About Us

Vision

Our mission is to create cultural awareness and strategic, sustainable justice through transformative, community-based production and impactful distribution of media.

Behind the scenes on the set of Chavela.
Behind the scenes on the set of "Chavela."
Aubin team meeting at the original SoHo location.
Aubin team meeting at the original SoHo location.

The stories we tell frame the culture in which we live. Narratives uphold fundamental assumptions by which we interpret and understand the world. We encounter stories everywhere — in headlines and political discourse, institutions and pop culture. Though practices are shifting, right now we live within a mainstream story structure that, fundamentally, is not a friend of women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people living with disabilities, people who have experienced incarceration, or people who have immigrated. This fact turns people into statistics and embeds harmful narratives in our cultural fabric and institutions. As filmmakers who care deeply about social justice, it is our job to find ways to reveal, challenge, and change damaging mainstream narratives. 

As Manning Marable said, “Numbers cannot communicate the human face of economic misery.” But storytelling can. Where there is trauma, filmmaking paves ways to healing. Where there is injustice, documentaries expose it and imagine our just future.

Storytellers understand the forces that are behind the statistics and can create the conditions for change. We are able to reimagine the rules our society lives by, shape the way in which problems and priorities are identified, and build narrative power. This is what Aubin Pictures strives to achieve.

Values

Our work is collaborative and justice-driven. We make films about our people, communities, and movements. We are intersectional and intergenerational. We are based in family. Our values inform our social practices across our organizational programs and are baked into the media we produce and the campaigns we launch.

We believe in

  • Imagination
  • Community
  • Collaboration
  • equity, inclusion, intersectional feminism & anti-racism work
  • Narrative Power

Origin Story

Since 1996 Aubin Pictures has been committed to justice-driven storytelling to illuminate change.

Aubin Pictures, Inc. was founded in 1996 by queer documentary filmmaker and lifelong activist Catherine Gund and organizer and scholar Scot Nakagawa. Disillusioned with popular media’s portrayals of HIV- and AIDS-affected youth in the 1980s, Catherine directed a number of short works with Paper Tiger Television and co-founded DIVA TV, a video-documenting affinity group within ACT UP. In the early 1990s, Catherine was the producer of the four-part PBS series, Positive: Life With HIV. Understanding the power of documentary to change the dominant media narrative, Catherine and Scot created Aubin Pictures to make films that catalyze social change. Aubin’s first film, When Democracy Works, was directed by Catherine and written and narrated by Scot. Scot has served on Aubin’s board of directors since the organization’s inception.

Naming

Aubin / Au'bin / noun

The name “Aubin” lived with Catherine Gund’s family for some time. First it was proposed as a potential name for Catherine when she was born, and later she considered naming her first child “Aubin.” Eventually, “Aubin” found its home as the name of Catherine’s nonprofit documentary film production company, which she founded with Scot Nakagawa the same year her daughter was born. A little etymology: Aubin is a French given name variant of Albin, from the Roman Albinus and from the Latin albus meaning “bright.” At its core, Aubin Pictures strives to shine bright lights on the social justice issues that matter most, illuminating change one film at a time.

Community

The Aubin Pictures community, fondly called the “Aubin Family,” is our network of creatives and activists. We’re filmmakers, directors, sound designers, camera people, writers, academics, organizers, students, parents, community leaders, nonprofit professionals, mediamakers, and more.

Aubin Pictures community
The Aggie's crew at the film's Hammer Museum Screening in Los Angeles.
Audience members.
Audience members of an Aubin Pictures film screening.
The Aubin family at Sundance Film Festival.
Members of the Aubin family at Sundance Film Festival for the Aggie premiere.

People

Aubin Pictures is an organization for filmmakers and activists that’s run by filmmakers and activists. We’re embedded in our community as artists, advocates, philanthropists, and creatives, and we work to continually evolve to address our stakeholders' needs and ambitions.

Image of Catherine Gund at the Tribeca Film Festival

Catherine Gund

Founder and Director

Founder and Director of Aubin Pictures, Catherine Gund is an Emmy-nominated and Academy-shortlisted producer, director, writer, and activist. Her media work focuses on strategic and sustainable social transformation, racial justice, arts and culture, HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice, and the environment. Her films have screened around the world in festivals, theaters, museums, and schools; on PBS, HBO, Paramount+, the Discovery Channel, Sundance Channel, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. She won the 2023 Gracie Award for Producer - Documentary. Her recent films include: Paint Me a Road Out of Here (forthcoming), Meanwhile (forthcoming), Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices From a Plantation Prison, Primera, and Aggie. An alumnus of Brown University and the Whitney Independent Study Program, she has four children and lives in NYC.

Gund currently serves on the boards of Art For Justice, Art Matters, Baldwin for the Arts, and The George Gund Foundation, and JustMedia. She co-founded the Third Wave Foundation which supports young women and transgender youth, and DIVA TV, an affinity group of ACT UP/NY. She was the founding director of BENT TV, the video workshop for LGBT youth. She was on the founding boards of Bard Early Colleges, Iris House, Working Films, Reality Dance Company, and The Sister Fund and has also served for MediaRights.org, The Robeson Fund of the Funding Exchange, The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, and the Astraea Foundation.

Heather Woodfield

Deputy Director

A woman with dark brown hair and a lace background wearing a headband and patterned tank top.

Heather Alexa Woodfield is an executive leader, creative strategist, and transdisciplinary artist.  She is committed to fostering artistic and administrative collaborations across the creative, cultural, and civic sectors.

Heather was the Executive Director of One Percent for Culture from 2011 to 2017 where she built cross-sector coalitions and spearheaded advocacy efforts that led to the first increase in NYC expense funding for culture in a decade.  She served as the Director of Operations at Technology at 4A Arts where she oversaw development of a national web platform designed to showcase all disciplines of arts and culture.  She also founded My Vote Will Count and Democracy for NYC which focused on increasing civic and political engagement.  

