Class of 2018
Pam Austin is a Canadian-born filmmaker and media scholar. She was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, but recently completed her undergraduate degree in Cultural Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She was the Festival Director for the 10th Annual FOKUS Film Festival, and has several years of production experience working at The Banff Centre, TV1 in Montreal, and various not-for-profit groups. She is fluent in both French and English, and can speak some Italian. Through this program, she hopes to develop her voice as a filmmaker and an artist, and to dive into the world of documentary film.
Yu Bai is originally from Shandong, China. Born in a family atmosphere rich in art, she regards documentary as the best way to combine her interests. Yu received her degree in Television Directing from Communication University of China. Her documentary A Solitary Art was awarded Best University Students Work in the 5th China Academy Awards of Documentary Film. Yu interned at a local Chinese TV station, for a documentary production company, and a video website. Yu is particularly interested in traditional Chinese culture as well as social issue filmmaking and hopes to make documentaries that promote critical awareness.
Kai Allen Blakley is a Chicago based documentary filmmaker, cinematographer and decorated combat veteran. Before joining the team at Northwestern, Kai served six years in the military traversing Europe, Micronesia, Central and Southeast Asia. He is interested in the directing films at the intersection of documentary and experimental cinema and most enjoys the role of cinematographer during production. Kai’s currently in post-production on his thesis film that studies the daily life of refugees living in the space of a decommissioned U.S. Army base in southern Germany. At Northwestern, Kai plans to further his knowledge of the production process in order to craft films that respect and honor the complexities of whatever issues they address.
Elodie Edjang-Mengueme is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Her undergraduate degrees are in advertising and anthropology. She was born in France but grew up in Georgia, USA. She is fluent in French and English and is in the process of learning Italian. Elodie is drawn toward people driven narratives and social documentary. While at Northwestern, she is interested in learning how to expand her storytelling capabilities and technical skills. Currently, she is spending her time traveling.
Peter Franco studied filmmaking at Carleton College in Minnesota where he received a Princess Grace grant to make his thesis The Last of Fall, a fiction film about a high school football star struggling to come to terms with his sexuality (32nd Reeling Film Festival). After graduating he worked in post-production on a documentary about the global conflict between traditional and industrial agriculture. Most recently he traveled to North Carolina to shoot a nonfiction project called Hog Country. He hopes to learn from and collaborate with others on his own projects, help in post-production on other projects, and cultivate his interest in and study of music and sound.
Kyeongbok Lee was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. He received a BA in History from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. When he first came to the United States, Lee learned English by watching lots of American films, an experience that set him on a path to becoming a filmmaker. In addition to interning at the Seoul Broadcasting System in South Korea, Lee’s short films have screened at the DMZ Documentary Festival in South Korea and have won multiple awards at Emory University. Lee has an interest in social issue documentary filmmaking that supports disenfranchised and underrepresented people.
Stephen Van Vleet Nelson is from Boise, Idaho. He received a Bachelors degree in Theater and Media Arts at Brigham Young University. His interests lie mainly in documenting the existential dread that comes from failure, disaster, and self loathing. He loves going to the beach with his friends. He is currently finishing his first feature length documentary about religious courting rituals and hopes to experiment with self-distribution.
Nearly a decade away from the classroom, Joyy Norris is happily brushing off retirement this Fall to pursue her dream of becoming a documentarian. A native of Chicago’s Southside, Joyy spent her post-undergrad years working in school offices, on indie film shoots, as a freelance writer, and currently a program assistant with the Rebuild Foundation’s Black Cinema House, culminating in a wealth of subjects to explore. With a love of the unknown and overlooked, Joyy seeks the stories and storytellers that go forgotten in the progression of modernity.
Sandeep Reddy Pamulapati was born in India, raised in the Middle East, studied in an American university, and worked with the Irish. Apart from English, he speaks Telugu and Hindi, but considers English to be his first language. Sandeep majored in Communication at Northwestern University’s Qatar branch, with a concentration in filmmaking. After graduation, he worked as an editor at a production company in Qatar concentrating on a series of films that look behind-the-scenes at the 2016 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Sandeep sees documentary film as something that can transcend cultural differences while still remaining relevant. Documentary films can peel back the layers and show the subject as it truly is.
