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2022 Documentary Media Thesis Showcase Trailer
Lost/Found - 2021 Documentary Media Thesis Showcase Trailer


Ian Bertorelli’s thesis film, SACRED BRICK TECHNOLOGY, will be premiering at the Chicago International Film Festival in October.

Milton Guillen is now a programmer for the Camden International Film Festival, a top-tier documentary film festival in the United States.  

Jennifer Boles’ thesis film, THE REVERSAL, will be screening at the Chicago International Film Festival in October.

Cami Guarda’s THE WOMAN AND THE SEA was an Official Selection of the 2020 New Filmmakers New York and the New York City Documentary Short Film Festival.  The film also won the Best International Latino Short Film at the 20202 Latino Film Market.

Naeema Torres produced the festival winner LARRY FROM GARY with Chicago’s Scrappers Film Group.

Chad Wallin is now an assistant professor of documentary film, Department of Visual Art, Communication & Design at Andrews University.  

Elodie Edjang is currently working on a short film about Gordon Quinn, one of the co-founders of Kartemquin Films.  

Ashley Brandon and Nevo Shinaar’s Dia De La Madre premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and has received official recognition from SXSW, HotDocs, and Big Sky Film festivals throughout 2020.  Brandon and Shinaar produced last year’s Sundance film STAY CLOSE, that went on to be short listed for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and was showcased via NYTimes Op-Docs.  

Hasan Demirtas’s film YOU NAME IT, is part of the Official Competition of SimFest Romania.

Alumni Jesse Simmons, an assistnat professor at the University of Dayton, has organized the Dayton Independent Film Festival.  Simmons is also working on a film with fellow Class of 2016 alum João Queiroga that is expected to be hitting festivals in the coming months.


A big congratulations to Sebastian Pinzon Silva (class of 2017) and Milton Guillén B (class of 2020) for receiving funding for their new documentary projects from Kartemquin Films’ grants programs!

STAY CLOSE, a short film co-directed by Luther Clement (Class of 2017) and Shuhan Fan (Class of 2016), produced by Nevo Shinaar (Class of 2017) and co-produced by Ashley Brandon (Class of 2017)  played in NYC at the IFC Center in July with filmmakers in appearance at some screenings.  The screenings were a co-presentation by Tribeca Film Institute, POV shorts, and The New York Times Op-Docs.  In October, STAY CLOSE continued it’s festival run at the Chicago International Film Festival,  made its broadcast television premiere on PBS’s POV in October along with premiering online as part of the New York Times Op Doc Series.

The Block Museum screened two MFA in Documentary Media program alumni’s works as part of the Chicagoland Cinema Showcase: Hall of Fishes by Jennifer Boles (Class of 2019) and Palenque by Sebastián Pinzón Silva (Class of 2017).

Tremendous news for Pam Austin (Class of 2018). Her thesis film WHIMPER had its broadcast premiere on WTTW – Chicago PBS on Friday, September 13th, 10:30pm CST. The broadcast screening was part of Chicago International Film Festival Selects, in celebration of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival. Austin’s film screened at last year’s CIFF.

A well deserved Best Short Documentary win for Naeema Jamilah Torres’s (Class of 2019) REDACTED at the Columbus Black International Film Festival. Redacted also screened at Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series.

Three documentary shorts by alumni screened at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival. HALL OF FISHES by Jennifer Boles (Class of 2019), PRACTICE by Iyabo Kwayana (Class of 2017), and ROUGHLY DELICATE by Heqiuzi Wang (Class of 2018) all screened at this year’s festival.

Natasha Nair’s (Class of 2019) IN THE WAKE made its world premiere at the 2019 Camden International Film Festival in September. Cheers to Natasha and what promises to be a long, successful festival run for her film.

In August, Jessica Scott’s (Class of 2019) THE COLOR OF SKIN screened at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC.  The short doc “explores and highlights the hatred, bigotry, discrimination and injustices against African-Americans committed by white men.”

Congrats to Resita Cox (Class of 2021) for winning a 2019 Chicago Digital Media Production Fund grant for her project, REGROWTH. This documentary short film follows the reopening of a once thriving catfish restaurant as a vehicle to examine the intertwining of food and resilience. It shows community members taking on rebuilding despite looming gentrification and five decades of disinvestment in a predominantly Black neighborhood on the West Side.

