Celia Lowenstein has directed and produced over fifty films with subject matters extending across science, art, philosophy, human portraits, dance, and music. She has worked in a variety of cinematic genres, including fly-on-the-wall documentary-making, narrative fiction (including musicals), films in verse, and long- and short-form documentaries, often of great ethnographic appeal.
She has traveled all over the world with small and large crews, and her work has been commissioned by the BBC, PBS, Channel 4 (UK), Channel 5 (UK), ARTE/ZDF, Planete (France), Discovery, National Geographic, NOVA, Animal Planet, and CBS.
Her film and television work has received critical acclaim, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards, nominations, and academic residencies, including an Emmy nomination and selections at some of the most prestigious film festivals worldwide.
“BYkids offers a unique possibility of mentoring a creative journey with a child. Their films take us not only back to childhood, but to stories that change how we know the world.”
Cynthia Lowen is the co-creator, producer and writer of BULLY, a feature documentary film following five kids and families through “a year in the life” of America’s bullying crisis, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and released by The Weinstein Company. Lauded by reviewers, BULLY was awarded the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in journalism and is currently nominated for two Emmys. Drawing on BULLY’s success, the filmmakers created The BULLY Project Social Action Campaign, a collaborative effort in partnership with multiple organizations, brands and corporate sponsors, sharing a commitment to ending bullying. Featured at several summits on education and school climate, in April of 2012 BULLY was screened at the White House.
Cynthia is also a writer and winner of the National Poetry Series for her collection, “The Cloud That Contained the Lightning.” She’s the recipient of the Women Authoring Change fellowship from William Morris Entertainment and the Discovery prize, as well as residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, among other honors.
“Kids crave opportunities for their voices to be heard; for the chance to show us the world through their eyes. BYkids empowers these young documentarians as they challenge stereotypes, stand up to injustice and offer wisdom we can all learn from.”
Chiemi Karasawa is an award-winning documentary director/producer who founded Isotope Films and has made Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, The Betrayal: Nerakhoon (Academy Award Nominee, Emmy Award Winner), Billy The Kid, and Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (premiering at Tribeca Film Festival in 2018). She has worked with notable directors including Spike Jonze, Jim Jarmusch, Sam Mendes, Stephen Frears and Martin Scorsese as a Script Supervisor.
Elizabeth Hummer is a producer, director and educator. Her work has received two Emmy Awards and four nominations in children’s programming and five nominations for fashion content. Projects span production of a live after-school show for teenagers to covering fashion for Condé Nast. She has worked for Sesame Workshop, Nickelodeon, PBS (Cyberchase, In the Mix), and MTV, giving kids cameras to help them tell their stories.
For BYkids, Elizabeth mentored Ndèye Fatou Fall for her film “Walk on My Own”, capturing the voices of a diverse group of women – young and old – working to end child marriage and FGC (female genital cutting) in their Senegalese village. The film has won the gender equity prize at the 2020 Prix Jeunesse and is a finalist in the youth division of the Japan Prize.
Elizabeth also helped produce “Poet Against Prejudice” about Islamophobia, bullying and immigration, by mentoring 19-year-old filmmaker, Faiza Almontaser in the final scenes of the film and supervising post production.
Elizabeth has served on the board of the Children’s Media Association, is on the Board of Trustees of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont and is a leader of Harlem fifth graders with Sierra Club ICO’s nature excursions.
“Youth never cease to amaze me with their innate wisdom and adaptability to a world in constant motion. Mentoring young filmmakers with BYkids gives me the opportunity to amplify their individual voices and help them feel empowered to continue using them.”
Susan was the first BYkids Board member and serves as a Film Mentor to María Ceballos Paz, a 16-year-old girl who is one of the estimated four million Colombians driven from their homes by decades of civil war. With Susan’s mentoring, María puts a human face on the cost of civil war and the drug trade.
Among Hollywood’s top TV producers, Susan has produced shows for Discovery, National Geographic, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. She received an Emmy nomination for Undercover Boss.
“I am truly excited to be a part of a project that provides a forum for children to tell their own stories, stories that are often the most genuine yet often misinterpreted or never even heard. By giving them the tools to create their own documentaries, these stories can finally be told from their perspective, a point of view that will hopefully strike a chord with others in similar situations throughout the world. By enabling such storytelling, BYkids will work to bridge cultural gaps, as well as help illustrate the universality of the human condition. At a time when people tend to focus on our differences as opposed to our similarities, such a contribution is invaluable.”
