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Michèle Stephenson

Filmmaker, artist, and author Michèle Stephenson draws on her Haitian and Panamanian roots to think radically about storytelling and disrupt the imaginary in nonfiction spaces. She tells personal, emotionally driven stories of resistance and identity that center on the lived experiences of communities of color in the Americas and the Black diaspora. Her stories intentionally reimagine and provoke thought about how we engage with and dismantle the internalized impact of systemic oppression. Stephenson draws on fiction, including immersive and hybrid forms of storytelling, to build her worlds and narratives. Her feature documentary Going to Mars won the 2023 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; her earlier feature American Promise was nominated for three Emmys and won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Her feature documentary Stateless premiered at the Tribeca Festival and was nominated for a Canadian Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Stephenson also collaborated as co-director on The Changing Same, the magical realist virtual reality trilogy series, which premiered at Sundance and was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Interactive Media Innovative category; it also won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Immersive Narrative at Tribeca. Along with her writing partners Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, Stephenson won an NAACP Image Award for Excellence in a Literary Work for their book Promises Kept. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Creative Capital awardee.