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.
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.
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 films for a number of social impact campaigns, including College Board’s “All In” Campaign, and videos for The Campaign for Black Male Achievement. She produced “A Mother’s Dream,” commissioned by TED Talks, and continues expanding her credits alongside the New York Times’ Conversations on Race Op-Doc Series and “All Roads Point Home.”
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.
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.