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Meet the Fellows

The Center is thrilled to offer fellowships to members of our UC San Diego community in support of research or production for cinema-related projects.  Click the drawers below to learn more about our diverse fellows and how they are putting the fellowship to use.


Group picture of fellows

2023 Fall Fellows

  • Manuel Carrión Lira

    Manuel Carrión Lira


    Manuel Carrión Lira (he/they) is a researcher, video-artist and curator from Pikunmapu/Qullasuyu (Quillota, Chile) of Mapuche, Aymara, and Campesino descent, and a Member of the Epupillan (queer/trans) Mapuche community Catrileo+Carrión. They are a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Literature at UC San San Diego. Manuel is part of the Global Center for Advanced Studies Latin America Collective. Manuel’s work focuses on Indigenous Media at the intersection with Trans-indigenous/Transnational kinship networks beyond the nation-state framework, all of this with special attention to queer/trans/2S/epupillan Indigenous cultural production.

    The fellowship will help to begin producing the first raw audiovisual materials for a video-essay project delving into the intricate interplay of migration, U.S. imperialism in Chile during the Cold War, and the emergence of migrant indigeneity amidst violence and displacement. After the first audiovisual footage is secured, the editing and post-production process will commence.

  • Emily Greenberg

    Emily Greenberg


    Emily Greenberg is a media artist, experimental filmmaker, fiction writer, and current MFA student in UC San Diego’s Department of Visual Arts. Combining both documentary and speculative approaches, Emily’s works often subvert or recontextualize mass media and surveillant imaging technologies to investigate the construction of authority, truth, and transparency. Her work has shown or is forthcoming at Festival ECRÃ, VideoBardo, Magmart Festival, Screener Short Films, Smack Mellon, BRIC, The Knockdown Center, Monticello Park Film Festival, The New Film Underground, and The Comeback Festival.

    The fellowship will support production and post-production on two short films, a musician for one film, and software to upscale the resolution of five short films so they are suitable for projection, among other items to stage a series of film screenings in early May 2024.

  • Todd A. Henry

    Todd A. Henry


    Todd A. Henry is Associate Professor of Modern Korean/East Asian History at UC San Diego, where he is also faculty affiliate in Critical Gender Studies, Film Studies, and Science Studies.  He is the author of “Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945” (University of California Press, 2014) and “Profits of Queerness: Media, Medicine, and Citizenship in Authoritarian South Korea, 1950-1980” (University of Hawai’i Press, 2025). Dr. Henry also edited “Queer Korea” (Duke University Press, 2020), among other publications.

    After researching and producing his first documentary “Paradise” (2023; Director: Minki Hong), a 30-minute piece on Seoul’s history of gay theater cruising, Henry is embarking on a new film that examines how André Kim (1935-2010), South Korea’s first male fashion designer, connected disparate ethnic and political communities of the post-1945 world through his unique clothing. It also recounts how social groups in Hawai’i, the place this globetrotting icon visited most during his career, welcomed André to promote the goals of local organizers, especially Asian American women who invited him to Honolulu for nine fashion shows between 1972 and 2006.

    The fellowship will support portions of the new film project, specifically related to travel and videographer support for filming in Hawai’i and Los Angeles.

  • Zakary Hori

    Zakary Hori


    Zakary Hori is a Visual Arts Media Major with a minor in Computer Science. He is a Senior Producer at Triton Television and current Media Director at Musicians' Club of UC San Diego, with experience working on a variety of film and music-related projects. As a passionate storyteller, musician, and filmmaker, his film intends to explore the rapidly changing emotional toll of feeling young, being lost, and dreaming big, from the perspective of a guitarist in a particular rock band.

    The fellowship will assist the production of the short film by providing professional industry-standard equipment as well as funding for key actors, locations, and craft services.

  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones


    Ashley Jones is a Communications major with minors in Political Science and Film Studies. She is an A.S. Senior Project Manager with Triton Television and is interested in digging into the concepts of feminism and genre studies in her work as a student filmmaker.

    Support from the fellowship will finance the production of her Senior Communication Honors Thesis project “Here’s What You Missed,” a short film that seeks to bring the idea of the “feminist action genre” to life. This is a concept that she has been researching over the full course of her senior year, and she said she is so thankful to have the support of the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts to pursue it.

