The Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies is proud to present its 15th annual festival of original short films made by students in the class of 2022. The event consists of film screenings followed by Q&As with the directors and a reception to celebrate the works. Each finished film is the result of a year of intensive study in documentary cinema — production, history, theory, and aesthetics.

Hosted by Lana Lin, Director of the Doc Studies Advanced Certificate 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.

“The Great Find” by Cacau Araujo

Logline: New York is a cornucopia of free stuff. Stunned by the city’s give-and-take dynamics, Brazilian filmmaker Cacau Araujo embarks on an investigation of the codes behind reclaiming objects left on the street.

Cacau Araujo is a Brazilian filmmaker based in New York. Her work revolves around places, language, and identity, especially women and female identities, and the events that shape and shift them. She is interested in finding the uniqueness hidden in the mundane, with a touch of humor, whenever possible.

“Good Intentions” by Harry Dwinell

Logline: Left with conflicting emotions about the Peace Corps, former volunteer and filmmaker Harry Dwinell gathers other past volunteers to broaden what is known of the organization, beyond its selectively crafted “single story.”

Harry Dwinell is a multimedia Vermont artist. After being evacuated from The Gambia, where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer, Harry was accepted to The New School’s media studies program with hopes of turning his media work into a career.

“Our Own Best Friends” by Shannon Smith

Logline: Self-proclaimed sisters, or hidden enemies? Through the lens of Toni Morrison’s brilliant novel Sula, Our Own Best Friends is a personal experimental film that explores the complexities of Black female friendship and what it takes to make or break a bond between equally oppressed best friends.

Shannon Smith is a Philadelphian filmmaker with a background in film editing and media management. She recently discovered her love for experimental film and intends to create a cinematic world where Black women are the center of exploration, which in turn will challenge the viewer.

“Why You Have to be Black and Gay” by Holly Lehren

Logline: “If you are Black and gay in South Africa, then it really is all the same closet…inside is darkness and oppression. Outside is freedom.” – Simon Tseko Nkoli

This documentary follows internationally renowned drag queen Odidi Odidiva from his formative years to the shaping of his drag persona in the shadow of South African apartheid.

Holly Lehren graduated with honors in 2019 from Muhlenberg College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Theatre. She is a 2020 and 2021 Fulbright Scholarship Semi-Finalist for South Africa’s Open Study/Research Award to study documentary filmmaking in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Chants of Azadi (Chants of Freedom)” by Moksh Krishnan

Logline: What does it mean to be free? Mir Suhail, an exiled Kashmiri artist living in New York, chooses to make cartoons to further the endeavors for freedom of his homeland. As he learns the pulse of this new city, he also finds himself consumed with the quest for identity, independence, and belonging.

Moksh Krishnan is a filmmaker born in India. He believes in the mantra ‘Stories create impact if told.’ His focus is on creating storytelling experiences that attempt to un-layer the quest for identity & freedom while tackling the issues of social and political injustice, the rise of nationalism, and religious fundamentalism.

“Engraved” by Tiffany Jiang

Logline: Galvanized by devastating events early on in their lives, two New Yorkers find ways to channel their grief into acts of kindness that serve others. The film invites viewers to reflect on what it means to live with and find comfort in grief, in all its different forms.

Tiffany Jiang is a Chinese-American filmmaker who gravitates towards stories about identity struggles, cultural taboos, and personal traumas. She hopes to make films that encourage viewers to embrace honesty and vulnerability in their everyday interactions rather than shy away from it. She often thinks about grief, ethics, and comedy.

“On the People’s Beach” by AG Crist

Logline: A conversation on romance, safety, and self-expression spanning generations of queer beachgoers in New York City, On the People’s Beach explores the dichotomy of public space and private lives in a burgeoning surveillance state.

AG Crist is an artist, writer, and filmmaker from Birmingham, Alabama. Their work is always driven by insatiable curiosity and a desire to know more. AG is an active listener, a Jeopardy! qualifier, an ardent believer in underdogs, and a reveler of joys great and small.

“Hare Krishna Consciousness” by Jamila Yancy

Logline: A look inside the life of devotees at the Krishna temple of Brooklyn, New York, including Chaitanya, a Hare Krishna training to become a monk.

Jamila Yancy decided to chase her love for music by moving to New York City, attending Brooklyn College, where she obtained her M.F.A in Sonic Arts. Jamila studies sound through culture, music, and religion. Her deep interest in spirituality and cultural practice led her to filming Hare Krishna Consciousness.

“Birth Rights” by Maria Rosales

Logline: Marva Henry, attorney and Brooklyn resident, examines the challenges that she encountered in the labor and delivery rooms of New York City. Dr. Dána-Ain Davis provides context regarding how Marva’s experiences have historic roots. The film explores whether social mobility leads to better birthing outcomes for Black women, or whether this belief is a myth.

Maria Rosales first learned to tell stories while working as a public defender in Brooklyn, New York. From her experience interviewing over 1,000 New Yorkers and preparing over hundreds of cases, she learned to tell fact-based stories. She now seeks to tell stories with numbers, and to use B-roll–rather than trial discovery–to corroborate her stories.

“Breathe” by Zac Norrington

Logline: In 1983, Julie Ridge became the first person to swim two consecutive laps around the Island of Manhattan. Now a clinical social worker, Ridge reveals her struggles with bipolar disorder while accomplishing such a feat. BREATHE dives into her relationship with marathon swimming and how the water aided her along her journey.

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 earning his Documentary Media Studies Certificate at The New School, he hopes to continue his journey of expressing people’s mental struggles through cinematic visuals.