1/2022: Adoptee Documentarians


**This is a recording of our We the Experts event on January 8, 2022.** 

An inspiring group of adoptee filmmakers, producers, and directors who will be sharing their journey of self discovery while balancing being the subjects of their own films.

Deann Borshay Liem (she/her) is Producer, Director and Writer of First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, Memory of Forgotten War and Geographies of Kinship (to air on PBS America Reframed in May 2022). She served as Executive Producer for AKA Don Bonus, for which she won an Emmy Award, as well as Kelly Loves Tony, On Coal River, Ishi’s Return and Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story. She has contributed as a consultant, story editor and producer on numerous documentary projects including Special Circumstances, Burqa Boxers, Mimi and Dona, and The Apology. The former director of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Deann is the recipient of the Women, Peace and Security Fellowship from the San Francisco Film Society for her new film, Crossings, about women peacemakers advocating for peace on the Korean peninsula. Deann is looking forward to a great conversation!

Dewi Marquis (she/her) is a mother, a life partner, and an independent filmmaker based in Louisville, Colorado. She was born in 1978 to a young Indonesian birthmother and descends from Orang Banjar, Dayak, and Sunda to whom she attributes her Indigenous worldview. Dewi was adopted as an infant by white American parents who named her Amy— an identity she didn’t question until coming out of the fog in 2020. Her current feature in production, MY NAME IS NOT AMY, explores present-day colonialism through the lens of her awakening as a transracial adoptee. Dewi has found that lifting a camera on her own life experience and processing those moments in the edit has been incredibly cathartic. She is humbled and grateful for this opportunity to sit on this panel with other adoptee filmmakers and learn about their journeys, too.

Phil Bertelsen (he/him/his) is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer and director and a transracial adoptee. His work spans from documentaries on Netflix, NBC, PBS, and Viacom to episodic television, including network dramas “Madame Secretary” and “The Blacklist”. His documentary films chronicle pivotal events, prominent figures, and meaningful perspectives in the pantheon of the Black experience and critical subjects like racial identity, transracial adoption, homelessness, education, and cyberstalking. “Who Killed Malcolm X?”, a six-part series, is his most recent project which prompted a reinvestigation of the decades-old crime resulting in the exoneration of two wrongly convicted men. While sharing his expertise with the next generation of filmmakers as an instructor at colleges and universities is rewarding, nothing excites Phil more than giving fellow adoptees some tools to help them tell their unique stories.

Nisha Jalmi (she/her) is a transracial adoptee from Goa, India. In 2012, she produced and was featured in the documentary, YOU FOLLOW: a search for one’s past. Since the nationwide release of the film, she co-facilitated the PACER adoption triad support group and was invited to write a film review for the Adoption Museum Project. Nisha later began to share her lived experiences and highlight other adoptee voices on her blog, TheAdopteeDiary.com. Most recently, she became a board member with Pact, An Adoption Alliance. Nisha is looking forward to sharing her unique experiences as an adoptee and storyteller with other documentary filmmakers.


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