Doc Studies Virtual Info Session – April 2023

Thanks to all who attended the Doc Studies virtual info session held over Zoom on April 20th. A panel of alumni from recent years (Inés Vogelfang, Mahdokht Mahmoudabadi, Luz Zamora, Cacau Araujo, Tiffany Jiang) answered questions about their experiences in the program, shared excerpts of their work, and gave updates on what they’re doing now in the field. Lana Lin, the Director of the Doc Studies graduate program, provided insight into the curriculum, faculty, and structure of the program. Prospective students received application fee waivers for attending the session.

We’re currently accepting applications for Fall 2023. If you have questions about the program or would like to get in touch, please email

We encourage all prospective students to visit campus on May 23, 2023 at 7pm to attend Truth Be Told, our annual documentary film festival of original short films made by students in the current graduating class. Past editions of the festival can be found here. Each work is the result of a year of intensive study in documentary cinema – production, history, theory, and aesthetics. The screenings will be followed by a faculty-led Q&A with the filmmakers and a light reception. Admission is free and registration is required. Learn more about the films and students.

Cacau Araujo, Doc Studies ’22, featured in the All Arts Rising Artists Series + THE GREAT FIND broadcast on BronxNET TV

Cacau Araujo was featured in the third season of the All Arts “Rising Artists”, by PBS. The series profiles creative student talent at NYC area universities. Araujo shares the process of making her Doc Studies capstone short documentary “The Great Find”, and how getting immersed in the production and conversing with the material captured allowed her to transform her initial idea into the final cut. 

“The Great Find” will broadcast on BronxNET TV Saturday, January 7th, via cable channel and online, 10:30 pm (EST)

About “The Great Find”: New York is a cornucopia of free stuff. Stunned by the city’s give-and-take dynamics, a Brazilian filmmaker embarks on an investigation of the codes behind reclaiming objects left on the street. As a result, she ends up reflecting on her own attachment to material things.

Cacau Araujo is a Brazilian filmmaker, writer and artist based in New York City. Her work revolves around place, language, memory, and identity; especially women’s identities, and the events that shape and shift them. She is the co-founder of línguamãe (mothertongue), a collective that explores the intersections between mothering and other creative & artistic practices. Currently she is a graduate student in the School of Media Studies at The New School, where she graduated from the Documentary Studies Program and received the Deanna Kamiel Fellowship.

Sundance Institute Names Doc Studies Alums as 2022 Documentary Fund Grantees

Sundance Institute Documentary Fund Grantees

Each year, Sundance Institute provides unrestricted grant support to a small number of filmmakers who have ongoing documentary projects in various stages. Of the 35 projects, 5 are in development, 15 in production, 10 in post-production and 5 are in the process of creating social impact campaigns.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Documentary Film Program (DFP), which throughout its time has been a vibrant and impactful global resource for independent non-fiction storytelling. This granting cycle’s recipients have roots in 31 countries, with 57% of submissions coming from outside the United States. Among the 14 U.S. films granted this year, all are helmed by at least one BIPOC director and/or lead producer; two of these projects are directed by Indigenous filmmakers. Internationally, the Documentary Film Program prioritizes supporting artists living and working in countries that lack an adequate infrastructure of support for independent film and/or regions where freedom of expression may be at risk. The 21 international projects supported by the Fund in this cycle fully reflect such commitment.” – Sundance

Congratulations to the following Doc Studies alums who have works in progress and received grant support. Learn more about their documentaries below and check out the full list of recipients here.

