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Announcing the 2021 Rockwood JustFilms Fellows

By January 26, 2021February 2nd, 2021No Comments

Rockwood is proud to announce the 2021 cohort of the Rockwood JustFilms Fellowship!

This fellowship brings together 12 leaders working at the intersection of storytelling, film, and social change to learn powerful skills that will shift their capacity for leadership and collaboration. This cohort represents a wide range of established leaders in the film and digital storytelling sectors including: organizational leaders, media impact producers, filmmakers, thought leaders, curators, archivists, and critics. Through two retreats, peer coaching sessions, and additional leadership support, they will develop stronger working partnerships with each other and leaders of other social movements.

Join us in congratulating our 2021 fellows:

Amada Torruella | Filmmaker, Vena Aquatica / Amuletos

Amada is a Central American filmmaker, community storyteller and film programmer. Displaced with her family during the Salvadoran civil war, Amada’s work is driven by the healing of our migration/colonial wounds, environmental justice and visual literacy. As an artist that has grieved cultural loss due to armed conflict, Amada is passionate about creating spaces of belonging and nurturing communities through culture making and collective storytelling.  Her work has been featured at the Blackstar Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Indie Grits Festival, amongst others. She’s a BGDM member and serves on the IMA South organizing committee. She’s working on her first feature, a hybrid documentary developed from a collection of oral environmental histories belonging to women across El Salvador; “Vena Aquatica” follows a woman’s journey from child to matriarch, capturing her most intimate struggles and exposing the brutal ecocide brought on by generations of extractive, foreign economies.


Brenda Avila-Hanna | Equity & Representation Team Lead, New Day Films

Brenda is a filmmaker and educator born and raised in Mexico City and currently based in California’s central coast. Her films mostly focus on transnational stories, spaces and identities between Latin America and the U.S. Her work has been showcased at HotDocs, Lakino Berlin, Frameline and Fusion Network among others. Brenda is a recent Fellow for BAVC’s National MediaMaker, the National Minority Consortia Lab through LPB, NALIP and DocsMX. She is also on the Steering Committee of the film distribution cooperative New Day Films as the team lead for Equity & Representation. Brenda is in the inaugural cohort of DOC NYC’s “Documentary Industry New Leaders”, part of the Watsonville Film Festival team and a mentor for the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project. Brenda received a master’s degree in social documentation from UCSC where she has taught courses on the intersection of filmmaking, education and social change.


Chloe Walters-Wallace | Manager of Artist Programs, Firelight Media

Chloe is a Jamaican creative with a passion for travel, anthropology, dancehall and installation art. Currently, she manages Firelight Media’s artist programs, including the Firelight Documentary Lab and the Groundwork Regional Lab, a new initiative which seeks to expand the documentary industry by supporting early career independent diverse makers from the South, Midwest & US Territories. In 2020, she also launched a workshop series introducing Caribbean filmmakers to the documentary film industry. Previously, Chloe led the New Orleans Film Society’s Emerging Voices Mentorship program, which establishes meaningful connections between industry leaders and Louisiana based filmmakers of color. In 2018, she designed and launched the Southern Producers Lab, a regional program for emerging producers from across the American South. Chloe is a Mellon Mays and an Ortique Institute Fellow. She lives between New York and New Orleans and is on the board of Third Horizon.


Jasmine Leeward | Emerging Filmmaker, Impulse Media

Jasmine is an activist, narrative strategist, and emerging filmmaker committed to the delicate work of culture shifting towards Black and Brown liberation, particularly in the US South. She has worked as a communications specialist for Women’s March Inc.; ReFrame; and New Virginia Majority, a group organizing for racial, environmental, and economic justice through strategic electoral work and grassroots campaigns. Jasmine is a 2019 Echoing Ida fellow and a 2020 Visionary Justice StoryLab fellow. Her first short film “dusk” was selected for the 2020 Africana Film Festival.


Kristen Fitzpatrick | Managing Director, Field of Vision

Kristen is the managing director at Field of Vision and a Brooklyn-based distribution and impact strategist and production consultant. Prior to Field of Vision, she was the director of acquisition & distribution at Women Make Movies, the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women, for nearly 20 years. There she strategized the release of 25 films annually as well as programmed the global exhibition of WMMs core collection. Kristen was also the Production and Impact Director at A Moment in Time Productions, a board member at NewFest and a programmer at Spectacle Theater. In addition to her work at Field of Vision, Kristen is currently a production consultant at Still I Rise Films.


Natalie Bullock Brown | Professor, North Carolina State University

Natalie is an award-winning producer, a director, and a professor. She attended Howard University’s MFA program in film production where an elective course exposed her to the work of the late filmmaker Marlon Riggs, and inspired her to pursue a career in documentary film. Natalie has worked with Ken Burns, and currently produces with award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt on his upcoming PBS documentary, HAZING.  She is director/producer of work-in-progress short, baartman, beyoncé & me, and is actively involved in the push for accountable and ethical storytelling within the documentary field as a strategist for Working Films’ initiative, StoryShift. Natalie is also an educator who has taught some combination of broadcast media, film, Africana studies, and women’s and gender studies for the past 14 years. She also has extensive experience as a public affairs television host, and public radio personality. A native Chicagoan, Natalie currently lives in Raleigh, NC.


Nicole Tsien | Co-Producer, American Documentary, Inc.

