DOC NYC Executive Director
Raphaela Neihausen is Executive Director of DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival (now in its tenth year), Split Screens Festival (now in its third year), the new 51Fest, and Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center, a weekly series at IFC Center (now in its fifteenth year). From 2011 – 2014, she launched the Montclair Film Festival, as Executive Director. Prior to that, she worked for seven years at Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman), advising Fortune 100 companies on strategic growth. Neihausen co-hosts WNYC’s “Doc of the Week” and executive produces the podcast Pure Nonfiction. She also produced the feature documentary Miss Gulag and the 2017 Oscar® nominated short film Joe’s Violin. She holds a BSFS/MA from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
DOC NYC Artistic Director
Thom Powers has been the documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival since 2006. He oversaw TIFF’s Mavericks conversation series for nine years and created the TIFF Doc Conference. He curates the digital streaming platform SundanceNow Doc Club; and serves as the Artistic Director of Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center and DOC NYC. He hosts the podcast Pure Nonfiction and WNYC’s Documentary of the Week. He was the founding Artistic Director of the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey from 2012-14. He programs for the Miami International Film Festival and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. He is a co-founder of the Cinema Eye Honors and the Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant. He previously spent a decade directing documentaries for HBO, PBS, and other outlets; and worked as marketing director and editor at Fantagraphics Books. On Twitter: @thompowers
Senior Vice President and General Manager, IFC Center
Through his leadership roles in film distribution and exhibition over the last 15 years, John Vanco has strived to connect great works of cinema with appreciative audiences. Greenwich Village’s IFC Center, led by Vanco since its 2005 opening, is the bricks and mortar home of IFC Entertainment and serves as a focal point for the independent film community. As one of the founders of Cowboy Pictures, Vanco led the distribution efforts on behalf of dozens of foreign language, documentary and American fiction features, including works by Lynne Ramsay, David Gordon Green, Catherine Breillat and Shohei Imamura. Cowboy also programmed an innovative film calendar at a Manhattan cinema and managed the theatrical libraries of Janus Films and Pennebaker/Hegedus films. Previously, Vanco served in various capacities at Miramax, New Yorker Films and Fine Line Features.
Vice President, Programs and Promotions, IFC Center
Harris Dew has worked in film programming and publicity for over 15 years, holding positions at New Yorker Films, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum. He has a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an MA in Film History from NYU.
DOC NYC Director of Programming
Basil Tsiokos has been part of DOC NYC’s team since 2012. In addition to serving as Director of Programming for DOC NYC, he is Documentary Programming Associate for the Sundance Film Festival and Film Program Director for the Nantucket Film Festival. Basil was the Artistic and Executive Director of NewFest: The NY LGBT Film Festival between 1996-2008. He writes about documentaries daily at what (not) to doc and via Twitter @1basil1. Basil holds a Masters degree from New York University and two undergraduate degrees from Stanford University.
DOC NYC Program Manager & Director of Operations
Dana Krieger has been with DOC NYC since it all began in 2010. She has spent the past 15 years producing and creating large scale, high profile events, ranging from major film festivals to the Olympics. Dana completed her undergraduate studies at Georgetown University and earned a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University.
Opal H. Bennett
DOC NYC Shorts Programmer
Opal has been a Programmer since 2014 and joined DOC NYC in 2015. Beginning as a volunteer for the first Sundance London Film Festival, she now curates year round. Opal is on the programming teams for Aspen Shortsfest, Athena, Nantucket and Tribeca Film Festivals, and is a Program Consultant for The March on Washington Film Festival. A Columbia Law grad, Opal holds a Masters in Media Studies from the LSE, and received her B.A. from New York University.
Ruth Somalo is a Spanish filmmaker, programmer and researcher. She has been with DOC NYC since 2010 on the screening committee and then in programming, and took on the role of Programmer in 2018. Ruth also programs for DocumentaMadrid and the Architecture and Design Film Festival and often curates nonfiction programs like “Holy Fluids” (UnionDocs) and “Broken Senses” (Anthology Film Archives). She is a guest lecturer, teacher and mentor of documentary projects. With 16 years in the audiovisual field, Ruth’s nonfiction work has been shown theatrically and recognized at international film festivals and museums. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Flaherty.
