VERY SEMI-SERIOUS is an offbeat meditation on humor, art and the genius of the single panel. The film takes an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the New Yorker and introduces the cartooning legends and hopefuls who create the iconic cartoons that have inspired, baffled—and occasionally pissed off—all of us for decades.
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Leah Wolchok, Director / Producer
Leah Wolchok is a director and producer currently based in Paris. She recently completed the IFP Documentary Lab, San Francisco Film Society Film House Residency and BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship. She co-produced the Independent Lens documentary ASK NOT and directed four award-winning short films. She received a BA in English from Yale and an MA in Documentary Production from Stanford. And despite all that name-dropping, she really does like to laugh.
Deborah Shaffer, Executive Producer
Deborah Shaffer has been making social issue documentaries since the early 1970’s. In the 1980s, she directed WITNESS TO WAR, which won an Academy Award and aired on PBS; FIRE FROM THE MOUNTAIN, which received an Emmy nomination, was shown at the New York and Sundance film festivals, and aired on the PBS; and DANCE OF HOPE, which received the Prix d'Or--FIPA and was screened at Sundance. She directed and wrote SECRETS UNDERGROUND for the WGBH series “Discovering Women” in 1994. In 2001 she directed two shows for the PBS series “Art 21: Art in the 21st Century” which was nominated for an Emmy. RWANDA: LADIES FIRST which she co-directed and wrote for WNET’s “Wide Angle” was awarded an Emmy in 2004. Her most recent film, TO BE HEARD, won awards at numerous festivals and aired on PBS in 2012.
Bruce Sinofsky, Executive Producer
Bruce Sinofsky is the Academy Award nominated director best known for the PARADISE LOST trilogy. He got his start with Maysles Films, which he joined in 1977 while still a student at NYU. At Maysles he met Joe Berlinger, and the two eventually left to jointly produce, direct and edit BROTHER'S KEEPER, which—after a slow start—became the most successful self-distributed documentary to date. In 2005, Sinofsky won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary for METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER.
We are grateful to Bruce for believing in this project from the beginning, and we are deeply saddened by his untimely passing.
Joanna Sokolowski, Co-Producer
Joanna Sokolowski is a Bay Area independent documentary filmmaker. She is currently in-production on her first feature film, THE OVARIAN PSYCOS (working title) (https://www.facebook.com/TheOvarianPsycosDocumentary). Co-directed and co-produced with her filmmaking partner, Kate Trumbull, the film received the ITVS Diversity Development Fund. Her previous short film, STILL TIME (www.stilltimefilm.com), follows LaKeisha Burton, a woman whose childhood crime resulted in nearly her entire adult life experienced behind bars. The film was selected for the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts, the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival and has been used by community organizations and non-profits to raise awareness of issues in the justice system today. She received her Master’s degree in Social Documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz and was the recipient of the U.C. Berkeley Human Rights Center fellowship.
Davina Pardo, Producer
Davina Pardo is a filmmaker in Brooklyn whose most recent film MINKA was nominated for both IDA and Cinema Eye Honors awards in the documentary short category. Her short films have screened at festivals worldwide, including Toronto International Film Festival, True/False, DOC NYC, Tribeca, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Aspen Shortsfest, Palm Springs ShortFest, and Silverdocs. Davina previously worked as assistant to David Cronenberg and associate produced the Academy Award-winning documentary FREEHELD. A native of Canada, she has an MA in Documentary Production from Stanford University, where she met her friend and collaborator Leah Wolchok.
Regina K. Scully, Executive Producer
Regina K. Scully is the Founder and CEO of Artemis Rising Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to developing and promoting media, education and healing projects that transform our culture. She is an Academy award nominated executive producer, most recently for the documentaries INVISIBLE WAR, FED UP, ALIVE INSIDE, MISS REPRESENTAITON and ANITA: TRUTH TO POWER.
Kirsten Johnson, Cinematographer
Kirsten Johnson works as a director and cinematographer. Her feature film script MY HABIBI was selected for the 2006 Sundance Writer’s Lab and Director’s Lab and is the recipient of an Annenberg grant. Her documentary DEADLINE, co-directed with Katy Chevigny, premiered at Sundance in 2004, was broadcast on primetime NBC, and won the Thurgood Marshall Award. As a cinematographer, she recently shot Academy-Award winning CITIZENFOUR, THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE OATH, and Tribeca Documentary Winner, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL. Her cinematography is featured in FARENHEIT 9/11, Academy Award-nominated ASYLUM, Emmy-winning LADIES FIRST, and Sundance premiere documentaries, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, AMERICAN STANDOFF, and DERRIDA.
Nels Bangerter, Editor
Nels Bangerter is the editor of Academy Award nominee BUZKASHI BOYS and Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award winner WAR CHILD. He won the Best Editing award at Tribeca for LET THE FIRE BURN and was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy for Editing on DAN RATHER REPORTS. His projects have been supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund and ITVS and have broadcast nationwide on PBS, MSNBC, and the National Geographic Channel. Nels received his MFA in film production from USC, and is now based in Oakland, California. Before he was an editor, he worked in a gold mine, lived in a redwood tree, and earned bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and English.
Scott Stevenson, Editor
Originally from Los Angeles, Scott Stevenson has spent most of his long career editing both documentaries and fiction in France. On the non-fiction side, he was most notably one of the editors of THE STAIRCASE (Sundance Channel, Canal+), as well as for SIN CITY LAW (Sundance Channel, ARTE). Scott received the César for his work on Mathieu Kassovitz’ LA HAINE. The film also won the Best Picture César, as well as the Best Director Award at Cannes. Most recently, Scott co-edited PROPHET’S PREY, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.