Hushahu Yawanawá is the first woman Shaman of the Yawanawá. She is one of the first medicine women to emerge from the peoples of this region of the world. As shaman, she serves as spiritual leader to the people of the Yawanawá territory, and supports young Yawanawá and other non-native students in learning the spiritual traditions of the Yawanawá. On the path to becoming a shaman, she went through an intensive training process guided by her father, Raimundo Tuinkuru, and the late shaman elder Tatá Yawanawá. Today, she is among the most respected spiritual leaders of the Yawanawá people; her revolutionary work has drawn national attention in Brazil and internationally. Hushahu's calling and endurance to walk the healing path has opened the door for other Yawanawá women and women around the world.
Nicole Newnham is an Emmy-winning documentary producer and director, Sundance Film Festival alumnus and five time Emmy-nominee. Awavena is her second collaboration with director Lynette Wallworth, with whom she produced the breakthrough VR film Collisions. She co-directed and produced The Revolutionary Optimists, winner of the Sundance Hilton Sustainability Award, and Sentenced Home, both of which aired on PBS’ series Independent Lens. She also instigated, co-produced and directed the acclaimed documentary The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi war on European culture, which was nominated for a WGA award and shortlisted for the Academy Award. Passionate about the possibility of leveraging powerful documentary stories for social change, she co-founded a story and data-mapping platform for youth to improve their own communities, called Map Your World.
Tashka Yawanawá is chief of the Yawanawá people in Acre, Brazil. As chief, he leads 900 people stewarding 400,000 acres of Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The son of the former leader of the Yawanawá, Tashka grew up witnessing the virtual enslavement of his people by the rubber industry and experiencing the near annihilation of the tribe’s culture by missionaries. Since the 1980s, Tashka has actively fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. Realizing that he needed further education to improve the situation of the Yawanawá, he pursued higher education in the U.S. and abroad. He was directly involved in the creation of the Indigenous Lawyers Association and co-founded the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth Alliance, through which he shares the experiences and knowledge of the Yawanawá with youth around the world, and works with projects that guarantee the preservation of different indigenous cultures.. In 2001, Tashka returned to Brazil, and chose to use the knowledge gained from his experiences abroad to help his people transform their future. He became the youngest Chief in the history of the Yawanawá at age twenty-five. In a short amount of time, Tashka and Laura have managed to double the extent of Yawanawá territory, reinvigorate Yawanawá culture, and establish economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world. Tashka and Laura have two daughters—Kenemani and Luna Rosa—and divide their time living and working in the Yawanawá community and Rio Branco, Brazil.
Laura Yawanawá is a Zapotec and Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico. She holds a degree in international relations, focused on indigenous peoples political affairs. Laura speaks three languages fluently (English, Spanish and Portuguese). Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the South and Meso-American Indian Rights Center in Oakland, California. She has worked for the rights of indigenous peoples from all over Latin America for many years. Together with her husband Tashka, she travelled with a backpack all over Latin America, visiting remote indigenous communities to empower them with information to fight for their rights and self-determination. She co-founded organizations to support indigenous peoples, such as Nawa Institute, and INIYA (Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Alliance). She also worked for the Climate Change Institute of the State of Acre, organizing workshops in indigenous communities about climate change, and environmental services. She comes from the northern hemisphere, from a matriarchal culture. Seventeen years ago, she married a chief from an Amazonian indigenous people--Tashka Yawanawá. Since then they have worked together for the good of the Yawanawá people. She now serves as president-director of the Yawanawá Sociocultural Association/ASCY. She has considered herself as an instrument, helping to transform a community from a deeply male-oriented culture to one that is more open and inclusive of women.
After spending her early work life in corporate finance in New York, Sandy Herz has spent the majority of her career exploring the intersection of storytelling and social change, conceptualizing and building a portfolio of storytelling partnerships for the Skoll Foundation that span the best of independent film, journalism, and publishing. Through flagship partnerships with Sundance, DocSociety, BBC, National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour, and HarperOne, Sandy seeks out world-class storytellers and platforms to create broader awareness of, engagement with, and impact from the work of leading social entrepreneurs. Through these collaborations, she has developed deep expertise in both storytelling strategy and effective collaboration. Numerous projects have emerged from these collaborations, including the Oscar-nominated documentary Open Heart and the Emmy award winning virtual reality documentary Collisions, both of which achieved notoriety for their impact on the issues of global health and nuclear non-proliferation, respectively.
Marcie Jastrow is an industry veteran with over 18 years of experience in the entertainment business. In 2016, Jastrow was appointed the SVP of Immersive Media for Technicolor, as well as the Head of the Technicolor Experience Center, a center focused on developing high-concept content, platforms and technology for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other immersive media applications. Prior to her new role, Jastrow served as the SVP of Sales for Technicolor Production Services, where she was responsible for growing Technicolor’s sales pipeline across theatrical and broadcast post production services. Known for her ability to bring together teams and workflows to make any size project succeed, her passion lays in bringing a creative’s vision to life.
