2021 • 2022 • 2023
Los Angeles, CA
Jamal Ademola is an award-winning Nigerian-American artist and filmmaker with a diverse array of talents. Jamal poetically works across a kaleidoscope of disciplinarity – film, video, animation, drawing, painting, installation, acting, and performance. His work has exhibited and screened in art galleries and film festivals around the world. In addition to creating eye-catching commercials and nurturing his artistic practice, he is writing and developing innovative projects for film & television in hopes to facilitate healing. He is currently in production on a hybrid, docu-fiction film titled “Ellas Vinieron de Las Nubes” and writing a visual autoethnographic film project titled “Pieces of You”.
Ariel Baska is an award-winning, openly disabled horror and documentary filmmaker. Her horror short about medical gaslighting, Our First Priority won the Disability Advocacy Award from Superfest Disability Film Festival and was an Official Selection of FrightFest UK. She was a speaker at SXSW in 2022, a recipient of multiple scholarships from Sundance Collab, and a fellow of the RespectAbility Virtual Lab. She has also produced several projects including Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters, a documentary about the creator of Hellboy.
She is the founder, co-host, and executive producer of Ride the Omnibus, a podcast and non-profit parked at the intersection of pop culture and social justice. She writes about disability representation for her column in Ghouls Magazine, where she contributes film reviews and analyses. She curates creative spaces, from hosting Anime Invasion at the Alamo Drafthouse Winchester to Accessibility & Disability Connects, a monthly meetup for filmmakers interested in accessibility and representation at the Gotham, to upcoming panels and journal articles on disability and horror.
As an entrepreneur and creator of Light Dancing Productions, Barri Chase is an award-winning writer/producer/director of the feature motion picture The Watchman’s Canoe. She is a member of the Southeastern Cherokee Council, which has influenced her craft of telling cross-cultural, relatable stories. After a career in beauty, fashion, and fine-art photography, she focused on cinematography, then became a director of music videos, and short films, and currently works primarily on features. She finished her MFA in Screenwriting in April 2020.
Currently, she has a television series in consideration with several major networks and is in development on new narrative feature films. She has a deep understanding of the region’s history, culture, and people, and recognizes the landscape as a key “character” in a story. She has worked in most of the crew departments of filmmaking. Barri has been a guest lecturer, judge, and panelist on multiple international film festivals since 2017 and is one of the top seven female producers and directors to keep your eyes on according to yeahflix.com.
Roland Dahwen is a filmmaker and video artist. He received his B.A. in literature, and since then he has worked between video installation, nonfiction, and fiction films. He has taught film at the University of Oregon and Pacific Northwest College of Art. His performance piece, The Overseas Banquet, was presented at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time Based Art Festival in 2019. His short films include: There are no birds in the nests of yesterday (2013), Haft-Seen (2017), and May 35 (2019). His first feature film, Borrufa, premiered in 2020 at Portland International Film Festival and is currently in distribution with Collective Eye Films.
Carla Forte was born in Caracas, Venezuela and lives and works in Miami, Florida. Forte first trained as a contemporary dancer, and soon established herself as an interdisciplinary artist incorporating dance, film, and performance through different media. She is the co-founder and film director of the Bistoury Physical Theatre and Film in Miami, Florida. Her feature films and experimental pieces have been screened at prominent film festivals and galleries such as: 75 Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Salerno; The University Galleries of Florida Atlantic University; CICA Museum in South Korea; 16 SANFIC Santiago Festival Internacional de Cine Chile; 62 Rochester International Film Festival; 37 Miami Film Festival; OGA VideoArt Exhibitions Roma; 41st Atlanta Film Festival; Cube Art Project; and Les Instants Video, among others.
Her works have been acquired by Gravitas Adventures, South Florida PBS, and Troma Entertainment, and she has won commissions, awards, and artistic residencies from many prestigious programs.
Los Angeles, CA & Eugene, OR
Masami Kawai is a Los Angeles-born filmmaker who divides her time between Oregon and LA. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon. Her work integrates issues of race, class, gender, and what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. Kawai participated in film independent’s diversity program, Project Involve, and her work has been screened at various venues, including the Rotterdam Film Festival, LACMA, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Portland International Film Festival, and Indie Memphis. Her short Tides won Best Narrative Short at the Northwest Film Forum’s film festival and the Eastern Oregon Film Festival.
She is currently working on a feature film that follows an old TV/VCR combo set as it circulates through the lives of working-class characters of color in an Oregon town. The project has garnered support from institutions such as the Gotham Film & Media Institute (previously IFP), Cine Qua Non Screenwriting Lab, Northwest Film Center, and the University of Oregon. She was also a finalist for Oregon Humanities’ Field Artist Fellowship.
Angela Washko is an artist who creates new forums for discussions about feminism. Washko’s practice spans interventions in mainstream media, performance art, documentary film, video art, and video games. A recipient of awards from Creative Capital, National Endowment for the Arts, Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism, Indiecade, and Franklin Furnace Archive, Washko’s practice has been highlighted in the New Yorker, Frieze Magazine, Time Magazine, The Guardian, ArtForum, the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, the New York Times, and more. Her projects have been presented Internationally at venues including the Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Milan Design Triennale, and the Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial. Angela Washko is an Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry.
New York, NY
Keith McQuirter is an award-winning producer/director of documentaries, digital media, and commercials. In 2021 he won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing for the Epix docuseries By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem that he also executive produced. He produced three episodes of Netflix’s critically acclaimed true-crime docuseries The Innocence Files. Keith directed and produced the documentary Milwaukee 53206 which aired on World Channel’s America Reframed and won Best Feature Documentary at the 2017 Urban World Film Festival. He co-produced the Peabody Award-winning and Primetime Emmy-Nominated docuseries Brick City for Sundance Channel. His production company Decoder media is based in New York City.
Elyse Kelly is an award-winning director based in Washington, DC. Most recently, she was an Animation Director on Starz network’s Seduced– a documentary series that exposes one of the most destructive cults of our time. In 2017, she co-directed Fired Up, an animated short that depicts the origins of President Obama’s “fired up, ready to go” chant. Released on the final day of the Obama presidency, the film was featured by The Atlantic and has been viewed more than 10 million times. Elyse has over a decade of experience in animation and film, working for clients such as Netflix, the ACLU, The Atlantic, Sesame Workshop, and Meow Wolf. Her films have won awards and been exhibited in festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Tribeca, Annecy, Zagreb, and OIAF.
Writer/director Jesse Blanchard from Portland, Oregon, is best known for his Innovative use of puppetry and practical effects to create richly detailed fantasy films. Blanchard started making films in college. His work earned the praise of Filmmakers including Neil LaBute, Drew Barrymore, and horror master George Romero, who distributed Blanchard’s zombie short Run for your Life along with his feature Diary of the Dead. In 2021, Blanchard began experimenting with puppetry, developing a strict set of guidelines: the characters are treated as real; puppeteering is hidden; and the special effects are practical whenever possible. His ‘puppetcore’ shorts played film festivals from Los Angeles to Cannes. Beginning in 2014, Blanchard and his team began creating the characters, props, and sets for the feature-length puppet film Frank & Zed, as well as developing new techniques to allow the puppets to perform the intricate effects the film required. Production was completed over the course of the following six years. Frank & Zed has earned rave reviews from the Hollywood Reporter, RogerEbert.com, Nerdist, IndieWire, and others. It is currently on the festival circuit with screenings in Mexico, Brazil, Korea, and Canada among others.
The Sustainability Labs are made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and generous contributions from Joan Cirillo and Roger Cooke, the Reil Foundation for Arts and Creativity, and the King Family Foundation.