2022 Graduate Student Fellows

Carlo Ang

Carlo Ang is a filmmaker based in Boston. As a lifelong skateboarder and self-taught videographer and editor, his passion for filmmaking was originally influenced by the skate videos he watched while growing up in the Bay Area. Inspired by their distinct and humorous style, his creative approach is lighthearted, playful, and authentic. Carlo is currently pursuing his MFA in Film and Media Art at Emerson College. Before deciding to return to school in 2021, he spent a decade living in New York City and honing his professional video skills at Warby Parker, where he was solely responsible for directing, filming, and editing the brand’s digital video content. His short documentary Nancy will screen on Thursday at 3:45.

Brendan Bubion

Brendan Bubion has a passion for telling stories in local communities that often go untold or unseen. He has produced and created short documentaries about community organizations. His previous films include “Con Su Pluma en Su Mano,” about the life and work of LA Times journalist Gustavo Arellano. He graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and Television with Honors and taught filmmaking at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. He recently completed his MFA in Documentary Filmmaking at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University. His thesis film, combining archival images and animation, explores the traumatic experiences of Japanese-Americans who were wrongly sent to incarceration camps during World War II through the perspective of two young girls. His short documentary Reverent Pride will screen at 3:45 on Thursday.

L Cedeño Miller

L Cedeño Miller (they/them pronouns) is an independent film and video producer based in DC. They are an MFA candidate in Film and Media Arts at American University, and recently worked as a graduate research associate at the Center for Media and Social Impact. L is also a language justice organizer, and Spanish-English interpreter and translator. In 2021, they were awarded a Trans Justice Funding Project grant, and organized a virtual freedom school to train BIPOC queer and trans interpreters. L previously worked as a community organizer with the DC Center for the LGBT Community, and was awarded a 2018 Diverse City Fund grant to create BIPOC queer healing spaces in DC. L is now part of the Diverse City Fund grant-making team, and is Brown Girls Doc Mafia member. They thrive working on sets for local productions, and love producing affirming, joyful content.

Connor O’Keefe

Connor Lee O’Keefe (he/him) is a trans documentary filmmaker, editor, and educator born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. His work uses nonfiction filmmaking as a tool for creating queer worlds and fostering empathy and connection. His career began in Chicago, IL, where he attended DePaul University. While earning his BFA, he worked as a videographer and editor alongside nonprofit organizations such as Kartemquin Films, Kindling Group, and Vidya in Mumbai. He recently graduated from Stanford University’s Documentary MFA program, where he directed four short nonfiction films. His spring film IMAGINE A BODY is a poetic expression of the physical and spiritual changes interviewees experienced while taking testosterone. It premiered in The New Yorker Documentary Video Series in June of 2022. His thesis is a portrait film and documentary musical that follows the Brazilian immigrant and trans pop artist Jaime Jobin as he searches for his voice. Throughout his career, Connor has taught filmmaking to students from a variety of backgrounds and age groups. He hopes to use nonfiction film to provide tools for students to express themselves and engage with the world.

Chunxiao “Clio” Yang

Clio Yang (she/her) writes and makes films that capture outsiders’ experiences at the intersection of identities, languages, and cultures through a sensitive lens. Born and raised in Jinan, China, she contemplates aspirations and dilemmas propelling her constant migration, which informs her fictional and nonfictional works greatly. Projects she worked on have been screened at Florida Film Festival, Athena Film Festival, South East European Film Festival, and so on. Clio graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University with a Film Studies BA. She is currently a film MFA candidate at University of Central Florida, where she is making her feature-length personal essay film “And They Saved My Sorry Ass.” It is being screened at 1:30 on Tuesday.

2021 Graduate Student Fellows

Andrea Alfaro

I was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador. I graduated with an Associate’s degree from Florida Keys Community College in April 2010, a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Video Production/Journalism on December 2013 from Brigham Young University, Idaho, and recently completed an MFA in Digital Media at Sam Houston State University.

During my time at BYU-Idaho, I had the chance to learn about production, film, video editing and camera operating. As a requirement for graduation, I had the opportunity to intern for Telemundo-Utah and report news for their daily newscast. I had the honor to teach for the last 4 years at Sam Houston State University at the Mass Communications department and currently I work as a freelancer.

