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Watching from the sidelines is not an option.
For over 20 years, Suree (she/her) has been documenting untold stories that reflect contemporary issues with her independent production company Prairie Dust Films. From the very beginning, Suree was dedicated to using film and education as a social practice and has collaborated with community partners and youth to create work that imparts action.
She is currently in production on a feature documentary and animation nonfiction project, Nurturing Roots (working title), a collaboration with Oaxacan coffee growers using their traditional lands to cultivate shade grown, sustainable coffee in cooperative production models. Her recent feature, Crying Earth Rise Up (2015), was a collaboration with the Lakota organization Owe Aku / Bring Back the Way and intimately explores the human cost of current uranium mining and its impact on sacred water in Lakota territory. The film is syndicated on Public Television & FNX, and has had over 2300 broadcasts and major funding provided by Vision Maker Media and the Corporation for Public Broadcast.
As a Filmmaker + Media Professor + Educator, Suree believes in paying it forward for the next generation of storytellers and works hard to ensure that the filmmaking landscape continues to grow in inclusion, diversity (in front of the camera and behind it) and equity (in labor and environmental practices).
Filmmaker & Educator
Suree teaches and mentors at the Evergreen State College and in masterclasses and workshops from Pine Ridge to Oaxaca. She was an instructor at Arizona State University, Columbia College Chicago, and internationally at the EICTV film school in Cuba. Suree worked for non-profits and as an Artist-in-Residence with arts integration programs in the Chicago Public Schools (CCAP Project AIM) and Chicago hospitals (Snow City Arts).
Her first feature Standing Silent Nation (2007) documented a Lakota family's sovereign right to grow industrial hemp on their ancestral lands. It was broadcast nationally on PBS's POV, won many awards in festivals and competitions, and has been used in educational efforts to decriminalize non-drug hemp. It streams on Kanopy and through Vision Maker Media.
With her friend and mentor, the late Haskell Wexler, Suree worked as producer and additional camera on the documentary
Four Days in Chicago (2013), where she recorded Wexler's return to his hometown Chicago for the 2012 NATO protests. The film screened in festivals worldwide, including the Woodstock, Social Justice, and Chicago International Social Change Film Festivals.
Suree received her MFA in Directing (Documentary) from Columbia College Chicago. Her thesis Tampico chronicled an iconic Chicago street performer, who, as the last person left in her family, plays all the instruments of their traditional song. The film won the Studs Terkel Award for Community Media and screened in festivals and community events.
Since 2000 Suree has been using film as a social practice and community empowerment tool collaborating with communities and indigenous nations. In 2003, Suree worked with Owe Aku to develop the Lakota Media Project (LMP) to train Lakota girls and women dedicated to documenting their story from the inside looking out. She is part of the media and training collective the Peoples Media Project. Her projects and scholarship form part of larger mentorship and engagement strategies to promote critical thinking and inform positive shifts in ideas, policies, and practices. She was born in Chicago to Persian, Mexican/Polish/German parents. Suree graduated UC Santa Cruz with a BA in History and Latin American/Latino Studies, and is a mother to two young truth seekers. Suree currently resides near Denver, Colorado.
At it's essence, documentary is a relationship with life.
As filmmakers, we have an inherent responsibility to the truth.
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