SOCDOC - MFA Social Documentary Film

SocDoc Blog

Happenings in the documentary film world and within the School of Visual Arts MFA in Social Documentary Film Community

Two SocDoc Alumni screening at the Rated SR Film Festival

Two alumni have their thesis films in the Rated SR Film Festival next week.

Tuesday 3/17/15
Truth Through a Lens – 92’ – USA – (School of Visual Arts Student) – 2014 (World Premiere)
Directed by Justin Thomas
This stunning feature length debut follows the evolution of Dennis Flores from Brooklyn street kid, subway train tagger to local community organizing legend in the backdrop of recent social issues.

Friday 3/20/15
Love Is the Highest Law – 83’ – USA – (School of Visual Arts student) – 2014 –  (New York Premiere)
Directed by Liliya Anisimova
A unique, firsthand look into three powerful stories connected through the strength of overcoming the stringent same-sex laws both in Russia and the United States and of love triumphing over hardship.

Q & A after the screening

National Listening Tour for Independent Films on PBS

National Listening Tour for Independent Films on PBS

Join us in New York City – the next stop on the National Listening Tour for Independent Films on PBS – on February 23rd, from 2 PM ET to 5 PM ET, along with PBS, POV, ITVS, WNET, Independent Lens and the Indie Caucus. The event will take place at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. RSVP now »

In keeping with its commitment to independent film and filmmakers, PBS leadership is hosting a series of open forums around the country with independent filmmakers, PBS series producers, and other public media and community partners. At each event, participants are invited to voice their priorities and innovative ideas on how all can work together to strengthen distribution, viewership and community engagement through Independent Lens, POV and all kinds of independent films.

Watch highlights from San Francisco, the first stop on the tour last month. The Indie Caucus and Kartemquin Films will host a third stop in Chicago in March, date TBD.


SocDoc Alumni Screen @ Big Sky 2015

Steven Loring (’12) and Sam Carroll (’12) have films in the 2015 Big Sky Documentary Festival in Missoula Montana this February. The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has become one of the most well respected documentary festivals in the US and is the largest cinema event in Montana.

Steven Loring will screen his SocDoc thesis film The Age of Love.

Sam Carroll will screen his SocDoc thesis film Bedevil (World Premiere).

More information about this festival.

Spring 2015 Guest Lecture Series

Michael Levine – The Cruise – editor

Mona Eldaief – Rafel Solar Mama – director

Sam Green – filmmaker

Freeway: A Crack in The System
– Stranger Than Fiction – at IFC

Lacy Schwartz – Little White Lie – director

Johanna Hamilton – 1971 – director/producer

Bernardo Ruiz – filmmaker

Rebels of a Neon God – Flaherty NYC at Anthology Film Archive

Jesse Moss – The Overnighters – director

Carter Little – Music Supervisor

4/7/15 – TBA

Abigail Disney – Executive Producer

4/21/15 – TBA

4/28/15 – End of Semester Screenings

SocDoc Alums and Faculty screen at DOC NYC Nov 13-20th

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE  Olga Lvoff’s film is a sensitive examination of family, memory and mortality. Under the watchful eyes of her dutiful daughter Sonia, Regina recalls the Yiddish and French songs of her youth through music therapy sessions following a stroke. But the 93-year-old Holocaust survivor is starting to succumb to dementia. Fearful that their family’s tumultuous history, unspoken for decades, will vanish with Regina, Sonia sets out to recapture their shared experiences.   The director was nominated for a Student Academy Awards in 2014. Screening with Academy Award-nominated director Lucy Walker’s The Lion’s Mouth Opens. A young woman is […]


12:15 PM, Sun Nov 16 | IFC Center

WORLD PREMIERE Volunteering in Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, Victoria Campbell encounters Gaston, a charming voodoo priest who shows leadership during the emergency, and later manages to open a small, much-needed medical clinic with the support of a foreign funder. He becomes a local hero, a symbol of ingenuity in defiance of the failure of conventional relief efforts. Over three years, he also becomes the filmmaker’s close friend—until an unexpected development causes Victoria to re-examine her entire experience in Haiti. Filmmaker is expected to be in person for both screenings.


9:30 PM, Fri Nov 14 | Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas
10:45 AM, Thu Nov 20 | IFC Center

Boys will be boys. While a father takes advantage of North Dakota’s oil boom, his son is left to his own devices in Solitary Plains (USA, 10 min., J. Christian Jensen). In For the Love of Dogs (USA, 26 min., Tim O’Donnell), Asperger’s Syndrome has enabled Cory to connect to fellow dog-show attendees. Basement Metal (USA, 10 min., Ronnie Bhardwaj) presents a behind-the- scenes look at the middle-school-aged members of a heavy metal band. A twelve-year-old filmmaker follows in the footsteps of Michael Moore to explore New York City school weather closings in Anatomy of a Snow Day (USA, 41 […]


11:45 AM, Sat Nov 15 | SVA Theatre

Views through the photographic lens. A collective of visually impaired New York photographers express their creativity in BlindSight (USA, 16 min., Bob Sacha), while a former fashion photographer celebrates unconventionally beautiful subjects in On Beauty (USA, 30 min., Joanna Rudnick). Becoming Billy Name (USA, 13 min., Alexa Karolinski) profiles the life of the reclusive man who documented Warhol’s Factory in photos for over a decade. Award-winning photojournalist Sebastiano regularly risks his life—and the stability of his relationship—to become Embedded (USA, 31 min., Madeleine Pryor) in combat zones for weeks at a time.


