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San Francisco, CA: BAVC Media is thrilled to announce the multiplatform documentary makers and projects that will receive the 2016 National MediaMaker Fellows award. The Fellows will receive professional support for their social issue media projects and meet for three immersive workshops in the Bay Area, at the Full Frame film festival in Durham, North Carolina, and at International Documentary Association’s Getting Real summit. A full list of recipients is below.

The 2016 MediaMaker Fellows are Bridgette Auger (Clark, CO), We Are Not Princesses; Erika Cohn (Salt Lake City, UT), Belly of the Beast; Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz (Allentown, PA), And Not to Stay; Nicole Opper (Oakland, CA), The F Word; Jethro Patalinghug (San Francisco, CA), #MyNameIs; Robert Rooy (Frederick, MD), Deej; Alcee Walker (Brooklyn, NY), Pain of Love; and Kevin D. Wong (Oakland, CA), Home is a Hotel.

Established through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1991— and currently in 2016 with continued support for The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and supported in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation — the National MediaMaker Fellowship program provides a series of project development opportunities that will support the media makers and their projects, including professional mentorship in audience engagement and strategy development, multi-platform and transmedia storytelling platform development, strategic social media and marketing planning, and fundraising strategy and support.

The BAVC MediaMaker Fellows are chosen through a competitive process by an independent panel of professionals. Panelists make their selection from a diverse community of applicants who are creative media artists seeking to increase their capacity for generating lasting impact and inspiring new partnerships to support future work.

"I'm thrilled for this wonderful group of creators to join BAVC Media's prestigious MediaMaker Fellows program, and that, along with BAVC Media's support, they will also help each other nurture these compelling, important projects," says Carrie Lozano, facilitator of the National MediaMaker program.

"There is an abundance of innovative tools, technologies and strategies that connect social issue-focused and documentary media with audiences, helping to create a collective impact,” adds Carol Varney, BAVC Media’s Executive Director. “I am excited that the National MediaMaker Fellows program continues to put those tools and strategies in the hands of media creators who are committed to inspiring social change."

The training and resources provided to the MediaMaker Fellows supports a complement of emerging artists, underserved communities, and seasoned artists who are interested in developing new media projects. The selection committee accepts projects at any stage of production, finding value in the blending of disparate timelines, areas of interest, and career paths into a well-rounded and diverse cohort of Fellows.

    Meet the 2016 MediaMaker Fellows:

    • Bridgette Auger, We Are Not Princesses

    We Are Not Princesses follows a group of Syrian women living in refugee camps as they put on a production of Antigone. This ancient tragic saga is slowly revealed in parallel with the women’s own confrontations with bereavement and burial but the focus remains on the women themselves, resulting in a counter-intuitive vision of what a refugee is – a human being in three dimensions.

    Bridgette Auger is an independent media artist and journalist strongly committed to using art for social change who has primarily worked in the Middle East for over eight years. Currently part of the creative team of Terrestrial Journeys, a theater program working with refugee women to process trauma, Auger’s work has appeared in The Guardian, New York Times, Die Zeit and the short film This is not me هاد مو أنا: Enduring Syria’s War. She was the 2012 recipient of the Tierney Fellowship and holds a degree in Photography and Imaging from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Masters in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

    • Erika Cohn, Belly of the Beast

    Belly of the Beast intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities.

    Erika Cohn has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her film, When the Voices Fade, a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and recent admission into the CPB Producer’s Academy. Cohn recently co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, a feature documentary about the unique faith and culture that ultimately drives young Pacific Islander men into the NFL, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on Independent Lens in January, 2016. In 2008, she traveled to Cambodia where she shot Giant Steps, a documentary about the restitution of art after the Khmer Rouge rule, which aired on PBS. In 2010, Cohn associate produced the six-part Frontline/American Experience historical series, God in America, which explores the intersection of religion and public life in America. She runs Idle Wild Films and studied at Chapman University (California) and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and has degrees in Film Production, Middle Eastern Studies, and Acting Performance.

    • Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, And Not to Stay

    And Not to Stay is a multimedia documentary project that aims to make visible to diverse audiences the daily rhythms and working conditions of one of the most important labor pools of the U.S. economy — migrant farmworkers — and in so doing, help to promote policies and public discourse informed by and sensitive to these conditions.

    Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz is an award-winning, Iranian American documentary filmmaker (Inheritance, Mama Icha's House) and educator with a history of producing work that inquires into diasporic identity and the relationship between the political and the personal. Currently an Assistant Professor of Film Production at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Ebrahimi Bazaz has also served as Program Director for the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC). She earned her MFA from Temple University and her MA from the University of Georgia.  

