Directing Documentaries: Stanley Nelson in Conversation with Loira Limbal

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Stanley Nelson is one of documentary’s leading storytellers. Over the years DOXA has presented several of his films, including Freedom Riders (DOXA 2011), Freedom Summer (DOXA 2014) and Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (DOXA 2019). Most recently he directed Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, currently streaming on Netflix. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we’re bringing back one of our favourite titles from his prolific career: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (DOXA 2015). 

Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ interested in the creation of art that is nuanced and revelatory for communities of color. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, a non-profit founded by Stanley Nelson in 2000 that produces documentaries and supports emerging, diverse filmmakers. Limbal’s most recent film, Through the Night, a feature documentary about a 24 hour daycare center, is a highlight of the DOXA 2021 festival program. 

In this moderated conversation between two filmmakers and collaborators, Stanley Nelson and Loira Limbal will reflect on the craft of directing documentaries from differing but complementary perspectives. While Nelson’s films reexamine historical narratives through deeply researched interviews and archival material, Limbal’s Through the Night explores contemporary social life through an intimate and personal lens. Furthermore, Stanley and Loira have worked together to develop Firelight Media into one of the most influential and dynamic media arts organizations in the United States. 

Moderated by Barbara Chirinos

Co-presented by DOC BC | YT | NWT

Stanley Nelson is among the premier documentary filmmakers working today. His feature-length films combine compelling narratives with rich and deeply researched historical detail, shining new light on both familiar and under-explored aspects of the American past. In addition to honors for his individual films, Nelson and his body of work have garnered every major award in the industry. He is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and was awarded an individual Peabody Award, the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences, and received the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama.


Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ interested in the creation of art that is nuanced and revelatory for communities of color. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media. Limbal’s current film, THROUGH THE NIGHT, is a feature documentary about a 24 hour daycare center. THROUGH THE NIGHT is a New York Times Critics’ Pick and was selected for a world premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, was a co-production of ITVS and aired on PBS in 2009. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow, NAACP Image Award nominee, a DOC NYC Documentary New Leader, Chicken & Egg Award recipient, and a former Ford Foundation JustFilms/Rockwood Fellow. She lives in the Bronx with her two children.


Prior to joining Telefilm Canada as Project Leader, National Promotion for the Western Region, Ontario and Nunavut, Barbara was the Founder and Co-curator of the Vancouver International Film Festival/Film Centre’s Black History Month Film Series, celebrating its 8th year in 2020. She was the Curating Producer for the Battered Women’s Support Services event: 40 Years Later, featuring Tarana Burke, founder of the #ME TOO Movement at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre. Barbara served as the Executive Director of the Granville Island Cultural Society, Gala Producer/Special Events and Facility Manager for VIFF/Vancity Theatre and Managing Director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Before making Vancouver her home, she was an Independent Film Producer and Theatrical Stage Manager in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY.