Category: Mentors

Chiemi Karasawa

Chiemi Karasawa

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

Elizabeth Hummer

Elizabeth Hummer has been committed to empowering young people to create the best lives for themselves since the early 90’s. She has worked for Sesame Workshop, Nickelodeon, PBS (Cyberchase, In the Mix), and MTV, giving kids cameras to help them tell their stories. She also helps them find jobs in production.

Her work in children’s media has received two Emmy Awards and four nominations. She aspires to bring video into the classroom as a form of academic expression.

Elizabeth is proud to be on the producing team of Poet Against Prejudice, the most recent BYkids film.

Outside of production, Elizabeth leads Harlem fifth graders on Sierra Club nature excursions and is on the Board of Trustees of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

“Young people are in a rapidly evolving state of making sense of their worlds and their place within it. By helping youth to tell their stories authentically, BYkids assists them to become more grounded in their personal truth and confident about their place in the world – locally and globally. I am proud to be a shepherd to the personal wisdom of young people on behalf of BYkids. Nothing is more effective in bringing peace to the world than this universal self-knowledge.”

Susan Hoenig

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.)

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.”

Karen Goodman

“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

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

Marshall Curry

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

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.”

Ric Burns

In addition to his active role on the Board and his support of the launch of BYkids, Ric serves as a BYkids Film Mentor. Ric is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and is best known for his groundbreaking PBS series, New York: A Documentary Film and his documentaries on Eugene O’Neill, Ansel Adams and Andy Warhol.

Anja Baron

Anja Baron

Anja Baron is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and director whose work has been screened at prestigious festivals worldwide and shown on U.S. and European television to critical acclaim, including two Emmy nominations.

In addition to her documentary work, she has also worked as a correspondent for UNICEF reporting on crises concerning women and children around the world. Her extensive travels have influenced much of her work, giving it a strong multicultural component that covers a wide range of subjects with a focus on human rights particularly in regards to children.

“BYkids lends a voice to the often voiceless. BYkids empowers youth in lasting ways all the while creating an invaluable platform for the global issues of a future generation. In turn, the viewer is not only afforded a rare glimpse into often-marginalized existences but also given an opportunity to see important issues in a new light. Shining such a light on one story often shines a light on the greater whole. The results are genuinely powerful and empowering all at once.

I am honored to be working with BYkids on another film. When I left Berlin 30 years ago, there was hardly any Jewish life or community in Berlin to speak of. Coming back to this city after all these years — and after spending most of my adult life in New York and marrying a Jewish man — I am profoundly touched by the discovery that Jewish life is once again blossoming in Berlin. Mentoring a young Jewish man in the filmic exploration of Germany’s dark history while also exploring new horizons will be a profoundly moving experience for us both — and possibly help us navigate the many layers of the ongoing relationship between Germans and Jews.”