The Doc Media program was well represented at this summer’s UFVA conference in Minneapolis, with professors Kyle Henry and Danielle Beverly, and alumni Ashley Brandon and Jesseca Simmons, presenting works and participating in panel discussions.  Milton Guillen (Class of 2020) was named a 2018 Carol Fielding grantee for his thesis ON THE MOVE; alum Jesseca Ynez Simmons (Class of 2016) won the Short Doc Silver Award for 2016 thesis EMERALD ICE and Associate Professor Kyle Henry won the Feature Fiction Gold Award for his film ROGERS PARK at the annual conference.

Milton Guillen’s (Class of 2020) ON THE MOVE was also named to the Dok Leipzig Co-Pro Market to connect with financiers and network with filmmakers in the European market.  And Guillen was named a Programming Associate for the Camden International Film Festival

Elodie Edjang’s (Class of 2018) thesis film, BOOK OF DANIEL, screened at Black Harvest Film Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, August 18 – 3PM.

A big congrats to Heqiuzi Wang (class of 2018) for winning the Made in Chicago award at this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) with her thesis documentary “Roughly Delicate”! CUFF is the longest running underground film festival in the world and is dedicated to the work of filmmakers who present defiantly independent visions.


Coming To Block Cinema This Winter – DOCUMENTARIES!

After a tremendous response to the Fall 2017 Block Museum NU Docs series comes a new slate of documentaries screening throughout the Winter 2018 quarter. 

The Other Kids (Chris Brown, 2016, USA, DCP, 95) – Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 7 PM
THE OTHER KIDS follows six teens as they struggle through their final days of high school in the gold rush town of Sonora, CA. THE OTHER KIDS is a totally unscripted hybrid of fiction and non-fiction in which real teenagers play versions of themselves in a constructed, fictional universe. Brutal, funny and moving, THE OTHER KIDS is an honest film about the power of friendship, the pain of loss and the exhilaration of being seventeen.

Nuts! (Penny Lane, 2016, USA, DCP, 79min) – Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7 PM
NUTS! is a feature length documentary [directed by Penny Lane] about Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure and a million watt radio station. Using animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and a hilariously unreliable narrator, NUTS! traces Brinkley’s rise from poverty and obscurity to the heights of celebrity, wealth and influence in Depression-era America.

New Documentaries: Shorts Program – Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 7 PM

Join us for a shorts program featuring Patrick Bresnan and Ivette Lucas’ The Send-Off (2016, 12 min.), The Rabbit Hunt (2017, 12 min.) and Roadside Attraction (2017, 10 min.), Rachel Pikelny’s Grace (2017, 16 min.), and Milad Mozari’s Standing Nymph and Man (2017, 17 min.)

Raoul Peck – Hoffman Masterclass
In October 2017, our students met with Oscar nominated filmmaker Raoul Peck​ for a private masterclass where he discussed his work in documentary and his work in historical docudramas. Following the masterclass, the Block Museum played host to a capacity screening of Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro followed by a mesmerizing Q&A with Peck, Professor Miriam Petty, and Professor Kyle Henry. Raoul Peck was the School of Communication’s 2018 Hoffman Visiting Artist for Documentary Media, funded by a generous gift from Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman. Additional support from Dwight A. McBride, James Baldwin Scholar and former Northwestern TGS Dean/Associate Provost. 

Quest With Editor Lindsay Utz At The Block
In October, Doc Media was honored to co-host a screening of the documentary QUEST at the Block Museum. The film’s editor and Doc Editing instructor Lindsay Utz took questions from the audience following the screening.  QUEST has ended up on multiple Best of 2017 lists and the film received 5 nominations from Cinema Eye Honors including a Best Editing nomination for Lindsay Utz.

EL MAR LA MAR With Professor JP Sniadecki at the Block

In November, Doc Media had the pleasure to partner with the Block Museum for a screening of Professor JP Sniadecki’s newest documentary EL MAR LA MAR.  The film has screen at festivals around the world including  IndieLisboa, AFI Docs Festival, Camden International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and recently at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) in November.  The film also received a shout out in a New York Times article examining films inspired by Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Class of 2016 News

João Queiroga’s thesis film OUR SKIN played at the prestigious IDFA Documentary Festival in Amsterdam in November 2017. This continued a successful festival run for OUR SKIN, including wins at the Lili award for Best Short Film at MIX Copenhagen LGBTQ Film Festival, the film was an official selection of Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the NewFest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival and last year the film had it’s European premiere at Doclisboa’16 | Festas.

Carlos Cova’s FRAGMENTS recently played at the IWM Short Film Festival in London and Denver’s DocuWest Film Festival in September 2017.  FRAGMENTS premiered 2016 Chicago International Film Festival.  Cova recently wrapped up a year long term as a post-production associate at Kartemquin Films before moving to Barcelona, Spain to continue his career.   

