Recent Student Film Festival Appearances & Screenings

Tim Fryett’s (Class of 2017) documentary Of A Few Days played the Chicago International Film Festival.  This continued the film’s success following screenings at the 45th New Directors/New Films at NYC’s Lincoln Center, the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris, and at AFI Docs. Fryett was profiled in the Chicago Tribune.

Carlos Cova’s (Class of 2016) thesis film Fragments played the Chicago International Film Festival.  The film took home honorable mention for the festival’s Chicago Award.  Cova is now working with Kartemquin Films as a Post-Production Associate. Cova previously interned with Kartemquin in the summer of 2015.

Mina Fitzpatrick’s (Class of 2017) documentary Two Together screened at Kartemquin’s Fall Festival at Chicago’s ArcLight Cinema.  Her documentary short Run of Short was selected for Chicagoland Shorts Volume 2, which premiered at Facets on May 14th.  The selected shorts will tour nationally and will be coming soon to VOD and Bluray.

Joao QueirogaJoão Queiroga’s (Class of 2016) thesis film Our Skin had its US premiere at NewFest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival and its European premiere at Doclisboa’16 | Festas. 

Deborah LibbyDeborah Libby’s (Class of 2016) thesis film Wise Medicine screened at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles and at the World Ayahuasca Conference in Rio Branco, Brazil.  Libby has also been serving as production assistant on the upcoming doc YOURS IN SISTERHOOD and is currently assistant editing the doc Fanspeak (working title) about Chicago Cubs fans.


Qihui WuQihui Wu’s (Class of 2016) film Life of Being Wild was recently picked up for distribution by GROUPE INTERVENTION VIDEO. Wu’s thesis film Chosen People was an official selection at the Baltimore International Film Festival, the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, the 2016 Block Film & Art Festival, the Chi-Town Multicurual Film Festival.  Chosen People won the Best Documentary Award at the Christian Film Festival.


Jesseca SimmonsJesseca Simmons (Class of 2016) and her thesis film Emerald Ice screened at her hometown film festival, California’s 5th Annual Watsonville Film Festival


ESPN/Tribeca Filmmaker Prizes

Ashley Brandon (Class of 2017), Luther Clement (Class of 2017) and Shuhan Fan (Class of 2016) were awarded ESPN/Tribeca Filmmaker Prizes to produce films that highlight issues of social importance through the lens of sports.

On The Bit – directed by Ashley Brandon, produced by Luther Clement

Stay Close – co–directed by Luther Clement and Shuhan Fan, produced by Ashley Brandon

ESPN prize recipients

ASC Nominations

Jesse Simmons (Class of 2016) and Mina Fitzpatrick (Class of 2017) were nominated for the American Society of Cinematographers Student Heritage Awards.  Fitzpatrick was nominated in the Documentary category for her film Run of Press and Simmons was nominated in the Graduate category for her film Emerald Ice.

Faculty and Staff News

We Believe in Dinosaurs artworkIn December 2016, We Believe In Dinosaurs produced by Professor Clayton Brown’s 137 Films announced it is partnering with Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets and Indiegogo to help fund the completion of the the film.


R. Patrick Lile

Unbroken Glass, a Kartemquin documentary co-produced by Doc Media Program Assistant, R. Patrick Lile, premiered at the 10th Seattle South Asian Film Festival on October 22 and had it’s Chicago premiere on November 2 as part of the Kartemquin Fall Festival.

In October, Ines Sommer’s film Count Me In had a free screening at the Chicago Cultural Center.  The film had its national television premiere on PBS’s World Channel followed by local airings on Chicago’s WTTW Channel 11.

In September, Professor Maria Finitzo’s In The Game screened on PBS World Channel’s America ReFramed .  Finitzo’s feature Those Left Behind also premiered at the Gene Siskel Film Center in September.

New Documentary Edit Suite

New Editing labIn September, our 2nd Year Doc Media MFAs moved into their own edit suite in Annie May Swift Hall’s garden level. Thanks to all the folks around Northwestern who made it happen!

