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Mentorship Board


Alan Berg is the president and co-owner of Arts+Labor, which has produced 31 independent films, seven of which premiered at Sundance. He’s directed three feature-length documentaries, the most recent being The Jones Family Will Make a Way, which premiered at SXSW in 2015. Alan also served as the Managing Producer on Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny, which premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2016. Prior to his work as a filmmaker, he was the Austin Bureau Chief for the ABC Affiliate in Dallas, WFAA-TV. He won more than 20 awards during his 15-year career as a journalist, and was twice named by the Associated Press as the Best Reporter in Texas. As a University of Texas at Austin graduate, he has taught for the UT School of Journalism. Alan is the Board President of the Society for the Preservation of Texas Music, an Austin-based 501c3 that produces music-based film content as well as the Austin Music Awards.

Michelle Citron is an award-winning film and digital artist whose work includes the films Daughter Rite, Parthenogenesis, What You Take For Granted…, Leftovers, and Lives:Visible and the interactive narratives Cocktails & Appetizers, Mixed Greens, and As American As Apple Pie.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions. Her work explores the lives of women through a blend of experimental styles that walk the border between documentary and fiction. Her work further examines the autobiographical impulse as expressed through home movies, snapshots, and memoir.  Citron’s work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art/Chicago, as well as the New Directors, Berlinale, London, Edinburgh, Oberhausen, and NYMIX film festivals. Her films and interactive narratives are in the permanent collections of over two hundred fifty universities and museums. She received two National Endowment for the Arts Filmmaking Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities Media Grant, and three Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowships – for filmmaking, screenwriting, and digital arts.  She has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Cognitive Studies from the University of Wisconsin.  She was a Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University for 28 years, where she also served as Chair of the Department.

Heather Courtney is a 2014 Guggenheim fellow. She won an Emmy, an Independent Spirit Award, and a SXSW Jury Award for her film Where Soldiers Come From, which was broadcast nationally on the PBS series POV. It made several Top 10 films of 2011 lists, including Salon’s Best Non-fiction, and was supported by many grants and fellowships including from ITVS, the Sundance Documentary Fund, and the United States Artists Fellowship. She has directed and produced several other documentary films including award-winners Letters from the Other Side and Los Trabajadores, both broadcast nationally on PBS. They were supported by a Fulbright Fellowship and an International Documentary Association Award. She is currently co-directing and producing, with Anayansi Prado, a Ford- and MacArthur-funded feature documentary about undocumented immigrant students in Georgia, called The Unafraid. She currently splits her time on this project and freelance projects between Georgia, Texas and Washington, DC, and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas. Prior to receiving her MFA in Film Production, Heather spent eight years writing and photographing for the United Nations and several refugee and immigrant rights organizations, including in the Rwandan refugee camps after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Jamie Dobie has worked at the intersection of film and social impact for 15 years, currently serving as Chief Operating Officer at Represent Justice, a media impact and criminal justice reform nonprofit that grew out of the impact campaign for the film Just Mercy, about the life and legacy of Bryan Stevenson.

Prior to joining Represent Justice, she served as Executive Director of Peace is Loud, a storytelling and movement-building organization founded by Abigail E. Disney that led impact campaigns for celebrated documentary films including Knock Down the House, The Hunting Ground and the Women, War & Peace series; and launched a speakers bureau that represents 30 global women movement leaders and storytellers.

Jamie previously worked as an impact consultant on Broadway and as manager of community engagement for American Documentary and the celebrated PBS documentary series POV.

A documentary filmmaker by training, Jamie’s independent film work has screened at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and at film festivals including Full Frame and AFI Docs. As a former Trustee, Jamie sits on the Advisory Board of the Flaherty, and serves on the Mentorship Board for the MFA Documentary Film Program at Northwestern University. She is a proud inaugural steering committee member of the Global Impact Producers Alliance.


