Land of Opportunity

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Luisa Dantas – Director/Producer/Editor

Brasilian-American filmmaker Luisa Dantas has worked on a wide array of documentary and fiction media projects at the intersection of storytelling and social justice. Her most recent work, Land of Opportunity, chronicles the reconstruction of New Orleans through the eyes of those on the frontlines and asks the question: what kinds of cities do we want to (re)build in the 21st century? The multi-plaform project includes an award-winning feature film and groundbreaking interactive web platform produced in conjunction with a spectrum of national and local partners in six cities. Land of Opportunity received funding from the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Chicken and Egg Pictures, National Black Programming Consortium and Arte.

Luisa also co-produced the acclaimed documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, which was produced and distributed in collaboration with a diverse coalition of stakeholders, including grassroots groups,non-profits, government entities, labor unions, and small businesses. She also directed and produced the web-series Voices From the Gulf for Color of Change. She currently produces media for a diverse range of clients working toward equitable development in the built environment in the public and private sectors across the U.S. and beyond, including the Ford Foundation and Surdna.

Luisa’s first fiction film, Bolo, was produced in Brazil and screened in several international festivals. She has also written for the animated series Go, Diego, Go! for Nickelodeon Television. She received a screenwriting fellowship from the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and Disney/ABC. She also teaches screenwriting and documentary filmmaking at Tulane University. Luisa is a member-owner of New Day Films, the groundbreaking social-justice film distribution co-op. She is also a member of the Impact Producer’s Group. She received her B.A. in English and Latin American studies from Brown University and an M.F.A in Film from Columbia University.

Rebecca Snedeker – Producer
Rebecca Snedeker is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker and writer whose work supports human rights, creative expression and her native city, New Orleans. She is currently collaborating with Rebecca Solnit to create Immortal City: A New Orleans Atlas (UC Press, 2013) and serving as a consulting producer on Shell Shocked, a film about youth and gun violence. Her directorial debut, By Invitation Only (2006), premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and screened at festivals, conferences and PBS stations nationwide. More recently, Snedeker produced Land of Opportunity (ARTE France, 2010), Siskel/Jacobs Productions’ Witness: Katrina (National Geographic Channel, 2010) and Choices, featuring Terence Blanchard and Dr. Cornel West (Concord Records, 2009). As Archival Researcher and/or Associate Producer, she has contributed to numerous documentaries, including A Village Called Versailles (Independent Lens, 2010), Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (National PBS Broadcast, 2007), and Desire: The Teenage Girls Documentary Project (Free Speech TV, 2007).Snedeker serves on the board of Video Veracity, a fiscal agent for independent media projects, and is an active member of New Day Films, the 40-year-old filmmaker-owned distribution company. Formerly, she served on the boards of the New Orleans Film Society and Patois: the New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival. Snedeker received her B.A. in Fine Arts from Wesleyan University.

Judith Helfand – Executive Producer
An award-winning activist and educator, Judith Helfand is known for her ability to take heedless corporate behavior and chemical exposure and make it personal, highly charged and very entertaining. The Uprising of 34 (co-directed with George Stoney), Blue Vinyl (for which she and co-Director Daniel Gold were nominated for two Emmys) and its Peabody Award-winning prequel A Healthy Baby Girl all explore home, class, corporate accountability, intergenerational relationships and what is a part of the public record. Judith just completed co-Directing and co-Producing Everything’s Cool, a feature documentary about global warming which was released in November, 2007. She is in development on a feature documentary about “unnatural disasters ” and the politics of “crisis ” through the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave. She is a co-founder of Working Films and Chicken and Egg Pictures. She is currently teaching “environmental documentary making ” as an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Wendy Ettinger – Executive Producer
Wendy Ettinger is an award-winning producer, director and casting director. Her first documentary, The War Room, directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker was nominated for an Academy Award, and their second collaboration, Moon Over Broadway, was cited as Best Documentary of 1998. Her first feature film, Eye of God, directed by Tim Blake Nelson, premiered at Sundance. Baby I’m Yours, her directorial debut which follows the lives of three first time mothers, led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Ms. Ettinger served as Consulting Producer on Al Franken: God Spoke, directed by Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob, (EP) D.A. Pennebaker, which debuted theatrically in 2006. Ms. Ettinger is currently collaborating with director Douglas Keeve (Unzipped) on the feature length documentary The Gramercy Park Hotel. She and her husband Derek Mclane were the recipients of the 2006 Michael Mendelson Award. She is on the board of Working Films and serves on the Board of the 52nd Street Project, a non-profit organization that brings theater professionals together with inner city children. Ms. Ettinger also serves on the board of the Educational Foundation of America. She lives in New York City with her husband Derek Mclane and their three children.

