Welcome to the DOC Ontario Board Elections.

DOC Ontario’s board members serve two-year terms. There are ten candidates, including four current board members, running for six seats for the 2022/2023 term. 

DOC Ontario members will receive a unique survey link where they can vote for up to six people. If you have any issues receiving your survey link, please contact 


Below are the candidates. Please click the + beside each name to see each candidate’s bio and election statement. 



Ric Esther Bienstock is an acclaimed Emmy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker best known for her investigative documentaries.  From sex trafficking to the human organ trade, from corruption in the world of Boxing to Ebola, Bienstock’s hallmark is gaining unprecedented access to major international stories.  Her films and TV series, include the 6-part series “Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade”, featuring and executive produced by Samuel L. Jackson, “The Accountant of Auschwitz”, “Tales From the Organ Trade”, “Sex Slaves (aka The Real Sex Traffic)”, “Penn and Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour”, “Ms.Conceptions” and “Ebola: Inside an Outbreak”.


In 2019 Bienstock was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for “her commitment to raising awareness of global events and conflicts through film”.  She was awarded the Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism. This Award is presented to a Broadcast Journalist for an exceptional body of work and a significant contribution to the international profile of Canadian television journalism.  Bienstock is the first female independent producer to ever receive this award.   Bienstock was honoured at the Toronto International Film Festival with the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film as one of Canada’s leading women filmmakers.  


Her work has garnered dozens of prestigious awards, including two Edward R. Murrow Awards, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, a Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, a British Broadcast Award, a Distinguished Achievement award from the IDA in Los Angeles, 2 Amnesty International Awards and a Bafta nomination, among many others.



I’m grateful for the opportunity to run for re-election to the DOC board where I’m currently serving as National Rep.  DOC is an organization I truly believe in.  The Doc Institute, run by our Ontario chapter, continues to serve the documentary community with great programming for filmmakers at every stage of their career.  All of us documentary makers in Canada benefit from the incredible work DOC does on our behalf whether it be advocacy, workshops or keeping our fingers on the pulse of where our industry is headed.   The past few years have seen seismic changes in our industry and DOC continuously finds new ways to support and advocate for the documentary community.  


I hope to continue my work on the DOC board to support our industry and to find new ways to nurture and support emerging filmmakers.


Tiffany Hsiung is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. She is a two-time Canadian Screen Award winner and one of DOC NYC’s 40 under 40. 


In 2018, Tiffany received the prestigious Peabody award for her debut feature ‘The Apology’ (2016) (Produced by the National Film Board of Canada) along with the DuPont Columbia Award, the Allan King Memorial Award and over 15 international awards that include Best World Documentary at The Busan International Film Festival (Asia’s largest film festival) after an astounding world premiere at Hot Docs. 


‘Sing Me a Lullaby’ (2020) earned Hsiung her second Canadian Screen Award, along with the Oscar qualifying Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC and Toronto International Film Festival ‘Share Her Journey Short Cuts Award’ (during the world premiere at TIFF). The film went on to win The Directors Guild of Canada Best Short Film Award, Guangzhou International Documentary Festival Best International Short, the Audience Award and Best of Festival at the annual Women in Film and Television Showcase. It was also selected as TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Films of 2020. 


Harnessing her passion for both fiction and non-fiction storytelling, Hsiung was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to make ‘The Bassinet’ (2019) a hybrid short and co-created the digital interactive documentary ‘The Space We Hold’ (2017) which took home a Canadian Screen Award, a Peabody Futures of Media Award and was nominated for a Webby. 


Recently, Hsiung made a splash into scripted series, directing her first episodic show for the Emmy award winning Sinking Ship Entertainment, ‘Dino Dana’ (2018), being invited to be a director observer for the award winning show ‘Kim’s Convenience’,  and directing the season finale for the new YouTube original production web series ‘Lockdown’ (2020). As the pandemic narrative unfolded, Hsiung released ‘Until Further Notice’ (2021), commissioned by the CBC, which was filmed throughout the first lockdown in Ontario. It premiered at Hot Docs 2021 and is now distributed by Conde Nast and The New Yorker. 


After being selected as one of 8 directors to participate in the Netflix-sponsored Academy Women Directors’ Program, Hsiung was also chosen to participate in the 2021 TIFF filmmakers lab for her upcoming scripted feature ‘Sing Me a Lullaby’.  


Hsiung’s work has screened all around the world, theatrically released and distributed in Canada, US, Korea and China. Her films have been internationally broadcasted by PBS/POV, and worldwide by Al Jazeera and The New Yorker. 