James V. Hart (J.V.) hails from Shreveport, Louisiana and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas thriving on drive-in movies and Saturday matinees. He began producing films in the 1970’s, and his first feature film, Summer Run, opened the USA film festival at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater, in Dallas, Texas. After settling in New York City, J.V. began his screenwriting career, writing and producing such celebrated films as Hook directed by Steven Spielberg, Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola and Muppet Treasure Island directed by Brian Henson. Other writing and producing credits include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sahara, Lara Croft: Tombraider — The Cradle of Life and August Rush. His production of the 20th Century Fox film The Legend of the Leafmen, a collaboration with children’s book illustrator William Joyce, is his first animated epic and is followed by a book series by J.V. and Joyce.
J.V.’s first novel, Captain Hook — Adventures of a Notorious Youth, was published by Laura Geringer Books for Harper Collins and named Top Ten Young Adult Books in 2006 by the American Library Association. Its sequel, Captain Hook — Pirate King, was released in 2011.
“Made by young people from all ethnic origins and cultures, BYkids films make us feel our co-existence across the planet. They’re proof that the arts will save us.”
“BYkids is an extraordinary opportunity for the next generation of cinematic storytellers. It also provides an intimate window into their disparate worlds, and a means of self-expression and support not found elsewhere.”
Karen Goodman’s documentaries have garnered an Academy award (”Strangers No More, 2011″), three previous Academy Award nominations, many Emmys and the Dupont-Columbia Award for Independent Programming. She has received filmmaking grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Ford Foundation and the American Film Institute. She has been making documentaries for nearly four decades and is currently working on Season Two of the HBO series MASTERCLASS. She is a partner in the Simon & Goodman Picture Company, based in New York City.
Her documentaries have been broadcast nationally on PBS and HBO, and screened at festivals around the world including Sundance, New Directors/New Films, London, Berlin, Montreal, and St. Petersburg.
Ms. Goodman is a member of the Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Documentary Branch. She has served as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities Media Program, and as a judge for the Emmy Awards and the DuPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Award.
Maryann De Leo is an Academy Award winning filmmaker who directs and produces courageous documentaries of international scope for both film and television. Honored with numerous awards, including two Emmy Awards, an Alfred I. duPont – Columbia University Award, and a CableACE Award, De Leo’s work has premiered at the American Museum of the Moving Image and has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Her 2003 documentary, Chernobyl Heart, revealing the devastating effects of radiation on children after the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, garnered worldwide attention and won Best Documentary Short at the 2003 Academy Awards. De Leo’s other well-known titles include High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, Rape: Cries from the Heartland and Bellevue: Inside Out.
De Leo is also an internationally renowned photographer with the Sipa Agency, and runs her own production company, Downtown TV Documentaries. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts graduate program in social documentary.
“This is what life is all about, reaching your hand to others and having the privilege to witness their imagination.”
Marshall Curry is a two-time Academy Award nominated filmmaker based in Brooklyn. He is a cinematographer and editor, and was the director and producer of Street Fight, Racing Dreams, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, and Point and Shoot. All of his films have taken top awards at dozens of film festivals, including Sundance and Tribeca, and have played in theaters and on television around the world.
Marshall has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Duke, Columbia, NYU, and other colleges, and he has served on juries for the International Documentary Association, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs Film Festival, and the Gotham Awards.
Joyce Chopra has produced and directed a wide range of award-winning films, ranging from Smooth Talk, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the Sundance Film Festival, to the A&E thriller The Lady in Question with Gene Wilder. She has received American Film Festival Blue Ribbon and Cine Golden Eagle Awards for her numerous documentaries, including That Our Children Will Not Die, about primary health care in Nigeria, and the autobiographical Joyce at 34, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
“When we see the world through the eyes of these courageous young film-makers, we can all learn so much about different cultures throughout the globe and about the universal experiences that unite us.
I am thrilled to become a BYkids mentor to a young girl from India, who has an important story to tell us. As a film director, I have always been drawn to stories about vulnerable young people, from the rebellious teen played by Laura Dern in the fiction film Smooth Talk to the kids I’ve been privileged to work with in documentaries. Gramercy Stories, my most recent documentary, followed the lives of homeless gay and transgender kids in Manhattan, and I was constantly amazed at the courage these young people showed in the face of difficulties most of us would collapse under. BYkids’ mission to have young people from around the globe shape their own film stories so that we may learn from them is truly inspiring. I feel fortunate to be part of it.”