As co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, filmmaker, artist and author, Michèle Stephenson, pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling deeply personal stories in a variety of media that resonate beyond the margins.
Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime and MTV. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys including Best Documentary and Best News Coverage of a Contemporary Issue. The film also won the Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Stephenson was recently awarded the Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Breakthrough Award and is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her current work, Hispaniola, is supported by the likes of the National Film Board of Canada, the MacArthur Foundation, Telefilm Canada, the Ford Foundation and the Sundance Documentary Fund.
Her community engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society, a Revere Award Nomination from the American Publishers Association, and she is a fellow of Skoll Storytellers of Change. Promises Kept, written along with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
Joe Brewster M.D.
Producer and Director, Joe Brewster is a Harvard trained psychiatrist who uses his psychological training as the foundation in approaching the social issues he tackles as an artist and filmmaker.
Brewster, in conjunction with his Rada Film Group co-founder, Michèle Stephenson, have created stories using installation, narrative, documentary and print mediums that have garnered support from critics and audiences internationally. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, MacArthur Foundation, and most recently the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
Brewster is a Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee. His recent documentary film American Promise was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African American Film Critics’ Association Award. Brewster’s outreach accomplishments include a Revere Award and the 2013 NAACP Image Award for the best selling companion book Promise’s Kept and a BritDoc Prize for developing one of the most innovative outreach campaigns in 2014.
Amilca is a New York-based producer and researcher. She has worked on numerous critically acclaimed documentary projects, including the celebrated PBS series African American Lives with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the Emmy Award-winning film The Murder of Emmett Till. Her documentary work has taken her as far as Angola, Central Africa to film with comedian Chris Tucker, onto performance stages in LA and DC to coordinate live concert shoots, and into the personal archives of Yoko Ono. As Archive Producer she has researched a range of historical periods and figures and has been responsible for uncovering rare footage, photography and ephemera for award-winning films, including the Emmy-nominated The Great Invisible and the Peabody Award winning LENNONYC. Other recent credits include Koch, Deep Web and The Trials of Spring. Amilca has a degree in U.S. History and African American Studies from Brown University.
Dinayuri was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York City with her parents when she was four years old. Growing up, Dinayuri was quickly made aware of the particular challenges her family navigated given their legal status as “Permanent Resident Aliens” in the US. As a young child, she aspired to be an immigration lawyer (and famous actress). She graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 2017 where she studied Anthropology. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, she received funding to do research with activists and leftist groups in the Dominican Republic. This six-week project would later inform her thesis entitled Revolutionizing the Quotidian: Practices of Self-making in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Diaspora. Dinayuri is currently invested in creative and visual ways to represent complex social realities, which informs her work at Rada Film Group.
Alfredo Alcántara is a Mexican cinematographer based in Brooklyn, NY. His camerawork is featured in the award-winning documentary American Promise (Sundance Film Festival, Jury Award 2013). In 2012 he shot thirteen episodes of The Unexplained, an A+E Television Series produced by Doug Liman. The following year, he shot ten episodes of American Freedom Stories, a BIO Channel miniseries outlining the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. His short documentary Duke and the Buffalo was a finalist for best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. That same year he co-directed and shot El Porvenir, a short documentary that premiered at SXSW in 2015. He recently finished shooting and co-directing an upcoming History Channel digital series about conservation ranching in Colorado, set to air in the Fall of 2015.
Contessa is a New York City and Bay Area-based documentary filmmaker, an award-winning journalist and an Emmy-nominated producer. She’s committed to telling stories about identity and social change with a focus on communities of color. She earned her B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. in Journalism from New York University with a concentration in Documentary Film. Her thesis documentary, School of Yoga, screened at the 2015 DOC NYC film festival student showcase. From 2014 to 2018 Contessa worked for CNN, where she created, produced, directed, shot, wrote and edited acclaimed original digital video series and documentaries including, her first feature film, The Feminist on Cellblock Y (2018 Eppy Award Finalist), Women Who March (2018 Webby Award Honoree, 2017 Eppy Award Finalist), Women Who March: The Movement (2018 Eppy Award Winner), This Is Birth with Lisa Ling (2017 Namic Vision Award Nominee) This Is Sex with Lisa Ling (2018 Namic Vision Award Nominee), Unstereotyped and the 2016 News & Documentary Emmy-nominated Feeding America’s Most Vulnerable Children.
A graduate of Bard College, Ayana began her career working with a number of Non-Profit Organizations with a focus on Human Rights, both locally and internationally. Becoming evermore critical to the impact of her work, she transitioned her career towards filmmaking and the power of story, eventually finding herself at Rada Film Group. Since her start here at Rada, she has produced a number of films including “A Mother’s Dream,” commissioned by TEDTalks, and most recently the award-winning short, “The Changing Same.” She has played key roles in the production of the New York Times’ Op-Doc Series, Conversations on Race, which won the 2016 Online Journalism Award for Best Online Commentary, and has been instrumental in Rada Film Group’s outreach campaigns, notably the American Promise Campaign, which won the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award and College Board’s All In Campaign.
Crystal Kayiza grew-up in Oklahoma and is now a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker and 2018 Sundance Ignite Fellow. Her work focuses on pursuing more nuanced and diverse storytelling about Black communities. She is a recipient of the 2017 Jacob Burns Film Center Woman Filmmaker Fellowship. As a Woman Filmmaker Fellow she directed and produced, Edgecombe, a short documentary examining the ways trauma repeats and reinvents itself in a rural Black community in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. After graduating from Ithaca College in 2015 with a degree in Documentary Studies and Production, Crystal spent two years at the ACLU working on racial justice and criminal justice issues. Her documentary work and writing has been featured in The Nation, Scalawag Magazine and OkayAfrica. She received a Heartland Emmy Award in 2012 for her film All That Remains, which profiles Boley, Oklahoma, one of the nation’s last all-Black towns.
Isabel Alcántara is a Mexican documentary filmmaker with a background in photojournalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications. In 2012, she and her brother co-founded Ponderosa Productions, a documentary production company with the goal of detailing current events, dying traditions and key issues of their generation. She has produced award-winning content that has screened at SXSW and major television networks such as A&E and History Channel. She has also shot photo and multimedia content for Paper Magazine, and The New York Times, and is a staff writer for the GLAAD award-winning queer website, Autostraddle.