In an effort to build and foster transformative change that will strengthen the BIPOC community in the film industry, Hsiung sits on the boards of DOC Canada, Directors Guild of Canada (Ontario), and HOT DOCS. She is also a member of the National BIPOC committee for the Directors Guild of Canada. 

Filmography IMDB


In 2019, I had the honour to be DOC’s recipient for the Allan King Memorial award. It marked the 10th anniversary of Allan's passing and recognizes a filmmaker who embodies Allan's philosophy that filmmakers should be fearless, free-thinking, and independent.


Over the course of 14 plus years in the documentary world I have had the privilege to be part of various communities and organizations that have supported me as a storyteller and a community advocate. It takes a village to raise a child, and similarly, it takes a community to bring a film and filmmaker to life. 


My experience as a facilitator and mentor for emerging filmmakers is the seed of my enthusiasm to join the board. I have participated in and guided a handful of organizations that support talented young people to identify and step into their potential. I’ve served as a board member for Schools Without Borders for over 8 years, served a three year term on the Grant Review Team for Art Reach Toronto and have been a cultural ambassador for the Aeroplan Beyond Miles program. 


Harnessing the vibrant energy and the dynamic perspectives of youth excites me for the future of the documentary industry. If elected, I aim to contribute to the ongoing growth of DOC Ontario chapter and the continuing efforts to build an organization that engages with emerging filmmakers, building their capacity and cultivating greater diversity in our membership. I would also like to advocate for more support and discussions around mental health issues in our industry and how we can best serve our members.


Lalita Krishna is an award- winning documentary filmmaker whose documentaries have screened on all major networks, and featured at filmfestivals around the world.


Lalita’s documentaries have been acclaimed for bringing important topics to the forefront and have often been a catalyst for change.


Lalita is the Writer and Producer of ‘Bangla Surf Girls’ which had its world premier at Hot Docs 2021 and has screened at over 25 international festivals and won 7 international awards. ‘Fear of Dancing’ a Quebec/Ontario co production, follows a chorophobe as he travels around the world confronting his worst nightmare, premiered on the Documentary Channel and CBC’s Gem in 2020. Other productions include ‘Untying the Knot’ which follows the survivor of a brutal domestic assault and premiered on CBC’s Documentary Channel in November 2019. Previous productions include “Listen to Me” winner of the Best feature doc at Realworld FF 2015-the story of a survivor of child abuse who uses expressive arts therapy to help young women deal with family violence. “Mallamall”, which won an honourable mention at the Margaret Mead film festival is about global capitalism playing out in India’s burgeoning retail industry. “Semisweet: Life in Chocolate”- an internationally acclaimed film about child labour in the chocolate trade, with a mobile app to track good chocolate. Lalita’s films “Breakout’, ‘Jambo Kenya’ ‘Sweatin’ It’ and ‘Return to Ryan’s Well’ on the theme of youth and social activism are linked to the Ontario curriculum with accompanying teacher’s guides.



I have been an active Member of DOC Ontario for the past 25 years. As Co- chair of the Ontario chapter, I work with the Board to create a vision and long term goals for the DOC Institute. I work closely with staff to ensure we provide our members with high calibre programs that benefit filmmakers in all stages of development and production. I am one of the key visionaries of our flagship ‘Breakthrough’ program which has been a launching pad for so many talented filmmakers As Co Chair of the board I have also played a pivotal role in building relationships with partners and funders. DOC Institute- is truly a hub for creative enterprise and we are on the brink of many more creative partnerships which will also lead to innovative and exciting programs for all our members. I have been advocating for diverse voices in leadership positions across the board. I am glad to see some of these changes taking effect. I am fully cognizant of the need for fresh voices and new ideas on the board and I would like to stay on for one more term to help with succession and to provide continuity. 


James Weyman is President of media production and consulting company Barn 12 Inc.. A 35 year veteran of the screen-based industries, prior to running Barn 12 he was a senior executive at the Ontario Media development Corporation (now Ontario Creates) where he was responsible for managing a $20 million portfolio of funds including the OMDC Film Fund. As a producer and filmmaker, James has been involved in a range of critically acclaimed productions, including the feature documentary “Finding Fidel”. As an executive, James has extensive experience in policy and program development and administration; project development and financing; domestic and international business development and co-production strategies; and communications and governance.


