VWI Winners and Jurors
Meet Voices With Impact’s 2020 filmmakers and jurors!
Over 100 filmmaking teams submitted proposals for this year’s Voices With Impact program. Right when the winning filmmakers were about to shoot, and others were deep in the editing process, a global pandemic hit. They still made their films.
The faces you see here are the people who demonstrated the artistic vision, creative might, and organizational skills to create exceptional short films on a tight budget, and in a short time period.
Ali Rizvi (he/him) is a filmmaker and designer from Karachi, Pakistan. He graduated with a BA (Hons) in Communication and Design from Habib University, and also holds the ACCA qualification. His work is rooted in the politics and discourses on social and developmental issues in Pakistan, focusing particularly on public health and social justice. Ali experiments with different forms and mediums to tell compelling stories, but film remains his primary focus. His short films are used as tools for advocacy by organizations within and outside of Pakistan. He founded Ehsas Films Project in 2015, which has produced short films and organized public screenings and campaigns as part of the initiative. In 2017, Ali was awarded the Women Deliver Fellowship for his work on gender equality.
Film Working Title: Safe Space
Synopsis: LGBT rights in Pakistan are considered taboo. Even in large cities, people who identify as LGBT have to be highly discreet about their sexual orientation. Pakistani law prescribes criminal penalties for same-sex sexual acts. Safe space is a short documentary film that delves into a private conversation between two Pakistani men, confiding in each other about their fears, insecurities, and societal pressures.
Amilcar Javier (he/him) is an award winning actor, writer, producer and software developer based in New York City. He is also a proud Hermano of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Incorporated and active mentor to youth in film and technology. He is honored to be making ‘Masc’, supported by Art With Impact, allowing him to fulfill his goal of helping others through film.
Film Working Title: Masc
Synopsis: A young boy hides his emotions behind a Diablo Cojuelo mask in an attempt to appease his hypermasculine father and protect himself from his school bully.
Calvin J Walker (he/him) is an award-winning filmmaker with the heart and pen of a poet. More importantly, he’s an artivist. In 2012, Calvin wrote and produced his first short film, The Most Beautiful Flower Blooms in Winter. Since that time, Calvin has produced work within several mediums: film, television, stage, and digital. His work has received acclaim domestically and internationally. He’s a sought after writer; working with producers in Denmark, Africa, and Atlanta. Calvin strives to tell stories that focus on social justice, spirituality, and mental health. He’s a self-taught filmmaker hailing from Dallas, TX. He is a husband and father to three.
Film Working Title: The Beautiful Black Man
Synopsis: Mitchell has the unique ability to grow flowers from his scalp. father trained him in the painful art of plucking in order to conceal his gift – his curse. However, the arrival of a new woman in his life, Vera, might be just the thing he needs for the glory of his garden to be revealed.
Dale John Allen
Dale John Allen (he/him) is an artist-filmmaker based in Manchester, UK exploring queer identity on-screen. His work is often autobiographical and stems from his own experiences living with Bipolar Affective Disorder. Dale’s first short, which he describes as his self-portrait, ‘A Film About Love’ won the Art with Impact short film award in 2016 and was the main inspiration behind his latest short, ‘Don’t Blame Jack’, which explores how mental illness manifests in everyday life. ‘Don’t Blame Jack’ is due for release in 2020 by Peccadillo Pictures, one of the UK’s leading distributors of LGBTQ+, British Independent and World Cinema titles. www.dalejohnallen.com
Film Working Title: The Rest is Flowers
Synopsis: When his best friend, Harry, is killed in a homophobic attack, a grief-stricken, closeted Jimmy prepares to give the eulogy at his funeral. This is his last chance to admit the true depth of his feelings for Harry and face up to the fact that today he must bury his soulmate.
Karla Legaspy (she/her) is a MeXICANA Two Spirit migrant filmmaker known for her PBS audience award winning short “Gold Star”. Her film career started with a memorable performance in the Sundance selected film Pura Lengua, which followed with Karla acting, producing and now writing/directing her own content. Karla’s creative spectrum of work crosses borders, time and genres with themes on race, class, homelessness, sexual orientation, trauma, indigenous traditions and queer love. This summer Karla produced the acclaimed “Undocumented Tales season 3”. She is a two-time awardee of the Latino Public Broadcasting Public Media Content Fund and is Co- producer of the imagen award film “Amigas With Benefits”. Karla envisions her work as the best tool for activism and her contribution to empowering her communities. Her LPB film “The Daily War” is scheduled to shoot January 2020 along with a new short “Journey Through Mars” funded by Voices With Impact.
Film Working Title: Journey through Mars
Synopsis: After losing their father, Mars who is now suffering from grief and depression learns to use the memories of their supportive father in their gender journey.