12:00 PM, Sat Nov 15 | IFC Center

NYC PREMIERE An unprecedented speed-dating event for seniors serves as the backdrop for this alternately poignant and funny look at love among the 70+ set. Thirty brave souls register—widows and widowers, longtime divorcees and the lovelorn—each willing to endure an anxiety-inducing, but mercifully brief, series of setups in their search for companionship in their golden years. Candidly confronting feelings of insecurity, loneliness and anticipation, Steven Loring’s film demonstrates the universality of love and desire, regardless of age.


2:15 PM, Sat Nov 15 | SVA Theatre

Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s breathtaking film chronicles the dangerous but life- affirming work performed by the Human Rights Watch Emergency Team, or E-Team, a compelling group of intrepid investigators willing to enter hostile territories to document crimes against humanity that might otherwise go unreported. Allowing outside filmmakers to follow them for the first time, unforgettable E-Team members travel to war zones in Syria and Libya in harrowing, visceral scenes that demonstrate the threats they face in their determined efforts to put an end to dictatorial impunity. Courtesy of Netflix.   The Directors are expected to be person for the […]


4:45 PM, Tue Nov 18 | Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas
Information Sessions for Fall 2015 Admissions 11/8 and 12/2

Register now for our Information Sessions for 2015 Admission. Meet the department chair, faculty, staff, tour the facilities and get all of your questions answered in one two hour event!

Register for November 8th from 11am-1pm. (DONE)

or December 2nd from 6pm-8pm. (LAST ONE OF THE YEAR)

For information about admission visit our web site or email [email protected] or call 212.592.2919.


Fall 2014 Guest Lecture Series

9/9/14 – Chiemi Karasawa – clips from Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me and more founder Isotope Films
9/16/14 – NO GUEST on Tues- instead
Aumni Film Festival on 9/20 @ 8pm and Thesis Showcase 9/26-9/28
9/23/14 – Lynn Sachs – experimental, multimedia, doc filmmaker –
9/30/14 – Loira Limbal – from Firelight Media
10/7/14 – Lynn True and Nelson Walker – work in progress or Summer Pasture
10/15/14 – E-Team premiere at IFC
10/21/14 – LynnAnn Klotz (law and documentary film) – A
10/28/14 – LynnAnn Klotz (law and documentary film) – B
11/4/14 – Michael Kantor – from American Masters
11/11/14 – Rich Hill Tracy Droz Tragos
11/18/14 – DOC NYC – TBA
11/25/14 – David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worral and Thanksgiving Pot Luck
12/2/14 – Information Session at SocDoc – Stranger Than Fiction at IFC
12/9/14 – Ahead of Time – Bob Richman at JCC
12/15 & 12/16 – End of Semester Screenings

Fourth Annual Thesis Showcase 9/26-9/28

Join us to celebrate 19 uniquely wonderful thesis films from our 2014 graduating class.

Tickets are free and can be reserved here.


SVA Alumni Film Festival

After School Special 2014: SVA’s Alumni Film & Animation Festival

Friday, September 19, 2014 –
Sunday, September 21, 2014

Event hosted by: School of Visual Arts

Reserve Tickets

SVA’s Inaugural Alumni Film & Animation Festival

Featuring some of the College’s most accomplished film, video, and animation alumni, this multi-day festival will include screenings, premieres of new work, behind-the-scenes looks at box office hits and classics, and special Q&As with industry insiders.

All screenings are free and open to the public.  A limited number of badges, which will provide reserved seating for all screenings, are available for purchase through the Eventbrite links below, or by clicking the ticket icon above.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVPs via the Eventbrite pages linked to below are appreciated, but not necessary.  Doors will open approximately 30 minutes prior to each screening.

A full schedule and list of participants is below (subject to change) and can also be found at  All screenings are accompanied by Q&As.

All events will take place at SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011.  Directions, as well as local restaurants, hotels, and attractions, can be found here.

