2023 UFVA Graduate Student Fellows


Shelley Davis (she/her, they/them)

Shelley Davis is an artist, storyteller and documentary filmmaker based in North Texas. She is currently an MFA candidate in the Documentary Production and Studies program at the University of North Texas (UNT) and previously she has worked as a Teaching Assistant and Lab Instructor. In the Fall of 2023 Shelley will begin working as a Teaching Fellow within the department of Media Arts at UNT teaching courses related to sound production and editing, and contemporary documentary film production. Shelley has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a focus in Film, Sound Design and Animation and has screened her work at film festivals across the United States. She is currently directing a 60-minute documentary film called Saba and Savta, about an elderly Jewish couple searching for their lost family history and preserving what culture they know before their memory disappears. Her filmmaking and storytelling practice is rooted in empowering underrepresented voices in media to share their story and she believes in telling stories that need to be told. 


Richa Iyer (she/her/hers, they/them/theirs)

Richa Iyer is an experimental and non-fiction filmmaker. As part of the MFA program from Emerson College, she has experience teaching undergraduate analog film classes and media history classes. Richa received her Bachelors degrees in Radio-Television-Film and Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests lie in the technical areas of filmmaking, especially in the camera department. The work she makes explores joy, love, and adventure.


Tina Kaladekis (she/her)

Tina Kakadelis is a freelance critic and pop culture writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She’s currently pursuing an MFA in Film at Chatham University, with the goal of working in film festival programming. Tina has worked on the screening team for the LGBTQ+ Showcase at the American Pavilion at Festival de Cannes, Cleveland International Film Festival, and JFilm for Film Pittsburgh. Online, Tina is the assistant film editor for Film Obsessive, and her writing has been featured on sites like Girls on Tops, Layered Butter, and more. When she’s not writing about movies, Tina likes to play tennis, walk her dog, and watch more movies. You can find Tina on Twitter and Letterboxd @captainameripug, or browse all her writing on tinakakadelis.com. Her short film, “daisy chain,” about family, digital preservation, and the fallacy of memory screens at 10:30 on Thursday.


Nasir Malekijoo (he/him/his)

Nasir Malekijoo is an Iranian filmmaker and theater artist. He finished his MFA in “Public Art and New Artistic Strategies” at Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany, in 2018 and is currently a Ph.D. student in Theatre at the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Nasir has been professionally active in the Iranian theater industry since 2006. Already an established theater director in his native Iran, Nasir’s interests have drifted toward film production. Over a brief period, he has produced a couple of fiction and nonfiction short films in association with the Film faculty at BGSU. Nasir’s works interact with visual art, symbolism, postmodernism, absurdism, and magical realism, which he has borrowed from his stylized theater. As an Iranian artist born in the post-revolution era, his concepts deal with existentialism, identity crisis, psychological anxieties, and oppression.


Maggie Pourabedi (she/her)

Maggie Pourabedi is a recent graduate of Cal State LA’s MFA program in Film, TV and Theater / Content Creation. Her current film project is titled October Surprise. This film is an original political docu-drama short exploring the 1980 U.S. Presidential election of Ronald Reagan in concurrence with the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis. This film concerns a back operation purposely concealed, intentionally turned into a conspiracy theory, and consequently consigned to oblivion.  

Maggie is a lecturer in French language & Francophone cultures teaching a range of courses in the French language, but her passion lies in teaching arts and culture, including French theatre, cinema and pop-culture as well as Francophone films and rising industries. In addition, Maggie is an aficionado of Iranian cinema which she hopes to develop a course.

Maggie was raised in Paris until she moved to Los Angeles, where she currently resides with her other half and their four-legged children, a toy poodle called Booboo and a chegeal called Boo Lee. Before teaching, Maggie started her career in arts programming and management at the Music Center, Performing Arts Center of LA County. 


Xhep Xhepa (they/them)

Xhep Xhepa is an experimental documentary filmmaker and producer based in DC. They are pursuing an MFA in Film and Media Arts at American University and work as an independent TV series producer and as a graduate assistant at the Institute for IDEAS. They have a BA from Tufts University in Cultural Anthropology. They enjoy making auto-ethnographic work that investigates their subjective perception through their filmmaking, editing and experiments in VR and AR. Their work deals with themes of empathy, queerness, memory, change, love and neurodivergence. They seek to live a life full of meaningful connection and artistic collaboration. Their interactive summer film CHOICES highlights their struggles with decision making as they try to complete the film.