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Stanford University - Documentary Film Program

Stanford University - Documentary Film Program To inform and promote work by current students as well as alumni of the MFA Program in Documentary Film and Video in the Art & Art History Department.

Operating as usual

Congrats to alums Reid Davenport and Meg Smaker, both premiering their films at Sundance 2022!I Didn’t See You There / U...
12/10/2021
Lena Dunham, Kanye West, Princess Diana Movies on Tap for Sundance

Congrats to alums Reid Davenport and Meg Smaker, both premiering their films at Sundance 2022!

I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. World Premiere.

Jihad Rehab / U.S.A. (Director: Meg Smaker, Producers: Meg Smaker, Bryan Storkel) — A group of Al-Qaeda members are transferred from Guantanamo to a secretive rehabilitation center for Islamic extremists. World Premiere.

The indie film mecca returns to in person with a smaller lineup but perhaps more hot-button fare than usual with films about abortion and a docuseries about Bill Cosby.

Congrats to alum Kristine Stolakis ('15), her feature documentary Pray it Away will debut on Netflix this Summer. The fi...
05/14/2021
‘Pray Away,’ Conversion Therapy Doc From Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum, to Debut on Netflix

Congrats to alum Kristine Stolakis ('15), her feature documentary Pray it Away will debut on Netflix this Summer. The film was edited by alum Carla Gutierrez ('04) with cinematography by Melissa Langer ('15). Congrats to the whole team!

“Pray Away,” a documentary that holds a microscope to the “pray away the gay” movement, is coming to Netflix. The film, from executive producers Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy, …

'Then there’s Mother’s Day, with its attendant helium balloons, spring bouquets, brunch specials, and widespread exhorta...
05/06/2021
A Son’s Note from Prison: “Your Love Is a Verb”

'Then there’s Mother’s Day, with its attendant helium balloons, spring bouquets, brunch specials, and widespread exhortations to make sure that our mothers—and friends and strangers on social media—know how precious the relationship is. Wills is baffled by how “having mass incarceration, having private prisons to break up families,” could fit in the American narrative that seems to celebrate maternal bonds by bestowing flagship status upon the holiday. “What the f**k do I want to celebrate it for?”'

Watch MOTHER'S DAY by Ellie Wen ('19) on The New Yorker. This was Wen's 1st year spring quarter film in the Stanford MFA Documentary Film program.

Ellie Wen’s documentary “On Mother’s Day” portrays how a parent-child bond persists through the separation of incarceration.

Fresh on The New Yorker site: Ted Griswold’s (’20) portrait of lessons in masculinity that take place at a shooting rang...
04/29/2021
The Masculinity Lessons of “Father and Gun”

Fresh on The New Yorker site: Ted Griswold’s (’20) portrait of lessons in masculinity that take place at a shooting range. FATHER AND GUN was Ted’s 1st year spring quarter film.

A documentary short explores the lessons being passed from fathers to sons at a California shooting range.

Looking forward to seeing films from our program under the stars at the beautiful Frost Auditorium -- exact schedule com...
04/02/2021
Stanford Live to feature Reese Witherspoon and other alums in outdoor film series

Looking forward to seeing films from our program under the stars at the beautiful Frost Auditorium -- exact schedule coming soon, but expect a selection of recent favorites by MFA students in Documentary Film (curated by current students!) and recent feature documentaries by MFA alums.

Films being shown at the Frost Amphitheater will also feature Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Connelly, Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae.

Three Short Films by first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film. LIve Q&A to follow!Tuesday, March 235 p...
03/16/2021

Three Short Films by first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film. LIve Q&A to follow!
Tuesday, March 23
5 pm PST
link to virtual screening here (only available at above date/time):
https://vimeo.com/event/759931

We are thrilled to announce the Stanford Department of Art & Art History’s presentation of: Eight Spring Films!! Films b...
03/05/2021

We are thrilled to announce the Stanford Department of Art & Art History’s presentation of: Eight Spring Films!!

Films by (former) first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film (the pandemic delayed us but it can’t stop us!) Vimeo link in our bio:

Q&A with filmmakers to follow

‪Friday, March 5‬
‪5 pm PST ‬

Un Hermano Mejor by Jon Ayon
Two Latinx brothers in their late thirties, one gay the other straight, meet to reflect on their childhoods in an ultra-religious, immigrant household.

Club Quarantine by Aurora Brachman
Every night during the Covid-19 lockdown, hundreds of people from around the world gather in a massive q***r dance party known as ‘Club Quarantine.’

The Dandelions by Adrian L. Burrell
After crash landing in the future, a black freedom fighter sends a message to the past about the path to liberation.

