Sailing Skills Not Required! We Launched New Partnerships and MediaMaker Commissions at BAVC Media in 2019!

Published On: December 20, 2019 |
Photograph by Oscar Helgstrand from Unsplash

Dear BAVC Media Community,

A couple of years ago, good friends invited my husband and I to go sailing in the Bay. It was a sunny day with moderate wind, perfect for keeping us in motion. After docking for lunch near Angel Island, we set back out into the open water. Only by now, the wind was gusty and the sky had turned San Francisco-July-grey. The experienced sailors raced around the boat, adrenalized, cranking the sails up and down, ducking under them as the boat shifted direction, amid loud clattering and flapping sounds. I’ll never forget the feeling of relief that my equally nauseous friend and I felt when we made it back to the dock, and how we practically waddled to our cars, a testament to our LACK of “sea legs!”


BAVC Media started 2019 in a sea of uncertainty. We’d lost talented staff, sunsetted a major program, missed some opportunities, and overall scuffled through 2018. Ask any nonprofit leader, at least when it feels safe to drop their guard, and you’ll hear similar tales about their bad years. Running a nonprofit, with all of the weird alternative-universe realities that go with it, like providing services and programs that the market won’t pay for; retaining and appreciating your workers while they’re underpaid (because of the aforementioned market problem); paying for business operations with donations that have restrictions; and sweating over cash flow when your payers include government agencies that miss the connection between year-end deficits and their backlogged payments.

So that’s the salty context for what I’m really writing to you about!

I’m very happy to tell you that BAVC Media had a year to be proud of in 2019, with generosity and enthusiasm from so many friends and colleagues. We created new programs for emerging, diverse filmmakers, expanded our community access media team, and re-committed ourselves to investing in media making that matters. Of special note, we established a new collaboration with San Francisco Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies program to help their students, teachers and librarians develop youth participatory action research projects using media, and we were commissioned by and YouTube to create documentary video and audio series for Hamilton Families, one of the most innovative organizations helping families facing homelessness in the Bay Area. The video series will be created by three teams of alumni from BAVC Media’s MediaMaker Fellowship program – Elizabeth Lo and Dan Chein, Emily Cohen-Ibañez and Kristina Motwani, and Erika Cohn and Marcia Jarmel and Executive Produced by Nico Opper (see bios below), and the audio series will be co-produced by the nationally-syndicated social justice podcast Making Contact.

Earlier this month I had a blast talking to host and writer Erica Sandberg on the KRON web show Making it in San Francisco. You can check out our conversation to hear more about the valuable opportunities that media makers can access at BAVC Media (and why San Francisco really needs BAVC Media!).

Thank you for being part of our media making community! Please don’t hesitate to contact me or another one of our BAVC Media team members to share your thoughts, suggestions and new project ideas. We are makers and love to collaborate.

Please donate to support BAVC Media at any level that makes sense to you. Every contribution makes a difference!

Wishing you happy holidays and a wonderful 2020 New Year!







Nico Opper, Executive Producer

Nico Opper (they/she) is an Emmy®-nominated filmmaker whose most recent series about becoming a foster and adoptive parent, The F Word, was nominated for a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series and an International Documentary Association Award for Best Shortform Series. Their feature films (Off and Running, Visitor’s Day) have been broadcast nationally on the PBS series P.O.V. and World Channel, and have premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, AFI Docs, and Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival. They’ve won Best Documentary and Audience Awards at Outfest, Silverdocs and Ann Arbor Film Festival. Nico is a 2019 SFFILM FilmHouse resident, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico and a Eureka Fellowship for Bay Area artists. They have been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film”, Indiewire Magazine’s 25 LGBT Filmmakers on the Rise and DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40” list of US documentary talents. They’ve also produced feature documentaries and series for the Discovery Channel and Here TV. Nico is Creative Director of the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship.



Director: Elizabeth Lo

Producer: Dan Chein

Elizabeth Lo is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAMCinemafest, New York Times Op-Docs, Field of Vision, and PBS’ POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015, and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion and the 2016 Next Director Award Shortlist in London. Elizabeth was selected for the 56th New York Film Festival (NYFF) Artist Academy in 2018 and the 72nd Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019, and was the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Investigative Fund Fellowship by the Nation Institute. Her work includes Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). Her collected shorts have been released as a DVD for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Her debut feature documentary, Stray, was named #18 in “50 Most Anticipated American Films of 2019” by Filmmaker Magazine, and has received support from the Rooftop Film Fund, the Points North Institute, Catapult True/False Rough Cut Retreat, ARRI Amira Grant, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, IFP Film Week, Big Sky Pitch, Sheffield MeetMarket, Yaddo, and Apple. She received a BA in film from NYU and an MFA in documentary from Stanford University. Here’s a link to her Sundance awarding HOTEL 22:

