For its fourth year, the 40 Under 40 list shines a spotlight on emerging talent. This program is co-presented by HBO Documentary Films.
The 40 Under 40 selection process begins with an open call for nominations for filmmakers based in the U.S. and Canada. The final list of honorees was chosen by a selection committee that included DOC NYC staff and leading industry decision-makers. In addition to directors, the list encompasses talent working in producing, editing, cinematography, and other creative roles.
Tabs Breese is a documentary producer. She began her career working for companies including Pulse Films and Concordia Studio. Her slate includes Isabel Castro’s Mija, Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s Naked Gardens and Zara Meerza’s short The Twins. Tabs is a Refinery29 x Google News Fellow, an IDFAcademy Producer School Alumna, a Sundance Grantee and an NBCU Original Voices Fellow.
Yael Bridge is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker. Her feature, The Big Scary “S” Word, traces the history and resurgence of socialism in the US and premiered at Hot Docs 2020. Prior to that she produced Left on Purpose, winner of the Audience Award at DOC NYC, and Saving Capitalism, which was nominated for an Emmy. She resides in Oakland, where she spends her time thinking about restructuring systems of power.
Isabel Castro is a Mexican-American filmmaker; she directed the Emmy-nominated short USA v Scott (Tribeca 2020, The New Yorker); Emmy-nominated Darlin (Tribeca 2019, NYT OpDocs); and the Emmy-nominated Netflix docu-series Pandemic. Her directorial debut, Crossing Over, (Univison/Participant Media) won a 2015 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. Castro has worked at The New York Times, The Marshall Project, on the series VICE on HBO, and as a producer at VICE News Tonight on HBO. She is currently working on Mija, her feature debut.
Aisling Chin-Yee is a producer, writer and director based in Montreal and Los Angeles. In 2021, New Yorker Magazine hailed her latest work, No Ordinary Man, as “a genre unto itself,” and the film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, AFI and DOCNYC. Her feature directorial debut, The Rest of Us, also premiered at TIFF. Alongside filmmaking, Aisling is a change-maker for diverse representation on- and off-screen. She co-founded the #AfterMeToo movement, which brings to light the issue of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.
Maya is a Latina award-winning director and producer. She is a Netflix Nonfiction Director and Producer fellow and won a student Emmy in 2015. Her recent short documentary Ale Libre was acquired by The New Yorker and her first feature documentary film, On The Divide, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021 and will be on POV in Spring 2022.
Lauren DeFilippo is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and partner at Insignia Films where she recently produced Ailey (Sundance 2021.) The feature documentary was released in theaters nationwide by NEON and will be broadcast on PBS in 2022. Lauren’s directorial debut Red Heaven (SXSW 2020) will be released by Utopia Films in Fall 2021.
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, filmmaker, and cultural producer. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries and film festivals. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated producer for the docuseries This Is Me, and was a producer on the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Amazon show Transparent. The Lady and The Dale, her directorial debut for television, premiered on HBO in early 2021.
Leah Galant is a Jewish director and Fulbright Scholar based in New York whose storytelling focuses on unexpected narratives. Leah’s directorial debut On The Divide premiered at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival and will broadcast on POV PBS in Spring 2022. She was a Sundance Ignite and Jacob Burns Fellow, where she created Death Metal Grandma (New York Times Op-Doc).
Èlia Gasull Balada
Èlia Gasull Balada is a NAACP Image Award-nominated filmmaker who works in documentary and fiction. As an editor and writer, her documentary credits include the Emmy and Peabody nominee The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show and the Emmy and Grammy nominee The King. She also edited the feature narrative Son of Monarchs, winner of the Alfred P Sloan Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, she has been based in Brooklyn, New York for the past decade.
Lauren Haber is a Brooklyn-based, Emmy-winning producer and mom of two whose experience spans documentary and scripted, features and series. She is currently Head of Development at Impact Partners. Her recent credits include the Independent Spirit and Peabody-winning series Immigration Nation (Netflix), Ry Russo Young’s Nuclear Family (HBO), and French visual artist JR’s latest documentary Paper & Glue (MSNBC).
Karim Hajj is an Emmy-winning producer and director of photography. He also serves as head of business affairs for Midnight Films, a New York-based film production company.
Emily Harrold is a documentary filmmaker from Orangeburg, South Carolina. Her films have screened at festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, DOC NYC and the Telluride Film Festival. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a member of Film Fatales and a co-leader of the documentary chapter of the film collective Filmshop.
Chelsea Hernandez is an Emmy-nominated Mexican-American filmmaker based in Texas. Chelsea’s directing, editing, and producing work spans 10 years in television and film including on docu-series for PBS, El Rey Network, and CBS All-Access. Chelsea co-directed/produced the award-winning short documentary, An Uncertain Future (2018 SXSW Texas Short Jury Winner, Field of Vision, Firelight Media).
CJ Hunt is a comedian and filmmaker living in NYC. He has worked as field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Rundown with Robin Thede. A regular host of The Moth, CJ is also the director of The Neutral Ground, a documentary on monuments, memory, and how to break up with the confederacy.