  • Keith Nixon Jr.

    Keith Nixon Jr.


    Keith Nixon Jr. is a filmmaker passionate about telling stories that explore the diverse spectrum of Black cultural identity. He is deeply inspired by his upbringing in a large, southern Black family. His childhood encounters with cinema unknowingly fueled a dedication to visual storytelling. His work revolves around the intersection of visual storytelling, design thinking, and cultural specificity. He is interested in crafting narratives that intentionally humanize marginalized groups by focusing on seemingly mundane, yet universal, moments and emotions. It is through these narratives that he aims to shed light on underrepresented voices.

    Keith holds a degree from Old Dominion University where he developed a self-directed curriculum in Industrial Design. After working as a Technical Specialist in the energy industry, he shifted his focus to his creative inclinations. His affinity for the visual image led him to Howard University's Film MFA program where he fully committed to discovering his creative voice. Keith is a recent graduate of the American Film Institute where he completed his Master’s of Fine Arts in Cinematography. Keith currently works as an Operations Assistant at the Media Teaching Lab at UC San Diego. He also teaches Intro to Scriptwriting at San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts as a member of the faculty at San Diego City College.

    The fellowship will help transition a feature film project from research to pre-production, with the realization of a short film. The short film will in turn serve as a proof of concept for a feature Nixon will be writing.

  • Noelle Sepina

    Noelle Sepina


    Noelle Sepina is an educator, curator, and filmmaker. She is completing her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Her research focuses on Black Cinema, Philippine Cinema, and making connections between Black and Filipino histories, cultures, and knowledges within the context of U.S. empire. Her filmmaking practice is inspired by Third Cinema and the LA Rebellion. Her first short documentary, “This is Historic Filipinotown,” tells the little-known history of migration and gentrification of Filipino American communities in Los Angeles. Noelle is also a programmer at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

    The fellowship will support production of a short experimental documentary that serves as a prologue for the dissertation.

2023 Spring Fellows

  • Cuyler Ballenger

    Cuyler Ballenger


    Cuyler Ballenger is an artist and filmmaker currently pursuing an MFA in the Department of Visual Arts. His autofiction films take up the specifics of family in order to reveal collective truths.

    The fellowship will provide travel support towards a feature length project, as well as essential camera and sound equipment for its execution.

  • Fabiola Carranza

    Fabiola Carranza


    Fabiola Carranza is an artist, writer and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Visual Arts whose interdisciplinary practice examines visual, cultural, and personal phenomena. At UC San Diego Carranza is an affiliate of the Critical Gender Studies Project, a Katzin Fellow and a Black Studies Project Awardee. Her doctoral studies were generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

    Funds from this fellowship will assist the production of a film about stage and television actor and activist Felicia Montealegre Bernstein (1922-1978).

  • Antonio Catrileo

    Antonio Catrileo


    Antonio Catrileo (they/them) is a Mapuche writer, artist, and weaver from Pikunmapu/Qullasuyu. Currently is a student at the PhD in Ethnic Studies at the University of California San Diego. They hold a B.A., M.A. in Chilean and Hispanic Literature at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Author of the book “Awkan epupillan mew: dos espíritus en divergencia” (2019) and “Diáspora”(2015). Member of the Catrileo+Carrión Community, where they have collectively published the books “Poyewün Nütramkan Pikunmapu/Qullasuyu” (2020), “Poyewün witral: bitácora de las tejedoras de Neltume” (2019), “Torcer la palabra: escrituras obrera-feministas” (2018) and “Yikalay pu zomo Lafkenmapu” (2018). Antonio currently is a collaborator of Global Center for Advanced Studies Latin America Collective. Their work is presented as a critical intervention in how colonial categories have been imposed on notions of sexuality and gender in the Mapuche context. Catrileo claims the word epupillan (two-spirited) as a generative practice that focuses on not reproducing the damage of the archive’s narratives in order to imagine a Mapuche futurity beyond the politics of recognition, nation, and identity. Epupillan is a situated knowledge shared by several elders who are HIV/AIDS activists and defenders of the land.

