Sunday, May 14 • 12:30 –1:30  | Mark Fishkin Room, Smith Rafael Film Center
FREE (ticket required)

Given the ease and accessibility of today’s technology, it is a great time to be a filmmaker. It is also one of the most challenging times to sustain a documentary filmmaking career. Join us for coffee and conversation with visiting and local filmmakers, who will share their diverse strategies for survival in an ever-changing industry.


Vicki Abeles is an award-winning filmmaker, author, speaker, and education advocate. As an attorney, businesswoman, disrupter, and boundary-crosser, Vicki brings her creative leadership and unbridled passion to her documentary film projects. Abeles co-directed the 2009 award-winning documentary, “Race to Nowhere,” vividly portraying the pressure-cooker culture plaguing America’s schools. Using a cutting-edge distribution model, the film has screened in more than 8,000 community-sponsored screenings in more than 40 countries, reaching an audience of millions around the globe. In her follow-up film, “Beyond Measure,” Vicki tells a fresh story. A revolution is brewing across the country and the change agents bringing innovation into our schools are educators, parents, and students. Her films have ignited a grassroots movement to restore student well-being, transform education, and redefine success for the next generation.  Abeles authored the New York Times Bestseller Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation

Bryan Smith is an award-winning filmmaker based in Squamish, British Columbia. His first documentary, 49 Megawatts, received acclaim for both its amazing kayaking footage and its insightful exploration of the controversy over British Columbia’s river-based energy production. Smith has since built on his adventure film roots, developing a strong reputation in both TV documentary and commercial cinematography. His client list has grown to include National Geographic, Discovery, Disney, BBC, Red Bull Media House, Patagonia, New Belgium Brewing, Arcteryx and more. In the past few years he has directed and produced several feature-length documentaries including The Man Who Can Fly for National Geographic and, most recently, Frozen Titans, The Crystal Labyrinth and The Rockies Traverse for Red Bull Media House.

Rick Tejada-Flores, director, MY BOLIVIA, REMEMBERING WHAT I NEVER KNEW has made documentaries for over 40 years, including films for PBS, Sundance Channel, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and YLE Finland. He served as head of the PBS Latino Program Consortium, General Manager of KALW FM in San Francisco and Program Director for KCSM TV. His films have been widely exhibited at festivals including Sundance, Houston, San Francisco, Miami and Mill Valley, and have won numerous prizes and honors. His credits include Rivera in AmericaJasper Johns Ideas in PaintOrozco, Man of Fire for the PBS American Masters series; The Fight in the Fields, Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers StruggleThe Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It; and Race Is the Place.

Sara Nodjoumi, producer, WHEN GOD SLEEPS is an independent film producer and film festival programmer. She most recently produced the feature documentary THE IRAN JOB, which was released theatrically and on Netflix worldwide. In Germany, the film was shortlisted for a German Academy Award. For THE IRAN JOB Nodjoumi managed two of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time. She co-produced and co-directed I CALL MYSELF PERSIAN: IRANIANS IN AMERICA, which aired on PBS and premiered at the MoMA Documentary Fortnight. Nodjoumi joined director Till Schauder, as an Associate Producer on his feature films SANTA SMOKES and DUKE’S HOUSE. Their collaboration continues with the feature documentary THE REGGAE BOYZ, which is currently in post-production, and WHEN GOD SLEEPS, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and was co-produced by ITVS and supported by numerous foundations including the Sundance Institute, Catapult Film Fund, Fork Film, the Jerome Foundation, and NYSCA. From 2004-2009, Nodjoumi worked at the Tribeca Film Festival as an Associate Programmer and is currently the Artistic Director of the New York Sephardic Film Festival. In 2016, she was invited to attend the Sundance Creative Producer’s Summit, and in 2017 will attend the Cannes Film Festival as an IFP Producing Fellow.

MODERATOR: Paola Mottura, Program Manager, Documentary & Fiscal Sponsorship, Independent Filmmaker Project, NY