After a successful festival run for her documentary 1/80 OF ZHANG TIANYI that included screenings at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and American Documentary Film Festival, Shuhan Fan is currently working on STAY CLOSE, a recipient of the ESPN/TRIBECA FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD.  Fan has continued her academic career as part of the AFI Conservatory as she purses her MFA in Screenwriting.

Jesseca Ynez Simmons’ thesis documentary, EMERALD ICE has continued a successful festival run, with its French premiere at the Paris College of Art  at the MoveCineArte Festival in November 2017. 

Class of 2017 Festival News

Luther Clement’s thesis film WARM NOISE AROUND ME made its festival premiere at Barcelona, Spain’s L’Alternativa Barcelona. Clement’s film SHOWMAN played at FilmBath in the UK and was nominated for the 6th annual IMDb New Filmmaker Award. Clement is currently working on STAY CLOSE, a recipient of the ESPN/TRIBECA FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD. 

Ashley Brandon’s thesis film MICKEY’S PETS has continued a successful festival run screening at the 20th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, receiving a special jury mention, screened 30th Annual Virginia Film Festival, the New Hampshire Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival. Ashley recently started as an Assistant Professor of Film, Television and Media Arts at Quinnipiac University in August, teaching Film Appreciation, Beginning Cinematography and Advanced Post-Production courses. 

Currently in production, ON THE BIT directed by Ashley Brandon, produced by Luther Clement and Nevo Shinaar was at November 2017’s St. Louis International Film Festival where they participated in the Tribeca Film Institute’s Documentary Pitch competition. The film received honorable mention, and $1,000 prize a little money and a distribution deal through Tribeca (it was also originally funded by Tribeca/ESPN’s Future Filmmaker Award).  The film will participate in a one-year distribution initiative managed by Tribeca Film Institute.

Sebastian Pinzon’s thesis documentary PALENQUE won the Jury Award for DGA Student Film Award Best Latino Student Filmmakers East Region. PALENQUE had its World Premiere at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.  The film had its US premiere at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine in September 2017 and won Best Latin American short at Festival Internacional de Cine Valdivia in Chile in October 2017.  Pinzon’s film screened at Antofa Docs in Chile, Festival dei Popoli in Florence, Italy, and the Montreal International Documentary Festival. 

Mina Fitzpatrick’s thesis film WANDERVOGEL screened at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival.  WANDERVOGEL had its international premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.  The film was presented at San Sebastian as part of the International Film Student Conference.  Fitzpatrick has recently taken a position as an Assistant Editor at Chicago’s Kindling Group.  Fitzpatrick’s previous film RUN OF PRESS was nominated for the 2016 ASC Vilmos Zsigmond Heritage Award and screened as part of the 2017 ChicagoMade Shorts at Millennium Park Summer Film Series.

Hasan Demirtas’ (Class of 2017) thesis film, CARRY MY VOICE, took home BEST DOCUMENTARY from the West Nordic International Film Festival. CARRY MY VOICE was an Official Selection of the Duhok International Film Festival in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.  The film is an official selection of the Euroshorts – krótkie filmy i twórcze reklamy in Poland. The festival ran November 27th through December 3rd followed by a 15 city touring festival throughout Poland.  And CARRY MY VOICE will be screening at the April 2018 Atlanta Film Festival. 

Class of 2018 News

Pam Austin attended the Fall 2017 Telluride Student Film Symposium.  The Symposium was an opportunity to work with other film students and filmmakers on workshops and screen world-class films.

MFA Doc students, Kai Blakley, Elodie Edjang, and Chad Wallin traveled overseas this summer to shoot their thesis films with the financial support from Northwestern’s International Relations department. Their projects were profiled by Northwestern’s International Relations department. We’re looking forward to seeing their finished projects!

Faculty News

Debra Tolchinsky’s Oct 28, sold out Chicago Humanities Fallfest/17: Belief talk at the Block Museum concerning her in-process documentary, True Memories and Other Falsehoods was reviewed by Debra Davy in Splash magazine. “The audience saw a 15-minute excerpt from the upcoming full-length documentary. It was beautifully crafted and fascinating. After the viewing, Milos Stehlik (who moderated the discussion) exclaimed, ‘It’s so intimate!’ Debra also presented at the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities on Nov 8.

Professor Kyle Henry’s film ROGERS PARK premiered at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival where the film received strong reviews from critics including The Chicago Reader.