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Directing Bold Verite Short Films: Meet the IDA+XRM Media Incubator Mentors


About the Event

To introduce the IDA+XRM Media Incubator, Director of IDA Funds Poh Si Teng led a discussion on crafting bold character-driven vérité documentary shorts. The program’s mentors Nadia Hallgren (After Maria), Skye Fitzgerald (Hunger Ward) and Smriti Mundhra (St. Louis Superman) share their perspectives and creative processes for their award-winning films. 

After the conversation with our mentors, watch a Q&A session with Program Officer, Dana Merwin, and Grants Coordinator, Kenneth Brown, where they answer attendees' questions about the funds application process. The Incubator application period is between July 5 and August 2, 2021. 

Topics covered include:

  • Finding strong and engaging film participants

  • Identifying an underlying theme that will remain relevant

  • Identifying a potential journey for the film

  • Confidently filming and crafting film sequences and scenes

  • Vérité filmmaking with an emotional arc

This digital event has ASL and live captioning provided.

Speaker Bios

Poh Si Teng, Director of IDA Funds & Enterprise Program

Poh Si Teng is the director of IDA Funds and Enterprise Program. She is the producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, St. Louis Superman, and an Emmy-nominated director. Prior to joining IDA she was a documentary commissioner and senior producer for Al Jazeera English’s flagship documentary strand, Witness. Poh was previously a staff journalist for The New York Times and an independent filmmaker based in India. Her latest documentary short Blood On Our Side, about a woman who leads a forensics team in Juarez, Mexico, recently won Best Documentary Short at the Oscar-qualifying Austin Film Festival, and is currently in competition at Indy Shorts.

Nadia Hallgren, Director of Becoming & After Maria

Nadia Hallgren is an award-winning filmmaker from The Bronx, New York. She directed the Emmy-nominated documentary Becoming and Academy-award shortlisted short documentary After Maria. She is the recipient of the special jury prize at SXSW for She’s the Ticket and a Webby for Public Service and Activism for her film Gavin Grimm vs. Nadia is a leading documentary cinematographer, credits including Sundance award-winner Motherland and Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water. Nadia is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and an alum of the International Center of Photography.

Skye Fitzgerald, Director of Hunger Ward

Skye Fitzgerald founded Spin Film to bear witness to unfolding crises with the intent to deepen empathy and understanding. He recently completed a trilogy of films on the global refugee crisis. The first, 50 Feet From Syria focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist.  The second, Lifeboat, documents Search and Rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. The third, Hunger Ward, explores the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and healthcare workers and was also nominated for an Academy Award®. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, etc. Fitzgerald is an honorary member of SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for his documentary work. Fitzgerald is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Before filmmaking, Fitzgerald cut fire-lines as a Hotshot crew-member on a wild-land fire-fighting crew. He continues to ride his bicycle to ruin and hugs two dogs on a daily basis.

Smriti Mundhra, Director of St. Louis Superman

Smriti Mundhra is an Academy Award® nominated director/producer and one of DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 Filmmakers to Watch. Her latest film, St. Louis Superman, was nominated for a 2020 Academy Award in the short documentary category, won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Short Documentary and is a finalist for a duPont Prize. In recent years, Smriti has helmed ad campaigns for Google, the United Nations (starring Theo Germaine) and Bumble (starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas). She created and executive produced Indian Matchmaking, an eight-part Netflix original documentary series currently streaming on the platform. Her upcoming work includes the short documentaries Shelter, about the Los Angeles housing crisis, and 1232 Km., on the exodus of migrant workers from India’s major cities following the government’s Draconian coronavirus lockdown, as well as the docuseries’ Father Of Bollywood, on the evolution of the Hindi film industry in post-colonial India, and the reboot of the seminal civil rights docuseries Eyes On The Prize. Her directorial debut, the feature documentary A Suitable Girl, world premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival where it was awarded the Albert Maysles Best Documentary Director prize. Prior, Smriti produced narrative features Bomb the System and Waterborne, co-produced Punching at the Sun, as well as over one dozen award-winning short films. She has written, directed and produced both short- and long-form documentary content for BET, Al Jazeera English and other platforms. Smriti holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University and a BA from California State University, Northridge and Art Center College of Design. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, screenwriter Christian Magalhães, their daughter Isabel and son Jag.