Along the way he has worked closely with industry organizations such as DOC and Hot Docs, ImagineNative, Reelworld, Reel Asian and many more; supported the careers of two generations of filmmakers; and participated in financing hundreds of film and TV productions including documentary titles such as “League of Exotique Dancers”, “A Better Man”, “All Governments Lie” and the acclaimed “Anthropocene”. At Barn 12 he’s committed to creating high quality film, television and digital media in partnership with like-minded creators for a global audience and has several scripted and unscripted projects in development and post-production. James also does business development consulting in the domestic and international creative industries; is a frequent speaker and moderator on industry panels; and is currently Co-Chair of DOC Ontario, a member of the CMPA, a recent Board member of Hot Docs and an active member of PRO (Producers Roundtable of Ontario).



DOC Ontario/DOC Institute is a vital force for the Ontario documentary community in a time of rapid change. As filmmakers we need a collective voice more than ever to address the key issues of the day, and we need to create opportunities to grow a diverse, equitable and sustainable documentary filmmaking community and industry. Having been elected to the DOC Ontario Board in 2017 I’m now nominating myself for a third term on the Board. I’m currently filling the position of Co-Chair and along with other members of the Board Executive have had to pitch in over the last several years with additional strategic leadership and management contributions to support staff and the organization through the ups and downs of staffing departures and hires as well as the impact of the COVID pandemic. Areas of focus have included programming and events, budget, fundraising, HR, governance and sponsor relations. It’s given me a deeper insight into the operations and also the challenges of the organization. With the shifting landscape of the industry amplified by COVID 19, DOC Ontario and the DOC Institute need to remain nimble and look for new ways of supporting a growing membership of diverse filmmakers. At the same time, we’re also faced with fiscal pressures and uncertainties going into 2022 that will need to be addressed. We’ll continue to need strong leadership and the full participation of the Board to weather the challenges that will allow us to deliver the services and professional development opportunities that DOC Ontario members want to see to in the coming years. I would be pleased to continue to bring a career’s worth of executive knowledge and experience to the Board position for another term.


Maya Bastian is an award winning filmmaker and writer with roots in conflict journalism. Her work has been shown in Los Angeles, New York, Berlin, UK, France, Asia and across Canada.  Her short drama AIR SHOW received national press and is currently airing on CBC. Her most recent film TIGRESS, produced by BLACKOUT MEDIA and India’s JAR PICTURES was supported by CBC, NETFLIX and the CANADIAN FILM CENTER, and recently participated in CANNES COURT METRAGE 2021. It was nominated for a CEC AWARD and premiered at Festival de Nouveau Cinema Montreal. She is in development on multiple features with BLACKOUT MEDIA and SUITABLE PICTURES and is currently show running a 1/2 hour comedy series on race & representation ‘HOW TO BE BROWN’ with CINEFAM as well as co-writing and directing a paranormal mystery series with REFLECTOR ENTERTAINMENT. She recently worked as head researcher and writer for HUNGRY EYES MEDIA on their upcoming BLK:HISTORY series for the HISTORY CHANNEL. Her work frequently explores the trauma related to displacement and migration. She specializes in exploring untold stories from around the world, integrating the voices of each unique community through active engagement, research and open dialogue. .  

Her video installations and mixed-media artwork has shown at the Colombo Art Biennale, Gallery 46 Whitechapel, Shoshana Wayne LA, Artworks Downtown SF and more. She premiered her multi-media series ‘Post-Memory’ at Edinburgh Fringe 2017 and recently spent 8 weeks on residency in Palestine at the Al Ma’Mal Foundation.

She is a producer on the BIPOC women-led development team at CineFAM, is the founder of the X-Wave Mentorship series for BIPOC creators at Trinity Square Video and is runs the Creators of Colour Incubator at TIFF. 

You can see her work and style at


My name is Maya Bastian, I am an award-winning Tamil-Canadian filmmaker and artist based in  Toronto. I started my career working as a videographer/journalist in conflict zones, spending  time documenting human rights abuses around the world. I now utilize that experience to  make documentaries, narrative fiction and video installations internationally. I was approached  by Lalita Krishna to apply for the position of board member for your esteemed organization. I  have spent time on multiple boards in the past, most recently as the vice-chair of the board of  Whippersnapper Gallery. In my tenure as board member at Breakthroughs Film Festival, (2016- 2019) I also served as marketing chair and instituted multiple initiatives that are still in place  today. I have also spent multiple years as an educator at Toronto Film School and Trinity Square  Video as well as a facilitator for programs such as the Creators of Colour Incubator in  partnership with TIFF and I am the founder of the X-Wave BIPOC Mentorship program at TSV.  

I would be honoured to join your board and feel that my previous experience has given me a  broad range of skills and a diverse network that will be of value to your organization. I’m  wholly committed to filmmaking and filmmakers of colour in every aspect of my career. I  believe that together we can all be a positive force for change in our industry, as well as a  nurturer of emerging talent and new voices. 


