Watching from the sidelines is not an option.
For over 20 years, Suree has been documenting untold stories that reflect contemporary issues with her independent production company Prairie Dust Films. She is currenlty in production on a feature documentary and animation nonfiction project, Cafe es vida / Coffee is Life (working title), which is a collaboration with Oaxacan coffee growers who are using their traditional lands to cultivate shade grown, sustainable coffee in cooperative production models. Her recent feature, Crying Earth Rise Up (2015), intimately explores the human cost of contemporary uranium mining and its impact on sacred water. The film is currently in syndication on Public Television & FNX, with over 2200 broadcasts and major funding from Vision Maker Media and the Corporation for Public Broadcast.
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 awards in festivals and competitions, and is still used in educational efforts to decriminalize non-drug hemp. It screens online on Kanopy and through Vision Maker Media.
Documentary Filmmaker & Educator
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 film 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.
As a Documentary and Media Professor and Educator, Suree currently teaches at the Evergreen State College in the Mediaworks program. She has taught at Arizona State University (online) and Columbia College Chicago and was an instructor for non-profits and internationally at the EICTV film school in Cuba. Suree worked as an Artist-in-Residence with arts integration programs in the Chicago Public Schools (project AIM) and Chicago hospitals (Snow City Arts). In 2003, Suree began advising and working with 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.
Suree has been using documentary as a community building tool since 2000. Her projects and scholarship form part of larger mentorship and engagement strategies to promote critical thinking and inform positive shifts in ideas, policy and practice. She was born in Chicago, graduated UC Santa Cruz with a BA in History and Latin American/Latino Studies, and is a mother to two young truth seekers.
At it's essence, documentary is a relationship with life.
As filmmakers, we have an inherent responsibility to the truth.