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Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts


The Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts offers fellowship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff. Aiming to support film research or production within the scope of the center's mission, fellows receive access to filming equipment or funding. Funds are determined based on the individual projects and can be utilized in several ways, ranging from production costs on a narrative or short film, to research, travel and film-festival attendance. The center’s fellows are chosen following an extensive, committee-review of submitted project ideas.

 Fellowship Applications Now Open! Fall 2023

Meet our Fellows


2023 Spring Fellows

  • Cuyler Ballenger

    Cuyler Ballenger


    Cuyler Ballenger is an artist and filmmaker currently pursuing an MFA in the Department of Visual Arts. His autofiction films take up the specifics of family in order to reveal collective truths. The fellowship will provide travel support towards a feature length project, as well as essential camera and sound equipment for its execution.

  • Fabiola Carranza

    Fabiola Carranza


    Fabiola Carranza is an artist, writer and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Visual Arts whose interdisciplinary practice examines visual, cultural, and personal phenomena. At UC San Diego Carranza is an affiliate of the Critical Gender Studies Project, a Katzin Fellow and a Black Studies Project Awardee. Her doctoral studies were generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Funds from this fellowship will assist the production of a film about stage and television actor and activist Felicia Montealegre Bernstein (1922-1978).

  • Antonio Catrileo

    Antonio Catrileo


    Antonio Catrileo (they/them) is a Mapuche writer, artist, and weaver from Pikunmapu/Qullasuyu. Currently is a student at the PhD in Ethnic Studies at the University of California San Diego. They hold a B.A., M.A. in Chilean and Hispanic Literature at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. Author of the book “Awkan epupillan mew: dos espíritus en divergencia” (2019) and “Diáspora”(2015). Member of the Catrileo+Carrión Community, where they have collectively published the books “Poyewün Nütramkan Pikunmapu/Qullasuyu” (2020), “Poyewün witral: bitácora de las tejedoras de Neltume” (2019), “Torcer la palabra: escrituras obrera-feministas” (2018) and “Yikalay pu zomo Lafkenmapu” (2018). Antonio currently is a collaborator of Global Center for Advanced Studies Latin America Collective. Their work is presented as a critical intervention in how colonial categories have been imposed on notions of sexuality and gender in the Mapuche context. Catrileo claims the word epupillan (two-spirited) as a generative practice that focuses on not reproducing the damage of the archive’s narratives in order to imagine a Mapuche futurity beyond the politics of recognition, nation, and identity. Epupillan is a situated knowledge shared by several elders who are HIV/AIDS activists and defenders of the land.

  • Alexander L. Fattal

    Alexander L. Fattal


    Alexander L. Fattal is an associate professor in the Department of Communication. His work has focused on the mediation of the Colombian armed conflict. He is the author of two award-winning books Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (2018, Chicago) and Shooting Cameras for Peace: Youth, Photography, and the Colombian Armed Conflict/Disparando Cámaras para la Paz: Juventud, Fotografía y el Conflicto Armado Colombiano (Peabody/Harvard 2020). He has directed two documentary shorts, Trees Tropiques (Berkeley Media, 2009) and Limbo (Cinema Guild, 2019). For his Fellowship, Fattal will begin research on a documentary project to find Eliyahu, the birth name for an uncle of his who was among the Middle Eastern Jews taken from their birth mothers in Israel (who were told that their children had died after childbirth) and given to Jewish families arriving to Israel after the Holocaust for adoption in the late 1940s and early-mid1950s.

  • Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer

    Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer


    Jalal Al-Marashi Jaffer is a Visual Arts major with an emphasis in media. He is a Co-Station Manager of Triton Television and is interested in exploring the Muslim American experience through storytelling and film. Support from the fellowship will finance the production of a feature-length film, Another College Musical, co-directed with UC San Diego alum, Ryan Ritterby.

  • Lev Kalman

    Lev Kalman


    Lev Kalman (b. 1982) has been making films together with his collaborator Whitney Horn since 2003. Their distinctive style blends lo-fi 16mm photography, dreamy electronic music, philosophical musings, and steady bursts of absurdist humor. Their feature films Blondes in the Jungle, L for Leisure and Two Plains & a Fancy have played at festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam, BFI London Film Festival, and BAMCinemaFest. L for Leisure was named among “The 100 Best Films of the Decade” in Little White Lies magazine. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody called Two Plains & a Fancy, “The most imaginative and visionary recent addition to the [Western] genre.” Coming soon: Dream Team, which weaves together psychic coral and utopian basketball leagues in a 1997-set cyber thriller, and Twin Snakes, a comedy about the structure of the psyche.

    Since 2012, Kalman has been based in San Diego. He is on staff at the UC San Diego Media Teaching Lab, and a programmer at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

  • Luciana Marcos Laberge

    Luciana Marcos Laberge


    Luciana Marcos Laberge is a Canadian filmmaker and multi-media artist. She completed an MFA in Film Production from Concordia University in Montreal in 2018. She wrote and directed The Nature Of (2013) and PAS DE TROIS (2015) among others and collaborated with artists with performances and video installations. She works as a staff at the Latin American Studies program while training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitstu, a martial art linked to her next film to be shot in Beyrouth, Lebanon. The fellowship will support the pre-production research stage of such project.