An Omaha native, Chad Wallin relocated to Colorado after spending a number of years traveling abroad. He received his Bachelor’s in International Studies and Music from the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he worked as an audio engineer. A musician and songwriter, Chad has always been interested in both sound and film. He has been a student and employee of Semester at Sea and studied documentary filmmaking under Academy Award winner Paul Wagner. In 2012, he founded a cultural exchange program that connected students in Ghana with a classroom in Kansas City through Skype. Chad hopes to create culturally immersive films and continue to write and perform music.
Heqiuzi Wang was born and raised in eastern China, in an area called Water Town. She is a graduate of Communication University of China with a BFA in Television Production and she previously interned for Greenpeace. Wang is interested in gender issues, environmental issues and the delicate balance between objectivity and subjectivity in documentary. During the past year, she has been working on a documentary about a young couple leaving their university in London and returning to China to have a baby together.
Born and raised in northern China, Yin (Evan) Wang has been living in Chicago since 2012 and earned his MS in biology at Illinois Institute of Technology. Fascinated by the rich film culture and the charming community of cinephiles, last year Evan took a break from his career in life science and volunteered at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center. He sees documentary filmmaking as the creation of an intimate time and space, where the subject and the viewer are connected by a bridge that cannot be as easily built in real life off the screen. At Northwestern, he looks forward to a formal technical training as well as being inspired by the talented faculty and other aspiring filmmakers.
Class of 2019
Jennifer Boles received her BA from the University of Colorado at Denver and her PhD in history at Indiana University-Bloomington. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow and instructor of Latin American film studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She came to documentary through the process of archival research and ethnography, finding it more intuitive than academic writing and better suited to historical nuance and the politics of storytelling. At Northwestern, she seeks the support, courage, and inspiration to find her voice as a filmmaker. She is currently working on an archival-based coming of age film about an eight-millimeter film movement in Mexico City in the 1970s and a short essay film about a Cuban novelist and collage artist in New York.
Benjamin Buxton has lived throughout the United States. Moving several times between Georgia, North Dakota and Hawaii, he considers Utah his home. Fluent in Spanish he has spent years of his life in Mexico and South America. He has worked professionally in film since he was 17 and has been based in Los Angeles since 2015. He has balanced his time between film and humanitarian work. Through the Northwestern film program he hopes to develop his style of documentary film in a way that creates engaging spaces of dialogue and visual experimentation.
Agustín Donoso is from Santiago, Chile. He discovered his passion for documentary when he studied Journalism at Universidad de los Andes. While studying journalism, Donoso traveled to Ushuaia, Argentina to shoot a short documentary about the beaver invasion in the area. He has continued to work on a number of documentaries for television and directed and produced four multimedia projects. As an academic he has participated in a number of international congresses, and has published articles in scientific magazines. His mother language is Spanish and he is also fluent in English. While at Northwestern, Donoso hopes to, learn how to blend entertainment with education so that his films reach and help more Chileans.
Camila Guarda is a Chilean journalist who received her Bachelor’s degree at Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago. Fluent in both Spanish and English, she has worked at the two biggest television stations in her country, where her role as an international journalist had her covering breaking news in Latin America. Among various stories, she went to Argentina to cover the people’s reaction to Pope Francis being elected, she was in Brazil in the midst of the social protests of 2014, covered the World Cup, and the Argentinian and Brazilian general elections. She was then appointed as a Special Reports Editor for the prime-time news broadcast at Channel 13. At Nothwestern, she hopes to develop her voice as a documentarian in order to highlight extraordinary stories and elicit change within a global context.
Will Klein is a filmmaker from Columbus, Ohio. He received a BFA from the SUNY Purchase College Film Conservatory in 2013. His films include Motions 1-4, an experiment in movement, and Scent, a documentary that follows a heroin addict in the suburban Midwest. He has spent the last several years helping to combat the influx of opiate addiction in Central Ohio. One of his current interests is exploring the shifting role of truth and reality in contemporary society. His influences include Albert Camus, David Lynch, Lou Reed, and the Maysles Brothers.
