Dr. Michael DiGregorio is an academic, social science researcher, and program manager experienced in the fields of media, culture, environment and urban planning. From January 2002 to October 2009 he was the Ford Foundation’s program officer for Media, Arts and Culture in Vietnam. During that time, he oversaw a total of $35 million in grants to Vietnamese and foreign individuals and institutions. Roughly a fifth of these grants were used to support the redevelopment of Vietnam’s documentary and feature film industry. Grants in media focused on training a new generation of filmmakers, knowledgeable, competent and connected within their fields. Many of those supported by grants from the Foundation have travelled globally and received major international awards for their films. Michael earned a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001 with a dissertation on the cultural economy of industrializing craft villages in the Red River Delta. He received an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawaii in 1993. Michael’s MA thesis, published in 1994 as “Urban Harvest: Recycling as a Peasant Industry in Northern Vietnam,” continues to serve as a baseline study and methodological guide for research on poverty, migration, and the urban environment. Michael has lived in Vietnam for most of the past 18 years. From the 1992 to 2000, he worked as a researcher, student advisor, and project officer with the East-West Center and the Center for Natural Resource and Environmental Studies at Vietnam National University. Dr. DiGregorio is now working with his wife, Ha Thuc Van, managing director of Redbridge TV and Film Production Services, to produce five films for the Discovery Channel Asia-Pacific. He also works as a consultant on media, culture, environment, and urban planning projects in Vietnam.
S. Leo Chiang – Producer/Director
Born and raised in Taiwan, Leo immigrated to the US as a teenager and received a MFA in film production from University of Southern California before beginning his filmmaking career. In 1998, the Directors Guild of America commissioned Leo, then a film student, to direct and edit Directing: How to Get There, for which he documented early careers of several well-known directors including Robert Wise, Norman Jewison, and Steven Spielberg. His other films include To You Sweetheart, Aloha, about the 94-year-old ‘ukulele master Bill Tapia (PBS broadcast ’06, Audience Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival ‘05), One + One, a documentary about mixed HIV-status couples (CINE Golden Eagle Award ’02, Cable Positive Award ‘01), and Safe Journey, a short fiction film. He recently completed A Village Called Versailles, a documentary about the rebuilding and transformation of the Vietnamese American community in post-Katrina New Orleans. A Village Called Versailles will have its national PBS broadcast on the Independent Lens series in May of 2010. Leo also collaborates with other documentarians as an editor (True-Hearted Vixen, POV ’01; Recalling Orange County, PBS/VOCES ‘06) and as a cameraman (It’s STILL Elementary, ’09; Ask Not, Independent Lens ’09). Leo is an active member of New Day Films, the social-issue documentary distribution co-operative.
Brittney Shepherd – Associate Producer
Brittney Shepherd loves the idea of media as a means of connection. With a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, Brittney was a founding member of the student run production team MothaBase Productions whose short film entitled Hurricane Katrina: Ya’ll Know Where the Vietnamese Were? is used as a discussion tool for community groups, policy makers, and educators around the country concerning the issues of language access and disaster preparedness for immigrant communities. She has gone on help produce many independent documentaries including Ask Not, A Village Called Versailles, and Straightlaced.
Eva Moss – Associate Producer
Eva Moss has been involved in documentary filmmaking since graduating from Smith College in 2003. She has worked as both an editor and producer on many films whose topics range from alleviating water shortages in Kenya and Mali, Aboriginal artists and the intersection of storytelling and painting, the transition of a transsexual woman as seen through the eyes of her 3 young nieces (No Dumb Questions, Melissa Regan), a family working to understand their child’s learning disabilities, a sequel to The Celluloid Closet (Here’s Looking At You Boy, Michael Ehrenzweig), a gay couple’s experience trying to conceive a child through insemination, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and those working to overturn it (Ask Not, Johnny Symons), a 90 year old successful actress who started her career at 70, and the first documentary made by gay filmmakers depicting gay people (Word Is Out, Veronica Selver, Janet Cole). She uses filmmaking as a means to promote social change and introspection and works to facilitate the telling of others’ stories, giving voice to those without a voice and sharing with the world that which is rarely seen.
Misa Tupou uses the stage, screen, poetry and visual art to express his creative endeavours. In 2009, he adapted his poem Intrusion based on Chinese Goldminers into a stage play for a premiere showing under The Asian Tales™: Native Alienz season in New Zealand. At the inaugural 2009 Auckland Fringe Festival, Misa performed his one man show based on miscarriage, called Cycles. His academic learning and artistic work has allowed Misa to speak to College Students in Hawai’i on the topic of Pacific Islanders in Theatre and Film in New Zealand. Currently, Misa is rehearsing in the ensemble production Celebrity with Monkey Waterfall, and he continues developing various projects including his short film, Tamaiki Lofa.