  • Daisuke Miyao

    Daisuke Miyao


    Daisuke Miyao is Professor and Hajime Mori Chair in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Miyao is the author of Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema (Duke University Press, 2020), Cinema Is a Cat: A Cat Lover’s Introduction to Film Studies (University of Hawai’i Press, 2019), The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema (Duke University Press, 2013), and Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom (Duke University Press, 2007). He is also the editor of Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema (2014) and the co-editor of Transnational Cinematography Studies (2017) with Lindsay Coleman and Roberto Schaefer.

  • Rida Qadeer

    Rida Qadeer


    Rida Qadeer is a student filmmaker double majoring in Media Studies and International Business with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As an avid screenwriter and director, her work aims to explore the paradoxical nature of the world we live in highlighting traditionally marginalized narratives- all with a bit of comedy. The fellowship will support the procurement of camera gear and equipment in addition to securing key locations for her upcoming mystery rom-com She Could Be the One, coming a theater near you.

  • Chanell Stone

    Chanell Stone


    Chanell Stone is an artist living and working in Southern California. Through self-portraiture, collage and poetry Stone investigates the Black body’s intersectional states of being and connection to the natural world. Her practice negotiates potentialities for reconciliation and reprieve by upending historical and ancestral memories within the American landscape.

2023 Inaugural Fellows

  • Thomas Conner Ph.D. ‘21

    Thomas Conner Ph.D. ‘21


    Thomas Conner is a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Communication, where he received his Ph.D. in 2021. His media-archaeological research surfaces cultural histories and analyzes media effects of digital hologram and augmented-reality technologies. For the fellowship, Conner will travel to the Illinois Holocaust Museum to conduct a pilot study of spectator interaction with projected, life-size 3D holograms of Holocaust survivors, potentially laying the groundwork for a larger project.

  • Zeinabu Davis

    Zeinabu Davis


    Zeinabu Davis is an independent filmmaker and professor in the Department of Communication. Her work is passionately concerned with the depiction of women of African descent, and her most recent documentary, “Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from Los Angeles” (2016), won seven awards, including the African Movie Academy Award. Support from the fellowship will allow Davis to complete research and plan the production for a feature-length film, providing professionalization to the UC San Diego film community in the process.

  • Raynard De Guzman

    Raynard De Guzman


    Raynard De Guzman is a current student majoring in media studies in the Department of Visual Arts. He has previously worked on films in various roles, and is underway directing a short film for a thesis project. The fellowship will enable on-location filming that can accommodate heavily choreographed shots, as well as production design, location rental, and craft services costs.

  • Yingjie Fei

    Yingjie Fei


    Yingjie Fei is a Ph.D. student in Literatures in Spanish, in the Department of Literature. Her digital humanities project focuses on memories and narratives of conflict and violence in the mining industry in Colombia. She uses ethnographical media method as an intervention in Colombia’s cultural expressions to constitute a space where survivors tell their stories of the past and present. The fellowship will support travel and research.

  • Anvar Hassanpour

    Anvar Hassanpour


    Anvar Hassanpour is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication and received an MFA in documentary media from Northwestern University. Anvar is a Kurdish filmmaker and has been working independently for the past 15 years: directing several documentaries, experimental, film essays and narratives. The entirety of the fellowship will be used towards equipment rental to produce a first-of-its-kind feature film exploring social conditions of Kurdish life under Turkish nationalism.

  • Hazel Katz

    Hazel Katz


    Hazel Katz is currently pursuing an MFA in the Department of Visual Arts, and is a Los Angeles-based video artist and filmmaker focusing on the politics of visibility through reenactment and pop culture archives. Her 2017 short film “Bubby & Them” won top international film at WNDX festival, and her 2019 feature documentary “Florida Water” is now distributed by Collective Eye Films. The fellowship will support production costs and complete the post-production process, including editing and sound design, in advance of the 2023 film festival submission market.

  • Macey Keung

    Macey Keung


    Macey Keung is a media major and studio art minor in the Department of Visual Arts, and serves as the vice president of the Psychedelics Club. Her work aims to disrupt the traditional narrative, shed light on the psychedelic renaissance, and embrace intersectionality, vulnerability and identity. In addition to camera, gear and equipment use, the fellowship will support the production of a short film written and directed by Keung.


  • Amir Saadiq

    Amir Saadiq


    Amir Saadiq is an MFA candidate in the Department of Visual Arts. His interdisciplinary practice aims to generate a visual language examining the gratuitous violence that occurs without transgression. Through the summoning of observational invisibility that confronts the impossibility of Blackness, he is interested in pursuing illusions of timelessness regarding erasure by examining how opposites such as form and formlessness, and human and non-humanness speak to and silence one another. The fellowship will be used for expenses incurred during the filming process this summer.

  • Alexandro Segade

    Alexandro Segade


    Alexandro Segade is an interdisciplinary artist and assistant professor in the Department of Visual Arts whose queer world-building projects propose speculative group identities. Often working in collectives, Segade makes spaces for critical play, using collaboration to complicate utopian impulses with radical ambivalence. The fellowship will provide access to cameras and equipment, defraying rental costs and keeping a planned feature film with My Barbarian within its budget.

  • Paolo Zuñiga MFA ‘19

    Paolo Zuñiga MFA ‘19


    Paolo Zuñiga received an MFA from the Department of Visual Arts, where he currently works as a staff member. Zuñiga’s creative work vacillates between fiction and documentary form, concerning himself with the narrativizing of individual experience as a means of exploring the fluidity of identity, memory and landscape. The fellowship sets the foundation for the development of a feature-length film script, including initial pre-production research.