Tutors for the Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) MA
Students on the Ethnographic & Documentary MA are divided into Studios. Each Studio is led by a Tutor who delivers the core teaching and a Supporting Tutor who provides further input into the review of students’ work, including tutorials. In addition, each Studio has an ‘Edit Tutor’ who is responsible for teaching editing skills. The Studios come together each week for Screenings and Masterclasses and occasional combined exercises.
All tutors are experienced practitioners (working non-fiction filmmakers).
A number of mentors are also recruited from approximately the end of March to mid-September to mentor student graduation films through to their completion. These mentors are drawn from industry and are often directors, producers or editors.
Richard Alwyn (Associate Professor, MA Course Lead and Supporting Tutor)
Richard joined the BBC after a time teaching English at the Sorbonne in Paris. He quickly became one of the most distinctive and distinguished documentary makers of his generation, making films for many of the BBC’s most prestigious strands as well as for Channel 4. Specialising in intimate portraits of ordinary people often caught at challenging moments in their lives, his films have been made and shown throughout the world. In 2006, he won Europe’s most highly coveted documentary award, the Prix Italia, for The Beslan Siege. In 2002, he made his first fiction film for the BBC, the BAFTA nominated Stopping Distance. He subsequently co-wrote the story of the Rwanda genocide feature film, Shooting Dogs, starring John Hurt. Recent documentary work includes trilogies for BBC Four, Catholics and Cathedrals, a film about the loss of the ability to use language, Speechless, and a film about the elusive element, wind…
Marc Isaacs (Associate Professor and DocFiction Lead)
As an award winning documentary filmmaker, Marc has up to date knowledge of contemporary documentary practice both inside and outside the UK. He also has a detailed knowledge of the history of the documentary especially in the UK. Through his own broadcast films and by experiencing first hand the working methods of some of the world’s top documentary filmmakers, he has an excellent understanding of documentary forms, genres and the possibilities of the form. Over many years, Marc has developed specific methods and approaches in order to pass these skills on to students and young filmmakers.
Since 2001, Marc Isaacs has made more than sixteen creative documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4. His films have won Grierson, Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards as well as numerous international film festival prizes. In 2006, Marc had a retrospective at the prestigious Lussas Documentary film festival in France and his work has been included in numerous documentary books and academic studies. In 2008, Marc received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London for his documentary work. Marc has been a guest tutor at numerous universities and film schools in the UK and overseas including the London Film School and the National Film and Television School. A complete box set of his films was released by Secon Run DVD in 2018.
In relation to his own filmmaking approach, Marc has been at the forefront of a new kind of filmmaking that is characterized by a profound intimacy with the film’s protagonists, a sense of humour, a non-judgmental way of seeing and a distinct approach to the documentary form itself. He has often applied the notion of the Greek unities to his films, working to develop a coherent relationship between character, time and space. In pushing the formal boundaries of his films, he is often involved in creating hybrid works that challenge traditional notions of the documentary. His latest films, The Filmmaker’s House (2020) and This Blessed Plot (2023) are examples of this ‘staging’ of the real. As a working filmmaker with extensive industry contacts, Marc has the advantage of being able to maximise the potential in the department for the students to meet and make contact with industry professionals.
Dieter Deswarte (Head of Public Anthropology and Supporting Tutor)
Dieter Deswarte is a documentary filmmaker based in London. He has made several documentary films that were screened at festivals across the world and won several awards. He is a self-shooter and editor. His intimate approach leads to a low-intervention kind of filmmaking that captures human stories with sincerity, creativity and cinematic beauty.
He is also the co-director of Yarrow Films, a social enterprise that specialises in collaborative filmmaking as a tool to tackle stigma. Their aim is to empower groups facing complex social, economic and educational challenges through their inclusive documentary production process. Their collaborative projects combine skills learning with a therapeutic approach that focuses on the empowerment of participants.
Jessica Bishopp (Tutor)
Jessica Bishopp is a London-based award-winning director and documentary filmmaker fascinated by subcultures, myth and our connection to place. Her work has been screened internationally at film festivals including Sheffield Doc/Fest, DOK Leipzig, Aspen Shortsfest and AFI DOCS. Her artist film, Lifespan, was broadcast on Channel 4's ‘Random Acts’ and her documentary films have featured on The Atlantic, Dazed&Confused, NOWNESS and The Guardian Documentaries, receiving several Vimeo Staff Pick awards. She was selected from over 3,000 applications to represent the UK as a film director at Berlinale Talents 2020. Recently her Doc Society supported short documentary, Skyward, about two young bird watchers, premiered at the BFI London Film Festival 2022 and was shortlisted for a Grierson Award. She has been awarded funding for a new film, Puffling, by the Rooftop Films Fund, IF/Then and Field of Vision. Puffling had its World Premiere in competition at SXSW 2023 and went on to win the Oscar Qualifying Jury Award for Documentary at Aspen Shortsfest. She holds an MA in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths University and a BA in Design for Interaction and Moving Image from University of the Arts London. Jessica is represented by The Mill for commercials and content and is currently a lecturer on MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film at University College London.