Internal Sun by Anna R. Japaridze
When homes are drawn apart by time and space, recitations appear towards the deliverance of an eclipse.

The Space Between by Sydney Bowie Linden
Two sisters revisit their past to understand why their mother mysteriously stopped recording home movies.

File Me Away by Michael T. Workman
‪Lifenaut.com promises its users a chance to become technologically immortal.‬

Wavelengths by Jessie Zinn
A hotline extends an ear for womxn who are alone with new emptiness amidst the Bay Area’s 'Shelter In Place' order.

April Sucks by David Zucker
Composed entirely of found YouTube vlogs, April Sucks is a collective portrait of teenage boys navigating the isolation and frustration of life in quarantine. @ Stanford University

Please join us Friday February 26th, at 5 PM PST, for a screening of four short films by the (formerly) first-year stude...
02/26/2021

Please join us Friday February 26th, at 5 PM PST, for a screening of four short films by the (formerly) first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film! This winter MFA documentary film screening was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed as a precautionary measure in response to the coronavirus. We are now pleased to be able to present these films online. This screening will take place on Vimeo with a Q&A with filmmakers to follow.

A link to the screening is in our bio!

Fragile Vessels by Jon Ayon & Anna R. Japardize
Residents of California reflect on their emotional responses to inhabiting a time marked by ecological collapse.

Look at Mama by Sydney Bowie Linden & David Zucker
An Instagram-perfect house, 303k followers, and two kids with one of the rarest genetic diseases in the world. You know, a typical mommy-blogger.

Favor and Grace by Adrian L. Burrell & Michael T. Workman
After the ex*****on of her nephew at the hands of the Vallejo Police, Angela seeks justice

The Gallery That Destroys All Shame by Aurora Brachman & Jessie Zinn
One evening in L.A., a group of womxn gather to learn how to take back the speculum. @ Stanford University

The Fall 2020 MFA Documentary Film Screening is here! This year, the first year MFA students faced the daunting task of ...
12/08/2020

The Fall 2020 MFA Documentary Film Screening is here!

This year, the first year MFA students faced the daunting task of filmmaking during the pandemic. Despite the obstacles, they crafted 6 remarkable films. As is required in the first quarter, all films were shot on 16mm black and white Bolex film. A virtual screening of these films by the first-year MFA students is happening Tuesday, December 8, 5:30-6:30 pm PST.

There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers following the screening!!

Michael Rubbo was a student at Stanford in the 60s and has had a 50 year career in documentaries since, including some c...
10/25/2020

Michael Rubbo was a student at Stanford in the 60s and has had a 50 year career in documentaries since, including some classic documentary films at the NFB (Waiting for Fidel, Margaret Atwood- Once in August). Rubbo has just released a series of videos reflecting on his work and methods. We recently acquired the entire series for our MFA students at Stanford Library -- check it out below!

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/michaelrubbosdocojourney

Watch Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz's ('17) powerful short Status Pending on NBC's Meet the Press at AFI Festival. Priscilla ...
10/24/2020
Status Pending

Watch Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz's ('17) powerful short Status Pending on NBC's Meet the Press at AFI Festival. Priscilla says about the immigration lawyers in the film,
"They really care about their communities, not just in their professional lives but in their personal lives. Something that drives my work is featuring relatable “normal people” who do little things or big things that make a difference."

With Immigration Law under attack, five first-generation Immigration lawyers (who call themselves “The Tribe”) strive to help immigrants obtain safety and status in the United States. Through a chronicle of their professional and personal lives, this film aims to present the effects of the curre...

Watch the short film Huntsville Station, directed by MFA faculty and program director Jamie Meltzer and alum Chris Filip...
10/06/2020

Watch the short film Huntsville Station, directed by MFA faculty and program director Jamie Meltzer and alum Chris Filippone (‘18) at the upcoming @doubleexposurefestival oct 14-18 #dxiff2020

Congrats to our alums -- Reid Davenport ('16), Elizabeth Lo ('15), Kristine Stolakis ('15) -- on being included in Doc N...
10/05/2020
DOC NYC ANNOUNCES 3RD ANNUAL “40 UNDER 40” LIST

Congrats to our alums -- Reid Davenport ('16), Elizabeth Lo ('15), Kristine Stolakis ('15) -- on being included in Doc NYC's 40 under 40 list!

DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, announced the honorees for its third annual “40 Under 40” list celebrating young talent. T

Congrats to Aurora Brachman - Aurora’s spring quarter film just premiered on NY Times’ Op-Docs!!
09/22/2020

Congrats to Aurora Brachman - Aurora’s spring quarter film just premiered on NY Times’ Op-Docs!!