Kartemquin 50th Birthday Celebration

In June, the MFA in Documentary students, faculty and staff joined with the Chicago film community to celebrate Kartemquin Films 50th Birthday celebration at Chicago’s Harris Theater.  The event was attended by 1,000 guests including award winning filmmakers, critics, and the who’s who of Chicago’s filmmaking community.

Congrats to the Class of 2016

The MFA in Documentary Media program said goodbye and congratulations to the first MFA in Documentary Media cohort, as the Class of 2016 celebrated with their commencement and hooding ceremonies. Good luck with the next steps of your careers! It was a tremendous two years.

The MFA in Documentary Media Showcase Thesis Premiere

In June, for three consecutive nights, the Class of 2016 cohort premiered their thesis films at NU’s Block Cinema to packed audiences.  Each night featured four films with the student filmmakers participating in Q&As with audiences following the screenings.

FIlmmaker Andrea Meditch Visits

On May 23, Andrea Meditch of Back Allie Entertainment (BS degree in Communications and Media from Northwestern) visited with the Class of 2016 MFA in Documentary Media students to talk about her career in documentary. Meditch has executive produced films that have won Oscars and Emmys. She executive-produced the 2009 Oscar-winner Man on Wire and Oscar-nominated Encounters At The End of the World, by Werner Herzog, as well as Grizzly Man.

Composer Joshua Abrams

In May, film composer Joshua Abrams visited with NU students to talk about the collaboration between filmmakers and his scoring process. Abrams has composed soundtracks for the Kartemquin Films features Life Itself, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Almost There Project, and Unbroken Glass.

Filmworkers Visit

In April, as the Class of 2016 cohort was deep into post-production on their thesis films, the class traveled to Filmworkers, a post-house in Chicago’s Streeterville neighbhorhood. After a sneak preview of some of the commercial work Filmworkers does, the students got to see how their films looked after professional color correction.  Thanks to Filmworkers for working with many of our students and taking their thesis films to the next level.

Masterclass hosted by filmmaker Frederick Wiseman

In April, legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman came to Northwestern’s Block Cinema to screen his 40th documentary, In Jackson Heights, followed by a talkback moderated by MFA in Documentary Media Program Director Debra Tolchinsky.  The following day, Wiseman taught an exclusive masterclass for the MFA in Documentary students.  Wiseman was the School of Communication’s 2016 Hoffman Professor for Documentary Media, a short-term filmmaker residency.

Doc10 Film Festival

On April 2, the MFA in Documentary Media students attended screenings at Chicago’s Doc10 Film Festival. The students took part in documentary seminars and the saw films by legendary documentary filmmakers Barbara Kopple, Albert Maysles, Werner Herzog and had the opportunity to see documentaries that have won awards all around the world.

True/False Film Festival 2016

In the first weekend of March, the MFA in Documentary Media students and faculty traveled to Columbia, Missouri for one of the most acclaimed documentary festivals, the True/False Film Festival. The festival included over 35 features, dozens of shorts and educational seminars for our MFA students.  Thank you to the True/False Film Festival for organizing such a great experience for our MFAs.  

Fighting/Forgetting – Short Films Inspired By Archives

In March, the Class of 2017 MFA Documentary Media students curated a screening for their Winter Quarter films called, Fighting/Forgetting – Short Films Inspired By Archives at Annie May Swift Hall’s Helmerich Auditorium. The shorts were created in Professor Kyle Henry’s Narrative Techniques course and also featured short pieces created in Professor J.P. Sniadecki’s Embodied Camera course.

Professor Sommer Honored At Chicago Oscar Night

In February, Professor Ines Sommer was honored at Chicago’s longest running Oscar party – Hollywood on State at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Spotlight on Chicago Filmmakers event recognized Sommer and other honorees for their excellent work in film and dedication to Chicago.

The Cove’s Louie Psihoyos Visits NU

In February, Oscar winner Louie Psihoyos, the director of the 2009 Oscar winning documentary The Cove came to NU to talk his films and his work with the Oceanic Preservation Society.

