2016 Rockwood JustFilms Fellows
Abigail Anketell-Jones | Impact Producer & Assistant Producer, Violet Films
Abigail is an Impact Producer and Assistant Producer at Violet Films, an award-winning UK production company and consultancy with extensive experience in documentary, specialising in bespoke impact and outreach campaigns for film to maximise their potential for social change. She has worked on documentaries and global impact campaigns covering social justice and politics including, criminal justice reform, peace and conflict, global leadership, human rights, and environmental justice. Most recently she worked on the BAFTA- and Academy Award-nominated Virunga, which also won a Peabody a Doc Impact Award, and the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media for the film’s achievement in Media Impact.
Deborah S. Esquenazi | Documentary Director and Producer
Deborah is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer, curator, and journalist. Her work explores the intersections of mythology and justice, identity and power. She is a 2016 Firelight Media Lab Fellow, 2016-18 Artist-in-Residence at the Mexican-American Cultural Center in Austin, 2015 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, and 2014 Sundance Documentary Film Fellow. Her projects have received support from Humanities Texas, Sundance Institute in association with JustFilms Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, IFP, Arcus Fund, Paul Robeson Fund, and many others. Her debut feature documentary, Southwest of Salem, is a reinvestigation into the bizarre allegations waged against the San Antonio Four during the “satanic panic” of the 1980-90s. Deborah is the former Program Director of Stories From Deep in the Heart, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, that teaches under-represented teens how to create radio stories about their lives.
Patricia Finneran | Founder and CEO, Story Matters
Patricia founded Story Matters in 2014 to focus on new opportunities in media impact. She has launched impact campaigns for Bully, How To Survive A Plague, The Revolutionary Optimists, and The Sisterhood of Night. In partnership with Results for America, Story Matters is developing the What Works Media Project to advance support for evidence-based social programs and policy, and co-producing NAMAC ALLIANCE 2016 Conference. Patricia previously worked with Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, managing foundation partnerships and representing the Fund at forums globally. As Festival Director at AFI, she led SILVERDOCS to become the largest US documentary festival. She was Artistic Director of the IFP Market. Patricia presents on panels focused on documentary and social change, and is a consultant to BRITDOC’s Good Pitch. She is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University and AFI Producers Programs. She lives in New York.
Christopher Hastings | Executive Producer and Editorial Manager of Content, WORLD Channel at WGBH
Chris’ passion for television started at age 10 when he produced Kids News, a daily news show at his elementary school outside Philadelphia. After college, he became a founding team member in the development and production of Black Entertainment Television’s award-winning BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. A 14-year veteran at WGBH, Chris began with the children television’s program ZOOM and eventually evolved to his New England Emmy award-winning work at the WGBH Lab, an innovative incubator for up-and-coming filmmakers. He joined the WORLD Channel in 2011 as interim managing producer. Chris is now the Executive Producer and Editorial Manager of Content for WORLD Channel and WORLDChannel.org. He oversees content development, acquisition, and production, as well as executing the day-to-day operations of the channel under the leadership of the general manager. As Executive Producer he is co-curator of the award-winning documentary program America Reframed, Local, USA, and Your Voice, Your Story.
Maori Karmael Holmes | Artistic Director, BlackStar Film Festival and Director of Public Engagement, Institute of Contemporary Art at University of Pennsylvania
Maori is a filmmaker, curator, and cultural producer. In 2012, she founded BlackStar, which focuses on independent film of the African diaspora. She has curated programs in film and performance at ICA, Barnes Foundation, Asian Arts Initiative, Painted Bride Art Center, International House, and Swarthmore College. Other projects include KinoWatt (2011-2012, co-curated with Sara Zia Ebrahimi) and Black Lily Film & Music Festival (2006-2010). As a filmmaker, Maori has had work screened internationally and broadcast throughout the US, most notably the documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop. She has taught filmmaking and film studies at Drexel, Temple, University of the Arts, Villanova, Scribe Video Center, and PhillyCAM. Before joining ICA in 2016, Maori held positions at Leeway Foundation, Painted Bride Art Center, Department of Media Studies & Production at Temple, Netter Center at University of Pennsylvania, Sony Music, and Washington City Paper.
Maura Minsky | Executive Director and Co-Founder, Scenarios USA
Since co-founding Scenarios in 1999, Maura has been the organization’s Executive Director leading the effort to center young people as cultural prophets of widespread social change using story and film. She has executive produced Scenarios’ 27 films, written by teens about issues shaping their lives like racial injustice, intimate partner violence, love and loss. The films, directed in partnership with professional filmmakers (including Gina Prince-Bythewood, Karyn Kusama, and Doug Liman)are seen by millions each year. Maura began her career as a producer at Hanna-Barbera and later ABC News, before helping to launch Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, an audio-visual archive focused on first-hand accounts of the Holocaust. All of these disparate positions in media crystallized for Maura various ways in which narrative can raise awareness around social justice and injustice. Maura lives in Brooklyn with her patient husband, two spirited girls, and a puppy.