  • Alexander L. Fattal

    Alexander L. Fattal


    Alexander L. Fattal is an associate professor in the Department of Communication. His work has focused on the mediation of the Colombian armed conflict. He is the author of two award-winning books Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (2018, Chicago) and Shooting Cameras for Peace: Youth, Photography, and the Colombian Armed Conflict/Disparando Cámaras para la Paz: Juventud, Fotografía y el Conflicto Armado Colombiano (Peabody/Harvard 2020). He has directed two documentary shorts, Trees Tropiques (Berkeley Media, 2009) and Limbo (Cinema Guild, 2019).

    For his Fellowship, Fattal will begin research on a documentary project to find Eliyahu, the birth name for an uncle of his who was among the Middle Eastern Jews taken from their birth mothers in Israel (who were told that their children had died after childbirth) and given to Jewish families arriving to Israel after the Holocaust for adoption in the late 1940s and early-mid1950s.

  • Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer

    Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer


    Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer is a Visual Arts major with an emphasis in media. He is a Co-Station Manager of Triton Television and is interested in exploring the Muslim American experience through storytelling and film.

    Support from the fellowship will finance the production of a feature-length film, Another College Musical, co-directed with UC San Diego alum, Ryan Ritterby.

  • Lev Kalman

    Lev Kalman


    Lev Kalman (b. 1982) has been making films together with his collaborator Whitney Horn since 2003. Their distinctive style blends lo-fi 16mm photography, dreamy electronic music, philosophical musings, and steady bursts of absurdist humor. Their feature films Blondes in the Jungle, L for Leisure and Two Plains & a Fancy have played at festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam, BFI London Film Festival, and BAMCinemaFest. L for Leisure was named among “The 100 Best Films of the Decade” in Little White Lies magazine. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody called Two Plains & a Fancy, “The most imaginative and visionary recent addition to the [Western] genre.” Coming soon: Dream Team, which weaves together psychic coral and utopian basketball leagues in a 1997-set cyber thriller, and Twin Snakes, a comedy about the structure of the psyche. Since 2012, Kalman has been based in San Diego. He is on staff at the UC San Diego Media Teaching Lab, and a programmer at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

  • Luciana Marcos Laberge

    Luciana Marcos Laberge


    Luciana Marcos Laberge is a Canadian filmmaker and multi-media artist. She completed an MFA in Film Production from Concordia University in Montreal in 2018. She wrote and directed The Nature Of (2013) and PAS DE TROIS (2015) among others and collaborated with artists with performances and video installations. She works as a staff at the Latin American Studies program while training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitstu, a martial art linked to her next film to be shot in Beyrouth, Lebanon.

    The fellowship will support the pre-production research stage of such project.

  • Daisuke Miyao

    Daisuke Miyao


    Daisuke Miyao is Professor and Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Miyao is the author of Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema (Duke University Press, 2020), Cinema Is a Cat: A Cat Lover’s Introduction to Film Studies (University of Hawai’i Press, 2019), The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema (Duke University Press, 2013), and Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom (Duke University Press, 2007). He is also the editor of Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema (2014) and the co-editor of Transnational Cinematography Studies (2017) with Lindsay Coleman and Roberto Schaefer.

  • Rida Qadeer

    Rida Qadeer


    Rida Qadeer is a student filmmaker double majoring in Media Studies and International Business with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As an avid screenwriter and director, her work aims to explore the paradoxical nature of the world we live in highlighting traditionally marginalized narratives- all with a bit of comedy.

    The fellowship will support the procurement of camera gear and equipment in addition to securing key locations for her upcoming mystery rom-com She Could Be the One, coming a theater near you.

  • Chanell Stone

    Chanell Stone


    Chanell Stone is an artist living and working in Southern California. Through self-portraiture, collage and poetry Stone investigates the Black body’s intersectional states of being and connection to the natural world. Her practice negotiates potentialities for reconciliation and reprieve by upending historical and ancestral memories within the American landscape.

2022 Inaugural Fellows

  • Thomas Conner Ph.D. ‘21

    Thomas Conner Ph.D. ‘21


    Thomas Conner is a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Communication, where he received his Ph.D. in 2021. His media-archaeological research surfaces cultural histories and analyzes media effects of digital hologram and augmented-reality technologies.

