TEAM

Fellows

M.G. Evangelista

M.G. "Grace" Evangelista

Mary Evangelista is a filmmaker born in the Philippines and raised in California’s Bay Area. Mary received an MFA from NYU Tisch for Writing and Directing. Their short film, Fran This Summer, is an LGBTQ summer love story that has screened in over 30 festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival. Mary co-created Water Melts, a Tribeca Film Institute and Google-supported VR rom-com which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and screened at Rotterdam International Film Festival. Mary was a Project Involve Fellow with Film Independent where they directed the short La Gloria. Mary’s debut feature film, Burning Well, received a 2020 Tribeca All Access grant.

Ley Comas

Ley Comas is an Afro-Latinx Trans non-binary filmmaker. They were born in Costa Rica and raised in the Dominican Republic. After coming to US in 2013, they received their Associate’s degree in Video Arts and Technology from Burrough of Manhattan Community College in 2015. Ley obtained their Bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Binghamton University in 2017. They received their Master’s degree in Documentary Filmmaking from The City College of New York, Spring 2020. Ley is a production sound mixer by trade. Their work as a production sound mixer has been included in several film festivals and major streaming platforms. As a non-binary filmmaker of trans experiece, Ley’s work is grounded in collaborating on and creating films that highlight and empower the narratives of underrepresented and erased identities. Ley currently lives in the Bronx; they enjoy bike riding, cooking, and spending time with their cat.

Nyala Moon

Nyala Moon  is a filmmaker, writer, and actress of trans experience. After working in the nonprofit community helping other transgender and queer people of color access affirming health care, Nyala took a leap of faith and pursued her passion for filmmaking. Before going to film school, Nyala worked with the indie LGBT film scene as a director, writer, and producer. Nyala was also a contributor for the anthology, Written on the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence by Lexi Bean. Nyala Moon has been touring colleges with her other anthology contributors, speaking to college students about sexuality, gender identity, and sexual assault. In May 2020, Nyala graduated from City College with her MFA in film production. Last year her student thesis film, One Last Deal, was screened at NewFest, Inside Out Toronto, Outfest, and many other film festivals. Nyala was also a 2020-2021 QueerArt Film fellow with Tu Me Manques director Rodrigo Bellot as her mentor. She also is a TV writing fellow for Hillman Grad 2021 inaugural class.

Sepand "Sepi" Mashiahof

Sepand Mashiahof is a second generation Iranian-American immigrant and trans-femme filmmaker, screenwriter, and musician. She holds a BA in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she wrote her senior thesis on Horror Film, using a feminist lens to explore the queer signifiers of canonized monsters throughout film history. After graduating, she moved to Oakland, CA where she cultivated relationships with the queer underground arts community through her work as Executive Director at Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, host of the cult Scream Queens Radio program, and member of industrial no wave band SBSM. These connections allowed her to pursue her passions as a filmmaker, where she directed a plethora of music videos before making her short film debut with Love You Forever, a psychological arthouse horror film which she wrote, directed, acted in, and composed the soundtrack for. Currently, Sepand is keeping a nest of nine feature screenplays warm while pursuing relationships with producers who love horror films and want to see queer/trans stories through them. As part of her own empowerment journey, she utilizes genre storytelling to create worlds of nuance in which trans protagonists can experience their arcs without the pressure of cissexist expectations. As seen with the praise Love You Forever has received from film festival audiences in 2021, she is pushing the discourse around trans representation beyond assimilationist conjectures and bringing power back into the hands of queers, where we can celebrate the beauty within the ugliness we’ve experienced from our struggles.

Seyi Adebanjo

Seyi Adebanjo is a Queer Gender-Non-Conforming Nigerian MFA artist, who raises awareness around social issues through video, ritual, photography & writing workshops.  Seyi is serving on The Think Tank (2021-2022) as one of the co-designers of Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) artist grant programs.  Seyi was recently awarded a residency with The Laundromat Project, NYSCA Individual Artist Grant, received the BRIO Award and 1 of the 8 Exciting Filmmakers Shaking Up Hollywood by IndieWire. Seyi was nominated for the 2020 Art Matters Fellowship..  Seyi’s project’s include: Honor Black Trans Womxn! a call to center, protect and celebrate Black Trans Womxn. I AM! We Are Here! illuminates the vitality, spirit & joy of LGBTQ People of Color in the Bronx. Seyi’s powerful short Justice for Islan Nettles has screened on PBS Channel 13, Brooklyn Museum and continues to screen globally.  Seyi’s award winning documentary Ọya: Something Happened On The Way To West Africa! is screening globally with a speaking tour. Seyi’s latest project is Afromystic which follows LGBTQ Òrìṣà practitioners and priests/esses at the crossroads of Yorùbá, Caribbean and Afro Brazilian Culture, while reclaiming lost mythologies. The work celebrates lost Queer & Trans folklore, where deities change gender and are born from the love of two womyn. With explorations of gender fluidity, Queerness and spirituality, Seyi’s work exists at the intersection of art, imagination, ritual and politics

