Blog 2016

Highlights from DocYourWorld 2016


From China to Chicago : Food Nostalgia

By : Yi Liu  


 As exchange students from China , this the first time many of us are leaving home. It could sometimes be a complex feeling for us while  we face so many problems alone.So what is something that could possibly help you when you miss your hometown?   What could help you remember the feeling?  Maybe your comfortable bed. Maybe your mom’s unique dishes or even your lovely pet.  YES!  For me it’s the traditional cuisines and special dishes from my hometown which is China. Every time I begin missing my hometown  I will list all the foods on a piece of paper so that when I get back I  can eat them. I believe that love does flow from food.

Here is a look at some of my favorite foods.




Balancing My Identity

By: Jenay Wright

jenay If your anything like me, it becomes super challenging trying to balance your identity. When there is so many different things that makes up who you are and shapes you as an individual. It makes me question who I truly am and where do I stand in a world with so many people.  My identity has altered almost my whole life and this was because I felt the pressure from society.  As strange as it might sound, talking to yourself every once in while isn’t so terrible.

 I say this because it is imperative to know who you are and what makes you, YOU! On many occasions I have had to ask myself “Who is Jenay?” and I had to do that for me. Identity is a concept that we all have to come across at some point in our lifetime. I can unquestionably tell you it isn’t easy but it is a journey that is worth the ride. When you are able to hold up your mirror and look directly at yourself and say I know who I am and you actually say who you are. SUDDENLY life becomes just a bit more stress-free and way smoother.

I know you’re probably asking how do I know, and you’re right. But it’s only because I have been there. I have been confused and I have examined my identity each and every day. I can honestly say at times it got chaotic, but what made things far less complex is when I stopped caring about how people perceive me and I began caring about how I viewed myself.

The greatest thing about identity is that there are so many directions you can go with it. Individuals classify themselves with their ethnicity, race, religion, belief, culture, traditions. We often categorize ourselves to where we feel most comfortable.  But we don’t have to limit ourselves to one specific characteristic.

I am a New Yorker, I am an Afro-Latina, I am a feminist, I am a Blogger. Society will always have their perceptions and expectations as to who I am and they will about you, too. But the fact of the matter is society isn’t going anywhere they will exist for years to come and we are a part of society.We must still have a sense of our identity because it tells other people who we are as individuals. ___________________________________________________________________________

The DocYourWorld Experience

By : Valentina Roberts


“This was my first experience as a Submissions Coordinator. I’ve never been involved in festival programming, but now I have a pretty good idea of what it takes. (A LOT!!) We received over 60 submissions for DocYourWorld. I viewed every single one of them and became a liaison for the submitters. Some of the viewing was painless. Many pieces were short or full of rich content, several of which inspired and brought me to tears. That was the best part of this job. Other submissions were rather lengthy or hard to absorb as a viewer, but the hardest part was finding the time to get through everything. Being a full time student (a senior at that) with two part-time jobs, made the job a little hard to handle at times.

Nonetheless, I made it through with the help of a few classmates. After viewing and accepting the pieces that suited our theme/style, I had the honor of nominating a total of 15 pieces for 3 awards: Best of Storytelling, Social Justice, and Innovation. Talk about a huge responsibility!! I’m one person, a 22 year old film student, who isn’t really qualified to judge work from so many fields (film, photo, essay, radio, journalism, etc). But it was so exciting, because I love the idea of awarding artists who otherwise may not have been recognized. I went back through every submission and carefully selected the top pieces for each category. From there the nominations were sent off to qualified judges, a panel of alumni, faculty, and working professionals. I’m excited to hear their reactions to this wonderful collection of student work and award our winners on May 4th!

Taking the DocYourWorld class has been a wild ride. Since we’re the guinea pigs of this course, we had to start from scratch with our entire organization and delegation process. Sometimes it felt impossible to foresee problems and stay on top of everything each week, but I’m very proud of our progress. I don’t think we could have had a better collection of dedicated students to take on this event. Cheers to DocYourWorld 2016!” ___________________________________________________________________________

衣沙 Ysabel

By: Jinyan Wang & Tingyi Li

 jane2 The documentary we’ve made focuses on an international student named Ysabel, who was born in Philippines then moved to Singapore and now studies in Chicago.  It begins with her 21st birthday party which is combined with both Philippine and American traditions.  She talks about her family, life experience in different countries and her great love for music In this doc, you’ll see  the real HER and how she reflects her identity in a different way.

Tinqi Living in Chicago, a city with cultural diversity, it’s totally a new experience for us. People come from different countries, use different languages and have different beliefs. We can understand these differences and live in harmony with each other. Ysabel is one of our friends here and she is a typical person influenced by both Asian and western culture . As we are exchange students from China, we find a lot of similarities along with her. This is our first time making a documentary together and through this we understand each other better and our friendship is much closer. ____________________________________________________________________

Film Festivals: The Film Student’s Lost Opportunity

 By : Elly Tier


I came to film school to make documentaries. Now, I am about to graduate and possibly work for a music company. As the years have passed, myself, my friends, and my peers have all had changing paths from the original one we thought was the end all be all when first stepping into a classroom as big eyed freshman. For myself, one path that I never really saw myself being involved in was event planning and festival organizing. I bring this up because although DYW is not technically a film festival it still pertains to the point I have to make and being involved in student run organizations like DYW has really opened my eyes up to the importance of showcasing work as well as the very small portion of the student body that actually knows how to do this and/or why it matters.

