As co-founding team member of Rada Film Group, author, filmmaker and artist, Michèle Stephenson, also comes to the company as a recovering attorney with a passion for non-fiction storytelling with a specific interest in telling stories from her own communities.
For more than fifteen years, the Haitian-Panamanian has used her international background and experience as a human rights attorney to document social justice stories about communities of color and produce visual stories in a variety of media. She has also structured human rights campaigns and trained people across the globe in video internet advocacy. Stephenson’s work has appeared on PBS, Showtime, MTV, and other broadcast, cable and digital outlets.
She and her work have received numerous honors, including the Sundance Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking, the African American Film Critics’ Association Award, the New York Film Festival Main Slate Selection and the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media. For her the Rada Film Group is the ultimate expression of collaborative creativity in media and social change.
Joe Brewster M.D.
Joe Brewster is a Harvard and Stanford educated psychiatrist who specialized in organizational analysis, the use of psychoanalytic principles to understand and improve organizations.
In 1992, Brewster sold his first screenplay to the Jackson/McHenry group under the Warner Bros. imprint. In 1996, he wrote and directed The Keeper, which was an official selection in the dramatic narrative competition section of the Sundance Film Festival and garnered numerous national and international awards, including an Independent Spirit Award nomination. His documentary and feature film projects have received broadcast on PBS, Showtime, the Sundance Channel and the Starz Network.
Brewster is a recipient of Sundance, Tribeca-All Access, Tribeca New Media and BAVC fellowships. His recent documentary film, American Promise, is the winner of the 2013 African-American Critics Association Award for Best Documentary, The Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize and the Full Frame Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. His transmedia work has also been supported by The Kellogg Foundation, The Open Society, Heinz and Blank Foundations.
First-time filmmaker, Elizabeth Rubin, sparked a relationship with Rada Film Group’s Michèle Stephenson when they both volunteered for the historic 2008 presidential election. From then it seemed like a natural extension to collaborate on Elizabeth documentary project. It a true honor for the Rada Film Group to have her on the team.
Elizabeth is an award-winning magazine journalist. She has written from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Balkans mainly for The New York Times Magazine. Her stories have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s,The New Yorker, National Geographic, The New Republic, Vogue. Her reportage in Harper’s on private armies in Africa was a National Magazine Award Finalist.
She won the Kurt Schork Award for International Reporting and was the 2008 Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Relations. She won the Livingston Award for International Reportage for her New Yorker piece called, ‘Our Children Are Killing Us,’ about Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, composed entirely of kidnapped Ugandan children. She is now a fellow at the Cullman Center for Writers & Scholars working on a book about a group of Californian kids and a Texan philanthropist chasing down Joseph Kony and his army of abducted children in the Central African Republic. Studio Kabul, a documentary film about the making of the first Afghan Soap Opera, is being produced by the Rada Film Group.
Conrad shares a common Caribbean connection with Rada Film Group team members. His unique talent as a still photographer has made the company very eager to bring him into the fold to work on a number of Rada Film Group’s projects. Most recently the team is collaborating on a documentary film and video installation titled HISPANIOLA, a project that is taking Conrad back to his homeland island of Hispaniola where he shares both Haitian and Dominican ancestry. Conrad has photographed assignments for SAP in Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, Antarctica, USA, and Singapore. His work has appeared on Lonely Planet Magazine and National Geographic. He published two books from his projects in Brazil and often works on cultural themes in Brazil, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
Saidah Russell is a recent graduate of New York University where she studied media and communications. Her interest in the film and television industries led her to intern for multiple media production companies during her time in school, including NorthSouth Productions and Cinetic Media. After seeing the trailer for American Promise she sought out an internship with Rada Film Group and was eventually brought on as project coordinator. She is excited about participating in the innovative work Rada is creating within the world of documentary filmmaking.
Patricia Benabe made her incursion on public television in 2007 as Associate Producer in American Experience’s Roberto Clemente (ALMA Award, 2009). She later served as Coordinating Producer on a 13-part series on world literature for WGBH and Annenberg Media, An Invitation to World Literature, and Co-Producer on Reportero (POV, 2013), which was featured in the Los Angeles Film Festival, Full Frame, IDFA, and Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Her production credits include The Naturalized (Field AP, 2009), The Undocumented (Field Producer,2009), Some Kind of Spark (Field Producer, 2013), and The Hand That Feeds (Co-Producer, 2014). Benabe holds a BA in Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies from NYU, and an MA in screenwriting from Escuela TAI in Madrid. In 2003, she wrote for the arts and culture daily supplement in Puerto Rico’s daily newspaper El Nuevo Día, Por Dentro. In 2014, she began working with Joe and Michele on the research and development of the documentary project Hispaniola.
Jessica Jones is the Impact Producer for the Rada Film Group. She is a graduate of Northwestern University (psychology and international studies) and George Washington University Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. Jessica has a range of experience in documentary filmmaking, including producing, editing, and outreach; works of her have appeared on the New York Times, festivals internationally, and broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens. She was a 2013 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow, and the 2011 George Stoney Fellow at Working Films. Her work in film outreach is influenced by her work in producing and editing documentaries and previous programmatic work at socially conscious organizations.
A graduate of Bard College, Ayana began her career working with a number of NGOs, both locally and internationally. Becoming evermore critical to the impact of her work, she transitioned her career towards filmmaking and the power of the media, eventually finding herself at Rada Film Group. Since her start here at Rada, she has produced and directed short outreach videos and has coordinated media campaigns for Rada’s REACH division. Outside of Rada she has worked on a number of productions in various capacities and departments, culminating in a well-rounded skillset.