Friday 9/19/14

Beatrice Theatre

7:00PM Power: A STARZ Original Series (2014). Join Executive Producer Randall Emmett (BFA 1994 Film and Video; 2 GunsLone Survivor) for a special screening of the pilot episode of this New York-set drama.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Silas Theatre

8:00PM Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) in 3D. Followed by a Q&A with members of Hydraulx visual effects studio – Jeremy Butler (BFA 1999 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and Joel Sevilla (BFA 1999 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) – and a special behind-the-scenes look at the film’s visual effects.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Saturday 9/20/14

Beatrice Theatre

12:30PM Rio 2 (2014) in 3D.  Bring the entire family to this special screening of the hit sequel, featuring a Q&A with artists from Blue Sky Studios — Kevin Edzenga (BFA 2009 Computer Art), Krzysztof Fus (BFA 2011 Computer Art), and Jonathan Lin (BFA 2012 Computer Art).  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Silas Theatre

4:00PM SVA Shorts! The Animated Series. Join MFA Computer Art alumni Kun-I Chang (2007), Nathan Freise (2009), Shiouwen Hong (2009), Q-hyun Kim (2012), ChuChi Lin (2010), John Mattiuzzi (2012), Joshua Planz (2013), and Taili Wu (2009) as they present a selection of commercials, music videos, and short films (including the world premiere of Zerogon). Followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers/animators.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Silas Theatre

8:00PM Lars and the Real Girl (2007) shown in 35mm. Join director Craig Gillespie (BFA 1989 Media Arts) for a screening of the Academy Award-nominated modern classic, followed by a Q&A.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Beatrice Theatre

8:00PM La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus (2012). Join filmmaker Mark Kendall (MFA 2011 Social Documentary) for a screening of his award-winning documentary, followed by a Q&A.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Silas Theatre

11:59PM Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996) shown in 35mm. Join us for a special midnight screening and live Skype Q&A with co-director Yvette Kaplan (BFA 1976 Animation).  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Sunday 9/21/14

Beatrice Theatre

2:00PM SVA Shorts! The Live Action Series. Join MPS Live Action Short Film alumni Ali Akarcesme (2011), Anissa Folley (2011), Adrienne Nicole (2011), Eric Pennycoff (2013), and Gabriel Wilson (2011) as they present a selection of commercials, music videos, and short films. Followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Silas Theatre

2:30PM Your Sister’s Sister (2011). Join us for a screening of the award-winning film, followed by a live Skype Q&A with director/writer Lynn Shelton (MFA 1995 Photography and Related Media) and a sneak peek of her upcoming film, Laggies.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

Beatrice Theatre

5:30PM Affluenza (2014). Join director Kevin Asch (BFA 1998 Film and Video) for a screening of his newly-released film.  RSVP or purchase a badge here.

– See more at:

“We Live in Public” on Friday 1/24/14 @ 6pm
In collaboration with UnionDocs, the MFA SocDoc program is thrilled to present Ondi Timoner’s “We Live in Public” on Friday 1/24/14 @ 6pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ondi. There are a few seats available for guests, please email [email protected] reserve a seat. The event is FREE and the theater is located in the MFA SocDoc Department – 136 W 21st street, ground floor NY, NY 10011.


About UnionDocs

UnionDocs (UnDo) is a Center for Documentary Art that generates and shares big ideas.

We bring together a diverse community of experimental media-makers, dedicated journalists, critical thinkers, and local partners on a search for urgent expressions of the human experience, practical perspectives on the world today, and compelling visions for the future. UnDo and Do Up!


About Ondi Timoner

The only filmmaker to win the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize twice, Ondi Timoner is one of the most celebrated documentarians working today. Through her web series and short films, she continues to put forth cutting edge content investigating the craft of documentary filmmaking as well as tech innovators.

Timoner’s 2004 doc Dig! chronicles feuding bands the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. An exploration on the collision of art and commerce, this feature film was an instant classic and recently named the top music film of all time by The Guardian. She would follow this up with We Live in Public (2009), a riveting portrait of Internet pioneer Josh Harris who made and lost a fortune and explored humans willingness to give up their privacy in the virtual age. Her other features explore topics like women in the American justice system (The Nature of the Beast, 1994), what draws us to cults (Join Us, 2007) and global warming (Cool It, 2010).

She hosts the ongoing series Bring Your Own Doc (BYOD) for, whose archive is a tremendous resource of interviews with filmmakers like Steve James, Lucy Walker, Eugene Jarecki, Kirby Dick, Lauren Greenfield, Joshua Oppenheimer and Les Blank to name a few. Her channel A TOTAL DISRUPTION has multiple series about innovators who are using technology to change our lives. Featuring guests like Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian and Jack Dorsey from Twitter, this project is also being developed into a feature length documentary. Timoner has also collaborated on short films that have succeeded in the festival circuit such as Library of Dust and Recycle. Having made dramatic documentaries with strong narrative arcs, she is gearing up to shoot her first fiction feature this year about photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.


Ondi loves to use her camera as a bridge to bring herself and the audience deep into worlds they may never otherwise enter. In 2000, Timoner created the original VH-1 series Sound Affects, about music’s effect at critical moments in people’s lives.  She has directed commercials and web series for McDonalds, State Farm, Ford, The Army, and others.  She has directed films for CNN Heroes, and helmed short films for Honda’s Dream the Impossible series, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  She directed the opening film for President Clinton’s birthday/fundraiser concert featuring Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Jay-Z, and the President himself at the Hollywood Bowl.

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