This semester in particular, I have learned so much about festivals, how to enter one, what to expect, and the proper way to market a film for possible distribution. This information is so important for filmmakers to understand, yet I see so many of my peers lacking any knowledge or interest in putting their work out there in the film festival circuit. I have seen so many talented students go nowhere with their work because of the ignorance to this particular facet of being in the film industry. I want to publicly tell my peers that if you don’t know how to enter a film festival, learn how, and if it scares you to showcase your work at that level, get over it. Events like DYW are the reason why students get recognition and a chance to put their work where it belongs; in front of an audience. Showcasing work is something to be proud of, something to brag about, something to learn from. It is not a graveyard for young creatives, it is not the boogeyman, and it is not hard to do. We have to believe in ourselves in order to make good work, and we have to believe in our work in order for others to do the same. From there, you are limitless in the opportunities that could arise. ___________________________________________________________________________

” I am me , I am not”

By: Summer Diab



I am me, I am not, is a video of many different people expressing who they are and who they aren’t. I was inspired to create this video for DocYourWorld when my other classmates pitched their ideas on what they wanted to do for this event. As I pitched this idea, I was unsure if anyone was going to like it but I was wrong, they loved it!


Getting people to be a part of this video was difficult to organize, but I made it happen with patience and dedication and these are just some key ingredients to make your project a success. I believe this video may not be the best but its a work in progress. Having more criticism the better so you can improve your skills.


The SunFlower Project ; Untold

By-Leah Zinger

Deeply hidden in the shadows, sexual abuse among teenagers is an epidemic today. Three years after their shared nightmare, the filmmaker and his daughter get together to tell the story that is rarely told, one of a teenage dream turned into a family nightmare. 

“This is a film I wish I had not been able to make. I would give anything for our daughter Leah to never have met that boy, for her to have had the idyllic teenage experience that dreams and myths tell us is out there. It isn’t.

What Leah went through, from start to finish, was a textbook case of abuse. Only problem is she never read the textbook. It’s not in the curriculum for fifteen-year-old girls in this country. Or boys for that matter. Doesn’t count on test scores. As young girls and boys grapple their way into the world of sex and relationships, who is showing them the roadmaps? There is no sex education in schools, let alone relationship education. The puritans, fanatics and “reformers” have seen to that. But there are plenty of sadistic pornographers on the internet who are more than willing to tell boys what to do to girls. Healthy sex? Healthy relationships? You’re on your own, kid. Good luck. And by the way, if it goes bad–like, really bad–keep it to yourself. We don’t want to hear it.
But Leah did an amazing thing. Isolated, shunned by friends, she took her searing pain and turned it into a dance. ‘I have to make something beautiful out of this’ was her mantra. And three years later she and I sat down in front of cameras to tell her story. Out of that came this film. Nothing fancy. No tricks. Just the story. A story that has been repeated far too many times and for far too long, yet remains untold.

This is a film I wish I had not been able to make. But I couldn’t be more glad that I did. It’s a story that demands to be told and told over and over again. It’s a story that needs to be dragged out of the shadows kicking and screaming. Leah, a dancer and choreographer, is dedicating her life to using her art to support, strengthen and heal teenage girls facing the same nightmare she went through, and to prevent that nightmare from starting. Nothing could be more beautiful.”

For more on Untold and The SunFlower project check out their website below.



Interview with Dan Rybicky ;  Almost There

By : McKayla Braid


Dan Rybicky, who was involved with Columbia College Chicago’s class DocYourWorld from the beginning sat down to speak with two of the classes current students about his work.Rybicky is the producer and co-director of Almost There, a documentary that is set to be shown at DocyourWorld, which runs May 3rd through the 4th.

Take a listen to our interview with Rybicky below.


Identity: The Illusion of Control

By Jessica Siletzky

JessicaPeople compulsively label each other. From occupation to race, to religion, to sexual orientation, to marginal niches, we have created a complex web of titles, communities, and subcultures so we can both relate to those around us, and so we can judge them.  Furthermore, so we can, in turn, judge ourselves.

This semester in Doc Your World, we have explored issues surrounding identity through various forms of documentary.  Among all the subjects we met through the compelling submissions, I realized that none of them actually chose the labels they confront in these stories.  Some are survivors of abuse or assault and others are disabled.  From the obvious to the abstract, the most challenging identities we acquire are completely unpredictable.