Maria Finitzo is a two-time Peabody Award-winning social issue documentary filmmaker whose body of work that has won every major broadcast award including the Alfred E duPont Award and has been screened in theaters around the world. Finitzo’s films have tackled a variety of subjects, from the controversial science of stem cell research (Terra Incognita), families struggling with low-wage jobs (Hard Earned) and the psychology of adolescent girls (5 Girls), all explore different realms of storytelling by investigating the important social issues of the day. She is a long-time associate of Kartemquin Films, and in 2014 she founded Film Arts Productions, LLC a Chicago-based production company dedicated to producing independent fiction films. Her first feature narrative film, Those Left Behind, which she wrote and directed, is currently in distribution, and her second narrative feature, The Passion of Grace, which is currently in development, is based on an award-winning story by Alice Munro. The Dilemma of Desire, a film that explores female sexual desire, is Finitzo’s next documentary project.

Erin Heidenreich is a director, writer, and producer of award-winning documentaries, short films, commercials and branded content. She is passionate about capturing stories that show alternative perspectives to accepted societal norms. She directed Girl Unbound, shot in Waziristan (premiered at Toronto International Film Festival), Rising Sons, shot in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (premiered at DOC NYC) and narrative work including The Stories We Tell Ourselves. Erin executive produced The Other Shore (SXSW Film Festival), produced Mission Congo (Toronto International Film Festival), and executive produced Made in India (Hot Docs) and 2nd Unit directed for Emmy-Award winning Doug Pray’s Levitated Mass (Los Angeles Film Festival). She co-founded Cinetic Media in 2001 where she shepherded many films including Little Miss Sunshine, Supersize Me, Napoleon Dynamite, Jesus Camp, and Bowling for Columbine, among others.

Jennifer Kushner is the new Chief Content Officer for Gamechanger Films. Prior to that she was the the Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, an LA-based nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling, where she oversaw many Artist Development programs that support over 100 filmmakers annually through professional mentorship, labs and grants. During her tenure, Film Independent helped develop many award-winning films including Afternoon Delight, C.O.G., Imperial Dreams, LUV, Mosquita y Mari, Natural Selection, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Talullah, Spa Night, Valley of Saints and the documentaries Call Me Kuchu, Rich Hill, Sunshine Superman, Tomorrow We Disappear and The Light in Her Eyes. She received a Bachelor of Science in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and an MFA in Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Before joining Film Independent, she worked as an assistant to director Dennis Dugan on I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and as development assistant at Sobini Films. As a filmmaker, she was one of four writers selected for the 2008 Screenwriters Colony Writers-in-Residence Program on Nantucket.

Iyabo Kwayana is an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth College and an independent filmmaker who uses immersive techniques in cinematography, directing, and editing in order to amplify the more discreet, often hidden aspects of film narratives, compelling viewers towards a transformative experience. Her career spans from serving as director of photography for fiction films, to director or (co)cinematographer for award-winning documentaries, to directing and editing archival experimental films that leverage minstrel imagery to NASA footage to articulate personal trauma and catharsis. Her work has recently been acquired by the Criterion Channel (July 2021) and World Channel-PBS (premiere date forthcoming) and has screened widely both domestically and internationally on the festival circuit.  Building on past love of mixed media practices, her newest areas of research combine transmedia practices with storytelling and experiential and participatory film and media making approaches.

Leo Chiang is a Taiwanese-American filmmaker based in San Francisco and Taipei. His most recent film, OUR TIME MACHINE, won the Best Cinematography Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and Best International Director award at Doc Edge Festival (New Zealand). His previous film, the Emmy® Award-nominated A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES, picked up eight awards and aired on PBS series Independent Lens. Leo’s work has received funding support from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Tribeca Film Institute, Creative Capital, and ITVS. He also collaborates with other documentarians as editor and a cameraman. Leo received a MFA in film production from University of Southern California. He is the co-founder of A-Doc, the Asian American Documentary Network, and a documentary branch member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

Rachel Pikelny is an award-winning filmmaker who currently serves as Director of Production at Siskel/Jacobs Productions and is a 2017 Impact Partners Documentary Producing Fellow. She is currently producing two feature documentaries with Siskel/Jacobs Productions, and is also directing a short film about a young breast cancer survivor who reclaims control with an elaborate mastectomy tattoo. Previously, with Kartemquin Films, she produced The Trials of Muhammad Ali, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, aired on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2014, and won the 2015 News and Documentary Emmy for Best Historical Long-Form Program. Rachel also served as co-producer on Kartemquin’s film American Arab (America ReFramed, 2016), as associate producer on A Good Man (American Masters, 2011), and as producer of the PBS short film The Creative Proposition (2013). Previously she assisted The Kindling Group on their documentary miniseries The Calling (Independent Lens) and Kurtis Productions on Cold Case Files for A&E and American Greed for CNBC.

