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Doc Stories film series

Searching for Truth: Authorship in Documentary Cinema

As the filmmaking world engages in conversation about who tells what stories, join three documentary filmmakers as they discuss their thoughts and practices around authorship in filmmaking.

The live talk will take place on this page, and a video recording will be posted here shortly afterward.


Live Talk

Sun, Nov 7 at 3:30 pm PT

Live Talk


As the documentary film landscape strives to be more equitable and diverse, the question of authorship becomes increasingly relevant. Who is best suited to tell whose stories? Can an outsider adequately and accurately capture the truth and nuance of a community that is not their own? These are some of the questions that today’s emerging documentary filmmakers are grappling with in their own work. Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir explores the coexistence of everyday life and its mythical undercurrents in her hometown of Harar in Faya Dayi. In Ascension, American filmmaker Jessica Kingdon explores the intricacies of consumerism in contemporary China, while veteran concert promoter/producer Dave Wooley chronicles the legendary performing career of singer Dionne Warwick and her dedication to activism in Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, and Berkeley based Maya Cueva brings us into the lives of three Latinx people in McAllen Texas, whose different beliefs end up coming to a head at the last abortion clinic in the US/Mexico border in On The Divide. These talented filmmakers will discuss their own approaches to authorship in pursuit of truthful and dynamic storytelling.

Moderator Madeleine Lim

Madeleine Lim is the founding Executive/Artistic Director of Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP). Decades ahead of mainstream conversations about gender and racial equity in film, she founded QWOCMAP in 2000. As one of a small number of queer women of color filmmakers on the international film festival circuit in the late 90s, she saw that only queer women of color would tell their own authentic stories. Her belief was that a community of filmmaker-activists could change the craft of filmmaking and the field. Under Madeleine’s leadership, QWOCMAP’s award-winning Filmmaker Training Program has nurtured the creation of over 450 films, the largest catalog of LBTQ+ BIPOC films in existence.

Panelist Jessica Beshir

Jessica Beshir is a Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer based in Brooklyn. She made her directorial debut with her short film, Hairat, which premiered at Sundance (2017). She is a recipient of the Sundance documentary fellowship, Jerome Foundation, Doha Film Institute and NYSCA artist fellowships. Her short films including He Who Dances on Wood, and Heroin have screened at Festivals and museums around the world including the Rotterdam Film Festival, Hot Docs, IDFA, Tribeca Film Festival, Museum of the Moving Image NY and the Eye Film Museum Amsterdam among others. Faya Dayi is her feature film debut.

Panelist Jessica Kingdon

New York-based Jessica Kingdon is a Chinese-American director/producer named one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine and selected for the 2020 DOC NYC “40 Under 40” list. Her award-winning short Commodity City (2017) was shortlisted for a Cinema Eye Honor and has played at over 50 film festivals. Jessica’s producer credits include Tania Cypriano’s Born to Be (2019), Ian Bell’s 808: How We Respond (2019), Nathan Truesdell’s The Water Slide (2018), and Johnny Ma’s Old Stone (2016). Jessica’s recent feature debut, Ascension, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

Panelist Dave Wooley

Dave Wooley is a director, producer, writer, and adjunct professor at Wilmington University. He has co-written two books with Dionne Warwick: My Life, as I See It: An Autobiography, and the NAACP Image Award-nominated Say a Little Prayer. Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over is his directorial debut.

Panelist Maya Cueva

Maya is a Latina award-winning director and producer with a background in documentary, radio, and audio producing. She is a Netflix Nonfiction Director and Producer fellow, and her work has been featured on The New Yorker, NPR’s All Things Considered, Latino USA, The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, and National Geographic. Her feature film, On The Divide, premiered in the documentary competition at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021. Her most recent short documentary, Ale Libre, was acquired by The New Yorker and was selected to screen at several Oscar-qualifying festivals, including Big Sky Documentary Festival, Hot Docs, Aspen Film Festival, and SFFILM. Maya’s feature documentary On The Divide will be broadcast on POV PBS in Spring 2022.