Sam Allen's first documentary was made in high school with a youth research grant. That experience led him to a journalism degree from the University of Oregon and on to New York to work in the documentary field. He grew up near Portland in a large family of boisterous performers and storytellers. The storytelling gene was first manifested in Sam on a 1994 family vacation when learned how to make films using a borrowed video camera once owned, coincidentally, by figure skater Tonya Harding.
Trine Berg studied media as an undergraduate in her native Denmark and has been working for several years on fiction films. After making her first non-fiction film last year in Sierra Leone, she was drawn to the real-life drama of documentary and decided she needed to study the broad spectrum of its forms and styles.
Ella Farnsworth grew up in South Royalton, Vermont and studied film and video at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. For three years she managed a public access television studio in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where she also taught filmmaking while producing TV programs. She has already made her first feature documentary, It Ain't the Silver, about Slaid Cleaves, a folk musician from Austin Texas, and last year, she made a short documentary about a child services non-profit in Valparaiso, Chile.
Nora Gross, born and raised in New York City, graduated from Princeton University with a BA in art history and minors in photography and African American studies. After teaching high school writing in Chicago, she returned to New York to earn a master's degree in sociology of education at NYU. She is now applying her academic knowledge to the making of social documentaries about the education, formal and informal, of young people.
Ditte-Marie Kjaergaard Jakobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her graduate studies in psychology took her to Berlin and then to Buenos Aires, where she made her first documentary film. In New York, she continues to follow her passion for creating documentaries of psychological depth.
Courtney Kistler grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and graduated from Brown University with a BA in international relations and a minor in Latin American studies. After moving to New York in 2004, she freelanced in television production and publishing, working for Forbes and Rodale, while volunteering at a Harlem animal shelter. Her training as a competitive runner inspired her current project, a documentary on endurance running.
Celina Lerner, a journalist from São Paulo, Brazil, has an MA in sociology and seven years of professional experience in broadcast television and digital media. Of the many independent documentary videos she has directed since 1998, her favorite is Parece Não (2000), a short film about squatters living in an abandoned train.
Maria Paula Lorgia was born in Bogota, Colombia. After receiving a BA in history at the Universidad de los Andes, she worked as a researcher on subjects in media, arts, and politics. Her passion is exploring alternative ways to empower citizens to tell their stories. At The New School, she is pursuing the MA in media studies and the documentary studies certificate concurrently.
Zane Peneze, from Riga, Latvia, followed her dream to work in the news media. She reported for Latvian Public Radio and Television from Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and, most recently, Syria. After spending years breaking headlines, she now turns to the craft and art of documentary cinema in order to tell stories in depth.
Sandi Perlmutter, born and raised in Illinois, has lived so long in New York City she considers herself a New Yorker. Now, she's making the small (but great) leap from television production (producer, writer, supervisor, hand-holder) to documentary filmmaking. She is on a journey to document the light-holders, change-shifters and mystics of the contemporary world.
Jack Stannard, a life-long movie lover from Stamford, Connecticut, discovered his passion for documentary media while attending Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After graduating with a degree in media studies, he worked in broadcasting and independent film as a lighting and camera man. His love of the medium and desire to make his own films led him to New York and the documentary studies certificate program.
Janetta Ubbels is an experienced television producer from Amsterdam. She made a short nonfiction film, Delete, that was screened this year in the Kids and Docs Workshop at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). She came to New York to continue her exploration of documentary forms at The New School for Public Engagement.
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