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Meet the 2023 Catalyst Cohort

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Andréa Monteiro headshot

Andréa Monteiro is a Brazilian-Canadian documentary filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC. As an interdisciplinary artist, her creative practice weaves through activism, filmmaking and academia. She has over two decades of community leadership and engagement through the non-profit sector in Brazil and Canada and fifteen years between nursing research, education and palliative clinical care. Andréa holds a PhD in nursing from the University of Victoria (2018) and has social justice issues at the center of her scholarship and filmmaking. The artist’s short documentary Ô Criatura: Navigating (dis)location (2019) screened at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver Latin American Film Festival, Oaxaca FilmFest (Mexico), and the Toronto Queer Film Festival. Andréa currently holds a Research Associate position at the University of British Columbia | xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Traditional Territory.

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Anthony Kit Chun Lee 李杰縉 headshot

Anthony is a Hong Konger, an emerging director, writer, and theatremaker living in the stolen traditional territories of the Coast Salish people, colonially known as Vancouver. He is currently interested in exploring experimental filmmaking processes and taking inspiration from other disciplines. His films have been screened across film festivals in Canada and internationally.

He loves hotpot so much that he wrote and directed “Discounted Hotpot Centre”, a play that explores the meaning of authenticity as an immigrant through hotpot, and has toured across metro Vancouver. He hopes that one day Hong Kongers will not be afraid of totalitarianism, and he will not be afraid of talking to people at social events. Anthony graduated from the film program at Simon Fraser University in 2021 and is (desperately) looking for advice to become a better writer and creator.

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Ashley Sugimoto headshot

Ashley Sugimoto is a yonsei (fourth-generation), mixed-race Japanese Canadian filmmaker operating on the unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlílw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories. Her work is driven by her mixed roots and explores mixed identity, and intergenerational trauma within diaspora communities.

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Ivanna Samuel headshot

Ivanna is an actor, spoken word poet, performer, and filmmaker based in Vancouver. Ivanna made her filmmaking debut in 2020, with her short film Who We Are, created under the mentorship of Reel Youth’s Black Brilliance program. On-screen, Ivanna can be seen playing the role of Esther in the short film Esther & Sai, inspired by a true story.

Ivanna holds a strong passion for raw and vulnerable storytelling, with a focus on stories about mental health and self-expression. She continues to be captivated by the transcendent and relatable nature of these stories, through their ability to connect to audiences across so many cultures. From a young age, Ivanna was always drawn to the art of performance and is a graduate of a BFA in Drama from the University of Calgary. She is currently in the 2023 cohort of the Fabienne Colas Foundation’s “Being Black in Canada” Program and is developing a documentary about Black poets in Vancouver.

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Janessa Sade St. Pierre headshot

Janessa St. Pierre, a Black, Queer filmmaker, has built a versatile career in the Vancouver film industry. Living on the unceded lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Səlílw̓ ətaʔ/Selilwitulh Nations, she honed her craft at Capilano University, earning a diploma in Motion Picture Arts in 2017 after initial studies at Concordia University. Janessa has worked in various roles, from Production Designer to Director’s Assistant for Mimi Cave. She earned a writing credit for the award-winning short, Think Again, produced during her tenure at Capilano. Now emerging as a Director, her short film Hair or No Hair, part of the Black Creators Edition Grant, has garnered two awards and a nomination for “Best Short” at the Micheaux Film Festival. Janessa’s portfolio spans Shorts, Features, Music Videos, and Commercials, including acclaimed projects like “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open” and “FRESH”.

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Jay Cardinal Villeneuve headshot

When Jay Cardinal Villeneuve, a Nêhiyawi- Bush Cree/Métis, arrived in Vancouver he had just dropped out of college on a Theatre Scholarship determined to be a filmmaker. Armed w/ a camcorder and an “exotic look” (according to casting directors LOL) he shot numerous independent shorts and played bit parts in some ill-fated tv shows. Day jobs included telemarketing (oh god), film projectionist and performing in Gastown’s Storyeum Theatre until he got into Capilano University and graduated from the Indigenous Film Program.

Jay then worked as a videographer recording private statements w/ the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for several years while concurrently writing, hooting and editing his own projects; some (barely) playing the festival circuit. He directed the critically acclaimed NFB documentary Holy Angels that won him a Leo Award for Screenwriting, and most recently wrote & directed the Louis Riel short drama Gods & Devils that was shot on 35mm film and will hopefully play festivals in 2024.

Jay is basically what would happen if Tom Jackson and Tantoo Cardinal had an illegitimate love child that was raised in a small town surrounded by dense forest; and people! He also has three rad kids, who are not illegitimate, and often star in his cardinal cinéma c[art]el indie films.

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Lesha Jay Vescio headshot

Lesha Jay Vescio (she/they) is a filmmaker and actor currently living on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territory of the Musqueam people, also known as Vancouver, Canada. She graduated with a BFA in film production and minor in French language from the University of British Columbia in 2023. She has directed and produced four films at UBC and is now working in the industry in the art and AD department. Recent film credits include The Grizzlie Truth (Set Dresser), Starring Katie Kane (1st Assistant Director), Metempsychosis (Actor), Another (Writer/Director), and Still Playing (Producer). Lesha is particularly interested in telling unusual stories with haunting and heartbreaking themes. She hopes to continue to support the indie film community for the next few years as she finds her footing in film and continues to create in this wonderful world we live in.