Mentors

Chet Pancake

Chet Pancake is an award-winning filmmaker, video, new media, and sound artist. They have exhibited at national and international venues such as MoMA, Royal Ontario Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, and Academy of Fine Arts, Prague. Pancake’s narrative and experimental documentary work has been screened at over 150 venues nationally, as well as broadcast on the Sundance Channel, PBS, FreeSpeech Television, and the Community Channel UK. Their films are nationally & internationally distributed by Bullfrog Films and Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center and are held in permanent collections in over 75 university and museum archives nationally. Pancake is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Media Arts Program at Temple University.

Isabel Sandoval

Isabel Sandoval is a trans Filipina filmmaker and actress. Recognized by the Museum of Modern Art as a “rarity among the young generation of Filipino filmmakers for her muted, serene aesthetic,” Isabel Sandoval has premiered her films at major festivals like Venice, Locarno, London, and Busan. Her most recent feature, Lingua Franca, was acquired in North America by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY and premiered on Netflix.

Jane Schoenbrun

Jane Schoenbrun is a non-binary filmmaker, and the writer/director of the upcoming A24 film I Saw the TV Glow (produced by Emma Stone & Dave McCary’s Fruit Tree Productions). Their directorial debut We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Sundance 2021, New Directors/New Films) will be released this summer by Utopia Pictures and HBOMAX. Jane’s previous projects include co-creating the touring variety series The Eyeslicer (Tribeca 2017), founding the Radical Film Fair (a punk film fleamarket that drew thousands of attendees), producing Chained for Life (Kino Lorber 2018), and directing the experimental documentary A Self-Induced Hallucination (Rotterdam 2019).

Olivia Peace

Olivia Peace (she/they) is an award winning interdisciplinary artist whose films have been supported by Sundance, TIFF, Outfest, and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. After garnering critical and institutional praise for their 2017 short film Pangaea, Olivia landed a fellowship with the Sundance Institute in the year-long Ignite Fellowship Program. Their feature debut, Tahara, premiered in January at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival to rave reviews. Currently, Olivia is hard at work writing their next feature film, In Case of Apocalypse, and is building and organizing with the artist’s collective, Indefinite Village. 

StormMiguel Florez

StormMiguel Florez is a trans, queer Xicane filmmaker, whose work includes award-winning documentaries, The Whistle (Producer/Director) and MAJOR! (Editor/Co-Producer 2015). StormMiguel is also an event and media producer, actor, and a life-long musician. He was a 2020 San Francisco Pride virtual Community Grand Marshal and a recipient of NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures), The San Francisco Arts Commission, and Horizons Foundation grants. He’s originally from Albuquerque, NM, which he very much considers to be his homeland, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 24 years. 

Advisors

Chase Joynt

Director, Framing Agnes

Chase Joynt is a director and writer whose films have won jury and audience awards internationally. His debut documentary feature, Framing Agnes, premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it won the NEXT Innovator Award and the NEXT Audience Award.  With Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase co-directed No Ordinary Man, a feature-length documentary about jazz musician Billy Tipton, which was presented at Cannes Docs 2020 as part of the Canadian Showcase of Docs-in-Progress. Since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020, No Ordinary Man has been hailed by The New Yorker as “a genre unto itself” and Indiewire as “the future of trans cinema.” The film has won 9 awards on the international festival circuit, including being named to TIFF Canada’s Top Ten.  Joynt’s first book You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist and named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and Mail and CBC.  Most recently, he directed episodes of Two Sentence Horror Stories for the CW, which are now streaming on Netflix. With Samantha Curley, Chase runs Level Ground Productions in Los Angeles.

