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Jeny Amaya (she/her) is a Los Angeles based artist and filmmaker. Her film and video work focuses on notions of family, memory, migration, and Central American histories. Jeny’s research interests include autobiographical, experimental, and hybrid documentary film practices, personal and community archives, Third Cinema, and practices that emerge from unsanctioned spaces. Jeny was a recipient of The Princess Grace Foundation’s Cary Grant Film Honor in 2016. She has a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and a B.A. in Film, TV, and Digital Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As an arts administrator, she has facilitated and produced cultural asset maps in Los Angeles County, which have led to community-led art exhibitions and cultural programs. Through filmmaking, education, writing, and curating, Jeny wants to deconstruct neoliberal mirages and create alternatives that promote personal, collective, and liberatory perspectives. In 2021, Jeny was a student of No Evil Eye’s inaugural Film Futura program.

Joshua Coverdale is an interdisciplinary artist and documentarian filmmaker from New York. He recently graduated with a BFA in film from the Rhode Island School of Design. His passion stems from the stories his grandfather would tell as a black man growing up during the time of segregation in Alabama. Joshua now explores the disparities of the Black experience through his docuseries called In conversation w/ five black artists, in which he aims to create change through his storytelling. An actor/filmmaker that inspires him is Sidney Poiter.

Obed Lamy is a journalist and documentary filmmaker from Haiti. As a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship in 2019, he completed a Master’s degree in journalism at the University of Arkansas. There, he was introduced to documentary filmmaking as an artistic medium, but storytelling has long been part of his life, with her mother, who used to recount stories of her childhood growing up motherless. That’s what shape Obed’s capacity for empathy and attunement to emotions in other people. His work spotlights marginalized communities and seeks to uncover beauty in chaotic places and dignity in broken lives – the end goal is to give power back to them and inspire change. As a student, Obed made two short documentaries that screened at dozens of U.S and Canadian festivals and won several awards, including an Emmy Mid-America Student Production Awards and the Best Emerging Filmmaker at the Fayetteville Film Festival. Obed believes filmmaking is a collaborative process and hopes to find his tribe of passionate storytellers and explore new cinematographic aesthetic approaches at Northwestern University.

Dalissa Montes de Oca is a filmmaker and cinematographer from the Dominican Republic. She graduated from Chavon The School of Design in Photography and Film Studies. Her work engages with the Dominican social and political context and its dualities with the periferia, in a space between nonfiction, ethnography, and collective memory. Through a sensorial approach to moving images, her works aim to investigate subjectivity in cinema and engage with the core of storytelling. In her last short film, Pacaman, she explored both cinema verité and experimental approaches for painting a striking portrait of Santo Domingo. Through this film, she explores the representational possibilities of a habitat by using digital, analog, and hybrid formats. Pacaman premiered at Doc Buenos Aires (2021) and took first prize in FICUNAM Competencia Aciertos (2022). The film had its US premiere at Metrograph NYC, along with the series Unraveling Paradise, curated by Dessane Lopez Cassell. In addition to her filmmaking career, she works as a cinematographer and camera assistant. She pursues her studies at Northwestern to connect with colleagues and to nurture her film studies alongside other fields that coexist on campus, such as Anthropology, Ethnography, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Erik Nuding is a filmmaker raised between London, England and a remote farm in Co. Sligo, Ireland. His work draws attention to the interdependence of life across different species and seeks to break down human-nature, subject-object dualism.  His most recent film, An Ornithologist’s Daughter (2021) had its World Premiere at Visions Du Réel and its Irish Premiere at Docs Ireland. Erik’s current work-in-progress explores the risk of disease spillover from bats to humans in the degraded forests of Madagascar, Africa. Aside from being an intermediate Spanish speaker, Erik is learning Malagasy and hopes to learn French at NU. At NU, Erik is thrilled to be a part of the wider research university where he can nourish his intellectual interest – the intersection of ecology, perennial philosophy and ethnography – that informs his creative practice. Erik received his BA from UC Berkeley with an interdisciplinary degree in Film, Anthropology and English Literature, writing a  research thesis on the slow cinema of Béla Tarr. Water is a recurring fascination in his work and life; as an avid open water swimmer he looks forward to acquainting himself with the cool waters of Lake Michigan!

Johnaé Strong is a commitment to healing Black girls, starting with herself. She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and has been an active member of Chicago for the past 14 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Human Rights and a Masters in Education from the University of Chicago. An independent filmmaker, writer, and artist; Johnaé began her career as a K-12 teacher in Chicago Public Schools while at the same time organizing around racial justice as a founding member and leader of BYP100.  Johnaé is interested in developing stories of Black women and girls centered on love, healing, community, and magic. Her favorite films including Daughters of the Dust and Moonlight are her north star to create films sophisticated enough to hold both the deeply traumatic and deeply beautiful parts of human life. Johnaé has two amazing children, Akeim and Jari, who are way cooler than she is!

