Brooke Sebold does. See boldly, that is. The 1995 Tucson Hebrew Academy graduate is a movie director, producer, writer and editor in Los Angeles. Her films have won numerous awards across the United States and many can be seen on NBC, PBS, the Sundance Channel and other entertainment platforms.
“I first discovered film in a meaningful way when I was in seventh grade at THA,” says Sebold, “though, to be precise, it was really when I missed seventh grade. I was in a very serious skiing accident where my internal injuries were so severe, I couldn’t attend class for most of the school year. To escape my painful day to day reality, I spent a lot of time watching movies.” It was from that difficult but formative experience, says Sebold, that she developed her passion for storytelling.
Sebold graduated from The Gregory School in 1999. Attending Brown University in Providence, R.I., she discovered that there were many women making films. It made her realize that she, too, could tell her stories and “not just ingest the stories of others.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in visual art and film production from Brown, Sebold relocated to San Francisco. There she co-produced, co-directed and co-edited the documentary film “Red Without Blue,” which appeared in about 200 film festivals and garnered over 15 awards, including the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival. The film relates the true story of a set of male identical twins, one of whom transitions to female.
With the success and recognition of her film work established, Sebold decided to continue honing her skills by enrolling in a graduate film program. She returned to the East Coast, receiving a master’s degree in fine arts from Columbia University’s film program in 2012.
Sebold is currently working on her first full length, narrative feature film, which she wrote and will direct. “We are actively seeking a producer,” she says. Raising enough money to create a full length movie is a daunting task and because of the challenges involved, Sebold says that having the support of others in the film industry is necessary as well as inspiring. To help build this kind of support, Sebold founded the L.A. chapter of the Film Fatales, “a community of female film directors dedicated to the creation of more films by and about women.” She currently serves as the L.A. co-chapter leader. This spring, Sebold facilitated the Film Fatales Shorts Film Festival at the Loft Cinema in Tucson, which featured one of her short films, “The Last Cigarette.”
In a recent Facebook post, a former THA classmate wrote about a student of the month honor that Sebold had won that mentioned her storytelling. The post delighted Sebold: “I didn’t remember that I was already recognized as a storyteller back then.” She says that she is still close to many of her former THA classmates. “There is still so much love among us and I feel lucky that I realized early on how valuable close friendships are. I think that the most important Jewish value that I learned at THA and the one that I use on a daily basis is the importance of developing and nourishing community.”
Renee Claire is a freelance writer in Tucson.