2020 Filmmakers in Residence

Nora Mariana

Nora is a born-and-raised Californian. After studying creative writing at Stanford University, she worked in documentaries all around the world -- including the Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Asia -- before turning her focus to narrative films. Mostly recently, she worked as a staff writer for an upcoming miniseries executive-produced by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). She is a Sundance International Feature Film Program alumna and is currently developing her first feature film and one-hour television series.

Theo Rigby

Theo Rigby is a director, cinematographer, and interactive storyteller based out of San Francisco. He has been creating stories focusing on the immigrant experience in the United States for over the last decade and is the founder of iNation Media. Theo recently finished Waking Dream, a short documentary series about young undocumented people with DACA permits that was funded by ITVS and distributed on the IndieLens Storycast Youtube channel. He is currently in production on Sanctuary Rising, a feature documentary about the faith-based Sanctuary movement. Theo’s past projects have been screened at more than 50 film festivals around the world. Theo has been recognized with an Immigrant Rights Leadership Award from the City of San Francisco, is a JustFilms Rockwood Fellow, and won a Student Academy Award for his film Sin País. Theo graduated with a M.F.A. in Documentary Film from Stanford University and before making films was an award-winning photojournalist working for major newspapers and magazines around the world.

About Sanctuary Rising

Through the eyes of Jeanette Vizguerra and Ingrid Encalada, two undocumented mothers with
deportation orders, Sanctuary Rising takes us into the world of faith, immigration, and
courageous women fighting to keep their families from being torn apart.  In open defiance of
immigration authorities, Jeanette and Ingrid have taken the extraordinary step of claiming
Sanctuary in houses of worship.  They vow not to leave until they can be in the U.S. without fear
of deportation, and become part of a growing National Sanctuary movement that began more
than 30 years ago.

Eva Ilona Brzeski

Eva Ilona Brzeski is the award-winning writer, director and editor of Fellow American, This Unfamiliar Place, 24 Girls and China Diary, and the director and editor of the independent feature LAST SEEN. A graduate of the Stanford Masters Program in Documentary Film, she edited the acclaimed documentary films Under Our Skin, Unsettled (in post-production) As She Is, Twitch and was a co-editor on Serenade for Haiti and Sacrifice, as well as editing other documentary and narrative films & television series. Eva's films have screened worldwide at such festivals as Sundance and Tribeca Film Festival, and have received numerous awards. Eva lives in the Bay Area where she also works as a free-lance editor and studies meditation.

About "Daughterland" (working title)

A 14 year-old boy escapes the Warsaw Ghetto, leaving his family behind. In his pocket is an identity card belonging to a Polish classmate. He flees to the countryside where he lives in hiding throughout the war. He will never see his family again. He will never tell his own children his real name.

A filmmaker becomes obsessed with her father's unspoken past. For thirty years she tries to ask him about it, without success. Fearing that he will die without telling his story, she confronts him before his 94th birthday. A film about identity and the cost of secrets.

Yoav Potash

Yoav Potash is an award-winning Bay Area documentary filmmaker whose past films include "Crime After Crime," which screened at the Sundance Film Festival, earned the New York Times Critics' Pick distinction, and garnered over twenty honors, including a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award, and six audience awards. Yoav also directed the San Francisco IndieFest Jury Prize-winner "Food Stamped," which was nationally broadcast on Pivot, Participant Media's cable/satellite network.


About "Diary from the Ashes"

Many mysteries unfold when a long lost diary—first discovered in the ruins of an Auschwitz crematorium in 1945—surfaces in present-day San Francisco. Unlike Anne Frank, this diary's author did not write her diary while in hiding with her family. Rywka Lipszyc, a determined and imaginative teenage girl, penned her account as an orphaned captive in the brutally oppressive Lodz ghetto, where she was forced to work for the German war effort, even as the Nazis prepared to wipe out her entire people. Nonetheless, Rywka used her writing to conjure up hope, relying on her imagination to escape the unimaginable.

About "The Remembered"

"The Remembered" combines heart-rending interviews, rare archival footage, and evocative animation to bring to life the lost Jewish history of Gniewoszów, a small Polish town where its once-vibrant Jewish community seems to have vanished without a trace. When descendants of the town's Jews return to search out and honor their heritage, the town's oldest residents reveal secrets held their entire lives, describing how ordinary Polish townsfolk made life and death choices about their Jewish neighbors. The film reunites individuals separated for a lifetime—and makes surprising discoveries that continue to resonate today in a political landscape of renewed anti-Semitism, fear, and nationalism. 

Charene Zalis

Charene Zalis is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who has spent the last decade making films about human rights issues and people who are standing up to hate. She has covered the traumatic consequences of bigotry, engaging with survivors and community members who have emerged from violence with remarkable stories of resilience and action. Charene’s PBS/Not In Our Town films, including Light in the Darkness and Waking in Oak Creek, continue to spark dialogue in town halls and schools across the country. She began her career at NBC News and Sports, where she won an Emmy Award for a documentary about Muhammad Ali, produced for the Olympic Games and NBC News programs and specials. For public television, Zalis produced for the Frontline documentary The Arming of Saudi Arabia, and reported stories from the U.S., the Middle East and Asia for the global human rights series Rights and Wrongs. 

About Stories from the Tree of Life

On October 27, 2018, during a quiet morning Shabbat service, a gunman took the lives of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. This brutal act of hate confirmed growing fears about the rise of anti-Semitism in this country. One week after the shootings, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers shares the painful story of his experience inside the synagogue and the impact the attack had on the Jewish community. People from all walks of life gather to grieve and heal, and they begin to engage in difficult conversations about how to stand up to gun violence, hate speech, and all forms of bigotry. As millions around the world mobilize to call for transformative action to end systemic racism, white supremacist groups are surging and anti-Semitic incidents are rising. At this painful and complex moment, Pittsburgh residents are examining what it means to be “Stronger Than Hate.” 

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