Janeen Fagbemi

Hello, I’m Janeen Fagbemi! I work as a videographer for the Organizational Development Department at Lone Star College. I love to share people’s stories to foster connection and empathy. I work on graphic and web design, take and edit photos, and of course produce video and audio content. I am currently attending Sam Houston State University and pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media production. I love to learn and am passionate about storytelling through film, tv, and music.

Kai McNeil

(Also known as Kai Mac) is an Emerging Filmmaker and visual artist, based out of North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Communication Media and is currently pursuing his MFA in Documentary Film at Wake Forest University. Kai is currently working on his thesis, “Smile: The story of Josh Level and the Classic,” which examines the North Carolina tight-knit basketball community while playing on the themes of life and legacy. Kai also has a passion for teaching and strives to be a professor of practice that focuses on creating a classroom that facilitates inclusion, allowing students from all backgrounds to tell their stories.

Lauren Ruhnke

Lauren is a queer feminist scholar and PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University, pursuing a graduate certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies. Lauren is interested in using decolonial queer/feminist theory and multimodal research methods to study social movement building and queer community networks in Mumbai, working with advocacy groups centering digital and cinematic forums. Her dissertation research explores the identity work that happens as activists, institutions, and queer persons engage with digital media technologies and their communities. Twitter: @lornruhnke

2020 Graduate Student Fellows

Michelle Y. Hurtubise, Temple University

Michelle Y. Hurtubise is a Visual Anthropology PhD student at Temple University researching Indigenous media, networks of distribution, and decolonizing film festivals through the imagine NATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. With a background in art and activism, she did human rights and media work in Rio de Janeiro as part of her Master’s thesis at New York University, and she received a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Recently a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, she has also enjoyed her work with the Center for Artistic Activism, the Center for Media, Culture and History, and her current research position with Nia Tero.

W James, University of Miami

W James is an independent filmmaker from Naples, Florida. W graduated from Florida Southern College where he earned a Communication degree with concentrations in Multimedia Journalism and Film Studies. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Motion Pictures at the University of Miami and will be teaching Introduction to Digital Filmmaking, for the school, in the Fall of 2020. His film “A Dream of Us” has been to several film festivals across Florida and won the award for Best Overall Film at the Southern Reel Film Showcase in 2019. W has experience with all parts of the production process and enjoys teaching people new ways to love filmmaking.

Amanda Madden, Hunter College

Amanda Madden is a queer, feminist director, editor, filmmaker, artist, and educator. For the past 10 years, they have worked in media as a director and editor of commercial, web, documentary, and narrative content. Clients have included Refinery 29, Conde Nast, Nickelodeon, Food Network, NBC Universal, and Huff Post. They are currently working on a handful of video projects including an experimental non-fiction project in conversation with the artist/ghost Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and a multi-channel performance video about an entanglement with a wedding, a dress, and the Great Salt Lake. They recently completed their MFA in experimental socially engaged non-fiction media and are currently an adjunct instructor of Media and Film in a Digital Age at Hunter College. They have exhibited work in the Brooklyn Women’s, Asian American International (winner in episodic/digital category), Nachtschatten, Awareness, Les Femmes Underground International, Utah Arts, Newark International, and Imagine This Women’s International Film Festivals, Nasty Women Unite Fest, Hyperreal Film Club’s HYPERDRIVE series, Landscape x Olympia video residency at Elsewhere, and at the Museum of Sex, Performance Space, New Women Space, and Anthology Film Archives. They focus on stories about identity and body, relationship and connection, and creative processes that value care, collaboration, and experimentation.

Alex Rafi, Stanford University

Alex H. Rafi is a St. Louis based documentary filmmaker and educator. Hailing from Miami, FL, he earned his BA in Communication and Cinema Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching English for three years in the small city of Homestead, FL, he enrolled in Stanford’s MFA in Documentary Film to focus on creating works with utility as teaching tools, as archives of significant people and events in communities, and as films that encourage understanding and empathy. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, he will be an Assistant Professor of Media Production in the Department of Communication at Saint Louis University.