Melissa Bessey is a Toronto based producer, on and off figure stylist, costume designer and production designer for film and TV. She has been working behind the scenes in entertainment since she graduated from OCAD U's Material Art & Design program in 2004. 

Melissa also has an educational background in journalism and 17+ years of experience doing research, writing, PR and marketing for the fashion, entertainment, and health & wellness industries. Her extensive public relations experience lends well to coordinating film and TV productions and working with a broad range of people from diverse backgrounds. 

Melissa got her start styling magazine editorials, music videos and corporate commercials. For the past 5+ years, she has gone on to focus on feature films & TV productions. 

Melissa loves making time to create original art, decor and props, and incorporating them into productions big and small. Her artwork, writing and photography have been published in print and online newspapers, magazines and publications locally as well as internationally. 

In 2014 Melissa was recognized with an International Woman of Achievement Award for her contributions to Canada’s Arts & Culture sector. Since 2018 Melissa has been a member of Humber College’s School of Writing & Communications, acting as an advocate for the professional development of the program.


Dear DOC Ontario committee;

My name is Melissa Bessey, I’m a Toronto local filmmaker with a diverse background in producing, production design and costume design, and I have a huge passion for helping bring people’s stories to life.

I have been working in film & TV since I graduated from OCAD U in 2004 and have worked on all types of productions from web shows and commercials, to union TV shows and movies, but I am most excited about making documentaries.

Over the past few years I have worked on several series of docs with Yap Films and independent production companies and have been extremely inspired to make my own as well. I worked on am LGBTQ+ doc series for OutTV which gave me the courage to partner with my daughter to help them tell more LGBTQ stories that are made by young people, for young people and I can hardly wait to bring them go life.

Since 2018 I have been a member of Humber’s Advisory Committee to their school of Writing & Communication, and prior to that was a founding board member with Girls in STEM initiative HerVOLUTION, so I have many years of board experience.

What I am most excited about in joining your board is being able to bring new, diverse ideas and voices to the table, to help shape the DOC Ontario chapter for the future in a way that is inclusive of people of all backgrounds, ages and orientations.

Thank you, for your consideration.


Sean Cisterna is a multi award-winning director whose most recent film is From the Vine (2020), an international coproduction starring Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano, and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. Cisterna directed the acclaimed cancer drama Kiss and Cry (2017), which topped the Canadian box office, and is currently streaming on Netflix worldwide. His 2015 feature Full Out, starring Jennifer Beals, is based on the true story of gymnast Ariana Berlin. The film was broadcast on NBC, now residing with Netflix Worldwide and Disney Europe. Cisterna was awarded a Canada 150 Citizenship Award by the Federal Government for his dedication to and community engagement in the arts. His upcoming feature documentary The Long Rider is set for release in summer 2022.



The Covid-19 pandemic allowed me the time to focus on and produce a feature length documentary. It was an experience that reignited my passion for storytelling in this important and uniquely special medium. And although I'm a relative newcomer to the documentary world, I bring a wealth of experience working in narrative filmmaking. I thrive on identifying those specific target audiences for my films, which allows them to achieve some success at the box office and on streaming platforms. If I can contribute to the documentary community by helping guide new filmmakers to think outside of the box and find their audiences, then I think I can be a valuable asset to this board.


Bryn Hughes is an independent producer and co-owner of Frequent Flyer Films Inc.  Since 2002, Bryn has worked as a producer and production manager, bringing several critically acclaimed documentary series and features to the screen.  Dabbling in historical, natural science and journalistic documentaries, Bryn’s experience is wide and varied, having worked with major broadcasters, funders, key creatives and crews across Canada and around the world. 


Most recently, Bryn was nominated for a 2020 Canadian Screen Award for best history documentary, Fight to the Finish.  In 2019, she was nominated for the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social or Political Program for The Way Out (2018, CBC Docs POV).  Other projects include CSA nominated The Great Wild Indoors and The Gorilla Doctors (CBC The Nature of Things), Barry Steven’s CSA winning War Story: Afghanistan (History) and the Gemini nominated feature documentary Wiebo’s War (NFB).In 2018, Bryn formed Frequent Flyer Films and is producing the feature length documentaries The Perfect Story (launching 2022), Cynara (in post) and Hot Docs 2021 Forum alum, Possessing Einstein (in production).Since 2015, Bryn has taught production management and producing for documentary at the Documentary Filmmaking Institute at Seneca College.  Bryn is a graduate of York University’s Film Production program.