Karen McMullen is the Director of Programming for the TIDE Film Festival, Lead Curator for New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival and screens for the Sundance Film Festival. She is an industry consultant for Tribeca Film Institute and has served as a juror for the Pan African and Bentonville Film Festivals. Karen has moderated panels for the New York African Film Festival, NYWIFT and HBO, and appears on television and radio as a media expert. She has editing credits on numerous features, documentaries and short films. Karen is an associate professor teaching post-production at Long Island University, and is a graduate of Brown University.
Program Manager & Programmer, Features
Jessie Fairbanks has been involved in producing film, television and live events for over 13 years; she now curates film festivals year round. In addition to programming for DOC NYC, she is the Director of Programming at Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and programs for the Tribeca, MountainFilm, Woods Hole and Nashville Film Festivals. Jessie consults for Sundance, Tribeca Film Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Cinema Eye Honors and is a board member of IFP Chicago. Previous work includes project management for HBO, The Documentary Group, David Byrne, Google and BAMFilm at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Associate Programmer, Features
Brandon Harrison is a producer, writer and programmer. He is a Feature Documentary Programmer at the Brooklyn Film Festival, a member of IFP’s review committee and has produced multimedia content for a variety of media outlets including Players’ Tribune, Vanity Fair and SLAM magazine. Brandon is a graduate of Morehouse College and received his M.A. in Cinema from UCLA.
Associate Programmer, Shorts
DeWitt has worked in the film industry for the last 18 years in all aspects of production, post-production and film restoration. He has been with DOC NYC since year one and became an Associate Programmer of Shorts in 2017. Witt has also worked with the programming and technical teams of the Miami, Montclair, Nantucket, and Architecture and Design Film Festivals. He created the education series Cinematographers at Museums, where cinematographers give lectures in front of fine art paintings at the Metropolitan Museum.
Associate Programmer, Shorts
Megan Leonard is a festival programmer and producer based in Seattle. She joined DOC NYC in 2018. Megan has served on the Seattle International Film Festival programming team for a decade, where she heads the New American Cinema and SIFF ShortsFest teams. Additionally she programs at Indie Memphis and Cucalorus. As a producer, her films have screened festivals around the world and received numerous Vimeo Staff Picks. Megan has also produced music videos for Mudhoney, Chastity Belt, Noah Gundersen and more, as well as ads for companies including Nordstrom, Universal Audio and Microsoft.
Associate Programmer, Shorts
Samah Ali is an associate programmer for DOC NYC and programmer for Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival. She is the founder of sisterhood media, a production and distribution company featuring short films and series on identity, which may be seen via streaming platform sisterhood media TV. Samah may be found on twitter @sistersamah.
We believe a film doesn’t exit until an audience has seen it, which is why we focus on marketing, distribution and data for the global film industry. We offer strategic consultancy and campaign delivery in addition to developing bespoke technical solutions for the film industry. Our clients include DOC NYC, Human Rights Watch Film Festival (London & NYC), Patagonia (Blue Heart, Artifishal), The Tale (HBO), Roll Red Roll (PBS) and Unrest (Sundance 2017).
A fan of the arts and expression, Sarah has found great joy working in the film festival world. Besides coordinating communications for DOC NYC, she has helped start Split Screens TV Festival, What The Fest!? and 51Fest. Sarah also runs operations for Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center. Previously, Sarah worked at the Montclair Film Festival and Argot Pictures. She holds a BA from Montclair State University in Television and Digital Media.
Jordan M. Smith
Monday Memo Author
Jordan M. Smith is a film critic, curator and public librarian who has been working in various capacities with DOC NYC since 2015. His published work focusing mainly on documentary cinema has appeared at Senses of Cinema, Nonfics, Stranger Than Fiction, IONcinema, Influence Film Club, and most regularly at DOC NYC in the form of the weekly doc newsletter, the Monday Memo. He also is the director and programmer of Cultivate Cinema Circle. Jordan completed his undergraduate studies at the State University of New York Fredonia and completed his Masters degree at the University at Buffalo. On Twitter: @Rectangular_Eye