Introducing The New School’s Documentary Studies Class of 2017. The class has been busy whizzing through their first semester at The New School’s Documentary Studies Program at the heart of New York City. Meet the class who are each presently working on a thesis film project for spring 2017:

JoMarie Almendra – JoMarie has focused on many different fields such as animation, music, and graphic design. However, one aspect of herself that has stuck with her since she was a little was her hunger for travel; not in a touristic sense, but as a means of understanding global crises and political climates. Through filmmaking, she aims to explore different countries to document these matters while using her films as a platform for the unheard and unseen around the world.

Fran Champagne – Born in Montreal Canada, Fran is a vegetarian, loves animals, and loves to travel. Fran likes to make torn paper collages, stop motion animation and documentary films. She has lived in many places around Canada, the US, and overseas. She recently moved from Santa Fe, NM to Brooklyn, NY where she resides with her husband, two daughters, two puppies and two birds.

Keriann Fitzpatrick – Keriann is an aspiring fiction filmmaker now focusing on formally innovative non-fiction cinema. Born and raised In Sag Harbor,  she attended public school until sophomore year, then went to boarding school at the Millbrook School, Class of 2012. She then studied Communication and Film Media Arts at the University of Tampa where she discovered her passion to conceptualize and create visual narratives.

Channa Goodwin – Channa grew up in Spokane, Washington in a household of strong women. She fell in love with film while taking her high school film production class, but was not ready to commit to film school yet. Exploring other subjects as an undergraduate was important to her development as an aspiring documentarian. Channa is an animal-lover and eats most of her meals out of jars.

Lesley Grand – Lesley’s 7 grandchildren all call her Lelley, but her husband and their 3 sons and daughters-in-law call her mom or Lesley.  Lesley took off a long time between college and grad school, pursuing a successful 27-year career as a television news reporter and producer for PBS, CNBC — where she was the first female bureau chief — and CNN, upon her graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973. Returning to school was worth it, though, because she is loving the Doc Studies program and is very grateful to be a part of it. 

Nina Hölzl – Born and raised in Germany, Nina studied politics and communication at the university of Munich. A social activist by nature, and devoted yogini by practice, she would love to make documentaries that raise awareness about the pressing issues of our time, which at the same time celebrate the beauty of humanity. Currently, Nina is immersing herself in New York’s creative community, exploring her own singular approach to making inspiring and impactful movies.

Diana Khong – Diana is from Toronto, Canada where she completed her BBA and MBA at York University. Disheartened by corporate life, she switched to the arts world and has had the privilege of working with TIFF, Hot Docs, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and, most recently, Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. She has no actual filmmaking experience but figured, “sure, why not?”

Mahdokht Mahmoudabadi – Mahdokht was born and raised in Iran. She has worked with BBC Persia, and Zanan TV, a feminist, activist media site. Since moving to the US four years ago, she has worked in farming and sustainability. In addition to Doc Studies, Mahdokht is currently working on a project about global queers and immigration.

Cristina Müller – Cristina Müller is a Brazilian-Swiss filmmaker who has been working as a director and editor, mostly in documentaries and music videos. In Brazil she works at her production company, Varanda Filmes, and also in the Marimba Collective, specializing in video, photo, and design for classical music. In Switzerland, she works as a freelancer. She is currently doing the Documentary Media Studies program at the New School in New York.

Matthew Slutsky – Matthew hails from Philadelphia, PA which is where he first fell in love with storytelling. For over a decade, Matthew has worked in U.S. politics, on various issue advocacy campaigns and in technology as a founding member of the social change website After many years of dabbling in film and production projects, Matthew decided to follow his passion and take a leap by applying to the New School. Now, a handful of months later, he is glad he did. When not lugging a camera and tripod around New York City looking for subjects, Matthew can be found at home in Brooklyn with his wife, young son and a sheepdog named Clara.

Kristin Sztyk – Kristin grew up in New Jersey and came of age in Brooklyn, NY. She’s worked in advertising for most of her career, as an account manager and most recently as a copywriter. In early 2016 she left the ad world behind to become a documentary filmmaker.

Maria Gabriela Torres – Maria Gabriela Torres is a Venezuelan journalist and social Communicator who found her passion for moving images through photography. While living and working in Colombia, she decided to switch from the TV industry to documentary filmmaking, and is currently doing so in New York City.

Samuel B. Veal – Samuel is a native of Sandersville, GA and graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. Samuel worked for five years in Atlanta’s booming film industry for several major production companies, such as Paramount, Lionsgate, and Disney – Buena Vista. Eager to jump into the world of non-fiction, Samuel moved to New York to learn to tell pure, just, stories, and to be a vessel for strong voices of change.

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