Maya Churi

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Maya Churi is a writer and media artist who has been creating online interactive narratives since 1999 starting with her project 'Letters From Homeroom and continuing with Forest Grove' in 2005. To make Forest Grove, which runs about 45-minutes, Churi wrote a feature-length screenplay, then created a scale model of the story's community and used still images and graphics for the visual design. Forest Grove screened as part of the Sundance Film Festival's online program in 2005, and was, like Letters From Homeroom, recognized as a compelling contribution to the evolving world of interactive storytelling.
by Holly Willis[citation needed]

Forest Grove[edit]

Forest Grove is an Internet-based narrative that tells the story of Charlie, a fourteen-year-old boy who swims across his gated community, an idyllic residence where happiness is secured and security is guaranteed. Hopping from pool to pool he encounters various neighbors, meets strange inhabitants, and even falls in love. But the Arcadian world of Forest Grove is not as picture perfect as Charlie once thought. Forced to flee the community Charlie’s world comes crashing down when the secrets of his past rise to the surface. To emphasize the spatial experience of living in a gated community the set for the story is an architect's model of Forest Grove. The model is approx. 8ft. x 12ft. and includes 36 houses, 12 swimming pools, a community center, and a guards station. Still photographs were taken of miniature styrene plastic people enacting the scenes and then edited/animated (with the use of Flash) to create a complete story that is accessible online. By manipulating how the audience navigates through the story it draws the audience, like the residents of Forest Grove, into a false sense of control over their lifestyle -- focusing on patterns, rules and laws designed to contribute to "quality of life", but in reality take it away.

Selected screenings of Forest Grove
Sundance Film Festival (2005) – Park City, UT
Seoul Net Fest (2005) – Seoul, Korea – Winner Best Web Work
Filmstock Film Festival (2005) – UK

Forest Grove credits
Written, Directed and Produced by Maya Churi
Photography by Jim Denault
Design by Michelle Perreault
Music and Animation by Jason Snell

Forest Grove is not currently active.

Letters From Homeroom[edit]

Letters From Homeroom is a multi-media fiction web site that tells the story of Alix and Claire, two sophomores in high school, through the letters they pass to each other during class. The web site consists of seventeen video, audio and text versions of the correspondence. Viewers can move in and out of the three different media elements to assemble the complete story. The site also offers viewers a chance to become a part of the correspondence, in the Bathroom viewers can post their own notes about what is going on in the story, or what their own experiences are. There is also a Locker room page, which contains histories of the characters and links to the personal web sites of the main girls that include journal entries that start where the film leaves off.

Screenings and installations of Letters From Homeroom
FILE/Festival Internacional De Linguagem Eletronica (2003)
La Fabbrica del Vapore, Curated by Creative Time (2001) – Milan, Italy
Seoul Net Fest (2001) – Seoul, Korea
Walker Art Center (2001) – Minneapolis
Hamburg Film festival (2001) – Hamburg, Germany
Sundance Film Festival (2000) – Park City, UT
Streaming Media Festival (2000) – Philadelphia, PA
Prince Music Theatre (2000) – Philadelphia, PA

Letters From Homeroom is not currently active.

Grants and awards[edit]

2005 Seoul Net Fest, Winner Best Web Work
2003 New York State Council on the Arts, Individual Artist Award
2001 Jerome Foundation, Media Arts Award
2000 Creative Capital Grant, Emerging Fields.
1998 MacDowell Colony Fellow
1995 Helena Rubenstein Scholar, New York University


Martelle, Scott.Creative Types Get a Bit of Business Schooling LATimes, August 20, 2006
Willis, Holly. Vision Quest,, Spring 2005
Parkinson, David, Filmstock BBC, June 2005
Stables, Kate. Forest Grove The Guardian, May 2005
Sims, Stella. Filmstock, Film Exposed, June 2005
Ross, Matthew. Cul-De-Sac, Filmmaker Magazine, Winter 2005
Lancaster & Conti, Building a Home Movie Studio & Getting Your Films Online Watson- Guptill Publications, 2002
Berman, A.S. ’Homeroom’ Angst Lingers On, Online, USA Today, Nov 30, 2000
Brown, Janelle. Show and Tell February 25, 2000
Goodyear, Sarah. For Love and Money The Village Voice April 12-18, 2000
Kushner, David. Backyard Auteurs, Rolling Stone June 8, 2000
Masolini, Marco. Nothing But Net, Filmmakger Magazine, Winter 2000
Dudrow, Andrea. Letters From Homeroom, 2000
Willis, Holly, Short Form: Attendance High for Letters From Homeroom, iFilm, 2000

Blog References[edit]

We Make Money Not Art, May 17, 2006
Pruned, July 21, 2005
Snarkmarket, July 22, 2005
Rotten Tomatoes, December 23, 2005

Selected writings[edit]

The Independent Film & Video Monthly
Bringing the Big Picture to the Small Screen (Nov ’03)
Jessica Irish’s Inflatable Art (July ’03)
Living Life as an Indie Mediamaker (June ’03)
ITVS (May ’03)
Little Sister Do What Your Big Sister Done (April '03)
The Hybrid Art of Marina Zurkow (March '03)
P.O.V. Brings Border Issues to the Internet (Jan/Feb '03)
New Paths in Storytelling (Dec '02)
Fun With Flash (Nov '02)
A Walk in Their Shoes (Oct '02)
Where Limitations Liberate (Sept '02)

The Ecstatic Truth of Werner Herzog and 125 Other Filmmakers (Sept '02)
Christine Vachon - A Decade of Producing Movies that Matter (Dec '99)
Deepa Mehta's Elements from, "Earth" and Beyond (Sept '99)
Hirokazu Kor-Eda Remembers "Afterlife" (May '99)
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson "Devil's Island" (March '99)
Tailor Made Distribution Zeitgeist Celebrates 10 years! (Nov '98)
Flaherty Film Seminar: Film As Memory (3-part series) (Aug '98)