An award-winning documentary filmmaker, curator and educator dedicated to social justice will lead the Documentary Film Institute on an interim basis. Soumyaa Kapil Behrens, a lecturer in Cinema, will serve as the research and service organization’s interim director while the College of Liberal & Creative Arts searches for a permanent director.
“Soumyaa’s dedication to social justice filmmaking, coupled with her expertise as a producer and fundraiser, makes her the ideal candidate to guide us through a transition period filled with exciting projects,” Interim Dean Daniel Bernardi says. “Her personal and professional values match DocFilm’s mission.”
Behrens says she is “deeply honored to take over the helm of DocFilm.”
“There is an incredible momentum in the institute right now created by its past leaders, Dean Daniel Bernardi and Michael Behrens, that will I will build upon,” Behrens says. “There is also an immense opportunity to further develop the impact DocFilm has on the University and the public at large through exhibitions, close work with the filmmakers in our community and the launch of an annual conference that brings together various disciplines to interrogate the shape-shifting nature of documentary today.”
About Soumyaa Kapil Behrens
Behrens is an award-winning director, producer and curator of film and contemporary visual art. Her work is socially driven, engaging issues of the environment and the political landscape that shape identity and power structures within marginalized communities. She serves as social justice coordinator for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ Metro Academy, part of a nationally recognized program that helps underrepresented students succeed. She is also a lecturer at the San Francisco Art Institute and a curator of the Reclaimed Room for Environmental Arts. She is on the board of directors at Bona Fide Films, president of Bay Area Women in Film and Media and a member of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from SF State.
Behrens recently produced Redemption Trail, a modern western feature film directed by Professor Britta Sjogren and starring Lily Rabe, LisaGay Hamilton, Hamish Linklater and Jake Weber. The film premiered at the 2013 Mill Valley Film Festival, where it won an audience award, and screened at the 2013 San Francisco Film Society’s Cinema by the Bay festival. It has also screened at festivals in Boston, Portland, Oaxaca, Los Angeles and more, picking up awards along the way.
Behrens is in post-production on a documentary that chronicles the forced demise of the Haight Recycling Center in San Francisco, emboldened by citywide gentrification and homelessness issues. Her short films include My Garbage, My Neighborhood and Climate Change, both of which have screened in festivals around the country including SF DocFest, San Francisco Green Film Festival, Rome International and Santa Fe Film Festival.
About the Documentary Film Institute
The Documentary Film Institute, founded in 2005, provides a structure for collaboration among artists, educators, policymakers and scholars in the public and private sectors who are committed to exploring and developing new forms and functions for documentary filmmaking. DocFilm functions as a production hub and incubator in which individual filmmakers, researchers, community members and entrepreneurs pursue a variety of projects, whether they are emerging talents or established veterans. Its productions include , which aired on PBS’ American Masters series, and Veteran Documentary Corps, a series of shorts profiling American war veterans.
The institute also supports applied research initiatives and critical discourse, from large-scale grants relating to documentation to conferences on the documentary tradition. Dialogue, cooperation, and support among its partners across campus and in the community guide DocFilm’s activities and primary objective to make SF State and the San Francisco Bay Area a center for excellence in documentary film production, culture, exhibition and research.