© Burkett Photography
Melissa Beatriz is a Uruguayan-American documentary filmmaker, writer, cultural producer, and researcher based in Philadelphia. She uses storytelling as a tool to collectively produce community media, support grassroots organizing, and archive folkloric practices. Her projects focus on the intersection of the arts, social change, racial/immigrant justice, and policy.
Since 2010, she has collaborated with organizations and artists that advocate for social justice, with roles in communications, development, outreach, event production, teaching, and film production. Some of these organizations include BlackStar Film Festival, Scribe Video Center, PHL Latino Film Festival, Media Mobilizing Project (MMP), Reentry Think Tank, and Taller Puertorriqueño. As a freelance consultant, she has assisted independent artists and grassroots projects with creative, development, and documentary strategies. Melissa has produced and collaborated on 10+ documentary and community media projects.
Some notable documentary film collaborations include Baobab Flowers (creative producer) and The Engine of My Life (co-director/co-editor). She is currently directing the documentary film La Lucha Sigue/The Fight Continues, which centers the immigrant justice movement and #ShutDownBerks campaign in the region. Melissa is a 2019 Leeway Transformation Award recipient. She has received grant support from the Doc Society Good Pitch Local Philadelphia Grant (2019), and the Leeway Foundation Art & Change (2019, 2012) and Window of Opportunity (2017) grants. She is a Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival Scholar (2018) and an MMP Movement Media Fellow (2014). She has participated in Doc Society’s Good Pitch Local Philadelphia 2018, Double Exposure Scholars program 2018, Sundance Institute’s 2017 New Frontier Philadelphia Day Lab intensive, and the Public VR Lab.
As a journalist, she has written for online publications including WHYY, Broad Street Review, Generocity, Politic 365, and Motivos Magazine. She is a member of several media collectives, including Brown Girls Doc Mafia and CAMRA.
She has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on macro-level policy. She has co-taught several classes focused on using film and journalism for social change. She also directed the CAMRA Fellows Program from 2016-2017 and oversaw a budget of $143,000 from a Mellon Foundation grant, while continuing to serve as a core team member of the program through 2020. Melissa is currently a joint Research Fellow/PhD student in the Communication and Social Welfare programs at Penn.