Huffman Awarded $50,000 for Saving Mes Aynak

In January, affiliated faculty member, Medill Professor Brent Huffman was awarded a $50,000 social justice grant from the Reva & David Logan Foundation to help raise awareness about the plight of an ancient archeology site featured in his documentary film Saving Mes Aynak.  The grant allowed Huffman to hire an outreach team and to keep traveling with the film to lecture about the importance and significance of Mes Aynak.

Class of 2017 Winter Screening

On January 25th, the MFA in Documentary Media 1st Year students screened their Fall Quarter films in Annie May Swift’s Helmerich Auditorium. The following evening, a number of the 1st Year MFAs took part in the Kurdish-American Short Film Screening at the Chicago Kurdish Cultural Center.

Kartemquin 50th Anniversary Screening at Block Cinema

In January, the MFA in Documentary Media co-curated screenings with Block Cinema to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Kartemquin Films.  The anniversary screenings featured the 1968 documentary Thumbs Down directed by Gordon Quinn and Steve James’ 2002 doc Stevie.  Both screenings were followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Student Awards and Festival News

Molica (left) and his producing partner Rodrigo Carvalho

MFA in Documentary Media student Julio Molica was nominated for the International Emmy Award For Current Affairs for a documentary he co-created called Torre de David (Tower of David). Molica co-created the documentary while working for Brazil’s GloboNews. Tower of David tells the story of the 4,000 people that occupied an unfinished 45-story skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela. They lived in the tallest vertical slum in the world for seven years. The characters’ stories illustrate the Venezuelan reality, violence, social issues and politics are embedded in their daily reality.

Rafie Drencheva & Jesseca Simmons film “Particles” screened at AUBG International Student Film Festival, Speechless Film Festival, World Arts Film Festival, and Dirigo Film Festival.

Jesseca Simmon’s film “The Storm Downstream” screened at the Wild Scene Film Festival.

Carlos Cova’s film “Ride Fast Now” screened at AUBG International Student Film Festival.

João Queiroga & Shuhan Fan’s film “Journey to America” screened at Dallas VideoFest.  Queiroga and Fan’s film “Skye” screened at the Reeling International Film Festival, China Women’s Film Festival and the AUBG International Student Film Festival.

Deborah Libby’s film “The Healing Song” screened at AUBG International Student Film Festival, Boise Film Festival, Clean Shorts Film Festival, Just Gather Film Festival, Frederick Film Festival, and Awareness Film Festival.

Fall 2015 Screening Series at The Block

The MFA in Documentary Media co-curated a Fall 2015 documentary series at Northwestern’s Block Cinema.  In October, filmmaker Lyric Cabral screened her doc (T)error and hosted a masterclass for the MFA doc students. 

Filmmaker Lyric Cabral with students and faculty of the MFA in Documentary Media Program

As part of the series, Professor JP Sniadecki presented his acclaimed documentary The Iron Ministry.  The screening was also an opportunity to welcome Sniadecki to the Northwestern  program. 

And in December, Professor Ines Sommer presented a work-in-progress screening of her documentary Count Me In.  The screening was a look behind the scenes of the filmmaking process as Sommer shared excerpts from her soon to be released film.

Masterclass hosted by filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer

In November, Oscar nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer hosted a masterclass for the MFA in Documentary Media students.  Following the masterclass, Oppenheimer screened his documentary The Look of Silence for hundreds of Northwestern University students.  By year’s end, The Look of Silence was the most acclaimed documentary of 2015 and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Northwestern Media Relations highlights the program’s success

MFA in Documentary Media was featured by Northwestern Media Relations in a recent story highlighting the program’s success over the past year.  The story went viral and was picked up by Movie City News and re-tweeted by Kartemquin Films as it made the rounds on social media.

Chicago Underground Film Festival Panel

In May 2015, MFA in Documentary Media program director Deb Tolchinsky participated on a panel at the Chicago Underground Film Festival called The Naked Truth, featuring local documentary filmmakers. The panel was hosted by NewCity film critic, Ray Pride.