Julie Parker-Benello – Executive Producer
For the past ten years, Julie Parker Benello has produced documentaries on health and environmental issues for television. In 2002, Julie co-produced the Sundance award winning HBO documentary Blue Vinyl, a film in search of the truth about vinyl (PVC), America’s most popular plastic. Julie’s commitment to linking filmmaking to environmental health started with her producing one-hour documentary Prostate Cancer: A Journey of Hope which aired nationally on PBS in June 1999, attracting over 3.5 million viewers and was chosen as one of their ten outreach projects for that year. In 2005, Julie founded Chicken and Egg Pictures, an innovative film company which provides grants and executive produces select film projects by women filmmakers. Julie currently serves on the board of The Center for Environmental Health and Working Films. She lives in San Francisco and is the mother of two young daughters.

Micheal Boedigheimer – Cinematographer/Co-Producer
Micheal Boedigheimer is a director and cinematographer. His award-winning short film Impasse has screened at festivals around the world.
St. Joe, an experimental short film he worked on with Luisa Dantas, recently won Best Short at the New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival. He has worked as a camera operator on various reality shows for A&E, Bravo, tru TV and the web-series Voices From the Gulf for Color of Change. He graduated from the Art Institute of California, Santa Monica in 2006 with a B.A. in video production.

Karen Sztajnberg – Co-Editor
Karen Sztajnberg is an editor, writer and director working in both the U.S. and Brazil. Laura, the feature documentary she is wrapping up about a woman surviving her broken dreams of immigration while casting the illusion of success at home, has just won the DOC-TV Latin America Award. Happiness Inc, co-directed with Camilla Montecupo, and commissioned by RAI Italian Television, explored the murky terrain of the new self-improvement cults gaining a foothold in corporate America. En Route to Baghdad, edited and written by Karen, depicted the fiasco of the UN mission in Iraq resulting in the tragic death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the envoy in charge. This film was broadcast in nine countries, and was part of the PBS Independent Lens series. Karen came to the US in 1994 with a Fullbright Scholarship, then was the recipient of the National Film Board of Canada’s Incentive to Young Filmmakers Grant in 1996. She received her MFA in film from Columbia University.

Derrick Hodge – Composer
Derrick Hodge is a bassist, composer, and music producer. After several years as the bass player with Grammy Award-winning Terrence Blanchard’s jazz band, he recently became Music Director for Maxwell’s Tour 09-10. Derrick composed the score for the documentaries Who the F@#k is Jackson Pollack, Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, Army Recruiter, and tracks for Spike Lee’s Inside Man. He attended Berklee College of Music and received a bachelor’s degree in Music (emphasis on jazz and composition) from Temple University. Hodge has performed and/or recorded with Donald Byrd, Kanye West, Will Smith, Jill Scott, Bootsy Barnes, Q-Tip, Terell Stafford, Mos Def and many others.

Jim Klein – Consulting Editor
Jim Klein has been an independent filmmaker since 1969 and active in the American independent film community ever since. He is one of the founders of New Day Films, a cooperative of independent filmmakers that is one of the leading educational distributors in the United States and approaching its 40th anniversary. As a producer/director, he has two Academy Award nominations for feature documentary, Seeing Red and Union Maids, along with national television broadcasts and numerous international screenings of five other documentary works. He has edited four feature fiction films, including two by Ohio filmmaker Ed Radtke, The Dream Catcher and The Speed of Life. He has also edited numerous documentaries, including Scout’s Honor, which won the Audience and Freedom of Expression awards at the Sundance Film Festival, If I Can’t Do It, which won the Columbia Dupont award for distinguished journalism, as well as a national television Emmy, A Lion in the House, which won the 2008 Prime Time Emmy for exceptional merit in non-fiction filmmaking, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, which won major awards at the Full Frame, Hot Docs and the Amnesty International Durban Film Festivals, and was nationally broadcast this year on the PBS series, INDEPENDENT LENS. Most recently, he was a major editor on the Academy-Award nominated The Last Truck, about the closing of GM plant. It was broadcast on labor day 2009 on HBO.

Timothy Watson – Additional Editor
Timothy Watson is a documentary editor, producer, and writer in New Orleans. He edited Vows of Silence (2008) and Member Of The Club (2008). Watson co-produced and edited By Invitation Only (2006), which aired on many PBS stations across the country, won several film festival awards, and is distributed by New Day Films. He co-produced and edited A Player To Be Named Later (2005), which aired on many PBS stations and is distributed by Image Entertainment. He co-produced and edited Desire (2005), which is airing nationally on Free Speech TV, was selected by Al Gore for the “Reel Current” award at the Nashville Film Festival, and has won awards at other festivals. He edited and co-wrote Shalom Y’All (2002), which won awards at many festivals, aired nationally on the Sundance Channel, and aired on many PBS stations.