Congrats Aurora Brachman ('21) for the premiere of the wonderful short film Club Quarantine (a Spring quarter film from ...
09/22/2020
Video: Opinion | Club Quarantine

Congrats Aurora Brachman ('21) for the premiere of the wonderful short film Club Quarantine (a Spring quarter film from the MFA Program), now playing as part of the NY Times' Op-Docs series.

When the coronavirus shut down clubs around the world, I found community in a q***r dance party on Zoom.

HomegoingA film by Yeon Park @yeonpark__ During the coronavirus lockdown in the US, an immigrant couple from South Korea...
08/07/2020

Homegoing
A film by Yeon Park @yeonpark__

During the coronavirus lockdown in the US, an immigrant couple from South Korea struggles to define where home is.

what she lefta film by Michelle Mehrtens @mehrtensm In the tropical warmth of Miami, Florida, Kathryn struggles to recon...
08/07/2020

what she left
a film by Michelle Mehrtens @mehrtensm

In the tropical warmth of Miami, Florida, Kathryn struggles to reconcile her memories of Fernanda, her older sister who passed away a few years ago.

Beyond the Wire A films by Ted Griswold @ted.griswold4 Former Army Ranger Chris Pesqueira experiences freedom after 33 y...
08/07/2020

Beyond the Wire
A films by Ted Griswold @ted.griswold4

Former Army Ranger Chris Pesqueira experiences freedom after 33 years at Soledad State Prison in California. As he takes his first steps back into society, he receives support from a community of formerly incarcerated veterans.

Amazing to see Elizabeth Lo's Stray and Kristine Stolakis' Pray Away featured in this round-up of the best films from SX...
05/06/2020
Critics' Picks: 10 Highlights From SXSW and Tribeca Online

Amazing to see Elizabeth Lo's Stray and Kristine Stolakis' Pray Away featured in this round-up of the best films from SXSW and Tribeca.

Standouts include a doc about Johnny Cash’s first wife and another about gay conversion therapy, as well as a drama starring 'Unorthodox' breakout Shira Haas.

Kristine Stolakis' ('15) powerful debut feature documentary, Pray Away, a selection of Tribeca 2020, just received this ...
04/17/2020
'Pray Away': Film Review | Tribeca 2020

Kristine Stolakis' ('15) powerful debut feature documentary, Pray Away, a selection of Tribeca 2020, just received this amazing review in The Hollywood Reporter: "Defectors from the religious right's gay "conversion" therapy programs speak out about the damage inflicted on themselves and countless LGBTQ youth in Kristine Stolakis' powerful doc"... "The film is measured yet forceful, never strident in making its point. It exposes the bitter truth about a morally and psychologically unsound practice — birthed out of a time when being gay was "a crime, a sin and a sickness" to use Bussee's words — that now appears to be making a quiet resurgence in our supposedly more evolved age." Congrats Kristine Stolakis and the entire team -- including program alums Carla Gutiérrez ('04) as editor and Melissa Langer ('15) as cinematographer, can't wait to see this one on screens big and small!!

Defectors from the religious right's gay "conversion" therapy programs speak out about the damage inflicted on themselves and countless LGBTQ youth in Kristine Stolakis' powerful doc, exec-produced by Jason Blum.

This festival season was to see feature film debuts from many of our recent grads. Elizabeth Lo's (MFA in Documentary Fi...
04/17/2020
'Stray': Film Review | Tribeca 2020

This festival season was to see feature film debuts from many of our recent grads. Elizabeth Lo's (MFA in Documentary Film, Class of 2015) debut feature, slated to premiere at Tribeca this year, just received a wonderful review in the Hollywood Reporter. It's a magnificent and sensitive film, and the review is positively ecstatic, comparing the central canine subject Zeytin to Greta Garbo, and offering gems like these: "Through a finely calibrated ebb and flow of insight and emotion, Lo offers a fresh perspective on life in the shadows — the freedom as well as the neglect..." " illuminating, through its central canines' adventures, the economic and political divisions and the cultural hierarchies that define our time." Congrats Elizabeth Lo -- we're looking forward to when the film is widely available and screening at cinemas across the world!

Elizabeth Lo's first feature-length documentary offers a dog's eye view of Istanbul.