Igor Myakotin (Doc Studies ’16)

Producer of “Queendom”

Igor is an Emmy-nominated BAFTA-winning filmmaker who co-produced feature-length documentary Welcome to Chechnya (Sundance ‘20, Berlinale ‘20). He is a 2022 Sundance Producing Fellow and was named by DOC NYC as one of the “40 Under 40” working in documentary. Igor believes that cinema is not a way to escape reality but a way to embrace it with all its peculiarities and its darkness. Most recently, Igor worked on a short documentary called Race to Save the World. Narrated by Oprah Winfrey, the film tells the story of the worldwide cooperation involved in the race to make the vaccine. It was simulcast primetime across the major networks as part of Global Citizen’s VAX LIVE concert. Previously, Igor directed two award-winning shorts, has been awarded a Davis Peace and Diplomacy grant at the International House in NY. Igor is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and an alumnus of NextDoc. (Website)

Director & Co-Producer: Agniia Galdanova

Synopsis: Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes made from junk and tape, and protests the government on the streets of Moscow. She stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism – and put her life in danger.

Alexis Neophytides (Doc Studies ’08)

Director & Producer of “Fire Through Dry Grass”

Alexis is a documentary filmmaker and educator based in New York City. Her work largely centers around community and how we find meaning in people and place. She is the co-creator, co-director and producer of Neighborhood Slice, a documentary series that tells the stories of longtime New Yorkers who’ve held onto their little corner of the city despite fast-growing gentrification, broadcast on public television. She produced and directed the series 9.99, for which she won a NY Emmy. Her short documentaries  Doctor Kong, Coney Island’s for the Birds and Ethan 2018 all screened at festivals worldwide, and were broadcast on the Documentary channel and online as a Vimeo Staff Pick. She is currently in post-production on two feature length documentaries, Dear Thirteen and Fire Through Dry Grass. Over the past decade she has developed filmmaking programs, implemented curricula and taught students all around NYC. In 2019 Alexis was a visiting artist for OPEN DOORS, where she met the Reality Poets and began working with Jay. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MA in Media Studies from The New School. (Website)

Co-Director: Andres “Jay” Molina & Co-Producer: Jennilie Brewster

Synopsis: On a tiny island in NYC, a group of Black and brown disabled artists fight COVID-19 and the city to protect the lives of 500 vulnerable nursing home residents.

Follow Igor and Alexis to keep up with their ongoing projects and achievements! Catch the premiere of Alexis’ feature documentary, “Dear Thirteen”, at DOC NYC this coming week. Congrats as well to Igor for making it onto DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list this year, which highlights emerging talent in the documentary world.

“Dear Thirteen”, a Collaboration Between Doc Studies Alums, To Have World Premiere at Doc NYC

We’re excited to announce that two of our Doc Studies program alums, Alexis Neophytides and Trina Rodriguez, have worked together on a feature documentary titled, Dear Thirteen, that will have its world premiere at DOC NYC this November. Alexis and Trina have been long time collaborators since they met as students at The New School. Prior to this film, they co-created, produced, and directed Neighborhood Slice among other projects. Learn more about their backgrounds, the film’s synopsis, and screening info below.

“From a team of artists attuned to the power of images… Dear Thirteen bravely suggests that looking back just might be the way ahead.” – Film Threat

Alexis Neophytides is a documentary filmmaker and educator based in New York City. Her work centers around community and how we find meaning in people and place. Her short documentaries Doctor Kong, Coney Island’s for the Birds and Ethan 2018 (a Vimeo Staff Pick) screened at festivals worldwide. Dear Thirteen is her first feature length documentary, and she is currently in post-production on her second feature, Fire Through Dry Grass. Her work has been supported by ITVS, the Ford Foundation, Field of Vision, IDA, Perspective Fund, Fork Films, the New York State Council on the Arts and the NYC Women’s Fund. She is also one of this year’s Sundance Institute Documentary Film Grantees.

Trina Rodriguez is a filmmaker living in Queens. Trina produced the feature-length documentary High Tech, Low Life, about citizen journalists in China that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and aired on the acclaimed PBS series, POV. She edited Black in America: Black and Blue, a feature documentary about the impact of aggressive policing tactics on the lives of young black men, which aired on CNN. Her short documentary Our Lady Queen of Harlem which she filmed, directed and edited, premiered at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight and is distributed by Third World Newsreel. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, New York Magazine, on PBS and a variety of nonprofit and documentary broadcast platforms.