Mari Wrobi (they/them) is a queer, nonbinary and intersex advocate born and raised in Sacramento, California. They currently work at the first and only shelter for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in Sacramento; advocate with interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth through education and policy advocacy; and intern at the Gender Health Center, a non-profit that provides resources to TGNC folks in the area. Mari has been educating people on trans and intersex rights and health issues across the country in an effort to increase awareness and support of trans and intersex people since they were in high school. When they’re not advocating in their personal or professional life, they can be found playing Magic the Gathering with other LGBTQ Magic players or writing and performing spoken word about their experiences.
Film Working Title: The Side Effects of Normal
Synopsis: “The Side Effects of Normal” is about an intersex person who was born with genital differences and was forced to undergo a genital “normalizing” surgery that they did not consent to as a child. As a result of medical trauma, they struggle with PTSD, dysphoria and dissociation as an adult. At first, we see them struggle with their mental health – experience flashbacks, depression, discomfort with their body, etc. – however, through advocacy, sharing their story, and meeting other intersex people, they begin to enter into recovery and ultimately, a much healthier reality.
Meagan Brown (she/her) is an aspiring documentary filmmaker with a passion for people-driven stories. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, she is currently in her fourth year of studies at Ryerson University, in the Film Studies program. Regardless of genre, there are elements of documentary in everything Meagan produces. From films on social justice, to unconventional hobbies, her focus has continually been people-driven stories. Fighter is a continuation of her love for such personal stories, as she turns the camera to her own family. Moving forward, she hopes to continue to push for more engagement in documentary films as a whole.
Film Working Title: Fighter
Synopsis: Fighter asks the tough, awkward, and infrequent questions about mental health to three generations of firefighters. Home movies and impromptu conversations are woven into interviews in this deeply personal reflection on intergenerational connection, trauma and coping, and how expectations of masculinity in firefighting have an impact on mental health.
Paolo Riveros (he/him) is a transgender, visual artist from Lima, Perú. He began his career through photography, documenting the Los Angeles nightlife, which later developed into photojournalism, covering social justice movements. Currently, he is the resident visual storyteller at Cumbiaton LA, documenting oppressed hood communities as they heal via music and dance. His interest in filmmaking sprouted out of his need to document and uplift stories from the communities that have shaped who he is.
Film Working Title: Continue to Live
Synopsis: Continue to Live tells the story of three majestic trans masculine beings surviving and thriving in Los Angeles, California. The individual journeys of William, Gabriel and Jaden highlight the personal and systemic challenges that make it difficult to exist. With community and acceptance on their side, their story ends at a trans masculine circle created to consciously heal their souls and energy. While carrying emotional and systemic trauma, they find ways to continue to live.
Lucie Rachel and 1990s Chris
Lucie Rachel (she/her) is a lens-based artist working with still and moving image to explore themes of domesticity, gender and sexuality. Since graduating from DJCAD in 2015 as one of the RSA New Contemporaries, she has directed award winning short films with the Scottish Documentary Institute, Glasgow Film and Channel 4 Random Acts. Her work has screened internationally at over 50 festivals including MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, Iris Prize, and #fivefilms4freedom selected by BFI and British Council. Lucie’s current work continues to focus on intimate subject matter through an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, moving between artist film and documentary genres.
1990s Chris (he/him) is a queer, working class poet from Hereford, working in the midlands and the south west. Writing primarily for film and audio, Chris has been commissioned by BBC arts for a radio production on bisexuality as well as working on a number of projects for Channel 4’s Random Acts. He has written for the Courtyard Theatre, and is currently the writer at Neoteric Dance Company, recently screening their debut film in the National Army Museum, London. Chris has a history of producing high quality work for arts council funded projects as well as performing across the UK, at venues such as The Tobacco Factories, The Eden Project and the Royal Albert Hall. His work hopes to start conversations around queer identity, masculinity and class.
Film Working Title: Factory Talk
Synopsis: Factory Talk is an intergenerational conversation about identity, sexuality and masculinity in a rural factory. Through the clanging of metal they make small talk, but as the gripes and grumbles testify to better times, the questions rising on the factory floor are of more than just nostalgia.
Steph Young, Jake Ivany, and Vie Jones
Asterix Media is a collective of artists who aim to challenge dominant narratives and bring marginalized voices to the forefront of new media. With a focus on 2SLGBTQ+ experiences, we use filmmaking, performance art, and other creative avenues as a means of amplifying these stories, reaching audiences around the globe. Asterix Media is based in K’jipuktuk (Halifax).
Steph Young (she/her, he/him) is a filmmaker, drag performer, and mental health advocate. Like any good Taurus, he enjoys spending time cuddling his dog, or in the woods photographing wildlife and foraging for wild plants.
Jake Ivany (he/him) is an administrative professional by day, a filmmaker by night and a big-ol-queer at heart. With years of experience in the nonprofit world, he loves to help bring stories to life and to the forefront of modern media.
Vie Jones (they/them) is a two-spirit artist and performer. The art they make is rooted in community practices, Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies. They don’t know how to have fun without setting things on fire.
