Films BYKids pairs teenagers from diverse cultures with accomplished filmmakers to create short personal documentaries that educate and encourage understanding about global issues. Season 3 films premiere in April 2021.
Evan Mascagni – Against the Current
Evan Mascagni is an attorney turned filmmaker from Louisville, Kentucky. He directed and produced Circle of Poison, which premiered at the DOC NYC film festival and aired on Al Jazeera. The Hollywood Reporter called his work “eye-opening and ire-raising.” His films have received multiple awards and have been included in film festivals across the world. Evan is the co-founder of Player Piano Productions, a documentary film production company based in New York City. He was mentor to Daunnette Moniz-Reyome for Against the Current.
Working with Daunnette was an absolute honor. She is one of the most mature young people I’ve ever met. Her ability to quickly learn and adapt to on-camera situations was equally impressive as experienced filmmakers that I have worked with. Her on-camera interviews are perceptive and revealing; her thoughtfulness continues to inspire my storytelling. The power of her words will inspire other youth across the globe, and her message about the importance of understanding the past will help guide us all to a more equitable future. — Evan Mascagni
Anja Baron – L’Chaim”
Anja Baron is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and director whose work has been screened at prestigious festivals worldwide and shown on U.S. and European television to critical acclaim, including two Emmy nominations. Baron worked as a correspondent for UNICEF, reporting on crises concerning women and children around the world. She mentored Mohammad Shasho in FILMS BYKIDS’ Out of Aleppo, which documents the 17-year-old Syrian refugee’s story of relocation to Berlin.
Thirty years ago, there was hardly any Jewish life or community in Berlin to speak of. Returning to Berlin, after spending my adult life in New York and marrying a Jewish man, I am profoundly touched to discover Jewish life blossoming here. Mentoring a young Jewish man in the filmic exploration of Germany’s dark history while exploring new horizons is a profoundly moving experience for us both—and possibly helps us navigate the many layers of the ongoing relationship between Germans and Jews. — Anja Baron
Joyce Chopra – Faith’s World
Joyce Chopra has produced and directed award-winning films including Smooth Talk, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner; The Lemon Sisters with Diane Keaton; and, The Lady in Question with Gene Wilder. She has received the American Film Festival Blue Ribbon and Cine Golden Eagle Award for her documentaries including That Our Children Will Not Die about primary health care in Nigeria, and the autobiographical Joyce at 34, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Joyce served as mentor filmmaker for FILMS BYKIDS, My Beautiful Nicaragua, and Fire In Our Hearts.
The beauty of volunteering to be a mentor is the opportunity to step into a world you know very little about and learn from a young person about the enormous challenges they face and then help them fashion a film that impacts the larger world and brings about real change. — Joyce Chopra
Cat Papadimitriou and Chris Rizzo – Bhutan, Buddhism and Me
Cat Papadimitriou is a filmmaker born and based in New York City. Her first narrative feature, Nia On Vacation, won the Orpheus Award for best picture at the London Greek Film Festival in 2020 and she is currently in development on her second feature. Cat was the cinematographer and an integral part of the production team for FILMS BYKIDS, My Beautiful Nicaragua, and Fire In Our Hearts.
Chris Rizzo is a New York based film editor, who has contributed to a variety of long form and commercial projects. Chris has worked with directors including Alex Gibney, Martin Granger and Earle Sebastian, to name a few. Chris joined Final Cut New York in 2016, and has edited campaigns for Comcast, HBO, Subaru and Amazon RED. Additionally, he was an editor on Stray Dolls, a narrative feature from director Sonejuhi Sinha. He lives in the Bronx with his wife and daughter.
It’s somewhat unusual that a teenager has a hard time talking about themselves, so helping Rinzin tell this story was uniquely challenging. That this film is set in a Buddhist country with someone like Rinzin makes it unlike any other film I have been a part of, and I’m so excited to share it with the world. — Cat Papadimitriou