Lulu Tian is a filmmaker from Winchester, MA, a suburb of Boston, and recently got her bachelors from MIT in cognitive science and computer science. Her interest in documentary filmmaking is tied to her interest in communication and mental health– through volunteering for Samaritans and conducting clinical research at McLean Hospital, she learned how to navigate uncomfortable conversations. Lulu also has a large interest in immigrants and migrant populations, as a first-gen Chinese American. At MIT, Lulu founded a program for MIT students to provide individualized tutoring to immigrants in English and to practice for the US citizenship exam. As for filmmaking, Lulu has worked with various communities, such as a design center for refugees in Athens, Greece, an elderly center in Boston’s Chinatown, and her own home during the pandemic. Most recently, she has been working with the New Bedford Art Museum in MA to document their community art programs, and has enjoyed especially how the staff and kids goof off in front of the camera. She also is working with the MIT Asian American Initiative to share interviews with students reflecting on their cultures in the context of dating and romance. In her free time, she loves to run (soon along the lake!), listen to podcasts, and scroll through restaurants on Yelp. At NU, Lulu hopes to continue to use documentary film as a way to talk to and understand people and diversify her range of artistic practice.

Zaki Al Abdullah is a Saudi filmmaker and Arabic is his first language. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology and a Certificate in Filmmaking from the National Film and Television School in the U.K.  He is a former professional tennis player and his traveling has influenced his world view. Zaki is interested in topics related to inequality, racism, injustice and existential issues such as death, meaning, love, and isolation. Currently he is working as a freelance filmmaker and is focused on cinematography. Zaki hopes to listen to all of his classmates’ stories and be inspired by them. It’s a privilege to be trusted to be told personal stories. Good stories are what he lives for.

Laura Gede was born and raised outside of Baltimore, Maryland, but moved to the city in 2016 after attending The Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She received her degrees in Theatre and Electronic Media & Film with Honors from Towson University. Studying these two disciplines, she discovered her love for experimental and hybrid modes of creation. She was an artist in residence at Rhizome in Washington, D.C. where she completed a short collection of writing and developed an immersive performance piece that she continues to cultivate. After working for six years in freelance commercial filmmaking and arts non-profit work, she became a full-time producer at an ad agency in Baltimore. She worked with numerous Baltimore agencies to help foster the creation of The Red Desk project; a public art installation that aims to bring awareness and resources to child homicide and its survivors. Laura’s hope is to combine her love and commitment to community activism and education with her passion for filmmaking and creation. In this, her goal is to create content that pushes the boundaries of what is deemed academic and stretches beyond our comfort zones; to create movies that demand people to ask questions and dig deeper.

Ella Harmon is a filmmaker from Connecticut who has spent most of their adult life in New York. Ella is interested in blurring genre lines as a means to explore how the reductive narratives we tell ourselves might impact the material world. As an undergraduate, Ella studied film and philosophy at Sarah Lawrence College and The University of Oxford (Wadham). During this time, Ella also worked as a freelance production assistant, development assistant, 2nd AD, and production coordinator. After graduation, Ella became a co-producer at a nonprofit production company called Groundswell Media where they developed short documentaries centered around health and social justice. Ella is currently the head of video at Carrousel Dreams and occasionally works for-hire as a video director and editor in the NY area. In addition to Ella’s Documentary MFA, they are pursuing a certificate in Critical Theory. 


Ian Kelly (he/him/his) is a filmmaker and animator from Boston, MA. He graduated with a B.A. in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College. After graduating he worked for director Marshall Curry on two Academy Award nominated short films; including as assistant-editor on the Oscar winning short, The Neighbors’ Window. Since then, Ian has worked as an editor and animator for RLMG, a digital design studio specializing in museum media. He has edited videos about dinosaurs for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and films on Oprah for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. At Northwestern, Ian will continue to integrate his documentary and animation practices. As a director of animated documentaries, he is interested in using what is distinct about the animated form — including its inherent subjectivity, and ability to render undocumented events — to enliven stories of personal and historical memory.

Jacob Kessler comes to Northwestern’s Documentary Media program with an interest in producing work at the intersection of docufiction and sensory ethnography. He completed his BA in Philosophy and English Literature at Pace University and Certificate in Filmmaking at New York University. During this time, he synthesized his film practice with his studies in critical theory to produce work conducting inquiry through experiments in performance and documentation. These two lines of research intersected most directly in his latest film Supernova, a docufiction following an aged ex-Club Kid’s re-entrance into contemporary queer nightlife, and his undergraduate thesis on race, representation, and sexuality in literature and film. He has worked in research and development for several documentaries and docuseries and currently produces film and video content for non-profit organizations. Along with his MFA, he will be pursuing Northwestern’s Certificate in Critical Theory.


