Bios

FILM

Sanjay Rawal, Director:

Sanjay is of East Indian descent but spent his formative years in the United States. He was actually born in Africa where his father and mother were living briefly. Sanjay’s father spent nearly a decade working with indigenous west African tribes to preserve their seeds in a regional seed bank. Sanjay spent a decade in human rights before becoming a filmmaker. His first film, Food Chains (link: www.foodchainsfilm.com) chronicled what some consider the most successful activist indigenous movement in the West – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The CIW are a group of tomato workers – primarily displaced Central American indigenous people – based on Seminole land in southern Florida. Food Chains documented their fight against large food conglomerates and featured Eva Longoria, Eric Schlosser, Forest Whitaker, Dolores Huerta, Kerry Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy Jr. (all allies of the CIW). The film won a number of awards including the 2016 James Beard Award for Best Film and the 2016 BritDoc Impact Award as one of the most important films of the year. Sanjay’s second film, 3100: Run and Become (link: 3100.film) chronicles the world’s longest running race – the Self-Transcendence 3,100 mile race – but featured Navajo, San Bushman and Japanese monk runners too. The film will be released in 2018.

Tanya Ager Meillier, Producer:

Tanya was born in Manchester U.K. of mixed English and Mongolian descent. Often in tow of her mum, she spent much of her childhood traveling around the world and developed a lifelong passion for immersing herself in foreign cultures. This curiosity about the world grew organically in to a career as a documentary filmmaker. In 2007, Tanya edited the documentary feature Obscene, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Tanya’s work as a film editor can also be seen recently on the Sundance Channel in the short film series Beginnings as well as in Michael Moore’s magnum opus Capitalism: A Love Story and in numerous other projects. No longer chasing sharks for a living, she currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband Alex Meillier.

Sterlin Harjo, Producer:

Sterlin, a member of the Seminole Nation, has Muskogee heritage and was raised in Holdenville, OK. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied art and film. He received a fellowship from the Sundance Institute in 2004. His short film, Goodnight, Irene, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received a special jury award at the Aspen Shortfest. Harjo’s first feature film, Four Sheets to the Wind, tells the story of a young Seminole man who travels from his small hometown to Tulsa to visit his sister after the death of their father. The film premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the grand jury prize. Harjo’s second feature, Barking Water, premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. His first feature documentary, This May Be the Last Time, is based on the story of Harjo’s grandfather, who disappeared in 1962 in the Seminal County town of Sasakwa. His third feature film, Mekko, a thriller set in Tulsa, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2015.

Harjo is a founding member of a five-member Native American comedy group, The 1491s. He also is one of the directors of Cherokee Nation’s monthly television news magazine, Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, which is produced by Fire Thief Productions, a Native American production company which he co-founded with Cherokee photographer, Jeremy Charles.

Renan Ozturk, Director of Photography:

Renan’s cutting edge big-wall first ascents, mountain murals and films realized as part of The North Face athlete team have brought him around the globe – from the high Himalaya, to the jungles of Borneo and deserts of Africa. With the advent of next generation lightweight satellite, solar and DSLR camera technology Renan has pushed the art of filmmaking in extreme locations. His video ‘dispatches’ produced during expeditions bring the adventure to a world-wide online audience in near real-time. They have been a key story-telling component for clients including The North Face, National Geographic and Outside Magazine. Through top mountain film festival awards and on-line viral recognition, Renan’s cinematography and visual story-telling style has emerged as one of the leaders in the outdoor industry. Most recently he co-founded Camp 4 Collective, an adventure sports based production company which continues to push the boundaries of expedition story-telling.

JOURNALISM

Kim Baca, editor:

Kim (Navajo/Santa Clara Pueblo) founded KBConsulting which provides services based on her years of media experience at outlets including the Associated Press, the Santa Fe New Mexican and the El Paso Times. Kim has also been a marketing and communications director in the higher education and nonprofit sectors and served two years as interim executive director of the Native American Journalists Association before the organization moved to Oklahoma. Kim has also conducted public relations and legislative work at the National American Indian Housing Council in Washington, D.C. and at the former New Mexico Office of Indian Affairs in Santa Fe, N.M.

Taylor Freesolo Rees, photo editor, photo workshop leader:

Taylor excels in a variety of sectors – as a photo journalist, filmmaker, and educational programmer. She is driven by an insatiable curiosity to explore, listen and share stories in environmental and humanitarian justice, an intersection of worlds she explores as an adventurer and traveller. She endeavors to bring new perspectives and deeper public understanding to challenging topics such as climate change, energy, water, ecological justice and land use. She is also deeply involved in the growth of media literacy and ‘creative innovation’ curricula in public school classrooms.

Additional Team:

Greta Caruso, Chelsey Luger, Thosh Collins, Adam Sings In The Timber, Kalen Goodluck, and Genesis Tuyuc.