Born in Harlem to Dominican parents, award-winning journalist, podcaster, and documentary filmmaker Raquel Cepeda is the author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina. Equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry, the book also looks at what it means to be Latina today. Cepeda is currently writing East of Broadway, a memoir about how gentrification is impacting the lives of her neighbors in her beloved Inwood, which will be published by Beacon Press. Cepeda conceived, directed, and co-produced the award-nominated film Bling: A Planet Rock (2007), a feature length documentary about American hip-hop culture’s obsession with diamonds and all of its social trappings, and how the infatuation with “blinging” became intertwined in Sierra Leone’s decade long conflict. The film was co-produced by VH1/MTV Networks and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Her new documentary film, Some Girls, shot over the course of five years, follows a group of troubled Latina teens from a Bronx-based suicide prevention program that are transformed by an exploration of their roots via the use of ancestral DNA testing, followed by a trip to the seat of the Americas. On that journey to modern-day Dominican Republic, the white supremacist narratives about American history they've been taught are challenged, leaving them free to reconstruct their own respective identities. A former award-winning magazine editor, most notably at Russell Simmons’ Oneworld in the early aughts, Cepeda’s writings have been widely anthologized and her byline has been featured, over the last two decades, in media outlets including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, MTV News, CNN.com, and many others. She’s contributed to WNYC, CNN and CNN’s Inside the Middle East as a freelance reporter A former NYFA fellow in screenwriting, Cepeda was named one of El Diario | La Prensa’s Distinguished Women of 2013, and was an honoree at the last year’s Dominican Day Parade. She lives with her husband, filmmaker and writer, Sacha Jenkins, 20 year-old daughter, and five year-old son in her beloved New York City.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer Henry Chalfant was born in 1940 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. He studied at Stanford University, where he majored in classical Greek. Later he pursued a career as a sculptor, exhibiting his work in New York and Europe. In the 1980's he turned to photo and film documentation in order to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. Exhibits of his photos include the O.K. Harris Gallery and the landmark New York-New Wave show at P.S. l, and important galleries and museums in Europe: most recently in the Bridges of Graffiti installation at the 2015 Biennale di Venezia. He has co-authored the definitive account of New York graffiti art, Subway Art (Holt Rinehart Winston, N.Y. 1984) and a sequel on the art form's worldwide diffusion, Spray Can Art (Thames and Hudson Inc. London, 1987), Training Days (Thames and Hudson, London, 2014). Chalfant co-produced and did the background research and photo-documentation for the Sundance award winning film, Style Wars, first shown on PBS television in 1984. Chalfant directed and won an Alma award in 2006 for From Mambo to Hip Hop; he directed and produced the seminal documentary Flyin’ Cut Sleeves (1993), Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank (2002). One of the foremost authorities on New York subway art, he has published articles and lectured extensively on this and other aspects of urban youth culture. His photographs record hundreds of ephemeral, original art works that have long since vanished. Chalfant is a resident of New York City with his wife Kathleen, an actress. They have two children, David, a musician and producer, and Andromache, a set designer. He continues to make documentary films about urban popular culture.
SAM POLLARD is an Academy Award nominated film and video editor, and a documentary producer/director whose work spans almost 30 years. Most recently, Sam Pollard directed and produced the critically acclaimed documentary Slavery By Another Name, recounting the many ways in which American slavery persisted as a practice many decades after its supposed abolition. He began his career in 1989 with Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads and received an Emmy for an episode he produced. Between 1990 and 2000, Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. He recently won his sixth Emmy for best editing on the HBO documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.
Steve Zeitlin is the director and cofounder of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City’s—and America’s—living cultural heritage. City Lore works closely with New York’s diverse communities to develop strategies for validating and disseminating their cultural heritages. He has also co-produced a number of award-winning film documentaries including How I Got Over; The Grand Generation; Free Show Tonite, about the traveling medicine shows of the l920s and 30s; and the recently completed From Mambo to Hip Hop, broadcast on public television in the fall of 2006, and winner of an Alma Award for Best Documentary. In addition, he coproduced the documentary DeAf Jam about a group of teenage American Sign Language poets with Judy Lieff, funded by ITVS, premiered in November 2011.
Harold Moss has spent his career fusing storytelling, technology and a passion for change-making media. Notably, Harold created the three-minute cartoon “A Brief History of the USA” in Michael Moore’s Academy Award–winning Bowling for Columbine (2003), and was a producer of the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning and Oscar-nominated documentary, Trouble the Water. He has provided animation direction for Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, both Joe Cross Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead documentaries, and Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon.
Mike Harlow has been working on social issue documentaries for over twenty years. He has worked with on Sam Pollard on Passin’ it On, and Henry Chalfant on the ITVS Alma award-winning documentary, From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale. Other highlights include: A Farewell to Arms; Europe’s Polluter; Border Business; PBS’ MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour; North- South; and, Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television. Harlow has collaborated with filmmaker Beverly Peterson on The Invisible Revolution, Defining Life (which Harlow co-directed), Andre’s Story, and Sandra’s Web. He’s a frequent collaborator with filmmaker Judith Helfand, most notably on The Uprising of’34 (co-directed by George Stoney), and Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Comedy.
Bobby Sanabria drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, recording artist, producer, filmmaker, conductor, educator, activist, multi-cultural warrior and multiple Grammy nominee, Sanabria has performed with a veritable “Who’s Who” in the world of jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensembles. His diverse recording and performing experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaría, Ray Barretto, Marco Rizo, Arturo Sandoval, Roswell Rudd, Chico O’Farrill, Candido, Yomo Toro, Francisco Aguabella, Larry Harlow, Henry Threadgill, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauzá. He composed an original score for the Alma award-winning ITVS documentary, From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale.
Judy Karp, an Emmy Award winning sound recordist, has traveled the globe working on award-winning social issue documentaries and feature films since receiving an MA in Communications from Stanford University more than 30 years ago. Some of her major credits include Paris is Burning, The War Room, Thin, Girlfight, and six independent features directed by John Sayles. Most recently she worked on Mondays at Racine, an Academy Award nominated documentary profiling a beauty salon on Long Island that opens it’s doors to women fighting cancer, which premiered HBO last fall.