The Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies is proud to present its fourteenth annual festival of original short films made by students in the classes of 2020 and 2021. The event consists of the festival opening and four faculty-led Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. Each work is the result of a year of intensive study in documentary cinema — production, history and theory. The festival is a celebration of our students’ achievements, who completed their films in the program’s most challenging year.

Hosted by Amir Husak, Director of the Doc Studies program at The New School. Presented by the Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies and the School of Media Studies at the Schools of Public Engagement.

“OK Boomer” by Amrit Cheng

Logline: New York City is the largest and most ethnically diverse metropolis in the United States yet its public schools remain among the nation’s most racially segregated. Fed up with the status quo, teenage activists and best friends, Alex and Marcus, lead a movement to integrate the city’s high schools.

Amrit Cheng came to the New School with a background in reporting and nonprofit advocacy. She most recently worked at the ACLU where she produced documentaries and news videos focused on voting and immigrants’ rights. With her own films, she will continue to tell visual stories that advance social change.

“Parklife” by Lillian Xuege Li

Logline: PARKLIFE chronicles life in Manhattan’s Columbus Park, where groups of Chinese seniors congregate on a daily basis. As seasons change and an unexpected crisis unfolds, the park’s seemingly outlandish cultural spectacles and nostalgic performances wane.

Lillian Xuege Li is a Chinese filmmaker living in New York. With a background in both film and graphic design, Lillian has developed a passion towards visual communications and media experimentation. She understands time as an architectural structure, and the act of building as a way to connect with others and the world.

“Hidden Costs” by Claire Haughey

Logline: The second largest oil spill in U.S. history happened under Brooklyn, NY.  Nearly 50 years later, a fracked gas pipeline is under construction in the same community.

Claire Haughey is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and photographer pursuing stories at the intersection of environmental justice, community, and people’s relationships to place. She is most interested in making visible the human impact of obscured systems and infrastructure.

“Spiral Dynamics” by Johanna Case

Logline: Astrology, tantric yoga, and shamanic hallucinogenic ceremonies. This film examines a 24 years marriage of the filmmakers ’new age’ parents and asks questions about self-development, navel-gazing, enlightenment and family.

Johanna Case is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, photographer, an interdisciplinary designer, and a musician. She completed her BA at the New School, where she studied photography, oral history, and Arabic. Her interests focus on using arts to address anti-immigrant sentiments in the US, and interrogations of the western liberal model of documentary and humanitarianism. Most recently, Johanna was a fellow with the International Rescue Committee’s Amman-based Middle East Research and Development Hub, creating videos for Syrian and Jordanian community innovators.

“Nine Days a Week” by Maliyamungu Muhande

Logline: Street photographer Louis Mendes began his career in 1953 in Harlem as a door-to-door baby photographer. Taking street portraits across the city, Mendes forged a living with his 1940s Speed Graphic press camera. Now a New York legend with 37 photographer apprentices, he reflects on a life of hard work, survival, and creativity.

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.

“Inherited Ghost” by Sarah Wolfe

Logline: Each year, more than 600,000 people go missing in the US. Told through the lens of a long-ago disappearance in her own family, and through her mother’s fading memory, the director reflects on the absence and unanswered questions that haunt those searching for loved ones.

Sarah Wolfe is a storyteller with a background in journalism and the performing arts. Through her recent work in documentary film and experimental animation, she explores the interior lives of families and the fragile nature of time and memory.

“I Perform Sex” by Lauren McKenna

Logline: Young queer people spend formative exploratory years unlearning the heteronormative sex education taught to them in school. What happens when they take the sex education into their own hands?

Lauren McKenna is an Austalian filmmaker residing in New York. In her work, Lauren explores collaborative and community aspects of documentary filmmaking. Currently she is working on a short documentary film about queer perspectives on consent and sex education.

“Urban Nature” by Ed Clem

Logline: Greg Angert finds refuge from New York City on the beaches of Queens, surfing year round rain, snow, or shine. The son of immigrants from Russia and the Ukraine, he both embodies and contrasts New York and proves that adventure and serenity can be found in even the most urban of jungles.

Ed Clem is a filmmaker from Seattle, Washington. After studying photojournalism, he dove into the world of sports and action cinematography making daring backcountry ski movies. He is passionate about non-fiction storytelling and meeting people from all walks of life in New York and beyond