I have been a member of DOC for many years, and have always appreciated the community, resources and support offered by DOC Institute as I’ve navigated independent documentary production these past 20 years.  I have garnered a good deal of experience, both positive and negative, to contribute to the important conversations happening in the documentary industry in Canada. I am ready to give back to our community, to help elevate our art, to assist members in navigating and perhaps alleviating  some of the hurdles we face to launch our work, and to build a sustainable career model. 


As a producer, I am used to wearing many hats, juggling conflicting priorities, navigating bureaucracy, and communicating effectively with my collaborators and partners.  I am good at thinking through problems, strategizing solutions and dreaming of ways to make this work better, easier and more fun.  


 I am dedicated to working with the next generation of filmmakers – I do this in my teaching at Seneca College’s Documentary New Media program, and I do this through my company, Frequent Flyer Films, championing new voices, new talent, new stories and new ideas.   I am ready to do this work and I would be honoured to serve our community in this capacity.


Min Sook Lee has directed numerous critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, including: Donald Brittain Gemini winner Tiger Spirit, Hot Docs Best Canadian Feature winner Hogtown, Gemini nominated El Contrato and Canadian Screen Award winner, The Real Inglorious Bastards.


Lee is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Award, and the Alanis Obomsawin Award for Commitment to Community and Resistance. Canada’s oldest labour arts festival, Mayworks, has named the Min Sook Lee Labour Arts Award in her honour.


Lee’s most recent feature, Migrant Dreams tells the undertold story of migrant workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers. In 2017, Migrant Dreams was awarded Best Labour Documentary by the Canadian Journalists Association and garnered the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize which honours journalists whose work identifies important social and economic issues in Canada.  


Lee is an Associate Professor at OCAD University, her area of research and practice focuses on the critical intersections of art+social change in labour, border politics, migration and social justice movements. 



Hello fellow documentary makers!  I am interested in joining the incredible board at Doc Institute because I would like to support the work the organization does to help filmmakers access funding, shape their creative voice and build community. I’ve been working in documentary for twenty years. I came into this work as a grassroots social justice activist who recognized media as a direct channel to changing our world.    Over the years my own work has been supported by the doc community and I’d like to use my experience to give back. In particular, I’d like to support initiatives that grow our community - demographically in terms of who makes and watches docs, creatively in terms of how we understand the genre and socially in terms of how documentary is integrated into our ideas of creative world-building.


Alex Williams is an emerging documentary Producer/Director. His 2015 documentary The Pass System film screened widely across Canada in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and institutions, was broadcast nationally on APTN and CBC, and received nominations for two Canadian Screen Awards. He has taught film and media at Sheridan College and the National Theatre School of Canada.  Currently pursuing a research/creation doctorate in Cinema and Media Studies as one of York University’s distinguished Elia Scholars, Alex is making a follow-up to The Pass System entitled The Trust Accounts, examining the socio-economic impacts of a continuing federal fiscal policy on Indigenous communities, and the privileges conferred on the non-Indigenous by the same. Alex holds a BFA from Emily Carr University in Film/Video and an MFA from York University in Film Production, but began his film education in sound, as a young apprentice/assistant to his stepfather, Emmy-award winning sound mixer William Butler, on a variety of projects from the John G. Diefenbaker Centre to X-Men 3. Alex was President of the artist-run centre Charles Street Video for six years, where he brought forward policies to support Indigenous media production and exhibition, and advocated for DOC to engage in similar forms of redress in response to legacies of colonialism. Alex is on the advisory board of Seneca College’s Documentary Film Institute, and is also a member of the Film Studies Association of Canada and the Canadian Actor’s Equity Association. Raised in Treaty Six Saskatoon, he currently lives in Toronto, and is bilingual French/English. 



We live in precarious and shifting times where nonfiction filmmaking has a profound role to play. I’ve been a member of DOC since 2009, never as yet on the board. I’ve witnessed conversations of great substance occur on our doc-discussion forum, as well as seen senior doc makers assisting emerging ones, and felt the importance of the community facilitated by DOC events. I’m convinced that support for the kinds of horizontal spaces created by DOC leads not only to a stronger voice when we approach decision makers and politicians, it actually creates better films. The urgency of our time makes models of collaboration and decolonial ways of working essential and healing modes of engagement, both in production and in our organization. This is what I would bring in working to support DOC and the DOC Institute in its important work. Having spent nearly 20 years in non-profit boards, I know the essential and generative role a board can play in supporting an organization’s leadership in their work, and look forward to that opportunity and responsibility to support the diversity of member’s voices in DOC.