Introducing the Duke University MFA|EDA Class of 2019

Please join us in welcoming the incoming Class of 2019 cohort of Duke University’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts.

David D’Agostino
David D’Agostino is a filmmaker and former instructor for Pittsburgh Filmmakers School. He received an art degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2003, and completed the 5th year fellowship program in 2009. He was awarded two Traveling Scholars Grants for his documentary “King of The Bears” about a self-proclaimed prophet who dedicated his life to creating “Bearidise,” a sanctuary in rural Pennsylvania for large, hairy gay men. As the multimedia producer for the Carnegie Museum of Art, he produced numerous short documentaries including “The Invisible Photograph,” a five-part series formed by the Museum’s “Hillman Photography Initiative.”



Lishan Guo
Lishan Guo is a reporter, designer and multimedia artist. She was born and raised in China and studied Journalism and Art at University of Missouri-Columbia. She worked as a reporter for a local NBC television affiliate and as a designer for a weekly newspaper. During her undergraduate studies in art, she created artworks including drawings, paintings, photography and digital works that celebrate the human, the emotion and the marks people leave on the world. She is particularly interested in digital art and photography: the fast technological capabilities help her to render the vibrant inner world and help her to create works for that flash moment. Her passion is showing the shine, the motion, the color, the unrealistic moment, or whatever is made out of caring.


Jinyu Liu
Born in 1995, Jinyu Liu grew up in Luoyang, China. Following his graduation from high school, he studied Digital Media Art at the Communication University of China, where he learned  film production. His videos and photographs seek to the explore explore the mysteries inherent to differing cultures. To broaden his view of the world, Jinyu has traveled  to many countries as a photographer and journalist, as well as a volunteer for BTV and other broadcast networks.




Jacob Moss
Jacob Moss was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended Pitzer College in Claremont, CA where he earned a BA in Urban Studies: Creative Expression, a self-designed interdisciplinary major focused on contemporary tattoo culture in the United States. Since graduating in 2013, Jacob has been living and working in Los Angeles as a freelance videographer/photographer as well pursuing a number of personal photographic and film projects.



Felicity Palma
As a California native with roots in both Sicily and Croatia, Felicity Palma comes to Duke interested in exploring women’s stories at the intersections of folklore and feminism. She is a women’s rights advocate who holds a B.A. in Italian Studies from UC Santa Cruz and an M.A. in European & Mediterranean Studies from NYU where she researched anti-immigrant sentiment in the Mediterranean. Felicity has also spent time in South Africa, where she documented the stories of young women living with cancer. Her photographic work to date predominantly explores women’s embodied traumas and subverting the male gaze.



Danielle Smith
Dani Smith was born in 1993 and raised in Reno, Nevada. After graduating high school she attended the University of Nevada, Reno where she attained a dual degree in Photography and Anthropology. Her work focuses on identity and the way people are influenced and interact with their environments. She has a passion for understanding people and the ability of photographs to tell stories and influence the way that people view the world. Her current work focuses on the way photography creates a dialogue about American identities and how experiences shape a person’s fundamental understanding of the world around them.



Tamar Rachkovsky
The daughter of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Tamar was born in Israel in 1985 and grew up in Jerusalem. She graduated from The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and received her BFA from Sapir College – School of Audio & Visual Arts. Tamar is a documentary director and has worked in different roles in the Israeli film and TV industry. She is particularity interested in exploring and shedding light on social issues through personal stories. Recently, Tamar co-organized a language exchange group for first generation Israelis of Russian heritage. She also joined a women’s amateur soccer team and greatly enjoys the playfulness involved. Her thesis film Russian Face (30 min, documentary, 2015) has screened in festivals in Israel and around the world.


Sarah Riazati
Sarah Riazati is a curious visual thinker focusing on filmmaking, design and code. She grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia and studied visual communication at the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill. She first started shooting documentary shorts and coding websites in college, and worked professionally as a video journalist, animator, front-end developer and branded content producer in New York, Italy, and Chapel Hill, NC. Her experimental, multimedia approach to documentary production explores behind-the-scenes stories of why people belong and how things really work.



Hannah Waleh
Hannah Waleh is an Iranian-American filmmaker and artist raised in the Bay Area. She received her B.A. in Film & Digital Media from University of California Santa Cruz, where she earned an Academic Achievement Award for her senior thesis. Hannah has worked for several non-profits after graduation, including the United Nations Association Film Festival, the Intersection for the Arts, and the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center.

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 Xingyao Zheng
–Class of 2018–

Born in 1993, Xingyao Zheng was raised in China. Involved in a long migrating journey across the country with family, she came to have a particular perspective of observing and interpreting man, nature and city. After graduation from high school, she majored in Creative Media at Sun Yat-sen University where she earned a B.F.A degree. Her most recent documentary work regards a town which is slated to be razed due to reconstruction policy, relating to Xingyao’s passion for recording and revealing truth, and neglected and forgotten worlds. She looks forward to making original documentaries at Duke, exploring a combination of new forms of creative production and representations of authenticity

Zheng, Xingyao


Welcome everyone! See you soon!


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