Giselle Ari Bleuz

Director, Over Stigmatized 2: The Stigma Stops Here

Giselle Ari Bleuz is a writer, actress, and media educator. She began her filmmaking work as a youth producer with the Global Action Project’s SupaFriends social justice media-arts leadership program and has since gone on to write, direct, and act in four short films—including Over Stigmatized, which has been screened in festivals across the United States. At Global Action Project, she was both a Community Media and Action Fellow and an Outreach and Distribution Fellow. She has also been a Safe Sex Educator at the Hetrick Martin Institute. A graduate of Harvey Milk High School, Bleuz was recently featured in HuffPost’s “10 Trans Filmmakers You Should Know.”

Joey Soloway

Creator, Transparent

Joey Soloway is an artist, activist and filmmaker. They created the Emmy– and Golden Globe–winning series
Transparent and cult feminist series I Love Dick, both from Amazon Studios. Joey founded Topple Books, a publishing imprint at Little A, and is currently releasing memoirs by Precious Brady Davis, Alexandra Billings, and Pigeon Pagonis, among others. Joey is currently working on The South Commons Experiment, a limited series about growing up in a ‘racial utopia’ and The Amtlai Tapes, a podcast dedicated to the mysterious story of Amtlai, the mother of Abraham, who was almost written out of history. They are co-founder of 5050 by 2020, a strategic initiative of TimesUp and co-creator of The Disruptors Fellowship, bringing trans, undocumented and disabled artists of color into Hollywood. They launched the community organization East Side Jews and are on the board of Temple Nefesh, a trans-denominational Jewish space for activism and spirituality. They are amidst development on podcast, television, and film projects that fulfill the Topple mission of elevating marginalized artists and their stories. They identify as trans and nonbinary and use they/them pronouns.

Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Director, BLACK: A Portrait of Black Transmen

Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler is an American entrepreneur, filmmaker, visual artist,blogger, writer, and scholar based in Oakland, California. His artistic and academic work focuses on queer/trans issues, body image, racialized sexualities, gender, performance and black queer theory. With notable contributions in film, academia, and business, he effectively uses art and technology as a means of discussing diversity and social justice. Dr. Ziegler directed the acclaimed 2008 documentary STILL BLACK: A Portrait of Black Transmen. Through six profiles, the film presents a nuanced picture of the intersections of masculinity, blackness, and the experience of being transgender.

Marion Hill

Director, Ma Belle, My Beauty

Marion Hill is a filmmaker whose roots spread from Vietnam to France and England, and is now based in New Orleans. Marion’s work is devoted to narratives and visuals of queer femininity and femme power, using the camera to authentically center the nuances of queer sensibility, sexuality, sensuality and feminine agency across cultures. MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY, first  premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and received the Audience Award for Best Film in the NEXT category. The film has also played at 2021’s SXSW, San Francisco International, Seattle International, Outfest and Newfest, and was recommended in the New York Times’ Sundance lineup. Marion’s early short films Bird of Prey (2016) and Goddess House (2018) played at festivals including Frameline, Sidewalk, and Outfest Fusion, and collectively now have over 5 million views online. Marion regularly produces work for New Orleans multi-media station, WWOZ, and is co-founder and video director of the People’s Media Front of New Orleans.

Mari Walker

Director, See You Then

Mari Walker (she/her) is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has been accepted into over 250 film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Frameline, and Outfest, garnering a total of 76 awards & 52 nominations. Mari’s work consistently explores identity through multiple forms and genres, championing the shared humanity of others through narratives that promote empathy and understanding. Her film THE SOUL OF A TREE won Best Short Documentary at the Kerry Film Festival in 2016. SWIM, her first narrative short, won the Audience Award at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival. Her most recent work SEE YOU THEN premiered at SXSW and received CAAMFEST’s Honorable Mention Award.  

Marquise Vilsón

Actor, Tales of the City

Marquise Vilsón is an actor, activist and man with trans experience. He made his feature film debut as Leon in Peter Hedges’ BEN IS BACK opposite Lucas Hedges.  Recent projects include THE KITCHEN, starring Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, NBC’s THE BLACKLIST, and Netflix’s TALES OF THE CITY. Marquise is currently shooting a series regular role on the CW series TOM SWIFT. Marquise is a long-standing member and participant of the underground ballroom scene. Currently as a member of the House of Balenciaga, in 2018 he received the Octavia St. Laurent Trans Activist Award, the Masquerade Blue Print Award and was acknowledged as a Transman ICON, one of the few Transmen to have had such an impact in and outside of the ballroom community.  

