Meet our Fall 2016 Docu Work-In-Progress Lab Filmmakers


October 12, 2016

We are thrilled to invite the following six filmmakers to participate in our Fall 2016 DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Lab, with projects that intersect styles and topics of timely relevance. It will be facilitated by Carla Gutierrez, with Kathleen Lingo joining as the guest for the final crit. Learn about them and their projects below.


Alva French

Alva French | Tria & Dan, A Paris Love Story Across Color Lines

Alva French is a bilingual professional video journalist based in New York City and is currently a Staff Video Producer at She is a 2011 alum of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Previously, she was as a producer for Huff Post Live, NBC NEWS’ Meet the Press and The Associated Press. Already, Alva has lived and worked on three continents – North America, Europe and Asia. Most recently, she lived in Gwangju, South Korea where she worked as an English teacher to children and adults. Prior to South Korea, Alva lived in Paris – the city of her birth – working as Communications Editor for CISAC writing on international intellectual property law, entertainment and technology in the quarterly magazine, CISAC NEWS. Alva also started working on her labor of love, Tria and Dan, a documentary film on her grandparents.

Tria and Dan

Tria and Dan will be a 20-minute documentary on the Alva French's grandparents, an interracial American couple who moved to Paris after World War II. The filmmaker’s perspective will offer insights into cross-cultural identities through three generations of a mixed race, multi-national family. Alabama-born Tria French was African-American and a literary agent and film producer to author and activist James Baldwin. Dan French was a white American veteran of the Second World War from Connecticut. They married in 1949 in New York City and soon moved France to start their family away from American segregation. Both were pioneers at a time when half of US states forbid their interracial marriage. French will investigate the lives of her grandparents, illuminating a time in the US when white and black couples lived in fear of marrying each other. But their love story unraveled when they were forced to choose between moving to the US or staying in France at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The French will explore this conflict and the impact it had on their lives and families for generations to come.

Gretchen Hildebran

Gretchen Hildebran | Decade Of Fire

Gretchen Hildebran, a graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, is a documentarian working at the intersection of politics, policy and human experience. Hildebran shot Ramona Diaz’s The Learning (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS and the UNDP as well as on several documentary films. Gretchen has also made numerous short public health documentaries focused on harm reduction practices such as needle exchange and overdose prevention. Decade of Fireis her first feature.

Decade of Fire

In Decade Of Fire, 50-year-old Vivian Vazquez, a child of the South Bronx-born to Puerto Rican parents, leads an archival-rich, personal exploration into how her once vibrant community became burned-out. During the 1970s, as fires consumed the South Bronx, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation even as they battled city cutbacks, widespread arson and landlord abandonment. Behind the mythologies of the Bronx she discovers the everyday heroes who saved their neighborhoods, and whose stories bring hope to communities.

Rossella  Laeng

Rossella Laeng | Taxiderman

Rossella Laeng is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and documentarian. Her films aim to expose the universal themes which connect the human experience, through intimate portrayals of artists and the technical, practical and social specificities which define their craft. Her portfolio includes a senior puppeteer, a feminist clown and a performance artist who donated her eggs several times. Rossella was raised in Milano, Italy and has also lived in India, Texas and Australia.


Alberto Michelon refers to himself as a "white fly." He is the only taxidermist in Padua. After years spent stuffing recently deceased pets and repairing museum pieces, Alberto has embarked on a new journey and is gearing up to showcase a new side of himself in what will most likely be the first exhibit of artistic taxidermy Padua has ever seen. The world as seen through Alberto's lens is filled with death and mourning, and yet it is colorful, delicious, fascinating and very much alive.

