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Tutors for the Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) MA

Professor Michael Stewart, founding director of Open City Documentary Festival, is responsible for oversight of the programme design and management.

Leading the MA will be one Senior Tutor per group chosen from amongst the most skilled practitioners of this craft in the UK. The Senior Tutor will give master-classes each term to all the students who attend the film-preparation discussion in the spring term, and be involved in assessing second term work. Additional Senior Tutors are recruited for the mentoring of student graduation films through to completion from end of March till Mid September.

Each group will also be taught by a Course Tutor, drawn from a cohort of tutors, with many years of professional film experience. They provide much of the day-to-day assistance and hands-on training for all the students as well as delivering practical parts of the core course. Like all our staff we will expect the course leaders to move back and forth between professional and teaching work. There is also an Edit Tutor for each studio, assisting students with editing.

A series of masterclasses will also be held throughout the year involving filmmakers associated with Open City Docs School and our partner organisations.

Richard Alwyn (Studio Lead Tutor)

Richard joined the BBC in 1988 after several years teaching English at the Sorbonne University 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 extraordinary 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 two trilogies for BBC Four, Catholics and Cathedrals, and a film about the loss of the ability to use language, Speechless.

Marc Isaacs (Studio Lead Tutor)

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 humor, 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 film, The Filmmaker’s House, is an example 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.

Sandhya Suri (Senior Tutor)

Sandhya is a British-Indian writer/director based in London. A graduate in pure mathematics, she received a scholarship to study documentary at The National Film and Television School. Her feature documentary I For India premiered in the World Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival, screened at over 20 international festivals and garnered several awards before being released theatrically to critical acclaim in the UK and the U.S. In 2016 she was selected for both the Sundance Screenwriters' and Directors' Lab with her first fiction feature Santhosh. Sandhya's latest feature documentary Around India With a Movie Camera has just been released theatrically by the BFI, and she has recently completed her fiction short The Field, a Film London and Canal+ co-production produced by Thomas Bidegain and Balthazar de Ganay, which won the Short Cuts competition at TIFF 2018.

Dylan Howitt (Senior Tutor)

Dylan is a filmmaker with many years of experience telling compelling stories from all around the world. He’s directed, filmed and edited for: NETFLIX, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky, Discovery, NHK, RUV, British Museum, British Council, MacMillan Cancer Support, Christian Aid, Prince’s Trust, Media Trust, Undercurrents, DFID, Tate Media, and the Open University, amongst many others. Out of Thin Air is his first feature film.

Dylan’s films tell stories both intimate and political. His career has taken him to remote corners of the globe. From recording the testimony of a death row survivor in Ohio, to following a ferry boatman in Buenos Aires. From running video workshops with kids living around Guatemala’s rubbish dumps to documenting Mozambican artists creating sculptures out of decommissioned guns. From capturing the life of one street in Amman to the work of a street photographer in Ecuador. His recent series for the BBC on contemporary ethics, Matters of Life and Death, was nominated for a BAFTA, as was the children’s series Rooted for Channel Five.

Katherine Round (Senior Tutor)

Katharine Round has over twenty years experience in creative documentary for broadcast and cinema, including The Divide (2016), which a successful theatrical release across the UK, followed by a release on Netflix, and London Symphony (2017), which was nominated for the Michael Powell Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival before a UK theatrical release including 3 special events across London performed with a live orchestra, and a release on BFI Player. She has also made films for the BBC, Channel 4 & Discovery, the V&A, Al Jazeera and the Guardian, as well as new platforms. She has had work exhibited at leading international film festivals (including Sheffield Doc/Fest, IDFA, Open City & Cork Film Festival), in galleries (the Serpentine, the Barbican Centre) and at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Katharine is also an accomplished producer, devising new models of finance and managing complex international shoots, and the co-founder of leading professional documentary filmmakers organisation Doc Heads, supporting documentary through curated events, masterclasses and commissioning opportunities.

Lucy Sandys-Winsch (Course Tutor)

Lucy is a multi Award-nominated Documentary Film Director, Series Producer and Executive Producer, with a very strong track record across landmark documentary strands such as Channel 4's 'Cutting Edge' and BBC's 'Modern Times'.  Having worked at the BBC and at numerous independent production companies, she has made observational documentaries, biographical, historical, scientific and reportage single films and series for all the major television channels. As well as having been nominated for Grierson's and BAFTAs, Lucy has been on judging juries for the Griersons, Student RTS Awards and the Sheffield Documentary Festival New Talent Pitch.

Lasse Johansson (Course Tutor)

Lasse is a self-shooting documentary director and media trainer with a background in fine art and sociology. Apart from making his own independent films Lasse works as a freelance cameraman and editor making films and online content for a variety of charities, non-profit and educational organisations. He also works internationally as a media trainer on projects aiming to empower local voices and media organisations. Over the past 4 years Lasse's work has explored issues around urban regeneration in Hackney, the part of London where he also lives. This work has produced a large-scale public art installation, a publication and a number of short films documenting the lives of local people. Lasse's interest in film also include how the process of filmmaking in itself can be used as an educational tool to help marginalised groups unlock, discuss and express issues that impact on their lives. For this purpose Lasse is currently exploring different ways of using film when working with groups of young people not in full-time training or work.

Dieter Deswarte (Course Tutor)

Dieter is an award-winning documentary self-shooting filmmaker and editor based in London. His intimate approach leads to a low-intervention kind of filmmaking that captures human stories with sincerity, creativity and cinematic beauty. For several years now he has dedicated part of his practice to working with local and international charities and arts organisations, ranging from short documentaries on wildlife conservation projects in Zambia to short animations for research on disability-related bullying in the UK.