Film Working Title: Staging Face
Synopsis: Under the spotlight, in front of a crowded room, drag performers are given permission to share our most authentic selves with almost certain acceptance. When the show is over and we leave our safe spaces, how do we cope with the realities of a less-than-forgiving world? What faces do we wear? Follow several captivating artists as they navigate the complexities of gender identity, community, and mental health – and learn how they became masters in staging face.
We relied on a dedicated group of mental health professionals, professional filmmakers, and subject matter experts on the culture of masculinity and queer culture to review the film proposals and select the teams whose visions would be funded through this project. The expert humans you see here are the generous and gracious judges who selected the winning filmmakers for this year’s Voices With Impact program.
Dr. Jei Africa
Jei Africa (he/him), PsyD, MSCP, CATC-V, Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) at the County of Marin, is an innovative thought-leader and clinician who is passionate about integrating effective culturally responsive practices into the core functioning of County health services. Dr. Africa has over 20 years of counseling, teaching, consulting, and private practice expertise in the areas of behavioral health, trauma, health equity and diversity. He maintains a consulting and private psychotherapy practice in the Bay Area. His prior roles include: Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity with the San Mateo County Health System, Clinical Director at Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse, and Manager of Youth Treatment Services at Asian American Recovery Services.
Annie Delgado (she/her) the Director of Youth Programming at The Representation Project, the nonprofit organization founded by filmmaker and California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Annie is a high school teacher from California’s Central Valley. She has taught high school women’s studies since 2008. In 2015, she was selected as a semi-finalist for California Teacher of the Year and was recognized in 2016 as a Champion of Change by the Obama Administration for her work with marginalized girls. Her paper, which outlines the ways in which one can defy cultural norms by launching women’s studies in the high school setting, can be found in Feminist Pedagogy, Practice, and Activism: Improving the Lives of Girls and Women. Annie consistently works to advance issues in equity, as they are a driving force in that which she teaches and the manner in which she lives her life. She earned her degree in political science from Trinity University in Washington, DC, her Master’s in Education from Chapman University, and her JD from Catholic University. She and her husband are both teachers who are raising their son and daughter along with their three rescue dogs.
James Lecesne’s (he/him) short film TREVOR won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and inspired the founding of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention Lifeline for LGBT and Questioning youth. He has written three novels for young adults, and created The Letter Q, a collection of letters by Queer writers written to their younger selves. His solo show The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, was awarded the Outer Critic Circle Award, and the NYTimes praised him as “one of the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation.
Dr. Dawn McGuire
Dawn McGuire (she/her) is a physician who is board-certified in Neurology and Psychiatry. She trained at UCSF. She is also a poet, whose most recent collection, The Aphasia Cafe, received the Indy Book Award for Poetry. Dawn’s newest book, American Dream with Exit Wound, was finalist for California book award. Dawn’s clinical work focuses on neurological and psychiatric complications of HIV/AIDS. She founded a free clinic for AIDS patients in 1990, which she continues to run. Her research interests include neuropsychiatric effects of concussion in military veterans and in high-impact sports.
Farhoud Meybodi (he/him), Executive Vice President of Creative of Wayfarer Entertainment, is passionate about storytelling that entertains and inspires, and believes in the transformational power of empathy to heal the political-social divide of the present day. Farhoud executive produced and wrote Man Enough, a dinner conversation series exploring and redefining traditional masculinity, for which he received a Telly and Adweek Arc award. Farhoud serves as a board member of the Wayfarer Foundation, The Muslim Public Affairs Council, as well as Loyola Marymount University’s Business School A-LIST Marketing Pathway, where he teaches a course on Branded Content for Social Impact.
Matthew Solomon (he/him) is an author, relationship coach and award-winning filmmaker. Known as “The Coach for the Modern Soul,” Matthew regularly works with universities, corporations and individual clients, towards building cultures of inclusion and understanding. In 2018, he authored the book: “Man School: Relating with Women in the #MeToo Era,” which quickly became an Amazon #1 new release in six categories. Since then, he has been invited as a guest on over 30 TV, radio, web and podcasts, and is regularly invited to speak on panels covering diversity and inclusion. Matthew writes the weekly column, “Too Sensitive,” for The Good Men Project, has written and directed several award-winning films and is a single father of 3; a teenage daughter and twin boys. For more information, visit: www.CoachwithMatthewSolomon.com
Jocelyn Lehrer (she/her), ScD is Founder/Director of the Men’s Story Project and affiliated Senior Research Associate at the University of California-San Francisco Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Lehrer’s work focuses on the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of healthy masculinities and gender equality. Her research on masculinities, sexual assault, dating violence, sexual health, and mental health has been published in leading journals including Men & Masculinities, Pediatrics, Archives of Sexual Behavior and Journal of Adolescent Health. Lehrer has consulted with additional organizations including San Francisco Women Against Rape and World Vision International, and given many trainings sponsored by groups such as the U.S. Dept. of Justice Office of Violence Against Women. Her awards include the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, and her work has been highlighted on CNN, ABC, Fox, Forbes.com and other media. Lehrer holds a doctoral degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is Chilean-American and a native Spanish speaker.