Lasse Johansson (Tutor)
Lasse worked as a visual artist up until 2009 when he began to film the regeneration of Haggerston Housing Estate, where he also lived. In addition to making the public art photo installation, I Am Here, he also co-wrote Estate, before fully moving into non-fiction filmmaking. Since then, Lasse has been involved in different roles in the filmmaking process from directing, shooting, editing to producing. This multi-disciplinary approach has always been a core part of his practice. All his projects have been informed by a curiosity and engagement with the everyday life of the world surrounding him with a focus on what has been suppressed, hidden and the reasons behind it. His working methodology is rooted in a participatory practice generating close relationships with those he works with. This has resulted in the production of intimate and sensitive works. Lasse is committed to openness and creativity and has produced works with various visual styles. In the role of a course tutor, he has taught on the MA EDF since it started 9 years ago. Currently, he is also working as a producer on Liu Li’s Secret and as a director on Hallucinosis.
Edward Lawrenson (Supporting Tutor)
Edward is a London-based filmmaker whose films have played at a number of festivals including Sundance, BFI London Film Festival, True/False, Open City, Venice architecture biennale and Cinéma du réel, and cinemas including the Museum of the Moving Image in New York and London's ICA. His 2015 documentary Abandoned Goods (co-directed with Pia Borg) won the Golden Leopard for Best International Short at the Locarno Film Festival and he was included in Filmmaker Magazine's '25 New Faces of Independent Film' list in 2015. His 2018 film, Uppland, premiered at Ciména du réel, and was named Best Film About Architecture by the Society of Architectural Historians and went on to play at various international festivals including Open City Documentary Festival. It is distributed by Grasshopper Film. His 2021 film A Safer Place is available to stream on True Story.
Lucy Harris (Edit Tutor)
Lucy Harris is a professional freelance video offline editor, film maker and lecturer. She specialises in working with independent and creative documentary filmmakers, artists and arts organisations both as an offline editor and edit consultant. In 2016, she was awarded the Jules Wright Prize in recognition of an ‘outstanding contribution to Artists Films’ in the field of editing.
Her own work as an artist filmmaker informs her professional editing and teaching and she appreciates the challenges and demands of documentary filmmaking in all its forms. Collaboration and dialogue are central to her practice and she enjoys developing the long-term working relationships with filmmakers including Roz Mortimer, Alia Syed, Lucy Parker and Rosalind Nashashibi. Recent credits include ‘Denim Sky’ (2022) Rosalind Nashashibi’s hybrid feature documentary premiered at Open City Docs 2022. She is currently working with Sarah Wood on a newly commissioned film for The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.
Her own film works have been exhibited in galleries, cinemas and film festivals in the UK and internationally, including the Whitechapel, BFI and ICA cinemas.
Bella Riza (Edit Tutor)
Bella Riza is an artist and filmmaker. Through writing, photography and moving-image, she explores the representation of memory, cultural experience and personal histories, often in connection to ideas of belonging. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2017 with a Masters in moving-image.
Her work has been screened and exhibited at Visions in the Nunnery (2022); B3 Biennial of the Moving Image (2022); Nicoletti Contemporary (2022); LOOP Barcelona (2021); PlatformAsia and videoclub (2020); Tate St Ives (2019); and Liverpool Biennial (2018) and South London Gallery (2018). She was selected for New Contemporaries (2018) and the Aesthetica Art Prize (2018). Her work has been supported by LOOP Barcelona, B3 Biennial of the Moving Image and the Arts Council England. Residencies and development labs include Hospitalfields, B3 HessenLab, Snehta, SPACE and Berwick Film and Media Film Festival.
She led 16mm Drawing on Film Workshops at Kingston University, has taught at London College of Communication and leads the short course Writing Images: Unlocking Emotions on Film as part of Open City Documentary School.
Elena Sánchez Bellot (Edit Tutor)
Elena Sánchez Bellot is a BAFTA & BIFA nominated Spanish filmmaker based in London.
She is a self-shooting director and editor, keen on capturing the nuanced and complicated ways in which we are human. Her first feature, Rebellion, received widespread theatrical distribution in the UK and is currently streaming on Netflix in the UK & Ireland. It is available on VOD worldwide and has been screened in festivals worldwide including TriBECa, IDFA and CPH:Dox. It was the opening film for the New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival in 2022 and was named in the Sunday Times’ ‘Best Films of 2022.’
Her previous work includes films for public sector institutions such as the National Housing Federation and Arts Council England, as well as private clients like the NBA, MTV and NBC. She runs workshops for filmmakers and teaches on the Documentary Film MA at University College London.