How do documentary producers and artists address the most common issues in the news and shed new light on them?
Through creativity, a keen ear for what's been left out of the dialogue, and a passionate desire to keep an issue in the forefront of the public mind.
Moderator Dmae Roberts guides multi-media artist damali ayo and producers Ahri Birnbaum, Jonathan Mitchell, and Sandy Tolan through a discussion about rising to the challenge and how listeners have responded to productions focusing on such topics as abortion, the Mid-East conflict, and issues of race.
Damali Ayo's award-winning work has been shown at galleries across the world. She speaks to colleges, high schools, non-profits and communities in the U.S. and Canada about race, art, and eco-living. Damali and her work have been featured in over 100 publications worldwide including Harper's, the Village Voice, Salon, and CSPAN2's Book TV. Damali's book, How to Rent a Negro was granted a 2005 Honorable Mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Her radio work Living Flag: Panhandling for Reparations won a Silver Reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
Ahri Birnbaum served as co-executive producer of Shades of Gray, a one-hour documentary about the many truths inside the abortion issue in America. She is the former senior producer of PRI's Beyond Computers, a weekly program that intersected technology and culture.
Jonathan Mitchell is the creator and producer of The Truth. He's contributed a wide range of pieces—documentaries, fictional stories, non-narrated sound collages, and original music— to all sorts of public radio programs: Radiolab, Studio 360, This American Life, The Next Big Thing, and All Things Considered, to name a few. His work has won many awards, including the Peabody, the Golden Reel, and the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio. Mitchell studied music composition at University of Illinois and Mills College. He lives in New York City.
Dmae Roberts is a two-time Peabody Award-winning radio artist and writer who has created groundbreaking personal, multicultural documentaries. Her documentary Mei Mei, a Daughter's Song is a harrowing account of her mother's childhood in Taiwan during WWII. Crossing East is the first Asian American history series on public radio. Roberts is a United States Artist fellow and is working on her memoir, Lady Buddha and the Temple of Ma. She was published in Radio Reality and is currently working with Steve Rowland to produce Shakespeare Is, six hours on the impact of the Bard.
Sandy Tolan is the author of two books: Me and Hank: A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-Five Years Later and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East. He has reported from more than 30 countries, written for more than 40 newspapers and magazines, and, as co-founder of Homelands Productions, has produced hundreds of documentaries and features for public radio. He's also an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC and, from 2000-2007, taught international reporting and radio at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California-Berkeley.