Opeyemi Olukemi | Senior Director of Interactive Programs, Tribeca Film Institute
Opeyemi is Senior Director of Interactive for Tribeca Film Institute, where she oversees the Institute’s digital and interactive programs. A fierce advocate for cross-disciplinary collaboration and immersive storytelling, Opeyemi has provided the field of interactivity with 360-degree support, including the day-long digital storytelling immersion TFI Interactive, the showcase TFI Interactive Playground, and the creative incubator Tribeca Hacks. In 2015, Opeyemi introduced DEF CON at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the culture of hacking and filmmaking merged to address issues of surveillance, technological education, and access. Previously a Senior Project Manager at ScrollMotion, she worked on new media applications for clients such as Disney, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Genentech. Opeyemi is also Assistant Professor of Integrated Media at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, an avid backpacker, and lover of deep sea diving.
Theo Rigby | Filmmaker and Interactive Storyteller
Theo is a director, cinematographer, and interactive storyteller based out of San Francisco. He believes in the power of storytelling to create awareness and dialogue around the world’s most pressing social issues. Theo has focused on topics ranging from the War in Iraq to incarceration, and for the last decade his work has focused on the undocumented immigrant experience in the U.S. Theo’s last project, Immigrant Nation (iNation), is a series of short films, an online storytelling platform, and series of live storytelling events. iNation partnered with national immigrant rights orgs, a cohort of educators, museums, and cultural centers to create an inclusive and engaging way to create, share, and discuss personal immigrant stories. The project has been showcased on the New York Times, Ellis Island, New York Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, and nationally broadcast on PBS.
Bernardo Ruiz | Documentary Filmmaker and Advocate for Independents, Quiet Films
Bernardo is a documentary filmmaker. His work has focused on stories about the drug war, racial discrimination, immigration, and freedom of the press, with a common thread of representing struggles to achieve dignity and justice. Of his second feature documentary Kingdom of Shadows, the New York Times wrote that it was a “visceral…frontline glimpse” into the drug war that was “unforgettable.” The film premiered at SXSW in 2015 and will air on POV on September 19th, 2016. His first feature Reportero, about attacks on the press in Mexico, was nominated for a 2014 News and Documentary Emmy Award and premiered at Full Frame (U.S.), IDFA (Europe) and Ambulante (Mexico). New York Magazine called it “a powerful reminder of how journalism often requires immense amounts of physical and psychological bravery.” Ruiz is the founder of Quiet Pictures, a New York-based production company. He is a member of the steering committee of the Independent Caucus, an advocacy organization created by and for independent media-makers and previously served on the board of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. More recently completed a four-year term on the council of the Writer’s Guild of America, East, a labor union.
Lina Srivastava | Founder, CIEL, and Co-Founder, Regarding Humanity
Lina is a social innovation strategist, working at the intersection of social action, transmedia storytelling, and creative media. The Founder of CIEL, a cultural innovation lab, and co-Founder of Regarding Humanity, Lina has been involved in social engagement campaigns for several documentaries, including Oscar-winning Born into Brothels, Emmy-nominated The Devil Came on Horseback, Oscar-winning Inocente, and Sundance-award winning Who Is Dayani Cristal?. The former Executive Director of Kids with Cameras, and the Association of Video and Filmmakers, she has taught design and social entrepreneurship at Parsons, The New School of Design, and is on faculty in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Design and Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts. Lina has been an advisor to MobileActive, Tech4Good, Rev Studios, Global Grassroots, and Donor Direct Action, and has worked on strategic project design with a group of social impact organizations, including UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank, AARP, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Michèle Stephenson | Independent Filmmaker, Rada Film Group
Filmmaker, artist, and author, Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Caribbean roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling personal stories in a variety of media that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on broadcast, exhibition, and web platforms across the globe. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys including Best Documentary. The film also won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Michèle was recently awarded the Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Breakthrough Award, and her community engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for Film with the Greatest Impact on Society and a Revere Award Nomination from the American Publishers Association. Her recent book Promises Kept (written along with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard) and won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
Musa Syeed | Independent Filmmaker
Musa’s first feature film Valley Of Saints won the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. He recently premiered his second feature A Stray at SXSW. His previous work includes the short films “The Big House”, “Bronx Princess”, and “A Son’s Sacrifice”, and #30DaysRamadan, an interactive project supported by ITVS. As an educator, Musa has taught for the Tribeca Film Institute and Williams College. He is the Artistic Director of the Muslim Youth Voices Project, a multi-year initiative to bring free filmmaking workshops to Muslim communities, created with the Center for Asian American Media and supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Musa was a Fulbright Fellow in Egypt and is an alumnus of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies Department.