Three UCSC film alumni recognized by International Documentary Association

2019 graduate Marrok Sedgwick wins Student Documentary Award for thesis film about autism

Marrok Sedgwick
Marrok Sedgwick (Social Documentation, 2019), photo by Mavis-Siu
Melanie Dang Ho
Melanie Dang Ho  (Social Documentation, 2020)
Orion Rose Kelly
Orion Rose Kelly (Film and Digital Media, 2017)

Three alumni from UCSC’s Film and Digital Media Department received nominations for this year's prestigious International Documentary Association Awards (IDA). 

The IDA received 1056 submissions for the 2020 awards, which included 365 documentary features,153 documentary shorts,153 documentary series, 52 student films, 39 music documentaries, and 33 audio documentaries or podcasts. 

The nominees were selected by independent committees of 190 documentary makers, curators, critics, and industry experts from 25 countries. The aim of the IDA is to honor excellence in the documentary field worldwide by both emerging and established filmmakers.

Alumna Melanie Dang Ho (Social Documentation, 2020) was nominated in the Best Short category for her M.F.A. thesis film, sống ở đây (to live here), which focuses on the lives of Vietnamese shrimpers and elderly farmers in New Orleans, exploring the relationship between land and labor.

A Vietnamese American filmmaker from Florida, she is working towards a career in documentary film editing, amplifying the voices of those on the margins. She is also one of six young filmmakers recently selected by the Center for Asian American Media for its inaugural Sauce Fellowship--a nine-month program offering resources, networking opportunities, workshops, mentorship, and connection to the distribution platforms of public media.

The fellowship is designed not only to provide a platform for Asian American stories to be lifted from a personal perspective, but also to expand the pipeline of diverse creators in public media.

Orion Rose Kelly (Film and Digital Media, 2017), and Marrok Sedgwick (Social Documentation, 2019) were both nominated for the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award. It recognizes exceptional achievement in non-fiction film and video production at the university level, and is intended to bring greater public and industry awareness to the work of students in the documentary field.

Kelly was nominated for her film Na Luta Delas, about the growing violence against trans and queer women of color in Rio de Janeiro. Based in the Bay Area, she is a filmmaker, photographer, and video/photo editor who specializes in projects that involve violence and/or trauma, with a focus on human rights, criminal justice, sexual violence, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Kelly’s photos and video installations have been exhibited at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Lighthouse LA, Soapbox Gallery, UCSC’s Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, and Urban Decay in London. 

Sedgwick went on to win the 2020 David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award category for his M.F.A. thesis film, People Like Me, which challenges dominant perspectives about non-speaking autistic people. The film is about autism acceptance, featuring interviews with non-speaking autistic adults about their visions for the future. 

A disabled trans activist and educator who uses art as a primary tool for challenging society’s injustices, Sedgwick works as a creative producer and documentarian with a focus on the stories of those most underrepresented in the media today.

The 2020 IDA awards were presented at a virtual ceremony hosted by actor Willie Garson on January 16.