Good Pitch Chicago 2015

In May, the MFA in Documentary Media students were honored to volunteer at Good Pitch Chicago.  Good Pitch brings together documentary filmmakers with foundations and philanthropists to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all partners, good for the films and good for society.  Good Pitch Chicago featured six films, Almost Sunrise, Raising Bertie, Newtown:  A Documentary, (T)error, From This Day Forward, and Romeo Is Bleeding.

Hard Earned on Al-Jazeera

The Kartemquin Films miniseries Hard Earned, co-directed by adjunct instructor Maria Finitizo and produced by adjunct instructor Steve James, premiered May 3rd, on Al-Jazeera America.  The six-part documentary series follows five families around the country to find out what it takes to get by on $8 an hour.  In January, Finitzo also announced production on her feature film debut, Those Left Behind.  The film is scheduled for release in 2017.

In Country Continues To Open Nationally

In Country, co-directed by lecturer Mike Attie continued to open nationally with a Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on May 2nd & 4th. The film received critical acclaim from multiple publications including The Atlantic and The Hollywood Reporter. In Country screened at Northwestern’s Block Cinema in October 2014.

Half-Life Of War

Professor Kyle Henry’s documentary short Half-Life of War premiered at Philadelphia’s Cinedelphia Film Festival in April 2015.  With over 30 wars and 1.5 million dead soldiers memorialized at sites across the United States, the film asks how many of us see the radioactive trace of these past conflicts?  The film was produced with a grant from the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, a project of Voqal Fund administered by Chicago Filmmakers. Watch the film now here Also, his Emily Dickinson bio-pic Wild Nights was chosen for Film Independent’s 2015 Fast Track program.

To Singapore With Love

In April, award-winning Singaporean filmmaker and Northwestern alumnus Tan Pin Pin screened her acclaimed documentary To Singapore With Love at  NU’s Peggy Helmerich Auditorium. Banned by the Singaporean government, To Singapore With Love depicts political activists who have not returned to their home country after decades in exile.

Saving Mes Aynak

MFA in Documentary Media Affiliated Faculty member Brent Huffman premiered his documentary Saving Mes Aynak at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November. The film tells the story of a race against time to save a 5,000-year old archaeological site in Afghanistan. Saving Mes Aynak screened at Block Cinema in March. The film was produced in part from a $100,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation..

Documentary Magazine

The MFA in Documentary Media was featured in the Spring 2015 Issue of Documentary Magazine.  The interview with MFA in Documentary Media program director Deb Tolchinsky covers a range of topics including her background, the impetus for the creation of the Documentary Media program, why Chicago is a prime location for pursing that degree, future goals for the program, and more. – See more.

MFA Student Film Screening

In March we celebrated the work of our MFA Doc Media students with a two night public screening of their Fall and Winter Quarter films.  The Fall Quarter films featured work that was produced in the MFA Documentary Techniques graduate course while the Winter Quarter films featured work that was produced during the Narrative Techniques course focused on creating work that blends documentary and narrative practices.

The Great Invisible

In January, filmmaker Margaret Brown visited the MFAs and screened her SXSW Grand Jury Award winning documentary, The Great Invisible at Block Cinema.  The Great Invisible tells the story of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and its impact on the Gulf Coast and beyond.

Lay of the Land Documentary Film Series at Block Cinema

Throughout January and February 2015, the MFA in Documentary Media and the Block Museum collaborated on Lay of the Land, a documentary series exploring contemporary issues from the environment, to homelessness, the economy and more.  Films featured in the series include: The Overnighters, The Great Invisible, Bugarach, and Marmato.  The final night of the series featured short documentaries including Hacked Circuit by Chicago filmmaker Deborah Stratman and Notes on Blindness by James Spinney.

Steve James

In November, award-winning filmmaker Steve James taught a 3-hour master class exclusively for the MFA in Documentary Media students.   The class examined James’s films and explored his personal ethics of documentary filmmaking and such topics as his keys to interviewing and always expecting the unexpected.   In April, James joined the MFA in Documentary Media team as an adjunct instructor, co-teaching the MFA Thesis Seminar course.

