Introducing our 2020 Docu Work-In-Progress Shorts Lab Cohort


October 21st, 2020

We are thrilled to announce the following six projects and participants selected for our 2020 DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Shorts Lab, our first lab dedicated to short documentary films! Held online due to the pandemic, it will be facilitated by Chloe Gbai with Darius Clark Monroe joining as the guest for the final crit.

Projects + Participants

Género: Salsa

Cali, Colombia – the world capital of salsa – is home to the most competitive salsa performers in the world. Now, these dancers are using their culture and craft to break the traditional gender roles of salsa, while also interrogating misogyny and homophobia. Though the society at large remains committed to tradition, we highlight a community that uses dance to expand social consciousness around gender equality and LGBTQ rights.

Kamillah akLaff, Director/Editor

Kamillah akLaff is a New York City born and raised artist and educator. She has a BA in Sociology from Tufts University and an MS in Education from the City College of New York. akLaff has worked primarily as a language instructor both in New York City and in Cali, Colombia. Kamillah akLaff is also an alumna of DCTV's Youth Media program where she produced several student films.

Drawing Life

At an extremely divided moment in US history, Drawing Life is at once a portrait of the legendary Missouri born cartoonist George Booth, and of his hand rendered vision of the shared humanity that binds together people from all walks of the American landscape.

Nathan Fitch, Director/Editor

Nathan Fitch is a documentary film director based in Brooklyn, and a faculty at the New School University. Nathan’s award winning short films have been published by The New York Times Op Docs, TIME magazine, The New Yorker, to name a few.

Recovering Motherhood

When a mother with a history of heroin use has trouble getting prenatal care in her second pregnancy, her life intersects with two women who have first hand experience with pregnancy, motherhood and addiction.

Jessica Martinaitis, Director/Editor

Jessica Martinaitis is a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Chicago. She has spent the past year covering social issues in Chicago and Wisconsin criminal justice, school discipline reform, women's rights and the opioid epidemic. She is committed to producing work that stimulates policy change and meaningful shifts in social equality. Prior to transitioning to journalism, Jessica worked as an art-director and creative producer of web design and multimedia content for businesses, art galleries, nonprofits and activists in New York City and Prague, Czech Republic. Jessica holds a Masters degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she specialized in Social Justice and Investigative Reporting. She currently works as an Associate Producer for WTTW/Chicago PBS.

The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms

The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms is a magical-realist portrait of a man's life with chronic illness that combines live action documentary footage with colorful acrylic paintings.

Eloise Sherrid, Director/Editor

Eloise Sherrid is a New York based filmmaker and artist. Her projects have been featured by Bad at Sports, DRØME Magazine, and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. She has contributed media to Labor Notes and The Indypendent, and her work as an educator has been featured by and The New York Times Learning Network. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and works as a video producer, editor and DP. She studies Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Expanding Sanctuary

Immigrant mother Linda Hernandez emerges as a community leader during the historic campaign to end the sharing of the Philadelphia police database with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Expanding Sanctuary tells a rarely told story about a Latinx immigrant community’s successful journey to change legislation and protect families.

Kristal Sotomayor, Director/Editor

Kristal Sotomayor is a bilingual Latinx documentary filmmaker, festival programmer, and freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. Currently, they are in post-production on Expanding Sanctuary, an independent short documentary about the historic end to police surveillance organized by nonprofit Juntos and the Latinx immigrant community in South Philadelphia. Kristal is a 2020 Justice For My Sister Sci-Fi Screenwriting Lab Fellow, 2019 Good Pitch Local: Philadelphia grantee, 2018 Leeway Foundation Art & Change grantee, and 2017 NeXtDoc Fellow. They serve as the Programming Director of the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival and are a Co-Founder of ¡Presente! Media. Formerly, Kristal was the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at Scribe Video Center. Kristal’s journalistic background includes having written for ITVS, AL DÍA, WHYY, and Documentary Magazine. They are a recipient of the Sundance Institute Press Inclusion Initiative, TIFF Media Inclusion Initiative, the inaugural International Documentary Association (IDA) Magazine Editorial Fellowship, and Lenfest Next Generation Fund.