Nicole is the co-producer at POV, the longest-running documentary series on PBS. Since joining POV in 2013, Nicole has worked with her colleagues to present more than 90 films to a national audience and has been the recipient of multiple News and Documentary Emmy, Peabody, and duPont-Columbia nominations and awards. She was a co-producer on Ngawang Choephel’s Ganden: A Joyful Land; has worked as a production assistant on Yance Ford’s Oscar-nominated documentary Strong Island; and was an assistant to Joshua Z. Weinstein on his 2012 documentary Drivers Wanted. In 2020, Nicole was selected to be a part of Doc NYC’s Documentary New Leaders inaugural cohort. She is a member of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc) and serves as a board member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia.


PJ Raval | Filmmaker, Unraval Pictures

PJ is a queer, first-generation Filipinx American documentary filmmaker. Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100,” PJ’s films include Trinidad (Showtime) and Before You Know It (WORLD Channel), lauded as “a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon” by indieWIRE. PJ’s most recent documentary, “Call Her Ganda”, chronicles three women as they seek justice for Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman who was brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine. GANDA received over a dozen awards and was nominated for both a GLAAD Media Award and a Philippines Academy Award for Best Documentary. After broadcasting on POV (PBS), it also won the 2020 NLGJA Association of LGBTQ Journalists Excellence in Documentary Award. PJ is a co-founder of the queer transmedia arts organization OUTsider, and is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.


Poh Si Teng | Director of IDA Funds and Enterprise Program, International Documentary Association

Poh is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. She is currently the director of the International Documentary Association Funds and Enterprise Program. Prior to joining IDA she oversaw the US, Canada and Latin America as documentary commissioner and senior producer for Al Jazeera English’s flagship documentary strand, Witness. Throughout her career, Poh has sought out and collaborated with filmmakers from a variety of racial, ethnic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds across a range of nationalities. She produced the Academy Award-nominated short documentary, St. Louis Superman, and is a finalist for an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award. Poh was previously a journalist for The New York Times, where she received an Emmy nomination and other awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists and the NPPA for her work. Prior to being a staff journalist for the Times, she was an independent filmmaker and reporter covering India for the Times, the Wall Street Journal and Agence France-Presse. She is originally from Penang, Malaysia.


Sahar Driver, PhD | Documentary Impact & Engagement Strategist,

Sahar is a documentary impact and engagement strategist, educator, researcher, and advocate. In her work, she helps filmmakers, funders, and movement leaders advance their strategic use of film to strengthen their efforts. Previously she worked at Active Voice, where she directed campaigns and projects that influenced public discourse and measurable change related to immigration, racial justice, worker advocacy and more. Most recently, she has worked as a consultant to the Hartley Media Impact Initiative at Auburn, piloting new impact models at the intersection of faith and film; the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, authoring the report “Beyond Inclusion: The Critical Role of People of Color in the U.S. Documentary Ecosystem”; and Firelight Media, supporting grantmaking and impact for filmmakers and impact producers of color. Sahar is a second generation Iranian-American who studied post-colonial anthropology, which turns the anthropological gaze back onto colonizers to understand how power and privilege shape meaning-making today.


Set Hernandez Rongkilyo | Filmmaker and Co-founder, Undocumented Filmmakers Collective

Set is an undocumented immigrant filmmaker and community organizer whose roots come from Bicol, Philippines. They are the fruit of their parents’ sacrifices, their siblings’ resilience, and their community’s nurturing. Set envisions a filmmaking landscape that centers equity and abundance, where all artists have the resources to thrive using the unique skill sets they embody. As part of the inaugural cohort of the Disruptors Fellowship by Joey Solloway’s 5050by2020, Set is developing a half-hour, TV comedy pilot about the undocumented experience. Set also directed/produced the award-winning short documentary “COVER/AGE” (2019) about healthcare expansion for undocumented adults. They served as impact producer for projects such as “In Plain Sight” (2020) and the award-winning “Call Her Ganda” (Tribeca, 2018). Since 2010, Set has been organizing around migrant justice issues from education equity to deportation defense. They are the co-founder of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective which advances equity for undocumented immigrants in the media industry. Set is the recipient of recognitions including the 2020 DOC NYC Documentary Industry New Leaders Award.


Violet Feng | Director/Producer, Fish+Bear Pictures

Violet is an Emmy winning independent documentarian. Her producing credits include “Confucian Dream”, “Mainelan”, and “Please Remember Me.” Violet directed the most recent PBS/CPB special program Harbor From The Holocaust, which had a national premiere in September 2020 with music performed by Yo-Yo Ma. Feng started her career as a co-producer on the critically acclaimed 2007 Sundance Special Jury winner, Peabody and Emmy winner “Nanking”, which was distributed theatrically around 30 countries throughout the world, and was the highest grossing documentary in China. Violet is the producer of the forthcoming film “People’s Hospital” and a director of her first feature length documentary “Hidden Letters.” Violet is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, and her work has received support from funders such as Sundance, ITVS, IDA, Ford Foundation, Chicken & Egg and Doc Society. Feng is a consulting producer for CNEX, the Chinese Documentary Foundation, and a consulting programmer for Shanghai International Film Festival.  Born in Shanghai, and based in New York, Violet holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and received her MFA in journalism from University of California at Berkeley.

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