    • Nicole Opper, The F Word

    The F Word is a docu-comedy web series that will chronicle the journey of Nicole and Kristan, a queer Bay Area couple who plan to become fost-adopt parents and are committed to learning everything they can about the troubled institution on which they are staking their dreams of parenthood. Determined to dispel the pervasive idea that the kids adopted from foster care are "damaged goods", they seek out a range of people working to change the system – from social workers, therapists, judges and advocates to the true experts, former foster youth themselves, some who were eventually adopted, others who have aged out of foster care and are building their own futures.

    Nicole Opper directed and produced the Emmy® Award-nominated feature documentary Off and Running which was an Audience Favorite at Tribeca, won ten "Best Doc" festival awards (including Outfest) and aired on P.O.V. in 2010. She’s currently finishing her second feature documentary, Búscame: Search for Me, which is supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Chicken & Egg Pictures and The Independent Television Service (ITVS). Opper has produced films for The Discovery Channel and a documentary series for Here TV, and was selected for Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. She has taught filmmaking at San Francisco State University, Stanford, and Diablo Valley College. As a youth media professional she co-directed The School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA), and mentored youth through Brooklyn Reel Works, Tribeca Film Fellows and BAVC Media.

    • Jethro Patalinghug, #MyNameIs

    #MyNameIs is a documentary film following a protest movement against Facebook’s real name policy which is being led by drag queens, transgenders, Native Americans, domestic abuse survivors, and other ethnic minorities.

    Jethro Patalinghug is a filmmaker based in San Francisco, California.  His film My Revolutionary Mother was cited as the best documentary film in the Philippines for 2015 by a coalition of film critics at pinyorebyu.com. It also won Best Short Documentary Film at the Boston Asian American Film Festival, Singkwento International Film Festival, and Unofficial Google Film Festival 2013 among others. Patalinghug is also an experienced television and corporate video producer and has produced content for Google, MTV Philippines, Studio23 MYX, GMA7, QTV11 and ABC5. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Film and Video Production at the Art Institute of California – San Francisco.

    • Robert Rooy, Deej

    Deej is the story of DJ Savarese (“Deej”), a gifted young writer and an advocate for nonspeaking autistics. Once a “profoundly disabled” foster kid on the fast track to nowhere, DJ is now a college student with a burning desire to stand up for those whose neurological differences cause others to summarily dismiss them as incompetent, often “housing them in classrooms of easy lessons.”  As writer and producer of Deej, he seeks to quell deep-seated fears and heal old wounds while giving others like him a voice.”

    After working as an assistant director on more than forty Hollywood productions, filmmaker Robert Rooy formed his own production company Rooy Media LLC, which has created more than fifty film and video programs that engage and educate people about important human issues. Rooy Media also provides production services for socially responsible companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

    • Alcee Walker, Pain of Love

    In an effort to chart his own survival, the filmmaker attempts to bring his family together for a family dinner—the first one of his lifetime.

    Alcee H. Walker is an African American film director from West Palm Beach, FL. Walker attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and graduated in 2011 with a BFA degree in  Performance and Communications and a minor in Education. He later went on to graduate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY where he earned a MFA degree in Social Documentary followed by a MPS Degree in Directing. His film work has been shown at many venues across the country including the Directors Guild of America where he won his first film award for his documentary film, Pain of Love. Just a year later Walker again won the 2015 Jury Award also from the DGA for his film, Inferno. He plans to direct all of his future film work towards motivating the younger generation, especially African American and Hispanic youth.

    • Kevin D. Wong, Home is a Hotel

    Amidst attention grabbing headlines of IPOs, Apps, and extreme wealth, Home is a Hotel is a different San Francisco story: a day spent following the lives of four working-class residents of San Francisco’s residential hotels.

    Kevin D. Wong is a Bay Area-based director, editor, and producer. After a stint at Lucasfilm's ILM he ventured out into the world of freelance filmmaking where he writes, directs, edits and otherwise renders both fiction and nonfiction films. His narrative films include Forgetting, an adaptation of a Radiolab episode about a man who can't remember faces, and Be My Baby, a family drama that was featured on Comcast's Pinoy TV. Wong's feature screenplay Nellie was a 2nd round selection in the 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. 

    Learn more at bavc.org/mediamaker.

    BAVC Media especially thanks the 2015 MediaMaker Fellows selection committee:

    • Carrie Ching, 2015 MediaMaker Fellow, Hawaii on the Rocks
    • Jason Jakaitis, Instructor, San Francisco State and former Director of Independent Media, BAVC Media
    • Joanne Elgart Jennings, KQED and PBS NewsHour
    • John Lightfoot, Program Officer, Cal Humanities
    • Carrie Lozano, MediaMaker Fellowship facilitator
    • Lauren O' Connor, Development and Marketing Associate, BAVC Media
    • Matt Sussman, Public Programs and Fellowships Manager, BAVC Media
    • Dawn Valadez, 2012 MediaMaker Fellow and BAVC Media Board Member

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    Founded in 1976, Bay Area Video Coalition's (BAVC Media) mission is to inspire social change by empowering media makers to create and share diverse stories through art, education and technology. 

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