I am the daughter of a therapist (my mother listened to and connected with people for a living) and an avid amateur photographer (my father took over 2,000 family photos when I was a child). My parents taught me that asking questions and talking to people is a great way to explore the world.  I studied photojournalism and anthropology as an undergraduate. (I was looking for ways to merge my love of visual media and my interest in people.)  Soon after, I went on to get a MA in Visual Anthropology.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I learned the power of personal stories. I had moved to New York City and I decided that it was time to start unpacking the overwhelming grief I’d been carrying since my mother’s suicide a few years before. I became active in a community of people who had lost someone to suicide – survivors of suicide – and felt that hearing their stories helped me to grieve. In 1997, I started making Daughter of Suicide, my personal documentary about my mother’s life, her death and the impact of suicide on my life.

Making that film, showing it at film festivals and talking to others about their experiences, helped me realize how powerful it can be to share our stories with other people. Listening to and being heard, connecting with other people, witnessing life – I had found my calling. So I ask questions, I listen, and I make images. I am a visual listener. A documentarian. I want to know your story and I believe that there is power in sharing that story with an audience.

My Work

Between 2010 and 2012 I was a New York City SPARC (Seniors Partnering with ARtists Citywide) Artist in Residence at the Council Center for Senior Citizens in Midwood, Brooklyn. I listened. I documented the life stories of members of the Center and created The Listening Project: Brooklyn (2013 – 133 short films), a project that explores stories of old Brooklyn by connecting with the people who helped to build this Borough for the past century.

My documentary film Forget Me Nots (2010 -17 minutes) is a meditation on memory and personal story. Seeing the film opens viewers to glimpses of the people, places and ideas that make up our remembrances but it also challenges the very nature of those remembrances. Memory is not fixed; it is an ephemeral, mutable thing that is in flux.

The film that started it all, Daughter of Suicide (1999 – 72 minutes), premiered on HBO Signature in May of 2000 and is the recipient of a National Council on Family Relations Media Awards (First Place: Mental Health, Stress, Transition, & Crisis Management Category, 2001), a National Mental Health Association Media Award, (National Television: Educational or Pubic Service Programming Category, 2001) and a Cine Golden Eagle (2000).

In 2003, I received a New York Emmy Award for being the Series Producer of IMNY, a youth documentary series produced by Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) for WNYE/Channel 25 in New York City. IMNY featured short documentaries made by New York City youth that explore the unique stories, neighborhoods and challenges of their lives.

Over the years, my work has received funding from the Brooklyn Arts Council, HBO, The Jerome Foundation, The Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, The Women in Film Foundation, From the Heart Productions, the KKL Foundation, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and R.E.M.

In 1994 I graduated with an MA (Econ.) in Visual Anthropology from The University of Manchester in England where I completed my short film As Long As They’re Muslim. I received my BA from Syracuse University (Magna Cum Laude) in Photojournalism and Anthropology in 1991.