Heather is a practicing transdisciplinary artist whose work fuses performance, film, dramatic writing, costume, design, and social practice art.  She is a Founding Artist of the collective, Calling All Parties, and has created and produced art experiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Chashama, High Line, and FIGMENT festivals in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Toronto.  Heather has also researched and written about nightlife as a socially engaged art practice.

Heather holds an MPA from Columbia University, an MA in Transdisciplinary Art, Culture, and Practice from NYU, a BFA in Film & TV from NYU, and a Millinery Certificate from FIT.  Her media Appearances include Crain’s New York Business, The Daily Show, NY1, the New York Times, and WNYC.

Sanjna Selva

Producer

Woman with brown skin and dark brown hair wearing a light purpose button-up shirt and a white shirt underneath

Sanjna Selva is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist born and raised between Malaysia and Singapore and now based in New York City. Through patient and poetic storytelling, her practice as a filmmaker explores narratives of migration, home, and belonging. Her work has been featured on PBS, CBS, EST Media, and the International Center of Photography. Sanjna’s directorial debut, Call Me Anytime, I'm Not Leaving the House, filmed two days into the start of the Russian occupation of Ukraine, was acquired by PBS for national broadcast on the award-winning series POV. The film has also screened at numerous festivals within the U.S., France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, where it has received best short documentary and audience awards. Sanjna is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, a 2020 Double Exposure Film Festival grantee, and a 2019 Skidmore-MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute fellow. She is also a member of the Asian American Journalists Association, and an organizer with Brown Girls Doc Mafia and Video Consortium.

Yurema Perez-Hinojosa

Associate Producer

Woman with light brown skin and long dark hair wearing a black jacket with a white shirt underneath, sitting in front of a piano.

Yurema is a writer/director motivated by a simple truth: the stories we hear—and the stories we tell—have a profound impact on how we treat ourselves and others. It’s rare to see media where you feel accurately represented, truly understood. In the film industry as it stands today, there are 1,000 ways to be one kind of person—and so few ways to be anything but that. Yurema’s work investigates the possibilities of different selfhoods: those that are more expansive, authentic, complex and unconventional. A 2020 film and media graduate of Brown University, Yurema spent her college years directing a number of shorts, producing the world’s largest student-run international film festival, and PA-ing on Warner Bros.’ In the Heights (2021). For her thesis, she worked closely with Estrella Gonzales, a currently imprisoned, undocumented, trans-Mexican woman; based on the letters they exchanged, Yurema created an experimental, semi-biographical narrative tracing Estrella’s life and journey of self-discovery. In 2021, working as a photographer and videographer for Latino USA, she traveled onsite to Mexico and Columbia to document the changes and experiences of asylum seeking migrants, core to what became the podcast episode “The Moving Border: Even Further South”. In 2022, she honed her voice as a writer, editor and producer through the stories she pitched for Malu & You, a newsletter with thousands of subscribers to disseminate a Latino journalist’s unfiltered thoughts outside of mainstream media. Having previously interned at Aubin, Yurema has returned as an Associate Producer ready to spearhead new projects and work closely with directors to advance underrepresented stories with the care, consideration, and patience each and every story deserves.

Lola Lafia

Operations & Development

Woman with light skin and brown hair wearing sunglasses on a bike

Lola's mission is to create and nurture equitable spaces for dreaming. Over the past few years, she ran a platform for college students to lead and join themed conversations, founded a month-long artist residency & lived upstate with 7 queer artists of different mediums, and won a competition to build a sustainable land development in the Nevada desert. Raised in New York (and sticking around), Lola graduated this past May from Columbia University. She is beyond thrilled to have joined Aubin and to help support one of the most powerful storytelling tools and catalysts of expanding the human imagination: documentary film.

Noa Ryan

Project Archivist

White woman with long brown hair and a fork in her hand eating pierogies.

Noa is an archivist and filmmaker currently working on a feature documentary. She also works in video advocacy, collaborating with clients entangled in the criminal legal system alongside their legal teams, families and communities to create documentaries that are used directly in clients' defenses. She's excited to be using her training as an archivist to support a team that is similarly optimistic about the liberatory potential of video storytelling.

Meher Hans

Intern

Meher Hans Bio

 

Meher is motivated by documentary film’s ability to energize and historicize social justice movements. Her work focuses on themes of migration and home, and on artistic activism within these contexts. As a Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Fellow, she recently worked on a film about architectural monuments in Delhi. The film explores some of the impulses behind the construction of colonial-era government structures as well as temporary architectures of resistance movements. In doing so, it unravels how architectural monuments work to establish a national political identity, as well as the vital role of resistance architectures in envisioning and enacting an inclusive alternative. At Aubin, she is eager to work on stories that do the same—challenge dominant narratives to imagine liberating alternatives.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Aubin’s Board of Directors is composed of the incredible activists, authors, communications and media professionals, researchers, and scholars you see below. Our Board is critical to our work and we are deeply grateful for their knowledge, spirit, and commitment to documentary film in service of social change.

Dana Ain Davis
Dana Ain Davis, President
Image of Catherine Gund at the Tribeca Film Festival
Catherine Gund, Secretary
Marques McClary
Marques McClarey, Treasurer
Vivien Labaton
Vivien Labaton, Director
Scot Nakagawa
Scot Nakagawa, Director

Former Board Members

Jacqueline portrait square
Jacqueline Woodson
Andrea Portrait
Andrea Austin
Jessica portrait
Jessica Ruffin
Catherine Lord Prof
Catherine Lord
Julie Tolentino prof
Julie Tolentino