical Society (2014). Reimer holds a PhD in English and American Literature and has co-edited two anthologies of Jewish women’s writings – Reading Ruth: Women Reclaim a Sacred Story and Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days.
If (narrative) Megan Petersen & Hannah Black, producers/directors
“If” shows a night in the life of a disconnected couple. What if they had one conversation? Could it change the course of their lives?
As a child Megan fell in love with acting while tagging along with her father to the community theater. Within the first week of moving to Wilmington, NC, she was on a film set and found her love of acting was not only for the stage but also for film. Most recently she began a production company with her friend and creative partner, Hannah Black. ‘If’ was her screenplay and producing debut.
Hannah Black is an actor born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. As a child, she enjoyed the spotlight and channeled that feeling through sports. However, it wasn’t until four years ago that she decided to give acting a try and it has now become one her greatest passions. If was her directorial debut and she has gone on to write a feature length screenplay Drought. Hannah and Megan recently won the Hometown Heroes Rally by Seed&Spark to receive funding for Drought which is also being produced by the Duplass Brothers.
The In-Between (documentary) Tala Zeitawi, director
Tens of thousands of Bedouin, once nomads, live in villages across the desert region of southern Israel and in the West Bank. This film documents the life of one Bedouin family who tell the story of their lives and the hardships they have faced due to poverty and displacement brought on by the expansion of Israeli settlements. They also express their hopes and dreams of a better future.
Tala Zeitawi, an Al-Quds Bard College student, made this film for her Senior Project Seminar. Through her documentary field work with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), she became interested in learning more about the Bedouin people in Ramallah where she lives. This project aims to capture the attention of global communities who could help Bedouin communities improve their living conditions and socio-economic status.
Dancing on Wheels (documentary) Qingzi Fan, director
Ever since she was eight years old, Kitty Lunn has dreamed of dancing. After performing with the Washington Ballet as a principal dancer, she was set to debut in her first Broadway show when a tragic accident ended her career. Lunn spent the next three years in acute care in the hospital and was left paralyzed from the waist down. In order to fulfill her passion for dancing, she has found a way for herself and others to “dance in the body you have.”
Qingzi Fan is a New York City based independent filmmaker, born in China. Her thesis film, for her M.A. in Documentary Filmmaking at NYU, was named a 60th CINE Golden Eagle Finalist for Student Documentary and won the 44th Student Academy Award. The film, One Way Home, about Tibetan cultural assimilation in China, was also an official selection of 2017 HollyShorts, 2017 DocUtah and 2017 St. Louis International Film Festival.
The First Woman Filmmaker Nobody’s Heard Of: Alice Guy Blaché (documentary) Catherine Stratton, director
Alice Guy Blaché was a trailblazer in filmmaking. She was a contemporary of the Lumiere Brothers in France in the late 1800s and went on to make over 1,000 commercially released films both in France and America during the next 25 years. Nevertheless, she’s all but been erased from the film history books. This short film gives insight into her remarkable career and tells why she was a trailblazer in so many ways and why she should be both appreciated and honored by those making films today and the future.
Catherine Stratton is an independent filmmaker based in Hoboken, New Jersey. She started her career editing films for the television programs Frontline and Nova. Catherine currently runs Stratton Films which specializes in making short documentary-style marketing videos for Artists and Creative Entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Etsy, Huffington Post, WNET-Thirteen, the New Yorker, Slate, and Indiewire. Her film, A City Symphony Underground, was screened at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The First Woman Filmmaker Nobody’s Heard Of was a Vimeo staff pick.