Brian Lindstrom’s Alien Boy

In October, filmmaker Brian Lindstrom visited Northwestern to screen his documentary Alien Boy:  The Life and Death of James Chasse.  The film tells the story of James Chassse’s struggle with schizophrenia and examines the actions of police officers responsible for his death.

Rebecca Parrish’s Radical Grace

In October, the MFA in Documentary Media students attended the Chicago Humanities Festival panel presentation of the documentary, Radical Grace.  Directed by Rebecca Parrish, Radical Grace tells the story of three nuns who risk their place in the Catholic Church to follow the higher calling of social justice. 

Darius Clark Monroe’s Evolution of a Criminal

Darius Clark Monroe, winner of the Independent Spirit Award’s Truer Than Fiction Award for an emerging filmmaker, visited the MFA students following a Chicago International Film Festival screening of his documentary Evolution of a Criminal.  Monroe’s film tells the story of Monroe returning to his hometown to examine how his robbery of a bank affected his family, friends and other victims.

New City Film 50

In October, Chicago’s New City Film released their Film 50 – Chicago Screen Gems issue. NU and the MFA in Doc Media faculty were well represented with adjunct instructor Steve James coming in at #1 on the list.  Other department and program faculty members on the list include Melika Bass, Thomas Bradshaw, Maria Finitzo, Kyle Henry, Stephen Cone and NU Grads Joe Chappelle and Scott Dummler.

Nishtha Jain’s Gulabi Gang

Filmmaker Nishtha Jain visited NU in October and screened her documentary Gulabi Gang.  Jain’s film depicts a group of Indian women activists fighting against gender violence, caste oppression and corruption.

Haroula Rose Visit

Filmmaker Haroula Rose, producer of the award wining Fruitvale Station and executive producer of the acclaimed documentary Heaven Adores You, visited with our MFA students.  Rose has written and will direct the adaptation of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon A River, which was a Sundance Film Festival writer’s lab finalist. Haroula’s short films and videos have won awards and screened internationally.

Athina Rachel Tsangari’s The Capsule

In February, internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari spoke with our MFA students and screened her newest fictional short, The Capsule at Block Cinema.

Student Film Festival Screenings

  • American University in Bulgaria International Film Festival screened Rafi Drencheva, Jesseca Simmons film Particles, Carlos Cova’s Ride. Fast. Now,  João Querioga and  Shuhan Fan’s Skye, Shuhan Fan’s Escalator, and Deborah Libby’s The Healing Song.
  • Particles by Rafi Drencheva and Jesseca Simmons also screened at the Speechless Film Festival (Minnesota) and the Dirigo Film Festival (Bristol, UK).
  • Queergasm, an interdisciplinary performance, presented by Northwestern University’s Queer Pride Graduate Student Association (QPGSA) featured the short-film premieres of MFA students Shuhan Fan and Jesseca Simmons and was co-curated by MFA João Queiroga.

Named #14 in “Top 25 Film Schools in the United States”

Northwestern’s Department of Radio/Television/Film was named #14 in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 25 Film Schools in the United States”. For its fourth annual ranking, The Hollywood Reporter conducted its widest-ever survey: ballots were submitted from the guilds, Film Independent, the American Cinematheque and the schools themselves.

This Has Been To Space

This Has Been To Space, a film codirected by Clayton Brown (MFA, Northwestern University), is currently featured as a summer screening engagement at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. The short documentary follows a group of kids and astrophysicists as they launch a high-altitude balloon outfitted with cameras, GPS, and a Geiger counter. For ticket information visit,

Before You Know It

Before You Know It, a PBS/ITVS documentary edited by Kyle Henry, opened theatrically with engagements in LA, NYC, Portland, San Diego, Dallas, Detroit, and Chicago. The feature documentary tells the story of three gay seniors navigating the adventures, challenges and surprises of life and love in their golden years. Additionally, Henry has received a Chicago Digital Media Production Grant for his upcoming documentary The Half-Life of War. The project will couple footage from impersonal war memorials across the United States with audio clips of soldiers speaking about their personal and traumatic experiences of war. In July, Henry was the inaugural artist-in-residence at Austin’s Arts+Labor creative content community.

