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Meet the Filmmakers

  • UCLA has an academic, research and community service mission, and it is our great privilege to collaborate with the six largest school districts in the United States to help feed our nation’s children healthy sustainable food. The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, envisioned and supported by Jane and Terry Semel, and the UCOP Global Food Initiative support students’ transition to college by offering healthy sustainable food in the university setting

    Dr. Wendelin Slusser
  • “I often daydream about the ways that promoting healthy food could be the starting point for re-imagining how we teach our students in public schools. We face real food crises, including domestic and global food insecurity, food deserts and unsustainable ways of conducting animal husbandry and agriculture at industrial scales. The Urban School Food Alliance has the opportunity to lead in the crafting of policy ideas in dining halls and classrooms to make a more equitable, democratic vision of food tangible

    D. Andy Rice
  • It’s inspiring to see UCLA students uncover the heart of these policy issues and bring it to life through stop animation. Students advocating for students is powerful.

    Hannah Malan
  • Collaborating with the Urban School Food Alliance has truly shown me the power of cooperation and the importance of engaging people on all levels, from policy makers to the average grandmother. The work of the Urban School Food Alliance is not only proactive, but also highly impactful. School lunches are not only important to the K-12 students who will be eating them, but to everyone who is invested in nourishing a healthier and sustainable future for this nation.

    Sanna Alas
  • The chance to work with Urban School Food Alliance has given me the opportunity to learn more about policy/legislation and gives me excitement in contemplating the role that digital media could play in the future.

    Kayee Liu
  • The Urban School Food Alliance is doing work that needs to be done. I’m proud and happy to have had the chance to participate in this project. Feeding America’s kids should be everyone’s priority.

    Vanessa Moreno
  • With the mentorship and guidance provided by the academic community at UCLA, I believe that I will not only develop the techniques of a professional filmmaker, but also an awareness only garnered by working within a network of socially conscious learners dedicated to respectfully engage diversity.

    Robert Penna
  • This project taught me the importance of using media to give legislation clarity and make critical public policy accessible to a wider audience.

    Claudia Varney
  • The opportunity to use my policy and film backgrounds to bring life to a policy proposal was a unique experience provided to me by the Urban School Food Alliance.

    Kevin Waitkuweit
  • The Urban School Food Alliance provided me with the opportunity to collaborate on a stop animation project. Sketching for a project based on a policy proposal was a great learning experience.

    Ariel Waitkuweit

Dr. Wendelin Slusser

Dr. Wendelin Slusser

Associate Vice Provost, UCLA Healthy Campus View Details
D. Andy Rice

D. Andy Rice

ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media, Center for EthnoCommunications View Details
Hannah Malan

Hannah Malan

UCLA Graduate Student Researcher View Details
Sanna Alas

Sanna Alas

2015 UCLA graduate View Details
Kayee Liu

Kayee Liu

2015 UCLA graduate View Details
Vanessa Moreno

Vanessa Moreno

UCLA senior View Details
Robert Penna

Robert Penna

UCLA senior; View Details
Claudia Varney

Claudia Varney

2015 UCLA graduate View Details
Kevin Waitkuweit

Kevin Waitkuweit

2015 UCLA graduate View Details
Ariel Waitkuweit

Ariel Waitkuweit

UCLA undergraduate View Details
Dr. Wendelin Slusser

Dr. Wendelin Slusser

Associate Vice Provost, UCLA Healthy Campus

Associate vice provost for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative; HS Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; producer

Dr. Slusser leads the UCLA Chancellor Block’s Healthy Campus Initiative, envisioned and supported by Jane and Terry Semel, and leads the UC Office of the President Napolitano’s Global Food Initiativee efforts on the UCLA campus. She is the Principal Investigator on the Fit for LA Project that is focused on building the capacity of LAUSD school doctors, nurse practitioners and UCLA pediatric residents in the prevention and management of pediatric obesity; and the Prevention of Childhood Overweight through Parent Training Intervention Project focused on low-income preschool children and their parents. She is also a producer of the documentary Our Food Chain. Dr. Slusser joined the UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health faculty in 1996 and since then has been a leader in community, school, clinic and family based programs related to health promotion, infant and child nutrition and physical fitness.