Zemin Li is from Guangzhou, China and earned his bachelor’s degree from Shih Hsin University in Taipei.  He is passionate about film curation and has gained curatorial experiences at different film festivals.  Zemin planned and executed “MasterClass with Apichatpong Weerasethakul: In Conversation with Jia Zhang-ke” at the 2021 Shanghai International Film Festival. Zemin served as the assistant of the content director at the 2020 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival and assisted the festival exhibitions at the 2018 Taiwan International Documentary Festival. Zemin participated in the CNEX Chinese Doc Forum for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019 as a Doc Academy student, and has also worked as a program assistant and photographer at Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation in Taipei for three years. Through this program, Zemin believes he will learn how to bridge the gap between business and creativity in documentary filmmaking.

Rasheed Peters was born and raised in Jamaica and currently based in Chicago, IL, Rasheed Peters is a storyteller working across multiple mediums. He is an MFA Documentary Media student at Northwestern University where his practice focuses on blending studio art, installation, performance, and video/filmmaking. His work touches on and seeks to do a lot, but is mainly centered on intergenerational relationships, the Caribbean-American immigrant experience, and the ways in which culture, rituals, and different traditions are being passed down and preserved across generations of Black folk all over the world.

Maya Wanner is from Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Kalamazoo College where she earned a B.A. in English (with emphasis in Film Theory and Criticism and Nonfiction Writing) and Religion, with a minor in Media Studies. As the daughter of an immigrant and as a mixed-race woman, she hopes to tell stories of “in-between-ness,” and give voice to underrepresented people and stories. Maya has a range of experience in film, from being a high school film teacher, creating her own independent documentaries, freelancing, and working as a production assistant for a range of production companies.

Jiaxin Wei was born in Guangzhou, a coastal city in South China, but spent her childhood moving between different areas and learning four different dialects.  Intending to be a linguist, she entered Renmin University of China and gained her B.A. in French Language and Literature.  In 2017, she transferred to Sorbonne University in Paris where she earned her second B.A. in French, and it was there that she came across documentaries of Agnes Varda and found her passion for filmmaking. During her gap year, she finished her documentary on Chinese traditional Guqin culture. She loves meeting people while traveling and spending time with animals especially dogs, all of which offer her new perspectives to better observe the world. Believing in serendipity, she hopes to break the traditional limits of the medium to convey sincerity and emotional richness in documentaries.

Meghan Wells is a filmmaker and actor based in Los Angeles. She graduated from Chapman University with double degrees in News & Documentary and Psychology. Meghan enjoys pursuing stories about the intricacies and intersectionality of social issues which she intends to further pursue at Northwestern and one day teach others to do as well. Her film Group addresses domestic abuse by following three convicted abusers through a court-mandated group therapy program. Group was shown at the London International Women’s Day 2019 and can be found as a Vimeo Staff Pick or in the Atlantic Selects. Additionally, through Chapman and the Sikhlens Foundation, Meghan was selected to make two Sikh-centric films in England which addressed the intersectionality of Southeast Asian women with sports and mental illness with culture. Meghan has performed and recorded almost the entire canon with Shakespeare Project LA.

Xi Ye is from Shanghai, China and recently graduated from Shanghai International Studies University with a degree inJournalism.  Her internship experiences included working on a feature-length documentary and a docuseries.  Fascinated by the process of forming intimate, long-lasting bonds with her interview subjects and recording their heart-felt stories, Xi decided to specialize in documentary. She firmly believes in the power of documentary to evoke empathy and inspire conversation. While at Northwestern, Xi hopes to hone her skills in cinematic storytelling and produce work that’s engaging in terms of both content and aesthetics.

Naomi Zidon is a writer, researcher, and filmmaker from Nigeria. Naomi graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in English with a concentration in literature and a minor in Creative Works. Naomi has been fascinated with film since high school and that fascination built into a theoretical and practical curiosity for film. During her junior year of college, Naomi was awarded the Mellon Research scholarship, which gave her the opportunity to research and write a thesis on how Agnes Varda blurs the lines between documentary and narrative film. This motivated Naomi to practice documentary filmmaking, using both documentary and narrative film techniques to highlight the immigrant experience. As a Northwestern MFA Documentary Media candidate, Naomi plans to expand on her documentary and narrative practices and use that to better illuminate the lives of immigrants.