Jane Renaud

Jane Renaud | What I'm Made Of

Jane Renaud is a producer and filmmaker specializing in stories about children and families. After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts film program, Jane produced segments about public education for PBS NewsHour. Her twelve-part series about school reform in Washington, D.C., earned first prize in Documentary Reporting from the Education Writers Association. In January 2013, the series was adapted for Frontline (PBS), airing under the title The Education of Michelle Rhee. Her most recent project, Rebirth: New Orleans, is a feature-length documentary about the charter schools movement in New Orleans that premiered on Netflix in 2013. Her feature screenplay, Early Birds, was a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

What I'm Made Of

Michelle Forcier does things other pediatricians don’t do. At her Rhode Island clinic, she sees scores of trans and gender non-conforming teens, and tells them, “Nothing is off the table so that you can have a healthier, happier life.” Filmed over three years, What I'm Made Of follows five of Forcier’s “kids” as they carry out the essential adolescent tasks of figuring out who they are and who they want to be while grappling with questions of identity most of us take for granted. Sam leapfrogs between apartments and contemplates coming out to family; Nick’s sixteenth birthday brings hope for a driver’s license and top surgery; a prom offers Jessica a high school do-over, though she continues to delay adulthood until her body is “right”; Li battles their father in court and yearns for the day they can make autonomous decisions; Julie searches for a name that better reflects her “muddled” gender identity and tries to make friends for the first time. The challenging, controversial work Forcier does takes a toll. But she continues on, inspired by the vision of a future when she is not so unusual when gender care truly becomes - as she believes it is -primary care.

Anthony Simon

Anthony Simon | Cane Fire

Anthony Simon is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with an additional interest in sound collage and street art. His films have screened at the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA PS1, as well as online at MUBI and IndieWire. He works professionally as a freelance video editor with clients such as Maysles Films, The Guardian, Vice Media, and W Magazine. Anthony received his BA at The Evergreen State College and was a fellow at the 2012 UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Program.

Cane Fire

Cane Fire is a feature-length documentary about the shifting industries and filmic representation of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, beginning with Anthony's great grandfather's immigration from the Philippines to work in sugar production. In the national imaginary, Kauai is an island of leisure and escape, but it was once dominated by the hard labor of sugarcane and pineapple cultivation. Since the decline of sugar and pineapple due to the rise in foreign competition, tourism and luxury real estate as well as the leasing of land to biotech companies for seed and pesticide research has become the most profitable for landowners. Long-term residents are forced to adapt to the shifts in industry over the years in order to remain on the island.

He-myong Woo

He-myong Woo | Mississippi Goddamn

He-myong Woo is a Photographer and Documentary Filmmaker born, raised and based in New York whose curiosities and passions inform the places he goes, the people he encounters and the subjects and themes - around globalization, modernization and assimilation - he chooses to document. They have taken him to the mountain valleys in Guanxi, China, the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, Mbaracayu Forest in Paraguay, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, West Jackson, Mississippi and most recently the Hasidic Communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He's currently filming a documentary on the organizing efforts of a Rastafarian family in Jackson, Mississippi and another on his 96-year-old grandmother who was born in North Korea and who has immigrated across three continents.

Missippi Goddamn

Missippi Goddman follows revolutionary activists, Nia and Takuma Umoja, as their convictions led them and their seven children to move into a former crack house in West Jackson, Mississippi, a neighborhood notorious for its poverty, crime, and unemployment. They are not fighting gentrification, but seeking to implement a model to build wealth for the people by the people through an inside-out, ground-up strategy to revitalize an area targeted for development. They want to accomplish this without displacing residents. Umojas' strategy rehabilitates nearly 40 properties (secured through foundations) and organizes residents—many of whom are unemployed, ex-convicts or elderly, possessing construction and farming skills — into a cooperative community that creates a local economy. Despite successes, the family encounters a level of despair, distrust, and complacency among residents, which impedes their collective success and pose a greater challenge than external threats. Because what they are up against is poverty particular in America that is not only a material condition but an emotional and psychological condition. These conditions for generations have eroded peoples' individual sense of identity, value, and self-worth. Will the people be awoken or are the people too far gone to ever change their realities?


Carla Gutierrez

Carla Gutierrez


Carla Gutierrez is a documentary editor based in New York City. She edited the Oscar nominated film La Corona for HBO and the Emmy nominated documentary Reportero, which broadcast on POV. Her latest, When Two Worlds Collide, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Documentary Special Jury Award for Debut Feature.

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Kathleen Lingo

Kathleen Lingo

Guest for Final Crit

Kathleen Lingo is commissioning editor of Opinion Video and executive producer of The New York Times' Op-Docs series. Since joining Op-Docs in 2013, Ms. Lingo’s worked on over 200 short, VR, and interactive documentaries that won two Emmy Awards, a Peabody, and an Oscar nomination for best short documentary.

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