“UCLA has an academic, research and community service mission, and it is our great privilege to collaborate with the six largest school districts in the United States to help feed our nation’s children healthy sustainable food. The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, envisioned and supported by Jane and Terry Semel, and the UCOP Global Food Initiative support students’ transition to college by offering healthy sustainable food in the university setting.”

D. Andy Rice

D. Andy Rice

ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media, Center for EthnoCommunications

ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media, Center for EthnoCommunications, UCLA Undergraduate Education Initiatives, and Healthy Campus Initiative; producer

Dr. Rice is a nonfiction filmmaker and media theorist who directs a pilot program at UCLA to teach media production for social change to undergraduates in the liberal arts. His students have focused on issues including active transit planning, gentrification, diasporic identity, arts activism, and food systems in Los Angeles. He is currently co-producing and editing a feature documentary with Zeinabu Davis titled Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema at UCLA, about the legacy of the L.A. Rebellion film movement, and a short documentary with choreographer Victoria Marks titled Unhooked, about the roots of hookup culture and sexual violence in Greek Life at college. He holds an MA in US History and PhD in Communication from UCSD, where he researched changes in documentary production and reenactment performance practices across the analog to digital transition.

“I often daydream about the ways that promoting healthy food could be the starting point for re-imagining how we teach our students in public schools. We face real food crises, including domestic and global food insecurity, food deserts and unsustainable ways of conducting animal husbandry and agriculture at industrial scales. The USFA has the opportunity to lead in the crafting of policy ideas in dining halls and classrooms to make a more equitable, democratic vision of food tangible.”

Hannah Malan

Hannah Malan

UCLA Graduate Student Researcher

UCLA graduate student researcher, UCOP Global Food Initiative; producer

With a background in communication, professional writing, and environmental advocacy, Hannah is currently completing her Master of Science degree at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. Dedicated to advancing the health of both people and the planet, Hannah serves as UCLA’s Graduate Student Researcher for the UC Office of the President Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative, where she coordinates and supports research efforts across the UC campuses to promote healthy, sustainable food throughout California, the U.S., and the world. Hannah also helps lead and manage UCLA Chancellor Block’s Healthy Campus Initiative graduate student researchers, undergraduate students, and communication support team.

“It’s inspiring to see UCLA students uncover the heart of these policy issues and bring it to life through stop animation. Students advocating for students is powerful.”

Sanna Alas

Sanna Alas

2015 UCLA graduate

2015 UCLA graduate; co-director, screenwriter and editor

Sanna Alas is an activist and aspiring physician dedicated to finding creative and interdisciplinary ways to foster healthy, sustainable communities. She recently graduated from UCLA with degrees in both Human Biology and Comparative Literature and hopes to combine these fields through digital storytelling and a medical practice rooted in addressing community issues. She has conducted research on health disparities in conjunction with Weill Cornell Medical College and has founded a service called the “College Hotline” to provide high school students with mentorship in pursuing higher education. Currently, she is involved with students and community members in South Los Angeles to increase access to healthy food through the creation of a community garden. Sanna is a lifelong learner and explorer and loves biking, animated short films, and bird-watching.

“Collaborating with USFA has truly shown me the power of cooperation and the importance of engaging people on all levels, from policy makers to the average grandmother. The work of the USFA is not only proactive, but also highly impactful. School lunches are not only important to the K-12 students who will be eating them, but to everyone who is invested in nourishing a healthier and sustainable future for this nation.”