Connor Rentz, Vermont College of Fine Arts

Connor Rentz is an independent filmmaker and a graduate of Georgia Southern University’s film and production program. As he began college in 2015, he started an independent production company now called Kyanite Pictures and has since written, directed, and edited eleven short films under the banner. His work has played at festivals in and out of the country and has taken awards for cinematography, lead performance, sound design, production design, visual effects, and top prizes. He has also produced various university commercials and other video projects ranging from music videos to public service announcements. Connor is currently a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts where he will graduate with an MFA in Film in October 2021. Connor also has interest in theatre, graphic design, and game development and preservation.

Yinan Wang, Temple University

Yinan Wang is currently working on a documentary examining issue of satellite baby and transnational separation among Chinese immigrants in North America. He takes himself as an example to investigate the impact of his long-time absence as a father in the relationship between himself and Zijin, the very first baby of Yinan and Yujing. Yinan is also an ethnographic documentary filmmaker/photographer. He is a candidate for an MFA in Film & Media Arts at Temple University, where he is a University Fellowship recipient and TA for Media Arts and Filmmaking. His works have screened at different venues in the United America, France, Austria, Slovenia, India, China. Yinan’s most recent work, Yen Ching, a documentary taking an intimate look at the how a typical Chinese restaurant owner, named Chen, and his children, practice their very different American dreams, won 2018 HBO’s Emerging Voice award.”

2019 Graduate Student Fellows

Katlyn Aviles, University of Miami

Katlyn Aviles is a writer-director with a passion for filmmaking and interactive media. She was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont, Katlyn’s love of storytelling developed in college where she studied film production and found a passion for screenwriting. During her time in undergrad, she wrote, directed, and produced a variety of short films. Many of these played at local festivals such as the Vermont International Film Festival, and The Green Mountain Film Festival. She received a BFA in Cinema Studies and Film Production, and a BA in Psychology from Burlington College. After finishing her undergraduate work, she moved to Miami, Florida where she earned an MFA degree in Motion Pictures at The University of Miami.

When she is not working on her scripts, she can be found teaching History of International Cinema to undergraduates at The University of Miami. Starting in the fall of 2019, Katlyn will begin a doctoral program at UM, where she will study the psychology of interactive storytelling.

Luke Gloeckner, Wake Forest University

I previously graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film Studies and also from Kent State University with an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration. After working in the college administrative world for a number of years, I could no longer resist a push to return to the world of film and telling stories about humanity. I have now happily been enrolled in the Documentary Film Program at Wake Forest University for two years. As an aspiring filmmaker, I’m particularly interested in taking deep looks at the lives of creative people, and using a verite approach to explore why they are the way they are. I find joy in both making films and teaching students about filmmaking so that they can tell stories too.

Bianca Malcolm, Ohio University

Bianca Malcolm was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a Statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before shifting to screenwriting, which she pursues as part of her MFA degree at Ohio University. Although new to the film game, her scripts have placed at international screenwriting competitions and she won a coveted writing internship at Grey’s Anatomy. She has used the horror genre to investigate family relationships, racism, sexism, intimate partner violence, child abuse, and the consequences of power. She is actively seeking to bring her unique genre voice and inventive, detailed worlds to the small and big screens.

Suzanne Schulz, Hunter College

Suzanne Schulz studies in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College in New York City. She is currently working on a documentary that explores masculinity and militarism through the life of a Kurdish boy growing up on a Turkish military airbase in Eskisehir, Turkey in the 1990s. She is also working on a short documentary that examines the ethical and creative choices of a translator through a single translation by a Hindi-Urdu-English translator based in New York City. In 2014, Suzanne earned a PhD in South Asian Cinema from the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin and has published articles in this area. She currently teach at Bard High School Early College in Queens and offers a variety of classes including Introduction to Film, Cinemas of South Asia, Documentary Film, and Sound and Image. Along with her colleague, Zohra Saed, Suzanne has begun to build the Bard Early Colleges Film, Media and Digital Arts program, a resource center that brings together students and faculty in New York, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Newark.

Nick Twardus, University of Central Florida

I am a recent Feature Film Production M.F.A. graduate from the University of Central Florida where I completed work on a feature-length body of work and a dissertation that accompanied it. My films, which have shown nationally at festivals, are focused on the natural landscape. Currently, I write, direct, produce, shoot and edit experimental documentaries that incorporate analog and digital imagery. I also teach film production and film studies courses at UCF.