Meet the 2021 Summer Mafia Mastermind Facilitators

Juliana Sakae • June 28, 2021

Brown Girls Doc Mafia is excited to announce the Mafia Mastermind facilitators for summer 2021. The program, formerly known as Skill Share Program, is coming back this summer for a round of intimate meetings in small groups of up to 6 members each. Like other Mastermind groups, this program aims to connect and engage members to offer networking, peer accountability and, why not, emotional support. Each group will have an assigned facilitator to encourage conversation and peer mentorship amongst the group as a whole. This will be the third time we come together like this, as a response to our collective need for community and shared resources. The first and second editions combined held 300+ Mafiosxs in 50+ small groups from around the world.

Meet the Facilitators

Maegan La Trese Philmore has 20 years of experience producing theater, film, television, and social media. She is a writer, producer, and director who makes her living as a line producer and production manager in Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Women in Film 2020 Transitioning to Creative Circle Mentee. Her favorite production administration credits are Draft A Thon, National Football League, The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA (History Channel), Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s (OWN, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award Reality Series) and she worked on the three-time Emmy winner, Freedom Riders (PBS).

Brenda Avila-Hanna is an award-winning filmmaker, video journalist and educator. Born and raised in Mexico City, her films mostly focus on transnational immigrant stories between Latin America and the United States. Her work as a director and producer has been showcased at HotDocs, Lakino Berlin, Frameline, Fusion Network and Cine Las Americas International Film Festival among many others. Brenda is a recent Fellow for BAVC National MediaMaker, the National Minority Consortia Lab through LPB and the NALIP Media Market. She is also a member of New Day Films, an independent filmmaker collective bringing social justice films to educators. She currently serves in the collective’s Steering Committee as the team lead for Equity & Representation. Brenda is also a programmer for the Watsonville Film Festival and a Mentor for the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project. Brenda received a Master’s degree in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz where she has also taught courses on the intersection of filmmaking, education and social change.

Beth Aala is a Filipina-American documentary filmmaker. She has won three Emmy awards and a Peabody Award for her documentary work at HBO. She recently directed and produced feature documentary, Made in Boise, which premiered at AFI Docs in June 2019 and was the season opener for PBS' 2019-2020 award winning Independent Lens series. Made in Boise has recently been nominated for the 2020 News and Documentary Emmys. Other film credits include Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman which she co-directed and produced and premiered at Sundance in 2017, and Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (A&E IndieFilms) which she directed and produced with comedian Mike Myers. It was nominated for the 2015 News and Documentary Emmy Awards and won the Hollywood Film Award for Best Documentary. Prior to working in documentary film Beth was a producer at MTV working on various shows including Total Request Live, MTV Sports and Music Festival and the annual MTV Video Music Awards, working with big musical acts such as Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Dave Grohl, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Outkast, Trent Reznor, Justin Timberlake & U2. She also directed & produced one of the premiere episodes of News & Doc hit series, Made. Beth’s documentary work has been supported by the International Documentary Association, Chicken and Egg, and IFP. She is an honored recipient of the NYSCA Artist Grant and is a Wyncote Fellow.

Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Maria Victoria Ponce is a San Francisco Bay Area film director and writer who grew up in Richmond, CA. She appreciates the complexity in the routine lives within poor and working-class neighborhoods, and themes of sexuality and coming of age tend to recur in her work. Ponce is a 2018 Cine Qua Non Lab Fellow, NALIP Latino Media Market Fellow, a Latino Screenwriting Project Fellow, and an artist resident at SFFILM FilmHouse 2018 and 2019. She was also selected as one of five finalists for Tribeca/AT&T Untold Stories 2019. Washing Elena is currently on the Black List’s inaugural Latinx List, a curated collection of the most promising scripts about the Latino experience, written by, for, and about the Latinx community. Washing Elena was selected to participate in Film Independent’s Fast Track and was just awarded the SFFILM Rainin Grant in development.

Alana Marie is a storyteller and digital content creator from St. Louis, MO. Her passion for storytelling stems from her belief in everyone having a story, everything having a meaning, and every experience serving a purpose. Alana recently completed production of her first feature film titled , The Kinloch Doc—the full-length version of The Kinloch Doc (Short) that screened in 2018 and 2019 at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, St. Louis International Film Festival and Benton Park Film Festival. Alana is a proud novice filmmaker, integrating her social work training into highlighting stories of underrepresented people, places, and spaces. In addition to filmmaking, Alana was recently accepted as an #IntheCity Artist Fellow at Harvard University for 2019-2020 and Sprout Fellow for 2020.

