Meet our 2019 Early Production Lab Participants!

We’re excited to announce our 2019 Early Production Lab participants. Congratulations to all! We’re thrilled to be working with such a dynamic, multifaceted, and talented group of emerging filmmakers.

Led by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Malika Zouhali-Worrall with mentorship from UnionDocs Founder/Executive Artistic Director Christopher Allen and award-winning producer Danielle Varga, the UnionDocs Early Production Lab is a tightly structured environment where a select group of emerging filmmakers from the US and abroad can be inspired and challenged to think through every aspect of a work-in-progress. Over the course of five weeks, they will receive a stronger understanding of the business and best practices of managing a documentary production; participate in masterclasses with guest artists and industry professionals who represent some of the most exciting voices in the documentary field; attend daily screenings and seminars on a diverse and exciting collection of documentary works; and take trips to some of the most influential documentary organizations in New York. They will leave with a written proposal, strengthened media sample, and an established project plan all the way through to distribution. You can read more about our labs here.

Amber Bemak

Bemak is a filmmaker, artist, and educator. Her work is based in experimental and documentary film and also spans performance art and curatorial practice. She has co-directed and produced two feature documentaries on Tibetan Buddhism, as well as created 15 short experimental and documentary films that have played in numerous festivals internationally. For the past two decades, she has been engaged in a multi-layered exploration of performance and film which uses the body as a sight for socio-political inquiry, engages with text, language, and translation to open up discourse around deeply embedded colonization narratives, and commits to linking the intimate and personal with larger institutional structures. Her work draws from cinematic practice, pedagogy around ethics of representation, queer theory and lived experience, a deep commitment to a global perspective in all areas, and Buddhist philosophical frameworks and cultures. She has taught film theory and practice in India, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States.

Phil Clarke Hill

Phil Clarke Hill is a documentary director, video journalist and photographer. In his ten year career he has worked across five continents, shooting and directing many independent projects and commissioned stories.

His specialist subjects are environment and agriculture, activism and underground culture. Often working with culturally-marginalised communities, Phil aims to bridge the gap to show their side of the story in the mainstream media.

A Latin American specialist, he has dedicated much of his career to the continent, regularly working throughout the region since 2011, and now based between Brazil and the UK since 2014.

Phil has a long track record with some of the most respected names in media and journalism. These include the BBC, Guardian, CNN, National Geographic, Vice, Aljazeera Network, the Washington Post, UNHCR, UNISDR, UNWHO, Google and many others. He is now dedicating his time to working on collaborative multimedia projects that incorporate film, photo and written storytelling.

Kat Knight

Kat Knight is a film director and editor, born in Oklahoma and based in Brooklyn. Kat is passionate about telling character-driven stories with social justice issues at their core whilst taking the viewer inside intimate and vulnerable worlds. A 2013 School of Visual Arts graduate, her thesis film, Cicada Psalm, won the Dusty Award for Best Documentary.  Kat is currently in the early stages of production on her first feature-length personal documentary, Prairie Queers, which explores sexual fluidity within her non-traditional family.

Tushar Madhav

Tushar Madhav is an independent documentary filmmaker and editor based in Mumbai. He studied M.A. Mass Communication at the AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. In 2017, he was awarded with the 64th National Film Award of India for Best Debut Film for his first feature documentary Soz – A Ballad of Maladies. Based on the music and art of resistance in Kashmir valley, the film also won several other important South Asian film awards such as Ram Bahadur Trophy for Best Film at 11th Film South Asia Kathmandu and Best Documentary at 10th International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala. A previous independent film fellow of Public Service Broadcasting Trust in India, and current fellow, Arts Research at India Foundation for the Arts. Tushar has edited independent documentary films and non-fiction series for digital platforms. Besides working on films and television, he has also been teaching filmmaking at various universities and colleges of India for over 5 years.

Yasmine Mathurin

Yasmine Mathurin is a Haitian-Canadian filmmaker and award-winning podcast producer and multimedia journalist. In 2011 she was selected to take part in the United Nations Human Rights Fellowship Program for people of African-Descent. This became the starting point for her to pursue her career in journalism and filmmaking. She is a recipient of the 2019 Netflix-Banff Media Diversity of Voices Fellowship. She is an alumni of the Reelworld Film festival E20 program, the Documentary Organization of Canada’s (DOC) Breakthrough program, the Hot Docs Accelerator lab.

She previously worked as an associate producer with CBC Original Podcast. Most recently produced the audio-fiction podcast The Shadows which won Gold in the fiction category at the 2019 Digital Publishing Award. She also produced the CBC podcast Tai Asks Why, which won a Webby people’s choice award in 2019. She is currently developing her first feature documentary with the support of the CBC Documentary Channel & First Love Films.

Shayne McGrath

Shayne McGrath is founder and president of Catalyst Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit organisation empowering indigenous communities and protecting threatened wildlife.

