Ellen Bruno's films have focused on issues at the forefront of human rights, including sex trafficking in Burma, political prisoners in Tibet, the social alienation of people with leprosy, and genocide in Cambodia. Ellen earned an MA in Film at Stanford University. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, a Goldie Award for Outstanding Artists, an Alpert Award for the Arts, an Anonymous Was A Woman Award for the Arts, and was an Artist-in-Residence at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Ellen serves on the board of the International Buddhist Film Festival, the Pacific Pioneer Fund, and Ethical Traveler.

Jay R square.jpg

Jay Rosenblatt has been working as an independent filmmaker since 1980.  A selection of his films had theatrical runs at the Film Forum and MoMA in New York and at theaters around the country.  Eight of his films have been at the Sundance Film Festival and several of his films have shown on HBO, IFC and the Sundance Channel. Articles about his work have appeared in the Sunday NY Times Arts & Leisure section, the LA Times, the NY TimesFilmmaker magazine and the Village Voice. In 2002 he produced with Caveh Zahedi the omnibus film Underground Zero, a collective response to events of September 11.



Usama Alshaibi (The Muslim Meme) was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and spent his formative years living between the United States and the Middle East. His films have screened at underground and international film festivals and have received grants from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the MacArthur Foundation, the Playboy Foundation, and the Creative Capital Foundation. His documentary films have premiered on the Sundance Channel, PBS and other television stations across the globe and he’s currently working on animated memoir called Boy from War

Kate Amend.jpg

Kate Amend (The Tool) is the editor of two Academy Award Winning Documentary Features-- INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS and THE LONG WAY HOME--and is the recipient of the International Documentary Association’s inaugural award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing.  She is on the Cinema Faculty at USC, is a frequent advisor at the Sundance Documentary Edit Labs, and represents the Documentary Branch on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Alan Berliner (State of the Union) has an uncanny ability to combine experimental cinema, artistic purpose, and popular appeal in compelling film essay, making him one of America's most acclaimed independent filmmakers. The New York Times has described Berliner's work as "powerful, compelling and bittersweet... full of juicy conflict and contradiction, innovative in their cinematic technique, unpredictable in their structures... Alan Berliner illustrates the power of fine art to transform life."

3-the-tool-Pablo Bryant.jpg

Pablo Bryant (The Tool) has been the Director of Photography on four feature documentaries and has shot additional photography on many other projects, including HBO’s  Cinema Verite’ , and the documentaryThe Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page.. He filmed in India and Nepal for the National Film Board of Canada for the documentary Tulku. In addition to his work as a cameraman he has produced, and directed a short documentary about the epidemic of homeless children in the US called Stand Up For Kids


Eva Ilona Brzeski (Fellow American) is the writer, director and editor of the award-winning short films This Unfamiliar Place, 24 Girls and China Diary (911), and the director/editor of the narrative feature LAST SEEN.  She has also edited many acclaimed documentary films such as Under Our Skin and Serenade for Haiti among others.  Eva lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she makes & edits films, and studies Kadampa Buddhism.

sarah clift.jpg

Sarah Clift (La Madre Buena/The Good Mother) has worked in commercial media as a Creative Director for 18 years, in London andParis. She recently began writing and directing for film, and La Madre Buena (The Good Mother) is her debut short. 


Shy Hamilton (Who Matters?) is an Afro-Xicana experimental filmmaker. Her credits include, Abracadabraafrika; Love/Amor and Untitled: A Meditation. She lives in Oakland, CA.





John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson (This is My Country) have been making documentary essays for over 25 years; their films have screened widely, from Sundance to MOMA, and include Tokyo WakaThe Days and The HoursRiding the TigerEmpire of the Moon, and Wrong Place, Wrong Time



Ferne Pearlstein (The United States) is a prize-winning director, cinematographer and editor whose work has been screened and broadcast around the world. Pearlstein won the 2004 Sundance Cinematography Prize for Imelda, and is one of only a handful of female DPs featured in Kodak's long-running “On Film” ad campaign in American Cinematographer. Her recent feature documentary "The Last Laugh,” premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and went on to screen at close to 100 festivals around the world including HotDocs, Munich, Jerusalem, BFI London, Rome, and IDFA. Following its theatrical run it was on PBS’s Independent Lens series.

Jay R.-Wo Hop 4x3.jpg

Jay Rosenblatt (Scared Very Scared) has completed over thirty films. His titles include The Smell of Burning Ants, Human Remains, I Used To Be A Filmmaker, Phantom Limb and The Darkness of Day. He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2002 and served on the Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch for nine years.

Jeremy Rourke (A Fine Initial Act) is a self taught animator, musician, and performer from San Francisco, California. He  utilizes photo-puppetry, clay, text, paint, light, shadow, flora and paper ephemera to produce his handmade animation and he scores these works with guitar and vocals, harp, singing bowls, bells, wind chimes, field recordings, found audio and drums. 


Nicole Salazar (The Starting Line/La Línea) is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. She has worked with the New York Times, The Intercept, Divided Films, Show of Force Productions, and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, among other outlets. She previously worked as a producer for Fault Lines, the flagship current affairs documentary series of Al Jazeera English. She started her career as a TV producer for Democracy Now!, an independent international daily news hour hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

10-David Sampliner Headshot.jpg

David Sampliner (Brothers) is an award-winning documentary director and cinematographer. His autobiographical film MY OWN MAN premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast as a Netflix Original. He also directed DIRTY WORK which premiered at Sundance and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel.



Rachel Shuman.jpg

Rachel Shuman (Brothers) is a documentary director and editor who has worked in New York City for 20 years. Her most recent film, “One October,” premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2017. Originally from Boston, Rachel received a BFA from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York.


Pacho Velez (The Starting Line/La Línea) has co-directed two feature documentaries, The Reagan Show (2017) and Manakamana (2013).  He is an Assistant Professor of Screen Studies at The New School.




Chel White (Little Donnie) has produced a body of work that includes short films, a feature film, children’s television, music videos, ads, and music for film. A Rockefeller Fellow, his work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Van Gogh Museum, Berlinale, Tribeca and Sundance, and his groundbreaking music video for Radiohead's Thom Yorke won Best Music Video at SXSW. White has directed projects for Saturday Night Live, David Lynch, Al Gore and the American Indian College Fund.