“Equal parts funny and emotionally affecting…. it’s a refreshing reminder in a world community that seems increasingly cynical.” – Film Threat

Dear Thirteen weaves together the stories of nine thirteen-year-olds from France, Australia, Mexico, Nepal and the US. Video diaries and candid interviews reveal how global issues are shaping and being shaped by young people: In Australia Evie, a trans girl, begins her medical transition with confidence and optimism; in France Oren prepares for his Bar Mitzvah while reckoning with prejudice in his hometown; in Brooklyn Madeline finds joy and creativity on Tik Tok while contending with the pressures of the pandemic; in Mexico Fany dreams of breaking the mold as a female boxer while navigating her parents’ separation. The film’s score by Dan Deacon underlines the complexity and the beauty in transition and finding adulthood today.

The film will have two in-person screenings at Cinepolis Chelsea. Currently, only rush tickets are available for the premiere on Sunday, November 13th at 2:15pm, which will be followed by a Q&A with Alexis Neophytides, Trina Rodriguez, and the film subjects (Madeline, Awa, and Julius). The director would love to see support from The New School community at the second screening on Tuesday, November 15th at 11:45am. The film can also be viewed online between November 14th – 27th.

As a Doc Studies community member, please use the code “DOCNYC_PTNR_22” for $3 off a ticket! For further updates about Dear Thirteen, check out the film’s website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Doc Studies ’22 Films Will Have World Premieres at DOC NYC, America’s Largest Documentary Festival

We’re incredibly excited to share that DOC NYC, the country’s largest documentary festival that takes place annually in the Fall, will feature five films by our recent graduates as part of the University Shorts lineup. Congrats to the filmmakers (Cacau Araujo, Tiffany Jiang, Moksh Krishnan, Zac Norrington, Jamila Yancy), their crew, the professors, and cohort members who provided support from start to finish.

This year, instead of grouping all of The New School films together as they have done in previous years, the programmers specially placed the films in thematic blocks. All of the short films, which will be having their world premiere and followed by a Q&A, will be available to watch online or in-person. The screening details and synopsis of each film can be found below. We hope to see you in the audience!

DOC NYC U: All About Love – Nov 10th, 11:30am @ Cinepolis Chelsea

Hare Krishna Consciousness by Jamila Yancy

Synopsis: A look inside the life of devotees at a Krishna temple in Brooklyn, including Chaitanya, who is training to become a monk.

DOC NYC U: The Artists – Nov 11th, 11:15am @ Cinepolis Chelsea

Chants of Freedom by Moksh Krishnan

Synopsis: Mir Suhail, an exiled Kashmiri artist living in New York, draws cartoons to further the endeavors for freedom of his homeland. As he learns the pulse of his new city he finds himself consumed with the quest for identity, independence, and belonging.

Crew: Harry James Dwinell, Nicky Quamina Woo, Ryees Amin, Tiffany Jiang, Priyanka Nagpal

DOC NYC U: Life in the Big Apple – Nov 11th, 4:00pm @ Cinepolis Chelsea

Engraved by Tiffany Jiang

Synopsis: Galvanized by devastating events early in their lives, two New Yorkers find ways to channel their grief into acts of kindness.

Crew: Moksh Krishnan, Olivia Hamilton, Harry Dwinell

The Great Find by Cacau Araujo

Synopsis: An exploration of the subculture of “stooping:” rescuing furniture, appliances, and other discarded household objects from the curbside of New York.

Breathe by Zac Norrington

Synopsis: In 1983, Julie Ridge became the first person to swim two consecutive laps around the Island of Manhattan. Twenty-five years later, she dives into her memories of struggling with bipolar disorder.