Rebeca Huntt is a writer/director born in New York City. Her first feature film, Beba (2021) made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim. Her short films have screened at numerous festivals, including the Athena Film Festival, BlackStar, TIDE and Art of Brooklyn. She participated in the 2019 IFP Documentary Lab and the 56th annual New York Film Festival’s Artist Academy. Rebeca has worked as an archival producer for various documentaries produced by Hulu, Fader and PBS.
Daniel Hymanson’s first feature So Late So Soon screened at True/False, DOC NYC, and BAFICI before distribution by Oscilloscope Pictures. Organizations including Kartemquin, IFP, Illinois Arts Council, and Sundance have supported his work. Daniel also associate-produced Western (Sundance) and The Last Season (Independent Spirit nominee). He was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2020.
Jeffrey Johnson is a New York-based cinematographer with recent work including A Thousand Cuts (Sundance 2020) and the Emmy-nominated Born to Be (NYFF57). Johnson’s camera work has taken him around the world to show engaging perspectives of some of the most challenging stories. His projects appear on HBO, PBS, A&E, Netflix, The New York Times, Field of Vision, and The Atlantic.
Morgan Elise Johnson
Morgan is an independent filmmaker and publisher based in Chicago. Most recently, she produced Unapologetic (2020), a documentary that chronicles two abolitionist leaders of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago. Her current venture as co-creator of The TRiiBE (thetriibe.com), a digital publication and production company in Chicago, earned her a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
Lance is a Washington, DC-based filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures with his brother Brandon Kramer. Lance produced City of Trees (Full Frame), the Webby Award-winning series The Messy Truth, and The First Step (Tribeca). Lance was selected to the 2017 Impact Partners Producers Fellowship, 2018 Sundance Creative Producers Summit, and served as a DPA committee chair from 2017-2020.
Economist-turned-filmmaker Catherine Lee was fortunate to receive scholarships to Yale and Harvard and dedicated her studies, and ensuing decade’s profession across 18 countries, to global injustices. Witnessing storytelling’s power, she left the UN to attempt directing film. Her debut documentary, 9at38, premiered at Tribeca and streams on The Atlantic. She has produced award-winning TV and continues documenting those who risk all.
Julia C Liu is a Providence, Rhode Island-based director, cinematographer and artist, interested in exploring stories that center BIPOC voices. Her passion for visual storytelling started through her comics, evolving into filmmaking as a way to bring her illustrations to life. Liu is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 and a graduate of Brown University.
Sura Mallouh is Palestinian-Canadian documentary filmmaker. She is an NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios Original Voices Fellow and a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee. Her documentaries have been featured on CBC GEM, CBC Short Docs, CBC Arts, Upworthy and have been viewed globally. Sura’s documentaries focus on contextualizing underrepresented stories with an investigative thread throughout.
Angelo Madsen Minax
Angelo Madsen Minax is a multi-disciplinary artist whose works have shown at BAM CinemaFest, KurzFilm Hamburg, the Leslie-Lohman Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the European Media Art Festival, and others. His new film North By Current (2021), premiered at Berlinale and the Tribeca Film Festival, and will screen on PBS as part of season 34 of POV in late 2021. Madsen is an Associate Professor of Time-Based Media at the University of Vermont.
Ali Moss is an Emmy Award-nominated documentary producer. In 2012, she co-founded The Public Good Projects, whose mission is to leverage the power of the media to make complex problems easier to understand. She EP’d Sleepless in America (National Geographic); served as an executive at Discovery, where she co-produced Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman; produced the Emmy-nominated documentary Not Done: Women Remaking America (PBS) and produced Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn (HBO/Tribeca). Most recently, she produced Fauci (Telluride 2021/Disney+.)
Habiba Nosheen is a Peabody and three-time Emmy award-winning investigative journalist and filmmaker. Her work includes Outlawed in Pakistan (Sundance, ITVS, FRONTLINE) and The Devil’s Advocate (ITVS). She is the creator and host of an upcoming investigative podcast series with Gimlet Media and Spotify. She is also in development for her next documentary with the National Film Board of Canada.
Ashley O’Shay is a director-DP based in Chicago, IL, whose work focuses on illuminating marginalized voices. In 2020, she premiered her debut feature, Unapologetic, a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago, told through the experiences of two young, Black queer women. The film premiered at the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival and was shortlisted for the International Documentary Association Awards.
Hannah directed and produced HBO’s Baby God (SXSW 2020) and The Last Cruise (SXSW 2021). Prior to making her own films, Hannah worked as a producer on PBS’s American Experience and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. She created the story concept for the 2019 Netflix series Who Killed Malcolm X?. Hannah is from Minnesota and is based in New York.
Nneka Onuorah is an acclaimed filmmaker, producer and activist of Nigerian-American descent whose projects focus on championing empathy and social justice. Her work includes HBO’s Legends of the Underground; GLAAD Award-nominated The Same Difference; Unt. Big Grrls with Lizzo for Amazon; The G Word with Higher Ground for Netflix; and commercials/campaigns for Cadillac and Fivr.