Daniel Chein is an independent filmmaker whose work explores transculturalism and expressions of identity in the performative. His short film Basha Man examines the impact of tourism on a mountain village in southwest China and premiered at CAAMFest2017, where it won the AT&T Film Award. Daniel has collaborated with other filmmakers as an editor on Objector (Jury Award & Centerpiece Film, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival) and Changa Revisited (Best International Documentary, Astra Film Festival); an associate producer on Our Time Machine (Best Cinematography & World Premiere, Tribeca Film Festival); and co-director/co-producer on Hoodie (WIP). Daniel is a member of A-Doc and a board member of the Global Lives Project. Daniel was a 2019 Flaherty Seminar Fellow and a recipient of the Princess Grace Award in Film. His work has received support from the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, the Points North Institute, and the Berkeley Film Foundation. Daniel is currently a SFFILM FilmHouse resident and visiting faculty at the University of California Berkeley. He received a BA in Anthropology and an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University.



Director: Emily Cohen-Ibañez

Producer: Kristina Motwani

Emily Cohen Ibañez (Producer/Director/Cinematographer) Emily Cohen Ibañez is a Colombian-American filmmaker who earned her doctorate in Anthropology (2011) with a certificate in Culture and Media at New York University. Her film work pairs lyricism with social activism, advocating for labor, environmental, and health justice. Her debut feature documentary BODIES AT WAR/MINA (2015) premiered at El Festival de Cine de Bogotá where it was nominated for a UNICEF award. The Guardian published her most recent short, FRUITS OF LABOUR. Other shorts have premiered at Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Society for Visual Anthropology, and the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco. She is currently working on her feature film, FRUITS OF LABOR, with a planned released in 2021. The National Science Foundation, Fulbright, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, JustFilms Ford Foundation, California Humanities, Nia Tero, Firelight Media, and SFFILM FilmHouse Residency Program amongst others have supported her work. Here’s a link to her short film for The Guardian, Fruits of Labour:

Kristina Motwani is a producer, director, video editor and story consultant living and working in San Francisco. She is a 2019 DOCNYC 40 under 40 honoree, a 2017 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow and a 2018 SFFilm FilmHouse Resident. Her work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca, SFFilm festival and more, and has been seen on PBS, Netflix and the World Channel. She has been nominated for a regional Emmy award and received awards from the SF Press Club, the Tellys and the Society for Professional Journalism. She is a judge for the news and doc Emmy Awards and is currently teaching editing at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She’s a member of the Brown Girls Doc Mafia.



Director: Erika Cohn

Producer: Marcia Jarmel

Erika Cohn (director) is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” She most recently completed THE JUDGE, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film about the first woman judge appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2018 Independent Lens series. Erika co-directed/produced, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary about young Pacific Islander men pursuing their dreams of playing professional football, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 Independent Lens series. Erika has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her film, WHEN THE VOICES FADE, a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and has been a featured panelist/speaker at various film festivals and university conferences across the globe. Her work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Hot Docs, Sheffield, ITVS, Women in Film, The BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship and the CPB Producers’ Academy among others. Erika grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahn, where she first began her career. She studied at Chapman University (California) and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and has degrees in Film Production, Middle East Studies, and Acting Performance. In 2013, Erika founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s “Win from Within” series, for which she received a 2016 Webby award nomination. She is currently developing her feature narrative debut and will be releasing the feature documentary, BELLY OF THE BEAST, in 2020. Here’s a trailer for THE JUDGE:

Marcia Jarmel (producer) has over 20 years with PatchWorks Films, producing and directing three feature documentaries and several shorts. She consulted on Academy-Award nominee “Last Day of Freedom,” and HBO’s Emmy-nominated “50 Children,” as well as serving as IFP Mentor to “The Last Season.” She is currently preparing to launch “Los Hermanos/The Brothers,” an ITVS-, LPB-, and NEA-funded feature documentary. Prior work includes: “Havana Curveball” (Best Documentary, Boston and Seattle Children’s Film Festivals, special juror award, Olympia Festival in Greece, School Library Journal’s “Best of 2014”); “Speaking in Tongues,” funded by ITVS, LPB and CAAM ( PBS, Audience Award San Francisco Film Festival); and ITVS-funded “Born in the U.S.A.” (Independent Lens, hailed as the “best film on childbirth” by the former director of maternal health at the World Health Organization and “The Return of Sarah’s Daughters (Women in the Director’s Chair, IDA’s DocuWeek, Cinequest, international public television). She has produced short films for Homeless Prenatal, Education Outside, and other nonprofit organizations. Marcia has been a resident at Working Films’ Content+Intent at Mass MoCA, Fledgling Fund’s Reel Education and Reel Impact, San Francisco Film Society’s FilmHouse, the Kopkind Colony, and twice a BAVC MediaMaker Fellow.