Tan Pin Pin is a producer, director, and Singapore’s preeminent documentarian who chronicles the pauses, gaps and silences in her country’s history, memory and representation in thoughtful and self-reflexive ways. Her award-winning films include To Singapore, with Love, her critically lauded 2013 film which was banned in Singapore, Invisible City (2007) and Singapore GaGa (2005). They have screened at Berlinale, SXSW, Flaherty, Hot Docs and Visions du Réel. They have been awarded at Cinema du Réel, Dubai, Busan and Taiwan. She has recently completed In Time to Come, a time travel documentary. (Photo credit: Karine Azoub)

PJ Raval is an award‐winning filmmaker and cinematographer whose work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community. Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100”, PJ’s film credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime, LOGO) and BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, which follows the lives of three gay senior men, described by indieWIRE as “a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon.” BEFORE YOU KNOW IT screened theatrically and broadcast premiered as the season finale of AMERICA REFRAMED on PBS, and was awarded the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association Excellence in Documentary Award 2016. PJ recently completed CALL HER GANDA which follows the events surrounding Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was discovered dead in a motel room in Olongapo City, Philippines with the prime suspect being a US Marine. CALL HER GANDA world premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and recently won the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Best Documentary Audience Award at Toronto Inside Out and the Grand Jury Award Special Mention at Outfest. Also an accomplished cinematographer, PJ shot the Academy Award‐nominated Best Documentary TROUBLE THE WATER. PJ is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, 2016 Firelight Media Fellow, and a 2017 Robert Giard Fellow.

Joanna Rudnick is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and life-sciences marketing creative director living in the Bay Area. Her directorial debut In the Family, told her very personal story about coming to terms with her genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Since its national broadcast on PBS in 2008, In the Family has been broadcast in at least 10 other countries around the world, and screened as part of the successful effort to pass the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act. She also directed the award-winning film On Beauty documenting former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti’s effort to broaden the world’s narrow view of beauty. Ms. Rudnick began her career as a producer for the American Masters series at PBS/WNET in New York, focusing on feature biographies of people important to America’s cultural history. Ms. Rudnick contributed to “The Story Within: Personal Essays on Genetics and Identity”, published by John Hopkins Press, and also served as Supervising Producer on Crossfire Hurricane, a documentary about 50 years of music by the Rolling Stones. Joanna Rudnick has a Bachelors in English from Northwestern University and a Masters in Science and Environmental Journalism from New York University.

Tracy Droz Tragos is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose credits include the HBO film Abortion: Stories Women Tell, about personal stories of unplanned pregnancies, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, and Rich Hill, about at-risk teenagers living in her father’s hometown in rural Missouri, which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Tragos’ first film, Be Good, Smile Pretty, won the Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2004 and was lauded for its honest exploration of the profound and complicated feelings of loss caused by the deaths of American men in the Vietnam War, some 35 years later.


Lou Wallach is a television industry veteran with over 25 years of experience as an executive, producer and consultant based in Manhattan. Since January 2018, Wallach has been part of Netflix’s Nonfiction Series & Comedy group. In this role he has overseen the production and launch of numerous series including: Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Somebody Feed Phil and Blown Away. Previously, Wallach was the Executive Producer of National Geographic Channel’s reformatted legacy brand“Explorer,” producing 25 one-hour episodes. Wallach has produced, developed and consulted for various clients over his career including Comedy Central, MTV, BBC Worldwide, Comedy Central UK, You Tube, and AMC among others. Wallach was the Senior Vice President, Original Programming and Television & Digital Development at Comedy Central for 8 years and prior to that served as Director of Creative Affairs for Fox Television Studios. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Kristi Whisler. As Director of Documentary Film and TV for Participant Media, Kristi Whisler sources and develops documentary content and provides support to the company’s documentary film and television slate from development through post-production and release. Notable titles Kristi has worked on include Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, Alex Gibney’s Zero Days, Morgan Neville’s The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble and Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning CITIZENFOUR. Kristi holds a B.S. in Radio/Television/Film and Spanish from Northwestern University.