Throwback Thursday: Going Global – Her Vision, Her Story

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By Tair Shachar.

At this past year’s festival, Fusion hosted a panel featuring filmmakers working across borders and cultures. There is so much that we as an audience don’t know, especially about non-western cultures and people. One of the many magical things about movies is that, through them, we can explore worlds we’ve never seen or even heard of before. Great documentary filmmakers have the responsibility to raise questions that we never thought of asking and to show us truths that are often hidden. All the bold, brave filmmakers that participated in this panel are exposing audiences to vital stories that are too often left untold. Here is a look at these inspiring women and their careers.


Charlotte Mangin

Charlotte Mangin is a documentary filmmaker who has truly crossed borders globally in order to tell stories of current affairs in many different countries. Tangier Treehouse, a movie Mangin independently produced, directed, and edited, is about Moroccan street children who, through the symbolic act of building a treehouse, share and discuss their dreams of moving from Morocco to Europe, where they hope to start a new and better life. Apart from her feature documentary, Charlotte Mangin has had an extensive career in television. She has spent five years on the production staff of National Geographic Television & Film, was a story producer for PBS’s documentary series Wide Angle, and now produces a new PBS show called America By the Numbers that investigates America’s changing demographics.


Christine Choy

Christine Choy is a filmmaker, producer, and educator who is currently a professor in the Tisch Film & TV department. During over thirty years of directing, Christine Choy has explored many controversial stories that often have had to do with issues of minority discrimination, immigration, and race relations specifically in Asian and Asian-American communities. Choy is most known for co-directing the 1987 film Who Killed Vincent Chin? that recounts the murder of 27-year-old Chinese-American Vincent Chin by two white workers in Detroit. The documentary not only reports on the event but also the trial that followed it, which eventually led to a Supreme Court civil rights case. Who Killed Vincent Chin? was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary and was a revolutionary film for its time due to its honesty with such controversial subject matter.


Heather White

Heather White approached the documentary film world from her background as an award-winning social entrepreneur and researcher. In her advocacy, Heather White has mainly focused on human rights issues involving factory workers and has fought for corporate responsibility. She is the founder of Verite, a nonprofit that helps factory workers in human rights and working conditions issues. From Heather White’s background, it is very clear what finally led her to produce and co-direct the film Who Pays The Price? Human Costs in Electronics, a documentary that points out the cost we as consumers of personal electronics don’t often calculate.Who Pays The Price? exposes the danger of benzene poisoning that factory workers in China face in the manufacturing of personal electronics such as cellphones and computers. The film attempts to raise awareness to the link between benzene poisoning and leukemia, and tries to call out for consumers to advocate for an alternative to benzene in the personal electronics they purchase. Heather White continues to advocate for changes in factory working conditions on many different platforms and mediums.


Zipora Trope

Zipora Trope is a director and producer of both documentary and narrative feature films. Zipora has shown her films in many different festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. Her feature films have focused on Holocaust survivors and the post Holocaust period: films such as Tel Aviv Berlin, about a Holocaust survivor starting a new life in Israel, and Six Million Pieces, about the relationship between a Holocaust survivor and her daughter. Currently, Trope is working on the documentary Cafe Europa, which is about the last generation of Holocaust survivors currently living in Israel, in an attempt to make sure their stories are told.


Christina Kallas

Christina Kallas is a highly accomplished and commended writer-producer. She recently produced the film Mothers in 2010 which, among several other nominations and runs in festivals, was selected as the Macedonian foreign film submission for the 83rd Academy Awards. Previously she also wrote and produced The Commissioner which was selected to be in the Official Competition for the Berlin Film Festival. Kallas also produced for television included TV movies such as Liebe Lugan, Männer sind wie Schokolade as well as several episodes of the Best German TV-awarded series Edel & Starck. Aside from her producing accomplishments, Kallas is also a professor. She has taught in Columbia, The New School, NYU, the German Film and Television Academy Berlin, just to name a few. Kallas is also known for founding the Writers Improv Studio in New York City, where writers can collaborate with actors and explore and employ improvisation in their writing process. Kallas is thoroughly involved in the European Film Industry. She is the President of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), she served as commission chair for the German Federal Film Board and was previously the artistic director of The Balkan Fund.


Sue Williams

Sue Williams is a documentary producer and writer she is known for her series on China; China in Revolution: 1911-1949 (1989), China: Born Under the Red Flag (1997) and The Mao Years: 1949-1976 (1994). Following her historical documentaries on China Williams directed China In Red and Young and Restless In China in the early 2000s, TV series documentaries for “Frontline.” The two later documentaries tell the story of contemporary China through the lens of ordinary Chinese people talking about their everyday life. Sue Williams is responsible for providing viewers with several different perspectives, including a very personal down to earth view that we are rarely provided with even in documentaries.