Director + Producer
Sheri Shuster is a documentary director and producer interested in advancing intersectional and moral conversations about power. An Iranian-American and L.A. native, her commitment to human rights drew her into the world of advocacy, public policy and storytelling. For over fifteen years Sheri worked with nonprofits and elected officials as a communications and fund development director, including former U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, and The Center for Women and Democracy. From 2008-2012 she served as a director at Covenant House in Oakland advocating for homeless and sex trafficked youth. Her experiences at Covenant House inspired Still I Rise. The film has been supported by Jamel Perkins, Amelie Ratliff, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Berkeley Film Foundation, and the Harnisch Foundation. Sheri is an alumnus of U.C.L.A. and the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University Of Washington.
Editor + Composer
James joined the Still I Rise team in 2013, while concurrently a scholarship recipient and wide-receiver for the Cal Bears at UC Berkeley. After graduating, he worked with homeless families in San Francisco at the Hamilton Shelter Program and for the Berkeley Unified School District. In 2017, James was nominated in the top four at Cambridge University’s Watersprite Film Festival for Filmmaker of the Future Award. In the same year, the African American Policy Forum selected James to participate in the intergenerational Imagining Otherwise program at Vassar College. He currently works as an editor and composer for Still I Rise. An exceptional artist and thought partner, the team has been elevated by James' intellectual and creative contributions.
Dr. Nikki Jones
Nikki is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and a faculty affiliate with the Center for the Study of Law and Society. Her areas of expertise include urban ethnography, race and ethnic relations and criminology and criminal justice, with a special emphasis on the intersection of race, gender, and justice. Professor Jones has published three books, including the sole-authored Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner City Violence (2010), published in the Rutgers University Press Series in Childhood Studies. Before joining the faculty at Cal Professor Jones was on faculty in the Department of Sociology at UC-Santa Barbara (from 2004-2013). She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.
DJ serves as Assistant Professor of Practice in the Media Arts + Practice Division (MA+P) at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is a filmmaker and educator who has worked in media education for over twenty years, with a focus on media strategies for social change and community organizing. DJ has worked with nonprofits and educational institutions to design media and promotional campaigns in the areas of violence prevention, youth development, drug prevention, literacy, mental health, family services and healthy parenting. DJ serves on the Board of Directors of Picture Alternatives, a nonprofit that uses creative media and high impact storytelling to promote effective alternatives to violence.
Layda is the Emmy Award winning producer of Presunto Culpable (Presumed Guilty, 2008), a documentary film that won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism (2011), and went on to win more than twenty awards at international film festivals. She is an attorney with over 20 years of experience conducting criminal justice research in Mexico. Her work has been funded by the United Nations, the Hewlett Foundation, and the World Bank. Layda holds a law degree, master's in public policy and is completing her PhD at UC Berkeley. Currently, she works as senior researcher at the World Justice Project, a prominent think tank devoted to promoting rule of law in the world.
Sound Design + Remix
Jim is the founder of Berkeley Sound Artists, an audio postproduction house located in Berkeley, California. Known as a skillful sound designer and mixer, LeBrecht’s work can be heard in films that have played on HBO, PBS, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and screened at film festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, True/False, Telluride and Berlin. A long-time activist for independent living and disability rights, Jim was a member of Disabled in Action in the early 1970s. As a student at the University of California, San Diego, he helped found the Disabled Students Union. Jim continues to advocate for people with disabilities by supporting and producing entertainment that portrays people with disabilities in everyday life. He is making his directorial debut with Crip Camp.
Documentary filmmaker Maureen Gosling has been creating films for more than thirty years and is best known for her twenty-year collaboration with acclaimed independent director, Les Blank. Gosling's films include Burden of Dreams (1982), Blossoms of Fire (2001), This Ain't No Mouse Music (2013) and A New Color (2015). Her work has often focused on themes of people and their cultural values, music as cultural expression and the changing gender roles of men and women. Her films have been seen in countless film festivals around the world, on national public and cable television, on television in Europe, Australia and Asia, and have been distributed widely to educational institutions.
LUIS DAMIAN SANCHEZ
Luis Damian is an accomplished director, editor and cinematographer. His filmmaking credits include: editor of EL HOMBRE QUE DISPERSÓ SUS SOMBRAS (2006), cinematographer of EL INFORME TOLEDO (2009), editor and cinematographer of ERASE UNA VOZ :Proyecto del FONCA (2010), and director and editor of 24 EN SISBICHÉN (2010). From 2009-2011 he served as a producer and cinematographer for Canal 11. Luis Damian has worked closely with human rights NGO Documenta, a documentary film company that engages in strategic litigation and informs criminal justice policy in Mexico. He is an alumnus of Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica.
John Nutt is a BAFTA Award winning filmmaker and the secret sauce in Still I Rise. He has been an early champion and creative strategist on all things substantive and technical involved with production as well as diplomatic attache for the team. John is a veteran of decades of filmmaking and the Vietnam War. He has worked in the capacity of editor, director, sound editor and dialogue editor for over 100 films. John is an understated artist, extraordinary mentor, and local legend in the Bay Area film community. His films include: Amadeus, Se7en, Munich, Iron Man, and Bravo! Common Men, and Uncommon Valor.