Karin Chien, Amy Hobby and Tabitha Jackson Are New Documentary Fellows at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center
Harvard’s Shorenstein Center announced today the three film professionals who comprise their Spring 2024 cohort of documentary film fellows. Producer and distributor Karin Chien, producer and former executive Amy Hobby, and former director of the Sundance Film Festival as well as Sundance’s Documentary Film Program Tabitha Jackson will, according to a press release, “join the Center under the auspices of the newly-established Documentary Film in the Public Interest research initiative and will spend the semester conducting research and engaging with the Harvard Kennedy School community about the challenges facing the field and its impact on civic life.”
“The Documentary Film in the Public Interest Fellows Program is designed to support new research, analysis, innovation and provocation around core issues facing the documentary film sector,” the press release continues. “Through the fellows’ projects, the Shorenstein Center will engage in examinations of best practice, industry ecosystems, public impact and media policy.”
“Since starting the documentary film initiative at the Shorenstein Center last year, we’ve heard extensively from filmmakers, cultural leaders, and industry representatives about how crucial the work we are doing is in this moment of crisis for independent film,” said Nancy Gibbs, Director of the Shorenstein Center, in the press release. “As a signature arm of the initiative, the Documentary Fellows program centers the analysis and innovation the field needs through the vast experience and sharp critical lens of some the documentary industry’s brightest minds.”
The spring 2024 fellows will be engaged in their research work until mid-May, will the results of their work made public in the months following.
Bios for the three fellows follow.
Amy Hobby is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winning producer of independent films. In 2011, Amy co-founded TANGERINE ENTERTAINMENT, a production company working exclusively with female-identifying film directors. She is also the former Executive Director of the TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE and a current co-founder of DISTRIBUTION ADVOCATES, a movement to reclaim the means of distribution for independent storytellers. While at the Shorenstein Center, Amy will orient her research around the question of how to find audiences for a wider range of quality stories in an attention economy.
Tabitha Jackson has spent the last 30 years supporting the independent voice, championing the social and cultural power of artful nonfiction, and furthering the mission of uplifting a more expansive set of makers, audiences, and forms. Most recently as the first woman and person of color to be appointed Director of Sundance Film Festival she re-imagined and led two technologically innovative and radically accessible pandemic editions that expanded the possibilities of what a film festival can be, and who it can be for. Between 2013 and 2020 she headed the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program rethinking traditional project support in favor of more artist-centered models and advocating for institutional support of formal innovation in nonfiction cinema. Tabitha’s research will focus on the formal, ethical and democratic implications of Independent Documentary, especially as it pertains to institutional support.
Karin Chien is a producer and distributor committed to bold voices and innovative forms that build practices of ethical filmmaking. For 20 years, Karin has produced independent films, artwork and digital media that have broken new ground. She has received the Independent Spirit Producers Award, the Humanitas Prize, the Sundance Audience Award, the inaugural Cinereach Producers Award, and served as the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s Producers Keynote speaker. Karin is the Founder & President of distribution company dGenerate Films; a co-founder of the collective Distribution Advocates; and the director of the Nevada City Artist Residency. During her fellowship, Karin’s research will focus on how the most impactful documentary projects get funded and present recommendations for new economic models that center sustainability and creative risk. In particular, the research will explore a shift from project-based documentary funding to producer-led models, where new forms can emerge.