Richard Peete is a New York-based filmmaker, producer and founder of Neighborhood Watch. He has produced films including Blue Ruin (Cannes 2013), See Know Evil (DOC NYC 2018), The Six Sides of Katharine Hepburn and Fashion At War: Crafting The Nazi Brand. His directorial debut Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (DOC NYC 2020, Greenwich Entertainment), is a New York Times Critic’s Pick. He is also currently in production on a documentary series for Netflix and Isaiah Saxon’s debut feature The Legend of Ochi.
Director (Duty Free)
Sian- Pierre Regis is a filmmaker who directed, produced and self-distributed his debut feature documentary DUTY FREE. Called a “tender love poem from son to mother” by CBS News, the film was released in 30 theaters over Mother’s Day 2021 and fast-became a press magnet garnering coverage from CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, MSNBC, The Tamron Hall Show, AARP; the film was also a #1 Apple News story through the weekend. It will have its debut broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens on November 22 at 10pET. Prior to filmmaking, Regis was a journalist and on-camera contributor to CNN, HLN, and MTV and founded Swagger, an online lifestyle magazine for millennials with over 1.5 million fans. He is a Firelight Media fellow and Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellow.
Born in Mexico City, director Rodrigo Reyes makes films deeply grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist. His work has received the support of The Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), Sundance and Tribeca Institutes, and the Firelight Media’s William Greaves Fund. He is the Co-Director of the BAVC Media Mediamaker Fellowship program and a proud recipient of the prestigious Sundance Spotlight on Storytellers Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Creative Capital Award and the Rainin Fellowship.
Sharon Shattuck is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and podcast host. Picture A Scientist was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on PBS’s NOVA. Her feature doc, From This Day Forward, was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and aired on PBS’s POV. She’s the co-creator of the New York Times Op-Docs science series, Animated Life, and the co-host of the podcast Conviction: American Panic from Gimlet Media/Spotify.
Nevo Shinaar is a producer based in Chicago. His award-winning films have been shortlisted and nominated at the Academy Awards, played at film festivals including Sundance, SXSW and Palm Springs, acquired by Disney+, HBO Max, POV, NYT and Criterion Channel, and supported by Tribeca Film Institute and Sundance Institute. Nevo also serves as the Head of Development for Mitten Media.
Mike Shum is the son of Hong Kong immigrants and was born and raised in Denver, CO. He specializes in cinematography and journalism. His work includes directing, and producing observational documentaries for Al Jazeera’s Witness series. He is a frequent contributor to PBS Frontline with films Predator on the Reservation and American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil. In 2017, his team received the Tribeca Audience Award for Hondros, a feature documentary that follows the life and work of photojournalist, Chris Hondros.
Austin-based filmmaker Iliana Sosa is the co-director of the documentary short An Uncertain Future (SXSW 2018, Jury Award for Best Texas Short). She was a Berlinale Talents participant and a Sundance Institute Development Fellow with her first feature documentary, What We Leave Behind. She has also received support from the Ford Foundation, Field of Vision, the True/False Catapult Retreat, IFP Documentary Lab, and the Jacob Burns Residency. She was recently named a Women at Sundance Adobe Fellow, and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2020.
Samantha Stark directed Framing Britney Spears and Controlling Britney Spears as part of The New York Times Presents on FX and Hulu. Before that, she worked as a director/producer on The New York Times series The Weekly and shot and edited short documentaries and video series as a staff video journalist for the Times.
Cai Thomas grew up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and is deeply interested in stories rooted in place about Black youth and elders. Her most recent films include Queenie, which follows a Black lesbian elder in Brooklyn, and Change The Name, which follows Black youth organizing on the west side of Chicago.
Sweta Vohra (she/her) is a New York City-based journalist, filmmaker, and producer at Multitude Films. Prior to joining Multitude, she was a producer/director on The New York Times series The Weekly, on FX and Hulu, and produced/directed more than a dozen films for Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines. She is currently in post-production for a BBC Studios feature documentary. Sweta has received the National Association of Black Journalists Excellence Award, the Radio Television Digital News Association Kaleidoscope Award, and three News and Documentary Emmy nominations for her work.
Producer Elizabeth Woodward is the founder of Willa Productions. Her recent films include On The Divide (Tribeca 2021, POV), You Resemble Me (Venice 2021), and Netflix’s The Great Hack (Sundance 2019, Academy Award shortlist, Emmy nominee, BAFTA nominee, IDA nominee, Cinema Eye winner). Her films have been supported by Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Chicken and Egg, Film Independent, Impact Partners, Field of Vision, Level Forward, Perspective Fund, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was selected for Berlinale Talents and the Impact Partners Producers Fellowship.
Matt Yoka started out making TV with Vice Media (Vice Does America, Epicly Later’d, Huang’s World, and HBO’s A World in Disarray), while also directing music videos for record labels like Drag City and Sub Pop, collaborating often with Ty Segall. His first feature documentary, Whirlybird, premiered at Sundance and was released theatrically in 2021.