MENU menu

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finding Your Story And Making It Count: A Session With Sundance

Back to schedule

Session Description

We have all witnessed the power of a good story. It can be the determining factor in raising funds, changing behaviors, and making you and your cause memorable. Join the Sundance Institute to explore key elements of narrative storytelling and put those skills to use by sharing your story in small groups over cocktails. Discover how the most effective storylines create empathy that can lead to action. Group leaders include senior Sundance staff and leading independent filmmakers.


When | Where

17:15 - 18:45 Wednesday, April 13 SBS, Pyramid Room

Session leaders

  • Tabitha Jackson Facilitator
    Director, Documentary Film Program, Sundance Institute
    Tabitha Jackson was appointed Director of the Documentary Film Program (DFP) at Sundance Institute in late 2013. The DFP is dedicated to supporting nonfiction filmmakers worldwide in the production of cinematic documentaries that tell compelling stories, push the boundaries of the form, or address contemporary issues including social justice and human rights. In supporting such work, the DFP encourages the diverse exchange of ideas by artists as a critical pathway to developing an open society. Recently supported films have included Cameraperson, Hooligan Sparrow, Whose Streets?, The Look of Silence, I Am Not Your Negro, and CITIZENFOUR. With almost 25 years experience in the field, Jackson is an award-winning Commissioning Editor, director, and producer of non-fiction work. Prior to joining Sundance she most recently served as Head of Arts and Performance at Channel 4 Television in London, where she supported and championed the independent and alternative voice and sought to find fresh and innovative ways of storytelling. She also executive produced a number of projects for Film 4 including Mark Cousins’ cinematic odyssey The Story of Film, Clio Barnard’s hybrid The Arbor, Sophie Fiennes’ essay The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Bart Layton’s thriller The Imposter, and Iain and Jane’s recent Sundance-winning Nick Cave biography 20,000 Days on Earth.
  • Wendy Levy Facilitator
    Executive Director, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture
    Wendy’s creative work takes place at the intersection of storytelling, innovation and social justice. As the Executive Director of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, she is focused on facilitating collaboration, innovation, leadership and cultural impact in the media arts field, leading new national and international programs like HatchLabs, Arts2Work and The Innovation Studio. Arts2Work launched in January 2018 with the very first federally-registered National Apprenticeship Program in media arts and creative technologies, a new initiative representing the hope for the future of creative work in the US, and a pathway out of poverty for a new generation of diverse artists and storytellers. Previously, Wendy was a Senior Consultant at Sundance Institute, helping develop the Sundance/Skoll Stories of Change Program and the New Frontier Story Lab. Wendy also directed the MacArthur Foundation-funded Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, the first public media Innovation Lab in the US. She began her career in film as the Festival Director for the Film Arts Festival for Independent Cinema at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. Wendy is the recipient of the Princess Grace Statue Award for distinguished contribution to the media arts field.
  • Artist/Filmmaker, Studio Wallworth
    Lynette Wallworth is an Australian artist/filmmaker who has consistently worked with emerging media technologies. Wallworth’s work has shown at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian, Royal Observatory Greenwich for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; Auckland Triennial; Adelaide Biennial; Brighton Festival and the Vienna Festival among many others as well as film festivals including-Sundance Film Festival, London Film Festival, Tibeca Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival and the Margaret Mead Film Festival. She has been awarded an International Fellowship from Arts Council England, a New Media Arts Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, the inaugural Australian Film, Television and Radio School Creative Fellowship and the Joan and Kim Williams Documentary Fellowship. She has had artist residencies in many parts of the world including Southern Italy, Iran, Northern England and New Mexico. Her works include the interactive video Evolution of Fearlessness; the full dome feature Coral, with accompanying augmented reality work; and virtual reality narrative Collisions, developed through the inaugural Sundance Institute New Frontier - Jaunt VR Residency. In 2014, Wallworth’s feature documentary Tender won the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for best televised documentary. In 2016, Wallworth was awarded a UNESCO City of Film Award, the Byron Kennedy Award for Innovation and Excellence and Foreign Policy magazine named Wallworth as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers’ of the year. Wallworth lives in Sydney and mentors regularly at Sundance Labs.
  • Nicole Newnham Delegate
    Filmmaker, Coco Films
    Nicole Newnham has been a documentary filmmaker for over twenty years. Most recently she produced “Collisions”. Previously, Nicole co-directed & produced the Emmy-nominated documentary The Revolutionary Optimists, which screened globally and was selected by the Emmy-award winning PBS series Independent Lens. The film, which followed an extraordinary group of young activists in the slums of Kolkata, inspired her to develop Map Your World, an online community and storytelling platform for young changemakers that enables youth to leverage mobile technology to map data on public health issues as the centerpiece of a campaign for change in their communities. Nicole initiated, co-produced and directed The Rape of Europa, about the fate of Europe’s art treasures during WWII. The Rape of Europa enjoyed a successful theatrical release, has been a much-broadcast PBS primetime special, was nominated for two national Emmys and a WGA award, and was shortlisted for the documentary Oscar. She was nominated for an Emmy for directing and co-producing the documentary Sentenced Home, also broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens, which follows three Cambodian refugees in Seattle who are deported back to Cambodia after 9/11. She co-produced They Drew Fire, a widely acclaimed special for PBS about the combat artists of World War II, and wrote the companion book distributed by Harper Collins. Films she has directed have played at many prestigious venues, including the Sundance Film Festival, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco International Film Festival, Lincoln Center and the Walker Art Museum. Nicole earned a Master’s degree in Documentary Film from Stanford University in 1994.