Riham Ezzaldeen is a producer and filmmaker raised in Damascus, based in Sweden and Greece. Through her work producing feature-length films, documentary series and multimedia projects, she focuses on highlighting the beauty and necessity of diversity while highlighting social and environmental topics. Her methodology of effective activism and solution-based artistic expression breathes life and perspective into every project she works on. Some of her work includes, Sing For Hope in Greece, Waynak documentary series, Bird Watching in Azerbaijan, and George and the Whales. She identifies as queer and is fluent in Arabic and English. She is a proud BGDM member, part of the WMM Production Program, and leads Original Productions at production company What Took You So Long? A film she has in early production won a pitching award at MAFF, a short film she recently finalized has won three awards and short-listed for five more, and her WIP documentaries participated in the Hot Docs Deal Maker, Film London Financing Market, BGDM Feedback Loop and other key industry events in Berlinale, Cannes and Sheffield.

For the last 10 years, Ashley Da-Lê Duong has been exploring identity, environment, and social change through film. She wrote, directed, and co-produced the feature documentary, A Time To Swim, which untangles the personal and political stakes of an exiled indigenous activist from Malaysia. The film won numerous festival awards including Best First Feature Film at Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. It was presented on Al Jazeera Witness, Superchannel, the National Film Board of Canada, and elsewhere. Some of her short-form directing credits include Re Lekuah, the world’s first music video in the Kelabit language as well as over 15 short documentaries for the series: Canada’s a Drag (2020 Canadian Screen Award winner) and CBC Arts: Exhibitionists (2020 Canadian Screen Award nominee). In recent years, she has focused on experimenting with form, often borrowing methods from performance, ethnography, and somatics. She is Quebec’s 2021 Artist Laureate to Vietnam (CALQ, IFV). As an editor, story producer, and story consultant, Ashley has worked with several production companies, filmmakers, and broadcasters. Ashley is based in Montreal but has collaborated with teams around the world by working remotely or traveling. She is passionate about pushing narrative form, ethical filmmaking, and uncovering the heart of the story. She is particularly specialized in environment, ethnography, and diasporic topics. Ashley earned a BA in Environment Studies and Cultural Studies from McGill University and is a proud member of Brown Girl Doc Mafia, A-Doc, and BIPOC TV & Film.

Smriti Keshari is known for her acclaimed multimedia installation, the bomb, which was heralded as “a stunning avant-garde approach to a plea for nuclear disarmament.” the bomb premiered at the Berlinale, Tribeca Film Festival, Sheffield Doc Fest, Sydney Festival, Glastonbury, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies and Netflix, and is currently on tour at museums around the world. She is an award-winning Indian-American director whose work covers a spectrum of the moving image from traditional films to art installations and live performance. She is currently an artist-in-residence with the National Theatre in London and Pioneer Works, creating a series of multi-disciplinary projects that serve as a mirror to the current development of artificial intelligence.

Tahiat Mahboob is a nonfiction storyteller and long-form journalist. She is proficient in producing compelling multimedia stories, developing platform-specific content, analyzing viewership data, and using digital strategies to boost audience engagement. Over the last two decades, her work has been shaped by an insatiable curiosity and a penchant for taking deep dives down interesting rabbit holes. Tahiat is currently in the Online News Association 2021 Women’s Leadership Accelerator and in pre-production for a documentary. She has previously reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Global News, CTV News, Asia Society and The Daily Star on a range of beats from politics to pop music. Her freelance work has appeared in The International Legal Foundation, The Juilliard School, The New York Times, The Chamber Music Society for Lincoln Center, Granny Cart Productions, ScraperWiki, Smithsonian Mag, and more. Besides producing stories from China and Hong Kong, Tahiat has also co-ordinated remote productions in Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Bank. She taught documentary storytelling, video production and portfolio development as a Digital Media Fellow at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Tahiat holds an MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she received the Justin Israel scholarship and the Bernard Oliver Memorial Award.

Juliana Sakae
Juliana Sakae

Juliana Sakae (she/her) is a Japanese-Brazilian journalist and filmmaker whose work focuses on social issue documentaries, human rights, and children.