Former Filmmakers in Residence

Melinda Hess - Letter from Cloudcroft

Melinda Hess is a Jewish artist, film editor and currently director and producer of documentary and hybrid-interactive films. Hess comes to the JFI Filmmaker Residency program from the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society and is working on Letter from Cloudcroft while at Ninth Street Independent Film Center. This is Melinda's second year in the JFI Filmmaker Residency program.

Connect with Melinda: Visit the Website | Facebook

Letter From Cloudcroft, a documentary film and its associated trans-media and installation project Constructed Memories, explores the intersection between the legacy of Holocaust slave labor and the celebrated American moon landing. The film examines the secret collaboration between the U.S. and captured German Nazis rocket scientists after WWII, resulting in the American space program & NASA. Revealed through two intertwined perspectives, one from a Jewish father writing letters as a 21 year old in 1946 to his parents during his Army assignment in the covert Project Paperclip and seventy years later, from his daughter tracking incidents and leads from the letters, navigating through geographies of place that shape this story, unraveling the complexities of history, collective memory and personal narrative. Challenged by the writings of her father, the filmmaker confronts national & family beliefs, memories and values while questioning moral and ethical decisions of individuals and governments. 

Nicole Opper - The F Word

Nicole Opper is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who directed and produced the feature documentary Off and Running, an Audience Favorite at Tribeca and winner of ten international awards including Best Documentary at Outfest and Best Documentary Screenplay at Silverdocs. She is currently at work on the docu-comedy web series The F Word, which chronicles her and her partner Kristan's plans to adopt a child.

Connect with Nicole: The F Word website | Nicole Opper website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Nicole and Kristan are a queer Bay Area couple who plan to adopt a child. On weekends they can often be found baby-watching at the local farmer's market or borrowing a friend's toddler so they can hang out at playgrounds without looking creepy. This docu-comedy web series chronicles their journey into the foster care system to become fost-adopt parents, bumbling through a bureaucratic maze in order to learn everything they can about the troubled institution on which they are staking their dreams of parenthood. Determined to dispel the pervasive idea that the kids adopted from foster care are "damaged goods", they seek out a number of former foster youth - some who were eventually adopted, others who have aged out of the system and are building their own futures, all of whom have an amazing sense of humor and wisdom to share. They also talk to other fost-adopt families, social workers, lawyers, CASA volunteers and others working in the system in order to find out what's working, what's not, and how we can all make a difference.

Meika Rouda: 2015 Filmmaker in Residence

Meika Rouda is a writer/producer based in the Bay Area. Her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Underwire Magazine and The Next Family where she is a contributing writer. Meika is a consultant for the Telluride Film Festival and produced the award winning feature film Quality of Life which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was distributed in theaters nationwide. She has worked with directors including Robert DeNiro, Spike Lee and Robert Redford. Her filmmaker residency focused on directing a short film based on her personal essay on adoption called "My Peeps".

David Santamaria: 2015 Filmmaker in Residence

David is a filmmaker and founder of the media collaborative, Early Man Productions. He grew up in New York and currently lives in Oakland, CA. His latest film, Slide Rail Superman, premiered at the SF IndieFest and at film festivals nationwide. David completed  one year film residency at the Ninth Street IFC Media Arts Incubator program to work on a feature documentary in 2015.

Yael Luttwak: 2014 Filmmaker in Residence

Yael Luttwak is a filmmaker and the founder of Slim Peace Groups 501 (C)(3), a non-profit organization that emerged from her documentary film, A Slim Peace, portraying the drama of Israeli and Palestinian women in the first ever weight-loss group involving Jews and Arabs. Yael directed and co-produced A Slim Peace, which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. As the organization's 2014 filmmaker in residence, Yael completed My Favorite Neoconservative - a short documentary examining the surreal power circles of Washington, D.C. through observations of her father Edward, a conservative political and military strategist - which screened at SFJFF in 2014.

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