MJ Bassett

Director, Altered Carbon

M.J. Bassett is a feature film and television writer/director. She began her career directing the cult horror film, DEATHWATCH, starring Jamie Bell, Matthew Rhys, and Andy Serkis. She then directed the horror feature WILDERNESS, the fantasy adventure SOLOMON KANE, and the video game adaptation SILENT HILL: REVELATION starring Sean Bean, Adelaide Clemens, and Kit Harrington, and the recent  films ROGUE and ENDANGERED SPECIES, both of which she wrote, produced, and directed. Her television directing career began with  guest directing episodes of the Cinemax/HBO/Sky action show STRIKE BACK and then the first season finale of Starz’ show, DaVINCI’S DEMONS, created by David Goyer. She was invited back to Strike Back as lead director, writer, and later executive producer. Additional television credits include such shows as IRON FIST for Marvel/Netflix, NIGHTFLYERS, based on the George R.R. Martin novel, POWER on Starz, ALTERED CARBON, REACHER, and the upcoming Amazon series THE TERMINAL LIST.

Ro Haber

Director, Pride

Ro Haber  is an aesthetically-minded writer and director whose work spans across the Narrative, Documentary, and VR spaces. They are a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and have been a fellow in Film Independent/Netflix Episodic Lab, Outfest’s Screenwriting lab, AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, Universal’s inaugural Directing Program, and the 2018 Sundance Momentum Fellowship. They were listed on The Alice Initiative’s 2018 list of directors ready to helm studio films and most recently was a 2018 Ryan Murphy TV HALF Program fellow, shadowing on FX’s new series, Pose. Their films have played at Tribeca, AFI Fest, LA Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Palm Springs Shortfest, Outfest, and numerous others.

Sam Feder

Director, Disclosure

Sam Feder is a Peabody Award nominated film director. Sam’s films have been programmed by Sundance, Tribeca, CPH:DOX, MOMA PS-1, The BFI, The Hammer Museum, and in hundreds of film festivals around the world. The Netflix Original Documentary, Disclosure (Sundance, 2020) is an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger (2014), a portrait of trans icon Kate Bornstein, was named one of the best documentaries of 2014 by The Advocate, won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and multiple best feature film awards.

Zackary drucker

Producer, Transparent

Zackary Druker  is an independent artist, filmmaker, and cultural producer. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMa PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy nominated producer for the docuseries This Is Me, and was a producer on the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Amazon show Transparent. The Lady and The Dale, her directorial debut for television, premiered on HBO in early 2021.

Moderators

AMBER ESPINOSA-JONES

Amber Espinosa-Jones is the manager of Sundance’s Institute’s Outreach and Inclusion Program, where she supports artists from underrepresented communities through intersectional fellowships and community programs. As an independent producer and stage manager from Oakland, CA, she has worked for a number of arts organizations pushing the boundaries in mainstream media, including the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Ford Theatres, and Latino Theater Company. 

MOI SANTOS

Moi Santos is the Interim Manager for the Indigenous and Outreach & Inclusion Programs at Sundance Institute. In this role, Moi works across all Sundance Institute Artist Programs to deepen engagement with, and support of, storytellers and audiences across ethnicities, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and geographic regions. She also designs, oversees, supports and executes diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives, including the annual Sundance Institute Staff of Color Retreat; the Women of Color at Sundance group; and editing the blog series, Perspectives. She successfully created, designed, and led Sundance Institute’s first ever Trans Possibilities Intensive, a robust initiative which welcomed a cohort of six transgender of color filmmakers to the Sundance family and which aims to provide a supportive environment for the fellows to work on their projects, sharpen their craft, develop community and challenge the obstacles that continue to exclude transgender artists of color. Prior to arriving at Sundance Institute, Moi was responsible for the development, management and execution of the annual NALIP Media Summit, the largest and most prestigious Latinx gathering in the media field nationwide. She holds a degree in Ethnic Studies with a concentration in visual culture and gender studies from the University of California, Berkeley — where she graduated magna cum laude.

Nava Mau

Nava Mau is an award-winning filmmaker, actress, and cultural worker. Nava wrote, produced, directed, and starred in “Waking Hour,” a short film that screened in festivals around the world. She was selected as a Production Fellow for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure,” and worked as a producer on the short film “Work,” which premiered at Sundance. She appeared next as a series regular in the HBO Max series “Generation.” Nava received her BA in Linguistics & Cognitive Science from Pomona College, after studying in Paris and conducting research in Guadalajara, Mexico.  For 8 years, Nava worked in the fields of healing justice and culture change with community-based service providers, student organizations, and survivors of violence. She has been awarded the NewFest Audience Award and the YoSoy Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Nominators