An unprecedented three-time recipient of the Sundance Film Festival’s Best Dramatic Cinematography Award, Director Ellen Kuras was first widely recognized for her black and white cinematography on Tom Kalin’s 1991 independent feature, Swoon. She began her career in 1987, shooting Ellen Bruno’s internationally acclaimed Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia and winning the 1990 Eastman Kodak Best Cinematography Focus Award. In 1995, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on A Century of Women and then nominated again for Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls. Kuras has been a recipient of the New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) Muse Award, as well as the Los Angeles Women in Film Crystal Award.
Her other credits include Isaac Mizrahi’s Unzipped, Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol, Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated documentary, 4 Little Girls, and his feature films Summer of Sam and Bamboozled. Ellen shot Ted Demme’s Blow, starring Johnny Depp, and Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity (winner, Best Dramatic Cinematography and Grand Jury Award, Sundance Film Festival 2002) and The Ballad of Jack and Rose. One of the few women to shoot studio films, she was the cinematographer for Analyze That, starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro, and Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Her latest work includes the Neil Young concert film Heart of Gold, Lou Reed’s Berlin, Be Kind Rewind and, most recently, Sam Mendes’s Away We Go.
A native of Cedar Grove, N.J., Ellen initially attended Brown University to study anthropology, but became interested in photography after taking a class at the Rhode Island School of Design. Although awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, she opted to stay in New York City to work in film.
Active in the Laotian American community in the United States and Canada, Co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath is a creative consultant for developing Lao TV and other media. During his early years in Brooklyn, he served as the primary liaison and translator for Laotians living in New York City and surrounding areas. His background in community work includes assisting Gang Prevention for Youth and Family Crisis Intervention through the Church Avenue Merchants Block Association and working with the police department as a liaison and interpreter for the Lao community. Formerly an Area Policy Board member, Thavi has consulted for the New York City Board of Education.
His film work extends into writing, editing, directing and cinematography. His projects as editor include Mira Sorvino’s directorial debut, Making Famous, as well as Summer School, Cuba Libre, Americanos, Streaming with the Prez, Vietnam on the Cusp, Sound Painting and, most recently, Golden Venture. Thavi has also directed and edited music videos for independent artists, published poetry and won awards for his paintings and illustrations. He graduated with honors from Pratt Institute with a degree in electrical engineering. The Betrayal is his first film as both subject and filmmaker.