In the exploration of love, racism, and aging, war, sexuality, and documentary, we encountered that even the documentarian is often surprised by the role they play in their own work such as in the case of Dan Rybicky’s on-screen role in his 8-year journey making the film Almost There. In my life, I am haunted by some of my unwanted titles: divorced, single mother.  One of the pieces we will show at Doc Your World entitled I am, I am Not by Summer Diab urged me to consider these titles in their simplest form.  I live in the anticipation of judgment and rejection.  I am damaged, unwanted, left-over, and a failure.  At least, that is what these labels imply to me.  The more I explored my insecurities, the more I needed relief from them.  In a piece about masculine identity that will be showing during the outsider content program, Will Westgaard made it all clear to me.  I have no control over the identities that have chosen me, and I have no control over the perception of those identities.

Once I was free of my identity prison, I began to enjoy films such as Avi la Petite Ballerina by Susan Kerns about a young disabled girl who defies the limitations of her body, and Untold by Leah Zeiger where she reclaims her identity as a sexual assault survivor instead of a victim.  I can now look at The Imp of Love by Rachel Herman, a series of photographs depicting real couples who have ended their relationships but carry on in friendship such as I do with my former spouse, and instead of squirming, I can say, “That is me.”  And I can look at her series, Meeting at Sunrise where she went on a series of first dates, and I can delight in the awkwardness and hope of finding love again someday.

Through all the films, radio pieces, photographs, and performances, I hope this year’s event will bless those who attend as much as it has blessed me.  At this event, everyone will find themselves in the company of others who share their journey to make sense of who we are and how we define ourselves.  But I hope that when it is all over, the true message that is received is that we will be labeled, branded, and identified in ways that are out of our control.  Embrace the liberation that accompanies that lifted burden, and judge not the content of a person’s character, especially your own, based solely upon a label. __________________________________________________________________________

Doc Your World Spotlight : Meet Darren Bui

By : Zareen Syed


If you see Darren Bui walking around with a camera and a squiggly makeshift stand attached to it, he’s more than likely capturing life’s everyday existence for his personal vlog. Last summer, Darren had a film screening at Cannes Film Festival in France (yes, Cannes). More than the film, the entire experience of being at the festival was what Darren came home with. He worked on multiple projects during that time, including a feature film in Chicago called “Sound.”

After all those passion projects, “I felt very creatively exhausted and I really wanted to do something personal for a bit,” he said. He decided to take the base line 12 credits this semester and do daily vlogs about his life.  Even the boring parts. “It’s personally fulfilling in the most selfish way possible,” Darren said. It’s sort of a different kind of passion project. One of the vlog entries is titled “Steve Jobless,” and you’re just kind of tagging along as he stays home from class (or else he’d be an a**hole for showing up an hour late) and grabs lunch with a friend and comes home to tell us what jobs he’s looking for. A bit mundane… but intriguing and hard to look away from, to be honest. C

Click through them on his youtube channel, it’s well spent procrastination and you’ll wish he goes viral someday. He’s up to over 60 entries since he started on New Years. The vlogs aren’t just a random hodgepodge mess of footage rolled into a 7 hour clip. It’s carefully chosen bytes and pieces and snippets of commentary and makes for a cohesive “day in the life of Darren C. Bui.” “I spend a lot of time editing and put in music, I bought my camera specifically for it and I don’t know why I do it but I will stop if I get bored,” he said. “In retrospect it should be this really cool time capsule.” Check out his vlog below and lots of appearances by the Doc Your World crew.

And catch the trailer Darren made for Doc Your World 2016. In the trailer, find a teaser for the music video he made about a girl’s “perfect” and painted social media presence to be screened at the event.



“Tell Us About Yourself” UMMM….

By: Zareen Syed


You know that moment at the beginning of every new class where you have 30 seconds to tell a room full of strangers “about yourself” and you panic and settle with the usual. “

I’m Zareen,  a magazine journalism student, I love sports and…. umm…. I hope someday I end up at Glamour… ” and then a few awkward ‘umms’ later, “and yeah I’m very excited for this class.” And you just feel really, really lame. You know what I’m talking about?

When we’re asked to define ourselves, it’s no surprise we’re left fishing for the most generic descriptions. We lean on the things we do and the stuff we dream. We pick the safest possible label so as to not seem completely outrageous and outspoken. Maybe it’s because we often depend on the perceptions of others to continue being the person everyone sees.

 Could it be because we rely on others to do it for us?

What if once, you could write down on a piece of paper with invisible ink that only you can see, who and what you are… what would you scribble down?

What would be YOUR IDENTITY?

In this semester of Doc Your World, we’re tackling the dichotomy of identity and anti-identity. What people are, but also what they aren’t.

(Maybe you’re a feminist, and maybe you’re not voting for Hilary Clinton. You’re a Muslim, and you’re not a terrorist. You’re an artist, but you’re not a performer. You’re an immigrant, and you’re not safe.)

We ourselves are a collection of curators and creatives; documentary filmmakers and journalists; photographers and audio enthusiasts; storytellers and humans. In the end, underneath the 30 second self pitches, the eyes of the see-ers and the ambiguous identification cards, we are raw and pure and imaginative.

And that’s what we’re creating. Welcome.


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