Sarah Ema Friedland

filmmaker, artist

New York, US

telling stories histories experimental political

I am a filmmaker and artist rooted in creative non-fiction. I am also an educator and the Director of the MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute (the best job in the world).

Operating on a firm belief that reality has been messed with since people started telling stories and writing histories, my work is rooted in non-fiction but often uses the vocabularies of speculative fiction and fantasy to tweak and re-imagine reality. I want my work to be a tool that opens hearts and minds to a more equitable world and I believe that the best way to do that is by making work that not only challenges conservative thought and values, but also uses experimental and playful language to challenge the way information is received. I see this as a political and playful act that simultaneously reclaims power from both dominant narratives and dominant modes of storytelling to make way for something different.

Friedland’s works have been supported by grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Paul Newman Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Palestine American Research Center, the LABA House of Study, and the MacDowell Colony. She was named one of the “Top 10 Independent Filmmakers to Watch” by the Independent Magazine, is a recipient of the Paul Robeson award from the Newark Museum, and was nominated for a New York Emmy. She is currently working on a feature documentary titled Lyd In Exile, which she is co-directing with Rami Younis, and which was selected to pitch at the DocCorner Market at the Cannes Film Festival and Days of Cinema in Ramallah. Friedland received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and the International School of Film and Television in Cuba and her MFA from the Integrated Media Art Program at Hunter College. Friedland is a member of the Meerkat Media Collective and the Director of the MDOCS Storyteller’s Institute at Skidmore College.


Here After




“And when I die let me be buried in a Hemlock coffin, so I’ll go through hell snapping.”