Through 15+ years of grassroots experience in campaigns and frontline conservation, McGrath has worked with organisations around the world and co-founded an indigenous-led nonprofit in Indonesia.

Today he works using covert media across the globe to expose underreported global impact social and environmental issues.

Emily Mkrtichian

Emily Mkrtichian is an American-Armenian filmmaker and writer. Her films touch on themes of memory, place, and identity, and have traveled to film festivals around the world and been broadcast on major European TV channels.

Her past work includes directing reportage films aired on ARTE France/Germany; producing the award-winning short film 140 Drams (Camerimage, Clermont-Ferrand, Best Int’l short Izmir IFF 2013); and the immersive, multimedia installation Luys i Luso, an exploration music’s effect on spaces that were lost to a genocide a century before. The installation has traveled to Munich (Unterfahrt), Armenia, NYC (BRIC Arts), LA (Arts Activation fund recipient for public art), and Istanbul (DEPO Gallery). Emily also directed the viral web documentary Levon: a Wondrous Life, about 60-year-old rollerblader living exuberantly in the post-Soviet landscape of Yerevan, Armenia; and she just completed the short documentary Motherland, about the women who shake tradition and risk their lives to rid their country of landmines leftover from an ethnic war. Motherland premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival in 2019. This past winter, Emily directed her first narrative short, Transmission, a sci-fi film about a queer activist couple searching between worlds to find each other again. Transmission premiered at BFI’s Flare Film Festival in London this year.

Dorian Munroe

Dorian Emerson Munroe is a first generation Miami creative, born to Caribbean parents who migrated from Guyana, South America. Out of high school, Dorian accepted a full athletic scholarship to play football at the University of Florida alongside Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer where he was part of two National Championship winning teams. With a lifelong passion for the arts, and after a brief professional career, Dorian pursued his second love, filmmaking. After working on shows for networks such as MTV,  VH1, and VICE; he shot, directed, and edited his debut feature film American Town (2018) starring Dakota Powers (American Honey). His most recent project, These Kids This City .. (2019), recently took top prize at the Oolite Documentary Grant Contest.

Daniel Oxenhandler

Daniel Oxenhandler is a filmmaker, researcher and producer of interdisciplinary arts and research projects. He develops collaborative projects and partnerships which bring together unique intersections of film, art and media; academic and scientific research; and community; in order to co-create meaningful narratives and knowledge. He is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark and has previously lived, learned and worked across the world – in Brazil, Mexico, India, Spain and the US.

John D. Sutter

John D. Sutter is a National Geographic explorer and director of the forthcoming “Baseline” documentary series, which tells the story of the climate crisis beyond a human lifetime. A former Knight Visiting Nieman fellow at Harvard University, Sutter spent 10 years as a reporter, producer and columnist at CNN, most recently as a senior investigative reporter covering the climate crisis and related disasters. At CNN, Sutter created several award-winning initiatives, including “Two Degrees,” on the climate emergency; “Change the List,” which asked readers to vote on the issues the network would investigate; and “Vanishing,” a global documentary series on the extinction crisis. His digital documentary on modern slavery in Mauritania, “Slavery’s Last Stronghold,” won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists as well as the IRE Award, the EPPY award and other honors. His work in Puerto Rico contributed to the government’s admission that 2,975 died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, 46 times the previous official count. Sutter’s journalism has been nominated twice for national EMMY awards. He has been given the Peabody Award and the Batten Medal for public service journalism.

Carolina Gonzalez Valencia

Carolina’s practice lies at the intersection of personal, social, and political narratives. She weaves multiple media–animation, video, film, performance, writing, drawing, painting–to create documents that challenge social and historical representations of migration, otherness, diaspora, and labor.  She has worked on projects in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Lebanon, and the United States. Carolina’s work has been shown internationally at such venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Quito, Ecuador; the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (Rockland, ME);  GAZE (San Francisco); International short films showcase (Jakarta, Indonesia); Full Frame Theater/International short films and videos (Durham, NC); Broward College (Davie, FL); Contra el Silencio Todas Las Voces (Mexico City); Cinemateca Distrital (Bogotá, Colombia); Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago).  Her films have been screened on public access TV on such sites as Can TV (Chicago) and Videonautas (Colombia). She is the recipient of the Lyn Blumenthal Scholarship (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), the Gelman Travel Fellowship (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); and the Programa Nacional de Estímulos (Colombian Ministry of Culture).  She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation).  Carolina is now a professor in the Department of Art and Visual Culture at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Courtney Wittekind

Courtney Wittekind is a documentary artist working across mediums of sound, film/video, photography, and printmaking. Combining artistic practice with anthropological research, her creative work explores entanglements between political histories, landscapes, and embodied practices. Courtney is currently a PhD candidate at Harvard University, where she studies social anthropology and critical media practice in association with Harvard’s Film Studies Center and Sensory Ethnography Lab. She graduated with an M.Phil from Oxford University in 2016 and an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon in 2013.