    For the fellowship, Conner will travel to the Illinois Holocaust Museum to conduct a pilot study of spectator interaction with projected, life-size 3D holograms of Holocaust survivors, potentially laying the groundwork for a larger project.

  • Zeinabu Davis

    Zeinabu Davis


    Zeinabu Davis is an independent filmmaker and professor in the Department of Communication. Her work is passionately concerned with the depiction of women of African descent, and her most recent documentary, “Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from Los Angeles” (2016), won seven awards, including the African Movie Academy Award.

    Support from the fellowship will allow Davis to complete research and plan the production for a feature-length film, providing professionalization to the UC San Diego film community in the process.

  • Raynard De Guzman

    Raynard De Guzman


    Raynard De Guzman is a current student majoring in media studies in the Department of Visual Arts. He has previously worked on films in various roles, and is underway directing a short film for a thesis project.

    The fellowship will enable on-location filming that can accommodate heavily choreographed shots, as well as production design, location rental, and craft services costs.

  • Yingjie Fei

    Yingjie Fei


    Yingjie Fei is a Ph.D. student in Literatures in Spanish, in the Department of Literature. Her digital humanities project focuses on memories and narratives of conflict and violence in the mining industry in Colombia. She uses ethnographical media method as an intervention in Colombia’s cultural expressions to constitute a space where survivors tell their stories of the past and present.

    The fellowship will support travel and research.

  • Anvar Hassanpour

    Anvar Hassanpour


    Anvar Hassanpour is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication and received an MFA in documentary media from Northwestern University. Anvar is a Kurdish filmmaker and has been working independently for the past 15 years: directing several documentaries, experimental, film essays and narratives.

    The entirety of the fellowship will be used towards equipment rental to produce a first-of-its-kind feature film exploring social conditions of Kurdish life under Turkish nationalism.

  • Hazel Katz

    Hazel Katz


    Hazel Katz is currently pursuing an MFA in the Department of Visual Arts, and is a Los Angeles-based video artist and filmmaker focusing on the politics of visibility through reenactment and pop culture archives. Her 2017 short film “Bubby & Them” won top international film at WNDX festival, and her 2019 feature documentary “Florida Water” is now distributed by Collective Eye Films.

    The fellowship will support production costs and complete the post-production process, including editing and sound design, in advance of the 2023 film festival submission market.

  • Macey Keung

    Macey Keung


    Macey Keung is a media major and studio art minor in the Department of Visual Arts, and serves as the vice president of the Psychedelics Club. Her work aims to disrupt the traditional narrative, shed light on the psychedelic renaissance, and embrace intersectionality, vulnerability and identity.

    In addition to camera, gear and equipment use, the fellowship will support the production of a short film written and directed by Keung.

  • Amir Saadiq

    Amir Saadiq


    Amir Saadiq is an MFA candidate in the Department of Visual Arts. His interdisciplinary practice aims to generate a visual language examining the gratuitous violence that occurs without transgression. Through the summoning of observational invisibility that confronts the impossibility of Blackness, he is interested in pursuing illusions of timelessness regarding erasure by examining how opposites such as form and formlessness, and human and non-humanness speak to and silence one another.

    The fellowship will be used for expenses incurred during the filming process this summer.

  • Alexandro Segade

    Alexandro Segade


    Alexandro Segade is an interdisciplinary artist and assistant professor in the Department of Visual Arts whose queer world-building projects propose speculative group identities. Often working in collectives, Segade makes spaces for critical play, using collaboration to complicate utopian impulses with radical ambivalence.

    The fellowship will provide access to cameras and equipment, defraying rental costs and keeping a planned feature film with My Barbarian within its budget.

  • Paolo Zuñiga MFA ‘19

    Paolo Zuñiga MFA ‘19


    Paolo Zuñiga received an MFA from the Department of Visual Arts, where he currently works as a staff member. Zuñiga’s creative work vacillates between fiction and documentary form, concerning himself with the narrativizing of individual experience as a means of exploring the fluidity of identity, memory and landscape.

    The fellowship sets the foundation for the development of a feature-length film script, including initial pre-production research.