Evan Casper-Futterman – Co-Producer
Evan Casper-Futterman is a Masters student of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of New Orleans. He joined the Land of Opportunity team in January 2008 after volunteering and providing logistical support for a series of grassroots campaigns around public housing and homelessness in New Orleans in 2007. He helped edit and produce The Heart Rots First, a visual art installation at Studio527 for ProspectOne from November 2008 to January 2009. He graduated in 2007 from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, with a B.A. in Geography.

Cristina Wollenberg – Associate Producer
Cristina Wollenberg is an aspiring documentary filmmaker. She works as a freelance media strategist and co-founder of The Marketing Hub. For three years, she was a media planner and buyer for Keating Magee Advertising, where she had the opportunity to work with various non-profit organizations in Louisiana. Cristina, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, joined the Land of Opportunity team in February 2009 as transcriber and assistant editor for the Brazilian storyline. She has recently started to assist with grantwriting for the project. She graduated in 2006 from the University of New Orleans with a B.A. in Communications.

Robert Greenwald – Creative Advisor
Robert Greenwald is a producer, director and political activist. Greenwald is the director/producer of several documentaries: Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism (2004). He also executive produced a trilogy of political documentaries: Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002); Uncovered: The Iraq War (2003), which Greenwald also directed; and Unconstitutional (2004). Brave New Films, Greenwald’s media company, tells stories using film to influence the debates about the most important issues of the day. In addition to distributing Greenwald’s documentaries, it also distributed The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress (2006). Brave New Films also recently produced two new TV series – the ACLU Freedom Files and The Sierra Club Chronicles – which can be seen online and on Link TV. Greenwald’s films have garnered 25 Emmy nominations, four cable ACE Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Award, and eight Awards of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute.

Susannah Ludwig – Creative Advisor
Susannah Ludwig is a visionary independent producer whose most recent projects have been documentaries. She produced Stolen, a feature documentary which won the Audience Award at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Best Documentary honor at the Avignon/New York Film Festival. The film was released theatrically, distributed via Netflix and broadcast on PBS’s Emmy award winning Independent Lens series. Ludwig’s recent projects include CLOSE UP: Photographers at Work, currently airing on Ovation TV, and Self Portrait with Cows Going Home and Other Works: A Portrait of Sylvia Plachy, which won the Grand Jury prize for Best Short Documentary at the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival, and My Mother’s Garden, directed by Cynthia Lester, which recently aired on MSNBC. She is currently developing a diverse slate of documentary projects including Animas Perdidas, directed by Monika Navarro and funded by ITVS, and In Search of Bengali Harlem, directed by Vivek Bald. Ludwig is on the adjunct faculty at Long Island University, where she teaches documentary film production. She received the Mark Silverman Fellowship from the Sundance Institute in 2003.

Lesli Klainberg – Consulting Producer
Lesli Klainberg is the owner of Orchard Films and an award winning producer & director of a wide variety of non-fiction. She is has produced documentaries and other non-fiction for HBO, PBS, Showtime, A&E, AMC, CBS, WE and IFC. Her films have screened theatrically as well as at film festivals around the world including the Berlin, Sundance, Sarasota, Frameline and Provincetown film festivals. Lesli was a founding national board of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and she has also served on the board’s of Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival and NewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival. She recently produced the IFP Filmmaker Conference as well as acted as a documentary lab leader at their Documentary Lab. Lesli is currently the Acting Executive Director of NewFest as well as a Consulting Producer for the Sundance Documentary Film Program.

Ben Hirsch – Web Designer, Canary Collective
Ben has 9 years of experience as a professional web developer, programmer, consultant, and business owner. He is responsible for executing the technical end of the creative vision of web projects and is deeply involved in every phase of development and planning. Ben’s expertise is in server-side development and browser-based user-interface development. He has custom-built numerous database driven sites such as humidbeings and american routes. Ben graduated from Tulane University with honors and currently resides in Columbia, MD with his wife and two kids.

Blake Haney – Web Designer, Canary Collective
Blake has 10 years experience as a creative director, designer and business owner. He directs Canary’s creative and manages all projects from web development to branding to marketing campaigns. Blake’s expertise is in user interface design, project management and building communities around brands and ideas. He plans all future initiates with Canary’s curated brands and serves as the chief client liaison. His experiences have garnered him exposure in local and national news including CNN and the New York Times. Blake resides in New Orleans with his wife Susan and their 4 dogs. He always seems to have a plan as to where we will be in 3 years.


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    Sectioned Off