Maria Finitzo films are now available on Amazon

Congratulations to adjunct faculty member Maria Finitzo whose films Life Lessons and My Mother’s Idea are now available on Amazon. Finitzo’s feature documentary In The Game recently received a MacArthur Foundation grant and Finitzo continues production on Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series for Al Jazeera America.

Sneaky Time

Faculty member Ozge Samanci exhibited her interactive installation Sneaky Time at the Creative Showcases and Interactive Art Track of Advances in Computer Entertainment (ACE) in Twente, Netherlands from November 12th-15th. Sneaky Time was also exhibited at the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS’13) in Istanbul, Turkey from November 6th-10th.

The Gatekeepers

On November 19, 2013, David Tolchinsky and Debra Tolchinsky interviewed Dror Moreh, director of the Academy Award nominated feature documentary, The Gatekeepers. The event was co-sponsored by The Department of Radio TV Film.

Shown right: Filmmaker Dror Moreh (left) with MFA Documentary Media Program Director Debra Tolchinsky (right).

David Tolchinsky awarded a 2014 Artist Fellowship in Literature

David Tolchinsky was recently awarded a 2014 Artist Fellowship in Literature (Poetry/Prose/Scriptworks) from the Illinois Arts Council and was featured in NewCity’s “Film 50: Chicago’s Screen Gems 2013” coming in at #14.

In the “Top 25 Film Schools of 2013”

Northwestern University’s Department of Radio/Television/Film was spotlighted in The Hollywood Reporter as #13 in the “Top 25 Film Schools of 2013”.

The Believers

The Believers, a film codirected by Clayton Brown (MFA, Northwestern University), won Best Documentary at the 2013 Maryland International Film Festival. The film previously won the Gold Hugo for documentary at the 2012 Chicago International Film Festival and was nominated for best current-issue documentary at the Doc Miami International Film Festival in 2012. Brown’s Galileos Grave also won the award for best short film at the East Lansing Film Festival in 2012.

The Beautiful Dark

The Beautiful Dark, a play by Erik Gernand (MFA, Northwestern University), had a run this summer at Redtwist Theatre in Chicago as part of the theatre’s 2013 season. Gernand also participated in The Storefront Playwright Project (pictured), which took place during the month of July in downtown Chicago.

Where Soldiers Come From

The documentary Where Soldiers Come From, which Kyle Henry edited and Heather Courtney (GJ89) directed, won a News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story. It is available on iTunes and Netflix. The PBS/ITVS documentary that Henry edited last year, Before You Know It, was screened at NYC’s Lincoln Center’s FilmLinc theater as part of its Art of the Real series. In addition, Kyle’s feature Fourplay toured theaters nationwide in Spring 2013 as is now available via Amazon and TLA Releasing.

Shown right: RTVF assistant professor Kyle Henry edits director and Northwestern grad Heather Courtney’s Where Soldiers Come From at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Edit and Story Lab. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute by Fred Hayes.


Eric Patrick’s Retrocognition, an animated collage of photographs and audio fragments from WWII-era radio dramas, has accumulated considerable recognition and praise in the film world, including Best Experimental Film at the Humboldt Film Festival, the Da Vinci Film Festival, the IFS Independent Filmmakers Showcase, and the Tolfa Short Film Festival in Italy; the Pablo Koontz Best Experimental Technique Award at Humboldt Film Festival; the Aloha Accolade Award at the Honolulu Film Awards; the New View Award for Best Experimental Film at the River Bend Film Festival; the Royal Reel Award in Animation at the Canada International Film Festival; Best Animated Film at the Victoria Independent Film Festival and the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival; Best of Festival for Animated Short at the Richmond Film Festival; 1st Place in Animation at the Twin Rivers Media Festival; and the Jury Special Recognition Award at the Cinema at the Edge.