  • Leah Mahan Delegate
    Filmmaker/Artist, Individual
    Leah Mahan is an independent documentary filmmaker whose work has been nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Sweet Old Song (2002) was featured on the PBS series P.O.V. and was selected by film critic Roger Ebert to be screened at his Overlooked Film Festival (“Ebertfest”). She spent a dozen years making Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek (2013) and was invited to work on the rough cut at the Sundance Institute Documentary Editing and Story Lab. The film won the Audience Award for Documentary Feature at the New Orleans Film Festival and aired on the PBS World Channel in 2014. In 2015 Leah was a Storytelling Fellow at the Skoll Stories of Change lab at Sundance and traveled to Indonesia as a U.S. Film Envoy with the American FilmShowcase, a partnership between the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Leah got her start in documentary filmmaking as an intern for filmmaker Henry Hampton on the PBS series Eyes on the Prize and her first film was Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street (1996). Leah’s work has been supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, Independent Television Service, Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In addition to her independent filmmaking, Leah works with nonprofits on documentary storytelling strategy. After Hurricane Katrina, she worked with NGOs to create Bridge The Gulf, a community journalism project that lifts up the voices of Gulf Coast communities working towards justice and sustainability. She is currently a consultant to the Moving Forward Network on a project aimed at reducing harmful diesel emissions in frontline communities. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.
  • Filmmaker/Artist, Individual
    As co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, filmmaker, artist and author, Michèle Stephenson, pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling deeply personal stories in a variety of media that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime and MTV. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys including Best Documentary and Best News Coverage of a Contemporary Issue. The film also won the Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Her collaborative film series with New York Times Op- Docs, A Conversation on Race, won the 2016 Online Journalism Award for Commentary. Stephenson was recently awarded the Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Breakthrough Award and is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her current work, Hispaniola, is supported by the National Film Board of Canada and the Sundance Documentary Fund. Her community engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society, and is a Skoll Sundance Storytellers of Change Fellow. Her recent book, Promises Kept, written along with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
  • Katerina Cizek Delegate
    Artistic Director, MIT Co-Creation Studio, MIT
    Katerina Cizek is a two-time Emmy winner and a pioneer in digital media. Her work has documented the Digital Revolution, and has itself become part of the movement. She is the Artistic Director and Executive Producer of the emergent Co-Creation Studio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Documentary Lab, while based in Toronto, Canada. For over a decade at the National Film Board of Canada, she helped redefine the organization as one of the world’s leading digital content hubs. She was the director and creative force behind the NFB’s award-winning 7-year digital documentary project HIGHRISE, and she realized the acclaimed NFB Filmmaker-in-Residence program. Cizek has built collaborations with a diverse range of community, academic and media partners to co-create media, including The New York Times, Wired Magazine, City of Toronto, United Way and most recently, Canada’s top YouTube stars. She has been recognized with 2 Emmys, a Peabody Award, World Press Photo Prize, 3 Canadian Screen Awards, 2 Webbys, amongst others. Her work has been seen by millions around the globe, through TV broadcasts and publishing on the web. She has travelled the world with her projects, teaching and advising on her innovative approaches to digital media and co-creation models.
  • Jerry Rothwell Delegate
    Filmmaker, Met Film Production
    Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst's ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race.  His latest film is Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter. At Met Film Production, he has exec produced and worked as an editor on numerous feature docs including Dylan Williams' Men Who Swim and Sarah Gavron's The Village At The End Of The World.   Another strand of Jerry's work has been participatory production, working with people to tell their own stories on film. He played in lead role in developing Hi8us Projects improvised dramas with young people for Channel 4, in establishing First Light, the UK Film Council's scheme for young filmmakers, and in setting up digital storytelling exchanges between marginalised communities across Europe.
  • Howard Gertler Delegate
    Filmmaker, Little Punk
    Oscar-nominated producer Howard Gertler’s credits include David France’s “How to Survive a Plague,” which premiered in competition at Sundance 2012 and was released by IFC Films/Sundance Selects; in addition to the Academy Award nomination, the film collected New York Film Critics’ Circle, Peabody, IFP Gotham, IDA and GLAAD Media Awards. With John Cameron Mitchell & graphic novelist Dash Shaw, he produced the short film “Seraph” for the band Sigur Ros, which premiered at Sundance 2013. He’s both an IFP/Gotham and Film Independent Spirit Award winner, the latter of which he won for producing John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus,” which premiered in the official selection in Cannes and was released worldwide. In 2014, he produced the feature doc for EPIX "To Russia With Love," traveling to Sochi, Moscow and St. Petersburg during the 2014 Winter Olympics to profile the impact of Putin's anti-LGBT law on both LGBT Russian citizens and global Olympians. Producer of the feature doc “Do I Sound Gay?” (directed by David Thorpe), it premiered at Toronto 2014 and opened DOC NYC that same year, followed by a theatrical release by IFC Films/Sundance Selects. His upcoming films include John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” produced with See-Saw Films, Film4, Ingenious and Screen Yorkshire, to be released by A24 and Studiocanal UK. His BA in Public Policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School prepared him better for a filmmaking career than he could’ve imagined at the time.