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Saturday, Oct 17 at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Future Present: Rethinking Documentary from an Artist’s Perspective

Conversation around documentary futures.

Faced with a fragile and inequitable industry built on capitalist frameworks, filmmakers inside this COVID 19 moment are left with few resources to experiment and explore. Following each screening of the three films, Cecilia Aldarondo, Todd Chandler, Hannah Jayanti will lead a discussion centering around cinematic progression.

What kinds of films become possible when we investigate systems instead of stories? What becomes possible when filmmakers go deep in their ethical commitments? What does deep, meaningful engagement with the people we film with really look like in practice?

Additionally, addressing the endangered status of formally adventurous non-fiction cinema, rethinking film distribution and festival circuits, reconnecting to the core principles of independent filmmaking in the present moment, and models for creative modes of collaboration.

Ticketing for this weekend will be sold per pod (for two, with the option to add a third!) for attendance in the Backyard LEAN-TO. These events are socially-distanced with masks required for entry. If you add all the events and the weekend encompassing conversation to your cart you can use the code “LEAN2x4” to get $20 off for a “weekend pass”. Attend all of the films and a special conversation or just select a single day to join for one of the features and conversations.


Future Present; Rethinking Documentary from an Artist Perspective

80 min., 2020

102 min

Cecilia Aldarondo (Director, Producer) is a documentary director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who makes films at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her feature documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART (Tribeca 2016) had its World Premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast on POV in 2017. She is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow, two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and recipient of a 2019 Bogliasco Foundation Residency. In 2019 she was named to DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2015. She teaches at Williams College.

Hannah Jayanti (director, editor, cinematographer, producer, writer) is a documentary filmmaker. She’s dedicated to changing the way we listen to each other through the art of nonfiction. Recent support includes: Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Jerome Foundation, among others. Her work has screened at institutions and festivals including the Smithsonian, Museum of the Moving Image, Sheffield Doc | Fest, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes, The New Yorker Festival, among others. She’s passionate about making filmmaking accessible and teaches free and low cost media classes around the world. More at www.hannahjayanti.com.

Todd Chandler (Director/Producer/Editor) is a filmmaker, artist, and educator. His work has been featured at True/False, SXSW, Rooftop Films, the Hammer Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Mass MoCA. His projects have been supported by Creative Capital, Field of Vision, Sundance Institute, International Documentary Association, Doc Society, and ITVS, among others. His first feature film, Flood Tide, premiered at the Torino Film Festival in 2013, and his short film A Debtors’ Prison premiered at Camden International Film Festival in 2017 and was later broadcast on PBS’ POV. He was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2019, a fellow at the Sundance Non-Fiction Director’s Residency in 2019, and a 2017 Points North Fellow. He has taught in high schools and universities for over fifteen years, and has partnered with community-based organizations and human rights groups to create videos about pressing contemporary issues. He currently teaches in the Film Department at Brooklyn College.

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Saturday, Oct 17
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm


BROOKLYN, NY 11211 United States
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UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

UnionDocs Memberships 

Free access to public events, plus discounts on guest tickets, workshops, the UNDO Shop, space rentals, and more!


Collaborative Studio

An expansively designed program that offers a platform for exploring contemporary approaches to the documentary arts and a process for developing an innovative collaborative project.




Support this socially distanced, open-air structure and help keep our community connected and our programs going! Join a fundraising screening with a film, food and discussion this week!