The Grass Ceiling

When she was twelve, Sarah Strauss had to abandon her dream of becoming the first woman to play Major League Baseball. Still heartbroken over that loss, forty years later, she set out to tell the story of girls today pursuing that same dream. Along the way, after she meets Darby, Sarah rediscovers her love of baseball and herself, even as Darby's future in the sport remains uncertain.

Sarah Strauss, Director/Editor

Sarah Strauss is a first-time filmmaker. She has studied documentary filmmaking at Maine Media Workshops with Lawrence Hott (Florentine Films) and Bestor Cram (Northern Lights Productions). Additionally, she received intensive training in editing at The Edit Center (New York) and was an additional editor on Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy. She has pursued additional training at DCTV (New York) and UnionDocs (Brooklyn). She teaches history and documentary filmmaking to high school students at The Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and she coaches the 14-and-under New York Wonders baseball team.


Chloe Gbai


Chloe Gbai is the Director for the IF/Then Shorts program. IF/Then Shorts identifies and supports original, standalone short documentaries by filmmakers working in and representing their communities.

Chloe joined IF/Then from American Documentary, where, as the POV Shorts and Streaming Producer, she launched POV Shorts, which earned POV its third documentary short Oscar nomination, two News & Doc Emmy nominations and an IDA Awards nomination for Best Short Form Series. She has previously worked at Teen Vogue and Viacom, as well as served on review panels and juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Austin Film Festival, IDA Awards, Black Public Media, Black Harvest Film Festival, and various other film organizations. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective, and a 2020 Impact Partners Producing Fellow.

Darius Clark Monroe

Guest for Final Crit

Darius Clark Monroe is a writer, producer, and director from Houston, Texas living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He’s known for a range of works, both documentary and fiction, that delve into the interior spaces of our existence. His films grapple with the innumerable experiences and environments that shape our psyche and behavior, oftentimes investigating fear, vulnerability, spirituality and media (archival and present day) through varied visual techniques and instruments. He most recently world premiered Racquet, a four-part documentary quadtych, at the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Monroe wrote and directed for the Peabody award winning HBO series Random Acts of Flyness. He’s the director of Black 14, an archival social study examining cognitive dissonance via media coverage of a 1969 racial protest at the University of Wyoming. Black 14 is the recipient of a 2019 National Magazine Award and has screened at Sundance, Tribeca, True/False, BlackStar, Chicago and Camden amongst others. His autobiographical film Evolution of a Criminal was awarded the IDA Emerging Filmmaker Award, the Grand Jury Prize at Full Frame, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit award and Cinema Eye Honor. Past projects have been featured on Topic, Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, HBO, Netflix, and PBS. Monroe received his master's degree in film direction from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and graduated with honors from University of Houston's School of Communication.


Founded in 1972, DCTV is a nonprofit media arts center and community of and for documentary filmmakers since, providing low-cost Workshops for adults, free Youth Media training; Equipment, Post-Production, and Space rentals; and a nonfiction Screening + Event series – all under the same roof as our award-winning documentary production house.

DCTV’s Docu Work-In-Progress Lab is an annual application-based program that supports select filmmakers with their independent documentary film currently in post-production, providing dedicated feedback and crit-building germane to the editing process. The Lab is scheduled and designed with an iterative structure in mind. Docu WIP Lab filmmakers share and workshop each others' initial rough cuts during screening/discussion sessions, providing crucial insight for each other under the guidance of an industry professional. Outside of these sessions, participants edit two new iterations of their rough cut based on the discussions. Participants present a refined cut at the final session, which is a showcase for closing feedback with a special guest.

This year’s Lab will be dedicated to short documentary films, and held online due to the pandemic, 10/28–12/3/20. Follow @DCTVny #DCTVLab to follow the filmmakers along their journey.

Past participants include Lisa D’Appolito (Love, Gilda), Yi Chen (First Vote), Katy Scoggin (Flood), and G. Anthony Svatek (.TV). Past facilitators and guests for final crit include Yance Ford (Strong Island), Maya Mumma (O.J.: Made in America), Charlotte Cook (Field of Vision), Kathleen Lingo (The New York Times' Op-Docs), David Osit (Thank You For Playing), Sierra Pettengill (The Reagan Show), Bernardo Ruiz (Harvest Season), and Lana Wilson (Miss Americana).

Press Contact

Rachel Baron |