Crew: Tiffany Jiang

Zac Norrington, Doc Studies ’22, Receives the National Board of Review Student Grant for His Documentary Film, “Breathe”

The National Board of Review’s Student Grant Program helps emerging filmmakers finish their projects and exhibit them internationally at festivals such as Sundance, Telluride, and more. Many selected filmmakers have gone on to win Student Academy Awards in the past. This honorable grant is awarded to a small number of students across the country each year. Zac Norrington’s film, “Breathe”, represents The New School in this year’s round of winners. He filmed and completed this short documentary as a graduate student of the Doc Studies program in 2022. Learn more about his background and see a trailer of the film below.

Zac Norrington is a filmmaker and photographer who started his career in London – then moved to Athens – where he picked up his style of cinematography and an eye for developing unique doc stories. After completing his Documentary Media Studies Certificate at The New School, he hopes to continue his journey of expressing people’s mental struggles through cinematic visuals.

Synopsis: In 1983, Julie Ridge became the first person to swim two consecutive laps around the Island of Manhattan (earning her a guest appearance on the David Letterman Show). Now living in Manhattan and working as a clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience, she dives into her memories of struggling with bipolar. BREATHE explores her relationship with marathon swimming and how the water has aided her along her journey.

“Breathe” Trailer:

In total, four graduates of the Doc Studies program (Lillian Xuege Li, Maliyamungu Muhande, Simon Tchoukriel, and Zac Norrington) have been chosen as grant winners.

Jessica Kingdon’s (MA Media Studies 2014) Award Winning Doc “Ascension” Nominated for 2022 Best Documentary Oscar

After winning the Best Documentary Film Award and the Albert Maysles Award for best new documentary director at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and numerous other accoladesAscension, the documentary feature directed and produced  MA Media Studies alum Jessica Kingdon has been nominated for the 2022 Oscar for best documentary feature film.

Ascension examines the contemporary “Chinese Dream” through staggering observations of labor, consumerism and wealth. In cinematically exploring the aspiration that drives today’s People’s Republic of China, the film plunges into universal paradoxes of economic progress.

Ascension is an impressionistic portrait of China’s industrial supply chain that reveals the country’s growing class divide through staggering observations of labor, consumerism and wealth. The documentary portrays capitalism in China across the levels of its operation, from the crudest mine to the most rarefied forms of leisure. Accordingly, the film is structured in three parts, ascending through the levels of the capitalist structure: workers running factory production, the middle class training for and selling to aspirational consumers, and the elites reveling in a new level of hedonistic enjoyment. In traveling up the rungs of China’s social ladder, we see how each level supports and makes possible the next while recognizing the contemporary “Chinese Dream” remains an elusive fantasy for most.

Maliyamungu Muhande, Doc Studies ’20 Selected as a Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellow

Maliyamungu Muhande, Doc Studies ’20 was selected as a Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellow, where she will engage with a year of mentorship and support from the Sundance Institute and Sundance Ignite founding partner Adobe.

Fellows were selected from a one- to 15-minute short film submitted to the Sundance Ignite x Adobe Short Film Challenge, hosted on the Institute’s digital community platform, Sundance Collab. The 10 fellows were selected for their deeply original voices, creativity in storytelling, and rigor of their craft.

The Fellowship centers artists in its curriculum, with a goal of supporting each fellow as they continue their respective artistic and professional development as filmmakers and storytellers. The fellows will kick off their fellowship year with the digital Sundance Ignite x Adobe Filmmakers Lab, which runs from July 26 to July 30 on Sundance Collab with a particular focus on project advancement and deepening the fellows’ character development skill sets.

Maliyamungu Gift Muhande is a Congolese Documentary filmmaker and Artist based in New York City. In 2020 she Directed a 6-week, film program for under-represented teens in Monticello, NY. From that program came her documentary-in-progress Near Broadway, co-created with her students, about their lives in the economically depressed town and in the U.S. as it exists today. Muhande’s short documentary on the 80-year-old African American New York City street photographer, Louis Mendes, was screened in the fall of 2020 as part of the Doc NYC film festival and was selected by the National Board of Review. She is currently working on expanding this short into a feature film.

Watch the trailer below!

Please share widely, and congratulations again to our exceptional New School alumna ! 

Doc Studies