This article outlines some of the heartbreaking challenges documentary filmmakers are now facing -- including many our o...
04/11/2020
Premiering Documentaries in a Pandemic

This article outlines some of the heartbreaking challenges documentary filmmakers are now facing -- including many our own MFA grads with debut features that were slated to premiere at SXSW/ Tribeca/ Full Frame/ Hot Docs. Specific mention here of Kristine Rose's doc feature Pray Away. "...No one really knows what will happen in the next month or two, or six or seven. There is one thing for certain, though. As Submarine's Josh Braun says, "There are a number of films that are waiting in the wings to go on stage. But we don’t know when the stage will be available to them."

April 8, 2020 Premiering Documentaries in a Pandemic By Anthony KaufmanShare: It may sound hyperbolic, but there has never been a worse time in the history of the world to be launching an independent documentary into the marketplace. With film festivals shuttering, postponing or moving online, and d...

Congrats to Reid Davenport ('16) for being selected as a BAVC MediaMaker Fellow with his project I Didn’t See You There.
03/04/2020
Bay Area Video Coalition

Congrats to Reid Davenport ('16) for being selected as a BAVC MediaMaker Fellow with his project I Didn’t See You There.

We are thrilled to announce the 2020 MediaMaker Fellows and Alumni Grants!

This year, we are awarding $8,000 unrestricted funding to 10 diverse filmmakers in addition to an immersive 8-month experience that includes critical mentorship, artist development, a built-in support network and much more.

The 2020 MediaMaker Fellows are:
Clarke Lyons, Squeegee (Baltimore, MD)
Colette Ghunim, Traces of Home (Chicago, IL)
Hanna Miller, Mississippi Mercedes (Oakland, CA & Mississippi)
Madsen Minax, North by Current (Brooklyn, NY & Vermont)
Maya Cueva, On The Divide (Berkeley, CA)
Milton Guillen, On the Move (Chicago, IL)
Reid Davenport, I Didn’t See You There (Oakland, CA)
Robie Flores, The In Between (New Orleans, LA)
Sisa Bueno, For Venida, For Kalief (New York, NY)
Victoria Montero, Guerrilleras (San Francisco, CA)

Join us in celebrating this cohort of extraordinary filmmakers: https://lnkd.in/eJYP4sx

#filmmaker #documentary #filmmakers #cinematic #producers #film #fellows #mediamakers #bavc

Whitney Legge's powerful Fall quarter film is now featured on the The Atlantic!
03/02/2020
What Kids Lost in California’s Wildfires

Whitney Legge's powerful Fall quarter film is now featured on the The Atlantic!

In the aftermath of a devastating California wildfire, children sift through the ashes of their home—and memories.

Stanford University Department of Art & Art History
01/15/2020
Stanford University Department of Art & Art History

Stanford University Department of Art & Art History

Congratulations to Kristine Samuelson, Edward Clark Crossett Emerita Professor of Humanistic Studies, who has earned an Oscar nomination for best documentary short for Life Overtakes Me, along with Stanford alumnus John Haptas.

The film, which is available to stream on Netflix, examines a mysterious illness, Resignation Syndrome, that causes traumatized refugee children in Sweden to retreat into a coma-like state. The filmmakers note that "this honor will bring further attention to children whose lives are scarred by trauma. We believe that Resignation Syndrome is just one manifestation of the impact of fear and anxiety on refugees, including children held in detention on our own borders.”

Samuelson has taught in the Documentary Film and Video Program for over thirty years, and we look forward to cheering her on during the award ceremony on Feb. 9.

01/13/2020
Crisanto Street | POV | PBS

Paloma Martinez's wonderful Spring quarter film Crisanto Street airs on PBS as part of POV Shorts program. Check it out!

In the shadow of Silicon Valley, a hidden community thrives despite difficult circumstances. For one resident, eight-year-old Geovany Cesario, impending change is bittersweet.

