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Nov 17, 2023 at 10:00 am – Nov 19, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Beyond Reality: The Art of Nonfiction Editing

With Rebecca Adorno, Marley McDonald, Stefani Saintonge, Aleks Gezentsvey & Daniel Garber

If you would like to be added to the workshop’s waitlist e-mail: [email protected]

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

Back by popular demand, after leading two incredible, jam-packed editing workshops at UNDO in the past, join us for a three-day intense workshop, with acclaimed editor Rebecca Adorno (Homeroom by Peter Nicks, The Vow (part 1), Moments Like This Never Last by Cheryl Dunn) to explore the art of nonfiction editing. Together, we’ll engage with a range of creative approaches to documentary storytelling, expanding the boundaries of conventional filmmaking.

What are the roles of an editor, and how can you establish a productive relationship with the director? Handling diverse types of materials and footage, what approaches can you employ to craft the right tone and rhythm for a story? Over the weekend, we will delve into the process of finding the story with the materials you have available, which may at times differ from the director’s initial vision.

Our prestigious line-up of editors and filmmakers will guide you through the process of editing whether you’re already working or hoping to work on feature length documentary films, series or shorts.

On Friday, Rebecca Adorno will discuss the role of an editor in documentary filmmaking and will lead us through a range of creative approaches to editing, with a particular focus on world-building through sound and the footage you have at hand. Filmmaker Marley McDonald will then share her process, both as an editor and as a director (Time Bomb Y2K), and as an associate editor (Spaceship Earth, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed).

On Saturday, Stefani Saintonge (Fucked Like a Star, (Untitled [M*A*S*H] by Simone Leigh) will reveal how her experience as a director informs her editing practice, and how to capture an audience without a traditional story arc. In the afternoon, Aleks Gezentsvey (Navalny by Daniel Roher, The Deep End by Jon Kasbe) will delve into the process of achieving nuanced and immersive storytelling through the use of fly on the wall type material both in documentary series and feature length documentaries.

On Sunday, interested participants will have a chance to share a work-in-progress and receive feedback on a current project. Daniel Garber (How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Daniel Goldhaber, Some Kind of Heaven by Lance Oppenheim) will conclude the workshop by sharing his experience in working with both documentary and narrative films, as well as editing archival-only projects (such as The Rifleman, by Sierra Pettengill).

Come spend a weekend exploring the wide-ranging topics to think through in editing nonfiction and come away with inspiration, and connections that will help to guide your own work!

Seats are limited, so sign up today!

NOTE: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Each participant must present proof of vaccination. Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, choreographers, dancers, performance and media artists looking to develop the cinematic languages with which they can represent and incorporate movement.

$350 early bird registration by November 10th, 2023 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

For each workshop, UnionDocs will offer the equivalent of 2 full scholarships for participants from historically marginalized backgrounds, who are BIPOC,  living with disabilities, or NYC artists earning under 30% AMI (Area Median Income).

Applicants should reach out to [email protected] in order to fill out a scholarship inquiry by Nov 3rd, 2023.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until Nov 10. After Nov 10, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash.  After the early bird registration deadline of Nov 10th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, Nov 17: 10:00AM - 4:30PM

10:00am – 10:30am Welcome & intros
10:30am – 12:30pm Intro by Rebecca Adorno
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Marley McDonald
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Saturday, Nov 18: 10:00AM - 4:30PM

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Stefani Saintonge
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Aleks Gezentsvey
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Sunday, Nov 19: 10:00AM - 4:30PM

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, review of previous day
10:30am – 12:30pm Creative session / Participant work-in-progress
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Daniel Garber
4:00pm – 4:30pm – Wrap up, additional exercises / discussion

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Rebecca Adorno-Dávila is an award winning video editor born and raised in Puerto Rico. A lot of her work focuses on vérité and archival heavy, character-driven stories. She was an editor on the nine part HBO documentary series The Vow and worked on three seasons of the Emmy-award winning series VICE on HBO. Among others, she edited feature length documentaries “Residente”, which was an official selection at SXSW’s Film Festival in 2017, “Moments Like This Never Last”, which was an official selection at DocNYC and CPH:DOX 2020 and “Homeroom”, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Adorno received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Puerto Rico (2008) and an MFA in computer Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City (2010). She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing in 2016 and is one of the the recipients of Sundance Film Festival’s 2021 Inaugural Jonathan Oppenheim Documentary Editing Award for her work on the verite driven documentary film Homeroom. She was also a 2022 nominee for Cinema Eye Honors’ Outstanding Achievement in Editing award and for IDA’s Best Editing Award. She currently works between New York, Puerto Rico or anywhere where there is a good story that needs to be told.

Marley McDonald is a filmmaker, animator and painter living in Queens, New York. She most recently directed and edited her debut feature-length documentary, Time Bomb Y2K for HBO. In 2021, she was chosen as a Points North Fellow and worked as an additional editor on Penny Lane’s film Listening to Kenny G. Her associate editor work includes Spaceship Earth which premiered at Sundance 2020, and the Golden Lion-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. She is currently working on Gary Hustwit’s documentary about Brian Eno and developing her next feature film.

Stefani Saintonge is a Haitian-American filmmaker, educator and editor who won the juried and audience award at BlackStar Film Festival for her short film, FUCKED LIKE A STAR. Her work has screened internationally including at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Hammer Museum and the Smithsonian African American Museum. As an editor, she’s worked with acclaimed filmmakers and artists including Julie Dash, Simone Leigh, Deana Lawson, Bradford Young and Jason Moran. Her edited works have screened at Sundance Film Festival, Berlinale, Tribeca Film Festival, Guggenheim Museum and PBS. As a member of NEW NEGRESS FILM SOCIETY, she co-created their annual Black Women’s Film Conference. She received support from SFFILM, Jerome Foundation and Bronx Arts Council, participated in New York Film Festival’s Artist Academy, and served as an artist in residence with Haiti Cultural Exchange.

Aleks Gezentsvey is an editor who seeks out projects with an emphasis on story and emotion. Her work has received multiple awards, including an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a BAFTA for the film “Navalny”, which she did as a co-editor, an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and the Sundance Audience Award for “Jim: The James Foley Story.” Her films and series have appeared on major platforms such as HBO, Netflix and Hulu and she had the pleasure of working with renowned directors like Alex Gibney, Fisher Stevens, Jehane Nourjaim, Karim Amer and Jon Katsbe. Born and raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she immigrated to the United States at the age of sixteen. After graduating from Purchase Film Conservatory, Aleks worked as an assistant editor and visual effects editor on union majors (The Giver, Kill the Messenger, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II) and on independent films with directors such as Hal Hartley and Emily Carmichael. Aleks brings her narrative film training into editing documentaries and aspires to tell stories in an experiential and immersive way and to push creative boundaries with each new project. She is fluent in Russian.

Daniel Garber is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker who works primarily as an editor. He switches between cutting narrative films, including How to Blow Up a Pipeline (dir. Daniel Goldhaber, 2023), and documentaries, such as Some Kind of Heaven (dir. Lance Oppenheim, 2021). Daniel’s work has screened at festivals including Sundance, Toronto, Rotterdam, Locarno, Visions du réel, AFI Fest, BFI London, MoMA Doc Fortnight, and True/False. He has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, DOC NYC 40 Under 40, and Berlinale Talents.

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Nov 17, 2023 at 10:00 am
Nov 19, 2023 at 4:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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