Gigi Pritzker is an Emmy award-winning producer, and businesswoman. She is the CEO of diversified content company MWM (formerly Madison Wells Media), which she co-founded with former Legendary executive, Clint Kisker. Pritzker founded the immersive media content subsidiary, MWM Immersive in 2015 alongside Kisker. Together, they co-produced and co-published, in partnership with Wevr, the Jon Favreau-directed VR production Gnomes and Goblins. In 2001, Pritzker founded the film and television production company, MWM Studios, under its former name OddLot Entertainment, where she has produced Academy Award-nominated feature films, such as Hell or High Water with Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, and Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman. Additionally, the film veteran has produced The Way, Way Back starring Steve Carell; Drive starring Ryan Gosling; Ender’s Game; Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater and most recently, the Sundance-nominated indie comedy Landline. Among Pritzker’s television production credits are 10-time Emmy nominated National Geographic scripted series, Genius, and CMT’s Sun Records. She is a committed philanthropist, serving on the boards of the Sundance Institute, Project &, the Goodman Theatre of Chicago, the Harold Ramis Film School, and STX Entertainment, and is an active member of the Television Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. She is a member of The Sundance Institute Board of Trustees.
As head of Arts and Culture for the World Economic Forum, Nico's efforts focus on bridging the contributions of artists and the values of the arts into dialogue and decision-making on global policy. He helps artists and arts organizations leverage the Forum's complex and influential multi-sector network to broaden their understanding of global issues, speak truth to power, create powerful narratives and make real-world impact.
Director of Photography
Greg Downing specializes in image-based 3D technologies and computational photography techniques. His photographic work has been displayed in some of the nations most prestigious museums including the American Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Tech Museum. He has worked on the development of photogrammetry and stitching software at Realviz and in film production as a technical director at Rhythm & Hues and Sony Pictures Imageworks on “Narnia”, “Spiderman 3” and “I am Legend”. He teaches at Gnomon School for Visual Effects and has published professional training DVDs on photogrammetry and panoramic stitching. He has presented at professional conferences for both photographers and visual effects artists.
A specialist in the emerging world of interactive storytelling, Brian bridges the technical and creative elements through a diverse background in film production, coding and game engine development. He has created cutting-edge 3D visualization and virtual reality experiences for Technicolor, Zoic Labs, Crossfader, and the USC Entertainment Technology Center. Key technology partners on past projects include volumetric video company 8i, photogrammetry specialists Realtra, high-precision drone and robotics maker Prenav, and visual effects houses Zoic Studios and MPC. He is the lead VR/AR Experience Producer at the Technicolor Experience Center, exploring projects that push the limits of interactive Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Experiences across various industries.
Katrina Taylor is a Los Angeles based film editor who is drawn to character driven stories and the exploration of sonic landscapes within the documentary genre. Most recently she served as editor for the feature documentary Boone which premiered at SXSW in the Visions section and the Berlinale. Previous roles include assistant editor for The Pearl (True/False, HotDocs) which won Grand Jury Prize at Dallas International Film Festival and was nominated for a Spotlight award from Cinema Eye Honors. She was a Contributing Editor at the Sundance Institute Edit and Story Labs and her work has been supported by Impact Partners, The Sundance Institute, Filmmaker Fund, IFP, Catapult Film Fund, Film Independent and The Ford Foundation.
Prior to delving into the virtual reality space, Adam won several awards for his screenwriting and directing, including the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition and the Vimeo Awards. In October 2015, HD Video Pro wrote an article called A New Medium Emerges about Adam's innovative virtual reality storytelling. His VR film, Knives, incorporates his editing style with a fully fluid camera. It was nominated for a Lumiere Award as well as a Proto Award for best Narrative Experience. His next VR film, Rose Colored, was widely acclaimed by VR Scout and Kent Bye of the Voices of VR broadcast. He has directed numerous branded 360 spots for companies like Home Depot. He is represented by UTA.
Dr Anya Salih is a research scientist at the Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia. Working underwater on coral reefs of Australia and in the WSU laser confocal bio-imaging Facility that she leads, Anya has been researching the diverse biological functions of fluorescence in nature. She obtained a PhD at the University of Sydney in 2001 and in her research showed that the strikingly coloured coral fluorescent proteins form a natural photonic system that enhances coral survival during periods of bleaching as oceans warm due to climate change. She is now working with an international multidisciplinary team to solve the mystery of coral fluorescence and exploring such questions as whether its photoprotective and energy channeling mechanisms can be used to inspire new advances in biomedicine and biotechnology. In 2017, Anya travelled with Lynette Wallworth's team as a scientific advisor to film forest fluorescence for AWAVENA in the Brazilian Amazon. She also created 3D imagery using laser confocal microscope at Western Sydney University.
Mars Wong is a VR Game Developer at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles. Previously, Mars worked on Color The Temple for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was invited to speak at Carnegie Mellon University on the future of immersive media. As Lead Unity Developer on Awavena, Mars has spearheaded the integration of production assets and worked closely with Lynette Wallworth to ensure her creative vision was upheld. He is currently on a leave of absence from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (IMGD).