BIG PICTURES’ team brings strong cinematic and journalistic backgrounds and histories of theatrically released and nationally broadcast films. Our films have aired on the national independent film series POV, PBS FRONTLINE, CBS, VOCES and others. Our work has driven news coverage and public discussion to a range of important issues, been used as an educational tool and instrument of social change by high schools, universities, and community and policy groups and has been screened and discussed around the world.
Dawn Valadez / Producer, The Pushouts
Daniella Brower Sueuga / Producer & Co-Writer, The Pushouts
Bilal Chatman / Impact Team, The Return Project
Born in Los Angeles, BILAL CHATMAN moved to San Jose as a child with his single mother (a nurse) and three brothers. He went to high school and junior college there before beginning work in the logistics field. In the 1980s when the economy crashed, Bilal lost his job, and when the crack epidemic hit he got swept up in drug addiction and dealing. He ultimately received a 150 years to life sentence under California’s “Three Strikes” law for selling $200 worth of drugs to an undercover police officer. In 2012 Californians overwhelmingly voted to amend Three Strikes, and Bilal became eligible for release. He is currently the Logistics Supervisor for a major organization and oversees two campuses and 21 employees. He has since married and was voted 2015 Employee of the Year at his second job with a major American sports team. As a member of THE RETURN PROJECT, he was featured on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and has been a panelist at a Capitol Hill screening with Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, and he continues to travel the country speaking about the effects of mass incarceration on communities and individuals across America.
Kelly Duane de la Vega / Co-Founder, The Return Project
Loteria founder DUANE DE LA VEGA‘s documentaries have screened at film festivals worldwide, opened theatrically and broadcast nationally on POV/PBS and the Documentary Channel. Her work has received the Writer’s Guild of America’s Best Documentary Screenplay Award, Gotham Independent Film’s Best Documentary Award, Tribeca Audience Award and multiple national Emmy nominations.
Duane de la Vega’s film BETTER THIS WORLD won Best Documentary Feature at SFIFF and Sarasota Film Festival, received an IDA Creative Achievement award and was selected to screen at NY MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight. MONUMENTAL screened at the Lincoln Center and was acquired by the Smithsonian for its permanent collection. EL POETA, called “dramatic and inspiring” by the LA Times, broadcast on PBS’s Voces. She has produced short format work for The New York Times, Mother Jones, IFC and Discovery, among others. A Sundance & HBO/Film Independent Fellow, she has guest lectured at various universities and taught Documentary Forms at UC Berkeley.
FURLONI is a Brazilian filmmaker and cinematographer based in Oakland, California. He is the director of the documentary FIRST FRIDAY (co-director, N’Jeri Eaton.) Mario studied documentary filmmaking at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he was a Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow, and his documentary and journalism work has appeared on PBS, The New York Times and TIME, among others. His film POT COUNTRY (co-director, Kate McLean), won Best Documentary at the USA Short Film Festival (2012), was an official selection at Hot Docs (2012) and Big Sky (2011) and a national finalist for the 2012 Student Academy Awards. Most recently he shot the Sundance short AFTER MY GARDEN GROWS. He is currently developing the narrative feature FREELAND, supported by IFP and SF Film Society.
Quincy Griffin / Composer
GRIFFIN has scored more than a dozen feature films including the Oscar nominated films DAUGHTER FROM DANANG and THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM and Sundance winner MY FLESH AND BLOOD. Recent features include WITHOUT A NET, A KIND OF ORDER, ONE IN A MILLION and WE’VE GOT THE POWER. His music can be heard in THE WAITING ROOM (opening sequence), EL POETA, THE TWO ESCOBARS and BETTER THIS WORLD. He recently wrote and produced the first ever hip hop tracks for PBS’s television series DORA THE EXPLORER. GRIFFIN founded and produced the Latin hip hop band O-Maya, produced rapper Deuce Eclipse’s album INDIGENOUS NOISE and is currently writing with vocalist Luqman Frank.
Nefertiti Kelley Farias / Producer, El Poeta
Nefertiti Kelley Farias is a Mexican-American documentary film director, writer and producer whose primary focus is social struggles and indigenous cultures in Latin America.
Her documentary, BITTER MEMORIES (AMARGOS RECUERDOS) about the Guatemalan exhumations of the 1980s massacres features interviews with survivors and family members of those killed during the Civil War as well as Mayan ceremonies in honor of the dead. This work was distributed by Latin American Video Archive (LAVA) and was selected at various international film festivals. It has been used in universities to study and analyze the peace process in Guatemala and is now part of La Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (Foundation of New Latin American Film) in Havana, Cuba, formerly chaired by the late Colombian writer, Gabriel García Márquez.
Among other works, ANOTHER (UNA MAS), a short film about the femicide in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was selected by Fundación Casa Catalunya and screened in numerous film festivals throughout Europe, USA and Latin America. Her work has also been promoted and distributed by Voces Contra El Silencio Video Independiente A. C. Her most current co-production is EL POETA, a film about Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who ignited peace caravans both in Mexico and the USA and an ongoing international movement for peace after the brutal killing of his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco.
Ana Homonay / Photographer, The Return Project
Ana Homonnay was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. After receiving her degree in film, she directed a travel show for MTV where she and a small crew traversed Brazil in search of adventure and natural beauty. She shot photos throughout – and still photography became an essential visual component of the series. Five years later Ana packed up her cameras and left her native city and headed to California to pursue her true love: photography. For the last 10 years Ana has specialized in helping foundations and nonprofits document powerful stories through visual storytelling. From foster youth struggling to adapt to life on a college campus to families at the bedside of their kids at Children’s Hospital, Ana creates photo libraries that foundations use for annual reports, websites and marketing campaigns.
Ana’s gentle approach to her subjects gives her the ability to create natural connections that lead to authentic and soulful portraits. For THE RETURN PROJECT, Ana immersed herself in the lives of the children whose parents are imprisoned in an attempt to better understand the impact of mass incarceration. She lives in San Francisco’s Mission District.