Sasha Waters Freyer

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Sasha Waters Freyer (born November 19, 1968) is an American filmmaker and is the Chair of the Department of Photography and Film at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In 2018, her documentary, five years in the making, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival],[1] where it won a Special Jury Prize and was picked up for theatrical distribution by Greenwich Entertainment[2] (U.S.) and Films We Like (Canada).

In 2016, she received the Helen Hill Award from the 10th Orphan Film Symposium,[3].

Early career[edit]

Waters Freyer was born in Brooklyn, New York, United States and studied photography at the University of Michigan (1986–1988) and The School of Visual Arts. In 1991, she received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, where she studied with photographers Lois Conner, Thomas Roma and Charles Traub. She moved from photography to moving images shortly after graduation, working for filmmakers Michael Almereyda and Hal Hartley, Barbara Kopple, and television producers Sasha Alpert and Daniel Polin. While assisting on Kopple’s Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, Waters Freyer met Iana Porter with whom she founded the New York production company Emotion Motion Pictures, Inc, (the company was named by the great speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison), and co-produced her first film, Whipped (1998) a 16mm documentary portrait of three professional New York dominatrixes. Whipped was funded in part by Jonathan Poneman’s and Bruce Pavitt’s Sub Pop Records, Whipped “doesn’t exploit for snarky laughs or soft-core titillation”[4] wrote Variety.[4] Whipped was selected for the first ever Sundance Independent Producers conference, and aired nationally on the Sundance Channel in the early 2000s. Waters Freyer was credited as “Sasha Waters” until 2003.

Waters Freyer earned her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University in 1999, where she studied with Lynne Sachs[5] and Rea Tajiri. Her thesis film, Razing Appalachia,[6] which chronicled a years-long struggle against the expansion of then the nation’s largest strip mine in rural West Virginia, aired on the PBS series Independent Lens[7] in 2003. Razing Appalachia was the first national feature documentary film about the environmental and social costs of mountaintop removal mining and has since screened in more than 30 countries globally as a part of the ITVS series True Stories: Life in the U.S.A. Writing in The New Yorker, Nancy Franklin said of Razing Appalachia that the film was a “good example of what makes public television valuable.” Razing Appalachia earned awards at several U.S. film festivals including the Vermont International Film Festival, the EarthVision Environmental Film Festival and the Rural Route Film Festival. It has been sold to hundreds of University and community libraries by the distributor of environmental media, Bullfrog Films.

Since 2000[edit]

In 2000, Waters Freyer accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Film & Video at the University of Iowa. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006 and created, over several years, a series of personal experimental films that have screened widely in the U.S. and abroad, including at the Tribeca, Big Sky Documentary, Jihlava International, Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cinema Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba and Chicago Underground Film Festivals, winning awards in the experimental film category from the Onion City Film Festival in Chicago, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Humboldt International Short Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the San Diego Women’s Film Festival.

In 2013, Waters Freyer left the University of Iowa for a Chair position at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, where she currently teaches BFA and MFA students working in photography, film and media installation.

Recent projects[edit]

Waters Freyer’s new feature film, five years in the making, is a feminist documentary portrait of the American photographer Garry Winogrand. All Things are Photographable is co-produced by Submarine, and will have its broadcast premiere on the PBS series American Masters in the 2018-19 season. The film is made possible with the support of the National Endowment of the Arts, the Derek Freese Documentary Fund[8] and a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Waters Freyer has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (2015, 2007); the Graham Foundation (2006); the Jerome Foundation (1999); the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (1999); The Jacqueline Donnet Fund (2001); The Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund (2002); The Skaggs Foundation (2002); the Iowa Arts Council (2002 and 2005).

She has been a fellow at The MacDowell Colony (1999, 2002), Yaddo (2004) and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2015).


  1. ^ "SXSW 2018 Schedule". Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  2. ^ Hipes, Patrick (2018-03-14). "SXSW Winner 'Garry Winogrand' Acquired By Greenwich Entertainment". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Dennis Harvey (2000-03-19). "Whipped". Variety. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  5. ^ "Sasha Waters Freyer". 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  6. ^ "Independent Lens . RAZING APPALACHIA . The Film". PBS. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  7. ^ "Independent Lens - Independent Documentary Films". PBS. Retrieved 2016-09-05.
  8. ^ "Derek Freese Documentary Fund". Greater Philadelphia Film Office. Retrieved 2018-03-28.

External links[edit]