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Congrats to alums Reid Davenport and Meg Smaker, both premiering their films at Sundance 2022! I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. World Premiere. Jihad Rehab / U.S.A. (Director: Meg Smaker, Producers: Meg Smaker, Bryan Storkel) — A group of Al-Qaeda members are transferred from Guantanamo to a secretive rehabilitation center for Islamic extremists. World Premiere.
Congrats to alum Kristine Stolakis ('15), her feature documentary Pray it Away will debut on Netflix this Summer. The film was edited by alum Carla Gutierrez ('04) with cinematography by Melissa Langer ('15). Congrats to the whole team!
'Then there’s Mother’s Day, with its attendant helium balloons, spring bouquets, brunch specials, and widespread exhortations to make sure that our mothers—and friends and strangers on social media—know how precious the relationship is. Wills is baffled by how “having mass incarceration, having private prisons to break up families,” could fit in the American narrative that seems to celebrate maternal bonds by bestowing flagship status upon the holiday. “What the f**k do I want to celebrate it for?”' Watch MOTHER'S DAY by Ellie Wen ('19) on The New Yorker. This was Wen's 1st year spring quarter film in the Stanford MFA Documentary Film program.
Fresh on The New Yorker site: Ted Griswold’s (’20) portrait of lessons in masculinity that take place at a shooting range. FATHER AND GUN was Ted’s 1st year spring quarter film.
Looking forward to seeing films from our program under the stars at the beautiful Frost Auditorium -- exact schedule coming soon, but expect a selection of recent favorites by MFA students in Documentary Film (curated by current students!) and recent feature documentaries by MFA alums.
Three Short Films by first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film. LIve Q&A to follow! Tuesday, March 23 5 pm PST link to virtual screening here (only available at above date/time): https://vimeo.com/event/759931
We are thrilled to announce the Stanford Department of Art & Art History’s presentation of: Eight Spring Films!! Films by (former) first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film (the pandemic delayed us but it can’t stop us!) Vimeo link in our bio: Q&A with filmmakers to follow ‪Friday, March 5‬ ‪5 pm PST ‬ Un Hermano Mejor by Jon Ayon Two Latinx brothers in their late thirties, one gay the other straight, meet to reflect on their childhoods in an ultra-religious, immigrant household. Club Quarantine by Aurora Brachman Every night during the Covid-19 lockdown, hundreds of people from around the world gather in a massive q***r dance party known as ‘Club Quarantine.’ The Dandelions by Adrian L. Burrell After crash landing in the future, a black freedom fighter sends a message to the past about the path to liberation. Internal Sun by Anna R. Japaridze When homes are drawn apart by time and space, recitations appear towards the deliverance of an eclipse. The Space Between by Sydney Bowie Linden Two sisters revisit their past to understand why their mother mysteriously stopped recording home movies. File Me Away by Michael T. Workman ‪Lifenaut.com promises its users a chance to become technologically immortal.‬ Wavelengths by Jessie Zinn A hotline extends an ear for womxn who are alone with new emptiness amidst the Bay Area’s 'Shelter In Place' order. April Sucks by David Zucker Composed entirely of found YouTube vlogs, April Sucks is a collective portrait of teenage boys navigating the isolation and frustration of life in quarantine. @ Stanford University
Please join us Friday February 26th, at 5 PM PST, for a screening of four short films by the (formerly) first-year students in the MFA program in documentary film! This winter MFA documentary film screening was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed as a precautionary measure in response to the coronavirus. We are now pleased to be able to present these films online. This screening will take place on Vimeo with a Q&A with filmmakers to follow. A link to the screening is in our bio! Fragile Vessels by Jon Ayon & Anna R. Japardize Residents of California reflect on their emotional responses to inhabiting a time marked by ecological collapse. Look at Mama by Sydney Bowie Linden & David Zucker An Instagram-perfect house, 303k followers, and two kids with one of the rarest genetic diseases in the world. You know, a typical mommy-blogger. Favor and Grace by Adrian L. Burrell & Michael T. Workman After the ex*****on of her nephew at the hands of the Vallejo Police, Angela seeks justice The Gallery That Destroys All Shame by Aurora Brachman & Jessie Zinn One evening in L.A., a group of womxn gather to learn how to take back the speculum. @ Stanford University
The Fall 2020 MFA Documentary Film Screening is here! This year, the first year MFA students faced the daunting task of filmmaking during the pandemic. Despite the obstacles, they crafted 6 remarkable films. As is required in the first quarter, all films were shot on 16mm black and white Bolex film. A virtual screening of these films by the first-year MFA students is happening Tuesday, December 8, 5:30-6:30 pm PST. There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers following the screening!!
Michael Rubbo was a student at Stanford in the 60s and has had a 50 year career in documentaries since, including some classic documentary films at the NFB (Waiting for Fidel, Margaret Atwood- Once in August). Rubbo has just released a series of videos reflecting on his work and methods. We recently acquired the entire series for our MFA students at Stanford Library -- check it out below! https://vimeo.com/ondemand/michaelrubbosdocojourney
Watch Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz's ('17) powerful short Status Pending on NBC's Meet the Press at AFI Festival. Priscilla says about the immigration lawyers in the film, "They really care about their communities, not just in their professional lives but in their personal lives. Something that drives my work is featuring relatable “normal people” who do little things or big things that make a difference."
Watch the short film Huntsville Station, directed by MFA faculty and program director Jamie Meltzer and alum Chris Filippone (‘18) at the upcoming @doubleexposurefestival oct 14-18 #dxiff2020