Doc alums set to premiere films at Sundance, including thesis film from 2023

December 14, 2023

Photo of producer Myah Overstreet wearing a blue button down shirt in partial profile in front of a wooded background.

Myah Overstreet. Photo: Katie Rodriguez (‘23)

Myah Overstreet’s (‘23) “To Be Invisible,” will premiere in the Nonfiction Short Films category at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20 — only the third Berkeley Journalism thesis film to be screened at the prestigious festival. The film offers a critical analysis of the family policing system through two mothers, Alexis and Kellie, as they fight to reunite with their children after they were removed from their homes in Durham, North Carolina. The film was co-edited by Noah McMillan (‘23) with cinematography by William Jenkins (‘23).

The 53 Short Films for the 2024 lineup were selected from 12,098 submissions, the highest number on record, according to a Sundance announcement.

Following its 2024 festival run, “To Be Invisible” will be released by The New Yorker.

It’s not the first honor these filmmakers have shared. Overstreet and Jenkins also shared the 2023 Marlon Riggs Fellowship in Documentary Filmmaking, one of Berkeley Journalism’s top honors. Riggs himself had a handful of groundbreaking films premiere at the festival prior to his tragic death from complications of AIDS at just 37 nearly 30 years ago.

“Myah’s work, filmed in black and white with evocative imagery, artfully captures the themes of family loss and longing, each scene enriched by the poignant words of the women’s letters to themselves,” said Professor Jennifer Redfearn, who directs the school’s celebrated documentary film program. “This recognition of a trailblazing Black woman director by Sundance is a celebration of her film and a testament to her unique vision and approach to cinematic storytelling.”

Redfearn and Professor Jason Spingarn-Koff were supervising producers on the film.

“It’s an honor to be a vessel for stories like this,” Overstreet said. “Thank you Jennifer Redfearn for believing in me, for believing in this story, and for giving me the creative freedom to execute my vision. And to my doc cohort, I could not have done this without you all. I will be forever grateful for the support and encouragement from my fellow J-school peers, Jason Spingarn-Koff, tech guru Chris O’Dea, and my professors Lisa Armstrong and Andrés Cediel.”

Photo of Daphne Matziaraki wearing a yellow button down shirt over a black top and jeans in front of a white background smiling. Next to it is a poster for the film.

Alum Daphne Matziaraki (‘16) is the director, producer and cinematographer of “The Battle for Laikipia,” which is competing in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance. The film follows unresolved historical injustices and climate change raise the stakes in a generations-old conflict between Indigenous pastoralists and white landowners in Laikipia, Kenya, a wildlife conservation haven. Four alums worked on the film including Maya Craig (‘17), cinematographer and co-producer, James Pace-Cornsilk (‘16), additional cinematography/sound recording and assistant editors Lauren Schwartzman (‘18) and Emily Thomas (‘18).

Photo of Sweta Vohra wearing a dark suit in front of building. Next to it is a poster for the film featuring a line of policemen walking together.

Sweta Vohra (‘10) is the producer of “Power,” a Netflix original documentary that will screen in a showcase of world premieres presenting highly anticipated films on a variety of subjects, in both fiction and nonfiction. The film argues that to maintain social order, policing in the United States has exploded in scope and scale over hundreds of years. Now, American policing embodies one word: power.

Spingarn-Koff was one of the Netflix executives who commissioned and oversaw “Power.” He is also among the executive producers of “Merman,” which will also screen at the festival.

Black and white logo for the festival.
We’ll be hosting our annual “Cal @ Sundance” event during the festival. Alumni may contact Lia Swindle to be added to the guest list.

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