May 11 CAAM Filmmaker Summit Event - May 11th 10am PT

Join us for a filmmakers’ case study for The Power of Personal Documentary Films!

Presented at the CAAM Filmmaker Summit with A-DOC

In this 90 minute presentation and interactive dialogue, IDA’s Director of Artist Development Abby Sun will moderate a presentation and discussion with Chanda Chevannes, Jennifer Crystal Chien, Nausheen Dadabhoy, a Muslim-American filmmaker and mixed race Asian American filmmaker David Siev regarding highlights of their work as it relates to RPM’s field surveys on personal storytelling and their films – An Act of Worship and Bad Axe. We will also discuss the unique challenges Asian Americans and/or Muslim Americans and other BIPOC face when making these films. After the presentation, attendees will engage in a facilitated dialogue about their own experiences, reflections, and questions.

Jennifer Crystal Chien, Director, Re-Present Media
Chanda Chevannes, Filmmaker, Writer, and Educator
Nausheen Dadabhoy, Director, An Act of Worship
David Siev, Director, Bad Axe
Moderator: Abby Sun, Director of Artist Programs, IDA


Join us for a launch event for The Power of Personal Documentary Films!


The Power of Personal Documentary FIlms, published by Re-Present Media, is an article researched over several years to look at the impacts of racism and white supremacy in the industry on emerging BIPOC filmmakers. The article also makes a case for the importance of personal storytelling. Learn more about the findings from this work and engage with other BIPOC industry members in an interactive audience discussion.

Over the last several years, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) documentary filmmakers have discussed decolonizing documentaries as part of creating more equity in the field. In 2017, Re-Present Media (RPM) decided to take a different angle on the issues faced by BIPOC filmmakers and began gathering information on the impact of racism and white supremacy in the industry, which is summarized in their new article, The Power of Personal Documentary Films. RPM advocates for personal storytelling from underrepresented communities in documentary films and nonfiction media.

Jennifer and Chanda will present an overview of the highlights of this work, which was composed of focus groups and surveys on the experiences of underrepresented filmmakers working on personal stories. Then they will take a deep dive into the context of this work, including their personal stories behind why this work was necessary, the value of qualitative data, the necessity of anonymity for participants, the strategy behind the impact campaign for this work, and how this work can become a seed for ongoing practice towards industry change.

Those who attend will gain an understanding of the importance of personal documentary filmmaking along with the issues surrounding white supremacy culture and its impact on BIPOC filmmakers. Jennifer and Chanda will also provide a preview of the impacts they hope the article will have and the ways in which attendees might continue to engage in the conversation.

The presentation will be followed by an interactive audience discussion that will not be recorded.


RPM alumni Jessica Jones’ latest short film “On the Pulse of Life” made in partnership with BElovedBIRTH Black Centering (a part of the Alameda County Health System), is executive produced by The Alliance Media Arts + Culture and premiered at THE FUTURES exhibit at the Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building as a part of the Futures We Dream documentary film series. The exhibit will be available for viewing until July 9, 2022, so if you are in DC, please check it out! 

Jessica recently had a screening on April 11th in the Bay Area to kick off Black Maternal Health Week.

RPM alumni Jennifer Huang will be participating in the Movies that Matter “Take on Impact” program in the Hague in April with her feature-length documentary The Long Rescue.

The program works with filmmaking teams to develop impact goals and strategies for their films, with the focus on improving the projects’ impact pitches which will then be presented in front of a panel of NGOs, distributors, and other changemakers related to the outreach goals of the projects.

Jennifer Huang’s “The Adventure Called California” had the following screenings in March.

  • Impact screening with the San Mateo Human Trafficking Program on March 10th, 2022
  • Public screening and discussion with the Alameda County DA’s office, the team participated in a private screening with the Alameda County DA’s human trafficking task force in January.
  • Screening at Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

RPM alumni Pallavi Somusetty has been selected as for a 2022 CAAM Fellowship, where she will be incubating a project currently titled “Welcome Home Jhaiji.”

Pallavi participated in the Athena Film Festival’s Works In Progress Pitch Forum on March 11th, 2022, where she virtually pitched a feature version of “Coach Emily” a short that Pallavi produced with Re-Take Oakland.

Pallavi also received a grant from The Studio IX Project to support childcare while she works on Coach Emily and Welcome Home Jhaiji

Congratulations to Pallavi and her team!