In the past two years he has been working with another charity where he led several collaborative filmmaking projects alongside a number of community groups. He worked with youth offenders, parents who had their children removed from their care, women who suffered domestic and sexual violence, and young people in care. His personal work has gained him awards and screenings at several festivals and galleries worldwide. His most recent film St Helena, An End to Isolation was broadcast on BBC News.

Edward Lawrenson (Mentor)

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 radio documentaries have played on BBC Radio 4. His 2018 film Uppland premiered at Ciména du réel, and went on to play at various international festivals including Open City Documentary Festival. 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.  It featured in a major exhibition by the Wellcome Trust in London in October 2016.

Chloe White (Course Tutor)

Chloe White is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer and director of Whalebone Films based in Hastings and London, with frequent travels around the world to collect stories and images. Her films are intimate, considered portraits, focusing mainly on the female experience. Her clients and partners include the Guardian, Topic, Nowness, BBC, Channel 4, Oxfam, Save the Children and the BFI and she has had films screened at festivals internationally including at Camden International Film Festival, Open City, and Sheffield Doc Fest.

Bonnie Rae Brickman (Editing Tutor)

Bonnie is a New York born, London based Film and TV Editor with over twenty-five years' experience, accumulating a diverse and extensive list of credits including Julie Andrews' Opening Night on Broadway, American Playhouse, and Shining Time Station. She has been honoured with four New York Area Emmy Award Certificates during her ten years at WNET/thirteen, Highly Commended at Underwire's In The Cut: Best Editor Award 2015 for BOOTWMN, and shortlisted for the Kevin Spacey Foundation Artists of Choice Award 2016.  Her work has screened on US, UK and Australian television and at film festivals worldwide including Clermont-Ferrand, HotDocs, Open City Doc Fest, SF Frameline, LA Outfest, Athens International Film+Video Festival, BFI Flare and Fringe! Film Fest.

Vera Simmons (Editing Tutor)

Vera has a Masters in Editing from the National Film and Television School, and short films that I have edited have been selected for festivals, including Cannes Film Festival, Annecy Animation Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, London Short Film Festival and East End Film Festival. The Bigger Picture has enjoyed much festival success and been nominated for an Oscar, as well as winning the 2015 BAFTA for Best Short Animation.

Michael Ho (Editing Tutor)

Michael studied editing at the NFTS in 2006. Since graduating cut short films, music videos, both short and long-form documentary for television, as well as working as an assistant editor in TV drama and feature films. He recently directed a short film about his father for BBC4 / BFI’s Listen to Britain series, From HK to MK.

Juan Soto (Editing Tutor)

Juan studied the MA Documentary Filmmaking at the International Film and Television School - EICTV in Cuba until 2010, with a focus on editing and in film archives.  His collaborations as a film editor include works by artists such as John Akomfrah, Gideon Mendel and Juan delGado, amongst others, and on feature films such as The Dragon Defence (Natalia Santa, 2017), premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight; In The Studio (Ana Salas, 2016), Best Feature Film at the Colombian Film Panorama in Paris; and The Man Who Always Did His Part (Orisel Castro and York Neudel, 2017). He has edited short and feature films, fiction, documentary and experimental films both in Latin America, Europe and the UK where he is currently based. In 2018, he took part on the FIAF Film Restoration Summer School at L'imagine Ritrovata in Bologna.

Dinah Lammiman (Senior Tutor, VR)

For many years Dinah was a senior broadcast journalist for BBC Radio and TV's Current Affairs Division, producing and presenting multiple documentaries. During her BBC years she was also closely involved with experimental interactive and digital initiatives at CBeebies. Latterly she's worked extensively in immersive media, specializing in binaural and other sound concepts for museum and visitor attractions (including the National Trust, the Royal Collection, Oslo's Fram Museum and SS Great Britain), alongside producing innovative mobile phone games and creating installations for VR/360 experiences.

Jayisha Patel (Mentor VR)

Jayisha is an award winning British filmmaker, who works at the intersection of cinematic film and VR. Her films (A Paradise, India’s Wushu Warriors, Notes to my Father VR, Circle) have premiered at festivals such as the Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, Locarno and New York Film Festival amongst others, and won various awards. Her works embody an intersectional female gaze and seek to give a platform to women of color fighting stereotypes, in bold and unconventional ways.

She is currently an artist in residence at Somerset House, where she is working on her latest immersive experience, After the Fire in collaboration with the Danish Film Institute’s Anidox Lab, The Mill and Prof Courtney Cogburn from Colombia University as well as on her debut feature, SUGAR.

Michael Stewart (Course Leader)

Founder of Open City Documentary Festival and MyStreet Films. He has worked on or produced ten documentaries for Granada (Disappearing World) and the BBC (Everyman, Timewatch).

Graduation Mentors

Graduation mentors are assigned to students when completing their graduation film.

Mentors include: Sophie Fiennes (The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Grace Jones; Bloodlight and Bami), Grant Gee (Innocence of Memories, Patience After Sebold), Xiaolu Guo (She, A Chinese, Late At Night), Dylan Howitt (Out of Thin Air, Matters of Life and Death), Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style, Pink Saris), Riete Oord (prod. The Leader, The Driver and the Drivers Wife, Aileen Wuornos – The Selling of a Serial Killer), Jeff Silva (Linefork, Ivan & Ivana), Vanessa Stockley (The Genius and The Opera Singer), Eva Weber (The Solitary Life of Cranes, Black Out), Sandhya Suri (I For India, The Field), Simon Chambers (Every Good Marriage Begins With Tears, Cowboys in India) and Gareth Evans (writer, curator, presenter, producer).