May May Tchao
May transfers her skill from TV commercial production to documentary filmmaking after more than 35 years in the Chicago’s advertising business. In Hayden & Her Family, she sees this as an opportunity to give voice to another voiceless contingent of special needs adoptive kids in China besides the rural women in her other film Spilled Water.
Self-taught and a firm believer in “learning by doing,”she honed in her craft by collaborating with top talents to explore compelling stories to raise awareness and promote change through social activism. Her directorial debut Spilled Water has won awards, shown in national and international film festivals and was broadcast on PBS channels WTTW and KQED. She consults with filmmakers at Kartemquin Films and works with top people for production, post-production, research and outreach.
Laurie is an award-winning documentary editor and story consultant. Her credits include Crossing Arizona, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and Follow My Voice an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. She edited Two Americans which toured the US as part of the ACLU's national campaign for immigration reform. Laurie's work has been broadcast on PBS, Sundance Channel, NHK and Al Jazeera.
Stephanie V. Strauss
Stephanie is a Chicago-based filmmaker and DP who has a wonderful sense of lighting and narrative eye. She uses her camera to discover the nuances of people’s lives and tell their stories. She is a graduate of The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and has interned with the Kindling Group, a socially-minded documentary production house, for the School Project among other projects. As a winner of the Bakala Foundation Fellowship, Stephanie documented people with dyslexia in The Czech Republic.
Sam is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He currently works in multi-media storytelling for non-profit and higher education. Sam was a former journalist with 8 years of experience in television news and documentary in South Africa and the United States. He has collaborated with various filmmakers nationally and internationally including May Tchao for her first film, Spilled Water (2014). Sam is passionate about global and local stories, as long as they explore the unique dimensions of the human spirit and speak to the heart.
Kathy, our production consultant, is a Chicago-based filmmaker with a foot in both the curatorial and film production worlds. Her recent human rights documentary Beneath the Blindfold (2012), which she co-directed and produced with Ines Sommer, movingly tells the stories of four torture survivors from around the globe. She brings a high sense of discipline in research, story conceptualization and structure, communications, fundraising and production details.