Jung Ah Kim was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea and spent her middle school years at the International School of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. She went to Sogang University, earning undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Philosophy. As she grew more interested in art and theory, she pursued a graduate degree in Aesthetics in Seoul National University and received an MA by writing a thesis on Leibniz’s Theory on Sensible Knowledge. Her recent work, a documentary called ‘Gundudugi’ was screened at the 17th Seoul Independent Documentary Film Festival. Currently Kim’s audiovisual essay on Bong Junho’s film world is on exhibition in Seoul. While in the program, she seeks to improve her technical skills while exploring various aesthetic forms.
Born and raised in New York City, Naeema Jamilah Torres was led to filmmaking through her passion for creative writing as a teenager. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film production from the City College of New York, and pursued a career in content distribution working for home entertainment companies such as Cinedigm and HBO. In addition to freelance media work, Naeema currently volunteers with the Foster Care Film & Community Engagement Project, working on the educational licensing and distribution of their award-winning documentary series. Naeema is interested in pursuing documentary filmmaking to direct and produce stories exploring underrepresented topics in the mainstream.
Natasha Nair is 21 years old and was born and raised in Mumbai. She pursued her Bachelors Degree in Mass Media from K.C. College, Mumbai, starting her journey of cinema and the artistic world of filmmaking. This is when she fell in love with the human aspect of filmmaking and wished to pursue the genre of documentary. She went on to be a part of a team shooting a film for rural farmers, kids born with Down’s Syndrome and the veterans of the armed forces. She has won various awards for her cinematography and direction for short films and received over 60000 views on YouTube for her documentary ‘Nirastra’. Currently, she is assisting in several short films, weddings and events.
Jessica Scott is an east-coaster at heart, but has resided in Chicago for more than a decade. She earned her first bachelors degree from Hampton University with a degree in Psychology and become a social worker for ten years, where she counseled and treated youth and adults suffering from addiction. Jessica earned her second undergraduate degree in journalism and radio from Columbia College Chicago, where she garnered her first Emmy-nomination as a producer. Jessica stumbled into video while working as the multimedia-editor at the award-winning Columbia Chronicle, but it wasn’t until she was asked to produce her first short for class that she fell in love with documentaries. Jessica hopes to make documentaries that will provoke thought, change people’s minds, and encourage people to make a difference in other people’s lives. She is eager to learn all she can at Northwestern and hopes to use her lens to inspire others.
Molly Wagener is an artist from the Chicago area. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History and Photography where she focused on the intersection of media and politics. After graduating, Molly worked as the Deputy Press Secretary of Digital Media in the Office of the Governor of Illinois, creating and editing video content for the governor’s social media. Molly is interested in the ways in which visual media influences and shapes the political sphere. At Northwestern she hopes to expand her knowledge of film production and learn how storytelling and cinematography can create powerful discourse.
Jiayu Yang, born and raised in Guilin, a southern city of China, just finished her undergraduate study of International Chinese Language Teaching in Beijing Language and Culture University. Being a member of Miao community and having a father as an entomologist, she wants to make documentaries about her own upbringing culture and the untold stories in rural China. Jiayu sees documentary as a sacred field of art, as well as a strong way to express, reveal and enlighten with the power of truth. In addition to that, she’s interested in all forms of moving image. Challenging the boundary between fiction feature film and documentary is also her goal.
Ziyi Yang is a playwright, clown, and dancer, and loves road trips, Chinese poetry, and her hometown Nanjing. She earned her BA in Writing for Performance at Brown University, is dedicated to folklore and oral history, and will present her one-woman show BROKE LITTER: WOOSH! at Providence Fringe Festival this July. Ziyi is also a huge believer of healing and compassion. She is a visual person and obsessed with verbatim performance, dreams, the passage of time, hundred-year eggs, and the fourth dimension.