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Monica Cheema headshot

Monica Cheema is a filmmaker raised on the lands of the Katzie, Semiahmoo and Kwantlen Nations. She works at the intersection of cultural research, harm reduction, community organizing, and arts education. Her most recent short film is an experimental portrait of Paldi, a historic mill settlement often described as a ghost town on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, now home to a rich community archive housing stories about labor, loss, discrimination, cultural memory, and resilience. She is most excited by films that transgress genre conventions, threading fiction and non-fiction to create something new and surreal in the process. Monica is incredibly grateful to be currently participating in & supported by DOXA’s Kris Anderson Connexions mentorship, Gallery Gachet’s BIPOC New Media Screen cohort, and VIFF’s Catalyst program.

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Ogheneofegor Obuwoma headshot

Ogheneofegor Obuwoma (She/They) is a Nigerian storyteller and writer with a BFA in film and communications from Simon Fraser University. A key question in their practice is, “What does it mean to be a body in relationship to this world and time?” Fegor’s work emerges from an investigation of the dynamic, nuanced, and ever-changing state of contemporary Nigerian society, people, and culture. Her artistic practice is influenced by African futurism and a visual language born of cultural and lived experiences. They constantly explore the interrelations between cultural production and rituals while grounding their practice in traditions of care and re-imagination.

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Olivia Dreisinger headshot

Olivia Dreisinger is a disabled writer and filmmaker. Her own fluctuating abilities often dictate how she produces work—a process that regularly leads her to new and generative mediums to explore. She is interested in animals, disability, and unexpected phenomena.

Her work has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council. In 2021, she received the Emerging Digital Artist Award from EQ Bank. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at the University of British Columbia in the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine.

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Rachelle Younie headshot

Rachelle is a “Vancouver”-based writer, director, producer and comedian who enjoys telling stories about death, dying and mental health through a comedic and/or queer lens. In 2022, her dark comedy TV pilot Dead Inside, inspired by her time working in the death industry, was chosen as a part of the Gender Equity in Media (formerly Women in TV and Film) Emerging TV Producers Program. In late 2022, she wrote, directed, produced and edited her first short film Zoe and Hannah Forever and it premiered at the 2023 Vancouver Island Short Film Festival. Her dark comedy sci-fi feature screenplay Assistance in Dying was selected as a top-ten finalist in the 2023 Vancouver International Women in Film Screenplay Competition. Rachelle has been improvising for over 10 years and has been with QueerProv and serving on their board since 2022.

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Sam Stouten headshot

Sam is an emerging filmmaker dedicated to sharing under-represented and nuanced stories with a trauma-informed lens and a light heart. Beginning as a musician and screenwriter with a social work background, Sam is excited to focus on directing and to enjoy the process of sharing stories and building community simultaneously. As a biracial Filipino, Sam’s work is deeply influenced by care for fellow marginalized communities and drive for meaningful representation.

After pitching as a semi-finalist during Crazy 8s 2022, Sam’s directorial debut came during Run N Gun 2023 with a four minute comedic short. Soon after, Sam was also selected to create an ultra short for VAFF’s 18th Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon and looks forward to exploring more of the Vancouver film scene and beyond.

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Solara Thanh Bình Đặng headshot

Solara is a writer and director residing in “Vancouver”, Canada. She enjoys conversing with others in English, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and tender smiles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia and is a recipient of the Mark Harris Memorial Scholarship in Film Studies. Her work is most inspired by themes of nostalgia, violence, femininity, and failed romance. She is currently developing her debut feature film, which will be a Vietnamese-Canadian production and has her cat manager Mei Mei to thank for keeping her on top of deadlines!

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Sophia Wolfe headshot

My name is Sophia Mai Wolfe (she/her/hers), I am a queer, Japanese-Canadian independent artist whose practice is ever-changing. My practice moves and connects me to live performance, video documentation, curation, festival programming, editing, filmmaking, and directing. I am a grateful guest in ‘vancouver’ on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish),and Səlílw̓ ətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I hold an MA in Screendance from the London Contemporary Dance School (2022), and am the founder of F-O-R-M (Festival Of Recorded Movement). I see the filmmaking process as an embodied practice and am interested in making films that attend to the choreographies of our everyday gestures and movements. I use film and dance to invite connection and empathy towards the bodies we witness on screen, and to invite sensation within the bodies of those witnessing. I work independently and collaboratively with artists and communities to engage audiences in work that moves them through embodied and imaginative experiences.

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Vivian Cheung headshot

Vivian Cheung is an emerging Chinese-Canadian female filmmaker born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2022, she made her directorial debut with her short film, For Roy, which earned her Best First Time Director and People’s Choice Best Short at the 17th Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon, an annual competition presented by the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, continuing to win multiple awards and screen in festivals. Since MAMM, Vivian has competed as a finalist in Regent Park Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition and was one of the selected BIPOC science filmmakers to workshop with CBC’s ‘The Nature of Things’. With her unique perspective as a self-taught filmmaker and a BSc graduate of UBC’s Biology program, she hopes to merge these two worlds by creating more engaging, factual science documentaries, as well as working towards amplifying more underrepresented Asian narratives, including fulfilling the dream to bring her family’s refugee story to life.

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