Kayee Liu

Kayee Liu

2015 UCLA graduate

2015 UCLA graduate; screenwriter

Kayee Liu is an aspiring dietician who has a deep love for film/media production and food justice. Recently graduating from UCLA with a degree in Human Biology and Society has allowed him to explore the entire spectrum of science and its relationship to the human experience. He has found the value of using digital media in clearly communicating messages and the merits of using a unique medium to address prevalent issues faced in our communities. He has also helped document L.A. Kitchen, a recently opened nonprofit that aims to tackle issues such as food waste, unemployment, and nutritional health amongst local Angelenos. Currently he is working at Ralph’s as a Nutrition specialist whilst pursuing his own personal passions. Kayee loves to watch all types of film, indulges in various aspects of Japanese culture and seeks knowledge at every corner of his life.

“The chance to work with USFA has given me the opportunity to learn more about policy/legislation and gives me excitement in contemplating the role that digital media could play in the future.”

Vanessa Moreno

Vanessa Moreno

UCLA senior

UCLA senior; editor and co-director

Vanessa is originally from Tijuana, Mexico and attended community college in San Diego before transferring to UCLA. Vanessa is very passionate about social justice issues, particularly with regard to food access. She has extensive multimedia and film experience and likes to work on projects that straddle both community issues and effective social outreach. Previously, Vanessa worked for American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – Local 1931, The Center on Policy Initiatives, California Common Cause, and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Currently, she works in the communications area at the UCLA Labor Center and the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. She is majoring in International Development Studies with a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies at UCLA.

“The Alliance is doing work that needs to be done. I’m proud and happy to have had the chance to participate in this project. Feeding America’s kids should be everyone’s priority.”

Robert Penna

Robert Penna

UCLA senior;

UCLA senior; assistant director, editor and voiceover

Robert Penna transferred to UCLA from East Los Angeles College to complete a degree in American Literature and Culture. He is also an aspiring documentarian and cinematographer. Combining both his literature studies and passion for film, Robert produces socially realistic content. His thirst for knowledge and passion for producing quality films come from his need to sincerely represent diverse groups of people. Equipped with a the DSLR as his weapon of choice, Robert’s goal is to bring the overlooked to the forefront. Ultimately, Robert hopes his work will leave the audience well informed and able to engage in dialogue that spawns change both within their personal experience and their community. The acquisition of truth entitles him to exploitation as a source of power to save lives and to transform his own. Currently, Robert is working on his own web page, but some of his work can be viewed here.

“With the mentorship and guidance provided by the academic community at UCLA, I believe that I will not only develop the techniques of a professional filmmaker, but also an awareness only garnered by working within a network of socially conscious learners dedicated to respectfully engage diversity.”

Claudia Varney

Claudia Varney

2015 UCLA graduate

2015 UCLA graduate; screenwriter and editor

During her time at UCLA, Claudia’s focus was in both the theory and practice of Arts Activism as well as in public policy. Her methods encompass the use of online media, workshops, panels, film, theater of the oppressed, performance, as well as interactive and mobile art galleries. She is a British-American expat, and has lived and studied in Australia, Peru, and France.

“This project taught me the importance of using media to give legislation clarity and make critical public policy accessible to a wider audience.”

Kevin Waitkuweit

Kevin Waitkuweit

2015 UCLA graduate

2015 UCLA graduate; co-editor, co-screenwriter, color animator and narrator

Kevin transferred to UCLA from LAVC in 2012. His interests pertain to identity and the history of identity formation. Through UCLA’s undergraduate initiatives and the AspireLab at UCLA, he has been involved in two shorts dealing with topics ranging from transportation, disability, and the San Fernando Valley.

“The opportunity to use my policy and film backgrounds to bring life to a policy proposal was a unique experience provided to me by the USFA.”

Ariel Waitkuweit

Ariel Waitkuweit

UCLA undergraduate

UCLA undergraduate; illustrator/artist

Ariel transferred to UCLA from LAVC in 2014. In addition to reading and writing poetry, she also enjoys crafting and making art. She is currently majoring in English literature and minoring in linguistics, working on her senior thesis. She hopes to further her studies and continue researching poetry.

“The USFA provided me with the opportunity to collaborate on a stop animation project. Sketching for a project based on a policy proposal was a great learning experience.”