Exhibit by faculty member Ozge Samanci

An exhibit by faculty member Ozge Samanci, Word 6- An Architecture of Multi-Modal Poetry/Text, was presented at Columbia College Chicago this winter. In the exhibit, “writers of all genres explore the strangeness of dwelling in a foreign space by examining poetry and text as part of a greater structure.” Samanci’s interactive installation Sneaky Time was invited to Athens, Greece, for the New Media Festival and was exhibited at the Media Arts Biennial in Wrocla, Poland, in May. Samanci was also invited to contribute to Infinite Corpse, a collaborative comics project involving leading comics artists.

Fast Talk

Fast Talk, the documentary on college debate by Debra Tolchinsky, was named Best Documentary at the LA Femme International Film Festival (2011) and the Iowa Film Festival (2012) and Best Feature Documentary at Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (2013), in addition to garnering a Golden Reel Award from the Nevada Film Festival, an Award of Excellence and an Award of Merit (for editing) from the Indie Fest, an Accolade Award, and awards from the Los Angeles Cinema Festival.


Hillary Bachelder (C12), screened her documentary short, Embodies, at February’s Big Sky Documentary Festival. Hillary is currently assistant editing the six-part documentary series Hard Earned for Kartemquin Films. 

Olivia Curry (C12), exhibited an episode of Chicago Glove Project at Chicago Filmmakers. The interactive, multimedia project examines how boxing gyms represent and affect their surrounding communities.

Philister Sidigu (C11) and Shuling Yong (C09), were named one of Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago’s Diverse Voices in Docs 2013 Fellows.

Our Longest Drive, a documentary by Martin Rodahl (C08), premiered at the Gene Siskel Theatre in Chicago in 2012. NBC/Universal and the Golf Channel have picked up Our Longest Drive for a six-episode miniseries, and the first episode aired on October 16 at 9:30 pm central on the Golf Channel. Rodahl also produced Speechless, an award-winning PSA for the Special Olympics.

Language of the Unheard, a film directed by Jacqueline Reyno (C11) and Matthew Litwiller (C11), focuses on political and cultural issues plaguing the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The film has been accepted to festivals around the country and beyond—including the 2012 Cannes Short Film Corner in France, where it took top documentary honors in the American Pavilion Student Filmmaker Showcase. Director of photography and coproducer Travis LaBella (C11) also won the Student Heritage Award for documentary from the American Society of Cinematographers.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the film Living Revolution a $75,000 production grant. Two-time Peabody Award-winning director-producer Maria Finitzo (GC08) will use the funding to further explore the recent Bolivian “revolution” during the presidency of Evo Morales through the experiences of indigenous leaders, women’s rights activists, politicians, opposition intellectuals and the Tsimané, a group of indigenous people who live in the lowlands of the Bolivian Amazon.

Paramount has hired former IFC Films acquisitions director Jeff Deutchman (C05) to serve as director of acquisitions for Paramount Home Media Distribution, effectively launching a new division at the studio for acquiring and releasing independent films from the festival circuit. Deutchman is the filmmaker behind 11/4/08, the documentary that covered election day the year President Barack Obama first won office.

Alvelyn Sanders (C90) wrote, directed, and produced Foot Soldiers: Class of 1964, which premiered on Atlanta’s PBS television station. The documentary tells the story of the young women of Spelman College’s class of 1964, who participated in the largest coordinated series of civil rights protests in Atlanta’s history. Mark Kendall (C09) was the film’s videographer.

Lotti Pharriss Knowles (C92) coproduced Vito, a feature documentary about LGBT civil rights activist Vito Russo, which played film festivals such as New York, Palm Springs, Berlinale, and Frameline and premiered on HBO in 2012.

Jake Abraham (C96) and Daniel Laikind (C96) produced the National Geographic documentary series Amish: Out of Order. The series ran for 10 episodes during 2012. Abraham’s other work includes the TV documentary Commander in Chief: Inside the Oval Office – Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis (2012), on which he served as a co-executive producer. He also produced the movies Lovely By Surprise, Sorry, Haters, and Lonesome Jim, among others. Laikind has helped produce a number of TV documentaries, including Tent City, U.S.A., Unraveled, No One Dies in Lily Dale, and Inside Night Shift: Repo Men

Margaret Nagle (C83) won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Show for Boardwalk Empire in 2011.