2022 Speaker Biographies: The World in Film

Sasha Friedlander directed, produced, shot, and edited the feature-documentary Where Heaven Meets Hell. The film, set in East Java, Indonesia, won numerous prizes including Best Feature Documentary Film at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, and Special Mention for Outstanding Cinematography at the LAAPFF. At the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the Václav Havel Jury gave a Special Mention Award to Where Heaven Meets Hell for its “exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights.” The Alliance of Women Film Journalists awarded Sasha an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry in March 2013.

Sasha is fluent in Indonesian and worked as a journalist in East Java for several years.

Sasha holds a BA from UCLA and an MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.

Elizabeth Mirzaeiis a director and cinematographer of nonfiction films. Her short film, THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR (2021) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and won a Cinema Eye Honors Award, along with a dozen jury awards. The film is distributed by Netflix. Her award-winning feature, LAILA AT THE BRIDGE (2018), played at film festivals including Locarno and CPH:DOX, and had a theatrical release in the U.K. Elizabeth is a Film Independent Fellow and a former advisor at Sundance Co//ab. She lived in Afghanistan for many years and her work as a cinematographer has screened at TIFF and Venice, among others.  Elizabeth lives in California with her husband, Gulistan, and their two daughters.

Anne Nesbet

Mona Nicoară is a filmmaker, curator, writer, educator, and human rights activist. She started working in film in 1997 as an Associate Producer for Children Underground, which received the Special Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Her directorial debut Our School premiered in the US at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, went on to over 70 festivals worldwide, and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best US Feature at AFI SilverDocs. Her latest feature-length documentary, The Distance between Me and Me, received a Gopo Award for best Romanian documentary and the audience award at Films de Cannes à Bucarest, screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Trieste, among others, and was the highest-grossing documentary in Romania in 2019. Nicoară’s other collaborations include principal consulting on Alexander Nanau’s Oscar-nominated Collective (2019) and on his Cinema Eye Honors-winner Toto and His Sisters (2014), as well as on Ana Lungu’s upcoming The Present of Things Past. She also works as a festival programmer, and has been teaching film, writing, and literature at Columbia University, the Cooper Union, New York University, and Rutgers. Her writings have been published in The Guardian, Decât o revistă, Dilema, and Scena 9, among others.

Ivy Mills is a Continuing Lecturer in UC Berkeley's History of Art Department, where she teaches courses on the arts and visual cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora and serves as the Reading and Composition Program Coordinator. She has ongoing research projects in Senegal and Nigeria on contemporary works that engage with questions of social exclusion and gender asymmetries in religious practice. She co-curated the Bernice L. Brown Gallery exhibition Love across the Global South: Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal, and has moderated conversations with artists and curators for the Museum of the African Diaspora, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, and CalPerformances. She is working on a book project provisionally titled Iconographies of Exclusion: Gender, Animality, and the Limits of Community in Senegalese Visual Culture.

Moos Pozzo has recently finalized her dissertation entitled “Language playfulness of contextual navigators: Young refugees’ language strategies for inclusion in the Netherlands” at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the experiences and (language) strategies developed and adapted by young refugees (aged 12-23) along their participation and integration trajectories from their stay in Dutch asylum seekers centres until living in the Dutch society for several years. Moos Pozzo also works as a trainer, intervision coach and program coordinator for Stichting de Vrolijkheid. De Vrolijkheid (the Happiness) organises creative activities with children and young people in Dutch asylum seekers centres (www.vrolijkheid.nl). In 2018 Moos was also head researcher of a national research on the living conditions of children and young people in Dutch asylum seekers centres and family locations (for rejected families).

Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes is an anthropologist from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He is a Universidad de Las Américas-Puebla alum, and he obtained his PhD from the University of Oregon in 2016. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). His book, titled "Oaxaca in Motion: An Ethnography of Internal, Transnational, and Return Migration" will be published by the University of Texas Press in October 2022. "Oaxaca in Motion" is based on his dissertation, which focuses on how masculinity and femininity shape, and are shaped by, internal and transnational migrations. Research for “Oaxaca in Motion” consisted of more than 20 months of ethnographic research in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, the US West Coast, and Mexico City. In addition to conducting research for “Oaxaca in Motion”, Iván has done both academic and non-academic research in the states of Puebla, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatan, and Chihuahua.

Diego Sarmiento's feature debut as director and producer, GREEN RIVER. THE TIME OF THE YAKURUNAS, was premiered at the Berlinale Forum 2017 and the MoMA Doc Fortnight 2018. MOTHERS OF THE LAND (2019), his second feature documentary, premiered at the 69 Berlin Film Festival. In 2020, Diego won the Berlinale Talents Footprints - Mastercard Enablement Programme award, having Wim Wenders as president of the jury, with “The Seed Project” where he will take the film to schools in rural communities in the Peruvian Andes. Diego studied Media Production at the Universidad Catolica in Peru and a Documentary Filmmaking Master at EICTV in Cuba.

Chelsea Ward is currently a doctoral candidate in Japanese literature at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in modern Japanese literature and film, with additional areas of expertise in comparative literature, global modernism, translation studies, media theory, and sensory history. Her current research looks at how interwar Japanese literature and film (from the 1910–1930s) engages with many different scientific and cultural conceptualizations of perception and the senses brought together by forces of modernization and colonialism. She argues that moments like filmmakers and writers trying to imagine smell in silent cinema, or translators rediscovering sensory elements of the Japanese language while translating James Joyce's Ulysses, reveal not only anxieties around modernity and multiculturalism, but also compelling imaginations of how to connect different cultures and forms of media.

Jason Whiton is a writer, artist, educator, and the creator of Spy Vibe, a website devoted to design and pop culture history. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, USA Weekend, and various book publications. His screenplays and films have been recognized by the Nicholl Fellowships (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences), PBS, and major film festivals and museums. Jason teaches film and photography in San Francisco.