Blog Creative Culture Filmmakers in 2021 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Posted February 17, 2021

Creative Culture Filmmakers in 2021 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

A few years ago when we launched our artist support program Creative Culture, we dreamed big that filmmakers who were part of our program would have their films screen in festivals worldwide. Well, our dream came true. Our fellows’ and residents’ work has screened at Sundance, Berlinale, SXSW, and numerous other film festivals around the country and the world.

This month, Creative Culture is set to take the 18th edition of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival by storm. The festival, one of the most significant venues for nonfiction filmmaking in the nation, kicks off on Feb. 19 and runs through Feb. 28. 

We are proud to share that Creative Culture is well-represented at Big Sky this year through several filmmakers’ work:

Christi Cooper
Fall 2019 Focus on Nature Filmmaker-in-Residence
Youth v. Gov – Centerpiece
Twenty-one courageous youth lead a groundbreaking lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting it has willfully acted over six decades to create our climate crisis, thus endangering their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. If these young people are successful, they’ll not only make history, they’ll change the future.

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado and now a Montana resident, Christi is an Emmy award-winning cinematographer with a MS in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Cooper creates compelling visual narratives to raise awareness and inspire action around socio-political issues. Her journey documenting the youth climate movement began in 2011, when she co-produced a 10-part series with WITNESS, a social justice and human rights organization focused on using film for social change. The series, Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery, was used in a grassroots campaign to reach decision-makers and judges ruling on climate litigation brought to the courts by young people. Cooper’s short films have screened at festivals around the world and won numerous awards, including a Wildscreen Panda Award for Best Campaign Film. In 2018, she was awarded the inaugural SFFILM/Vulcan Productions Environmental Film Fellowship for her work on Youth v. Gov.

Adam Meeks
Spring 2019 Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist Fellow
Bitterroot – World Premiere
Made at the JBFC
The film explores his parents’ marriage and the Montana valley that defined it. 

Adam is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His last short film Union County premiered in competition at the 70th Berlinale, and continued on to screen at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival, Palm Springs International ShortFest, Maryland Film Festival, and numerous others. His work frequently examines rural and peripheral American communities, and aims to exist within the intersection of documentary and narrative processes. He is a 2019 Creative Culture Fellow and a Yaddo Residency recipient. He currently works as a video producer at Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

Maya Cueva
Fall 2018 Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist Fellow
Ale Libre – World Premiere
Made at the JBFC
Alejandra is a criminalized organizer and unapologetic immigrant. While she prepares for one of the biggest events of her life — her deportation case — Alejandra is forced to reckon with a past mistake and a system that could tear her apart from her family and the only home she has ever known.

Maya is a mixed Latina filmmaker from Berkeley, California. She  is an award-winning director and producer and her work has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Latino USA, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, StyleCaster, and NBC’s Nightly News. Her short documentary, The Provider, was screened internationally and across the U.S., including SXSW, Palm Springs International Short Fest, and the International Youth Film Festival Langesund in Norway. The Provider also won an Emmy at the College Television Awards.  Featured in the list “#40WomentoWatch: Incredible trailblazers that completely ruled 2016” by The Tempest, Maya is a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow part of the Sundance Film Institute and was a Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center.

Ash Goh Hua
Fall 2019 Social Justice Filmmaker Fellow
I’m Free Now, You Are Free
Made at the JBFC
When Mike Africa Jr. was born in prison, he spent just three days with his mother Debbie Africa, a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE9, before prison guards wrenched him away. They spent the next 40 years struggling for freedom and for each other.
I’m Free Now, You Are Free reflects on their reunion and meditates on Black family preservation as resistance against state violence.

Ash is a filmmaker and cultural worker from Singapore, based in New York. She creates documentary and experimental based work informed by the politics of abolition and autonomy; their filmmaking practice imagines future acts of collective liberation. Ash is a Jacob Burns Creative Culture Fellow, a NeXtDoc Fellow, a Points North Institute North Star Fellow, and a Common Notions collective member.

Lydia Cornett
Fall 2018 Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist Fellow
Party Line – World Premiere
Creative Culture Alumna
At the early voting line in Ohio’s most populous county, civic duty is made public.

Lydia is a filmmaker from Baltimore, Maryland based in Columbus, OH and Brooklyn, NY. She was the Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center, a CoLab Fellow at UnionDocs, and a two-time recipient of the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre. In 2019, her film Narmin’s Birthday won the Festival Jury Runner-Up Award at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival and premiered online with NoBudge. Her subsequent film Yves & Variation premiered at BAMcinemaFest and went on to screen at the Hamptons International Film Festival, DOC NYC, Big Sky Documentary Festival, and Aspen ShortsFest. It was acquired for The New Yorker’s documentary series in August 2020.

Big Sky won’t be the last time you hear about these talented filmmakers! It’s meaningful for us to know we were a part of their journey.


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