cast and crew
EMMANUEL UREY was born in a small rural village in Bong County, Liberia. At the age of 13, he, along with his family, fled Liberia for a refugee camp across the border in French Guinea. One year later, he first learned to read and write. Imprisoned by Charles Taylor’s rebels while furthering his education in Monrovia, Emmanuel narrowly escaped death. Today, he is pursuing a PhD degree in the United States, while helping to advance land reforms in Liberia critical to equitable development.
MIATTA FAHNBULLEH narrator, grew up in Liberia with the dream to be a singer, despite social conventions that restricted women from performing in clubs and dance halls. She’s recorded and produced several albums. From 1968 to 1984 she lived abroad in Kenya, England and the U.S., receiving a degree from the American Music & Dramatic Academy in New York. Now living in Liberia, she continues to be a vocalist and also an activist for children’s and women’s rights. In 2005 she founded Obaa’s Girls Education Outreach (OGEO), a school that offers more then 180 scholarships to girls.
JOSEPH SAYE GUANNU is a Liberian academic, diplomat and historian, who founded the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Cuttington University. A former Liberian ambassador to the United States of America, Guannu is also one of Liberia’s most prominent historians. He has been a strong voice for understanding the importance of both Liberia’s settler and indigenous histories in efforts toward reconciliation.
SILAS KPANAN’AYOUNG SIAKOR is a Liberian environmentalist who founded the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). He was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2006 for his revealing of illegal logging in Liberia and its connection to the civil war, leading to export sanctions for the United Nations Security Council. He is an advocate for recognition and formalization of customary land rights.
PHILOMENA BLOH SAYEH is Director of the Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) in Monrovia. She has been instrumental in rehabilitating Liberia’s national archives, which was in the middle of a fighting zone during Liberia’s civil war. Through her tireless leadership, the CNDRA has embarked on a major effort to collect, process, and digitize the country’s land records and to locate and preserve important historical documents lost during the war. In June of 2013, Director Sayeh was elated to discover the original 1847 constitution of Liberia in an old, abandoned safe in Monrovia.
CECIL T.O. BRANDY is Chairman of the Liberian Land Commission. He served as Lead Consultant to the Governance Commission of Liberia on Land from 2007 to 2009, supervising the land reform program in order to establish the current Land Commission. In 2006, he was appointed National Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Policy and Strategy Project, where he directed and coordinated national efforts under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, and in collaboration with the FAO, IFAD, the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to develop a comprehensive national agricultural policy for Liberia.
ALI KABA is a Senior Researcher and Program Manager at the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), a Liberian non-governmental organization working to transform decision-making processes in relation to natural resources. He coordinates SDI’s Community Land Protection Program activities, and supervises the organizations’s Early Warning System (EWS). The Early Warning System will provide communities with information and support to enhance community capacity to negotiate with national and international investors.
SARITA SIEGEL is Director, Producer, Editor and Cinematographer on The Land Beneath Our Feet. Siegel directed, produced and edited In The Shadow of Ebola (2015, 23 min.), commissioned by PBS. Siegel directed, produced, edited and was cinematographer on Fire Burn Babylon (2010, 53 min.). Fire Burn Babylon showed at more than 30 international film festivals and won several awards. Siegel produced and directed Exiles and Outlaws (2009, 10 min.), and produced, directed and wrote The Disenchanted Forest (2002, 54 min.) for National Geographic US and NGCI. Siegel is currently producing and directing Outspoken (feature), a global journey into political and social rap music.
GREGG MITMAN is Director, Producer, and Writer on The Land Beneath Our Feet. He is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and teacher, who has spent the past decade uncovering the story behind the 1926 Harvard expedition to Liberia. He holds a distinguished research chair at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is founder and director of Madison’s popular environmental film festival, Tales from Planet Earth. Mitman recently directed and produced In the Shadow of Ebola (2015, 23 min.), an intimate story of a family and nation torn apart by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, which aired online on PBS/Independent Lens.
JUDITH HELFAND is Consulting Producer for The Land Beneath Our Feet. She is filmmaker and educator, known for her ability to take the dark world of chemical exposure, heedless corporate behavior and environmental injustice and make them personal, highly-charged and entertaining. Her films include the Sundance Award-winning, Blue Vinyl, and its Peabody Award-winning prequel, A Healthy Baby Girl, as well as Everything’s Cool. Helfand has received a Rockefeller Media Fellowship, a United States Artist Fellowship, and a MacArthur grant. In 2005 she co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures, a nonprofit film fund dedicated to supporting women documentary filmmakers.
ALEXANDER WIAPLAH is an Associate Producer and Additional Camera for The Land Beneath Our Feet. He worked as a production manager for the Liberia Broadcasting System National Television Station, the state broadcaster of Liberia, which was closed for 15 years during Liberia’s civil war. Over the last several years, Wiaplah has worked on international and national projects, including documentaries, television shows, and music videos. He was a cinematographer for PBS/Independent Lens’ In the Shadow of Ebola. Wiaplah is co-founder and co-CEO of Kreative Mindz Studio. He has worked for broadcast stations, including CNN, NBC News, ARD TV, and ITN Channel 4.
JOJIN VAN WINKLE is an Associate Producer and Additional Camera for The Land Beneath Our Feet. She is an emerging filmmaker and visual artist. In 2015 Van Winkle was a cinematographer for PBS/Independent Lens’ In the Shadow of Ebola. She was second assistant director for A Robot Walks Into a Bar, a short on ITVS’ FutureStates series. In 2015 she was camera assistant and sound assistant for several 48 Hour Film Projects shorts.
REG WRENCH is a London based Editor with over 20 years experience working on numerous award winning documentaries, broadcast programs and music concert films. Starting his career working on promos for artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, George Michael and Freddy Mercury to name a few, he has since worked across various genres including films with artists and subjects such as the Foo Fighters, Beyoncé, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira, Muhammed Ali, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the latter of which was Emmy award winning. Wrench continues to work for some of the most revered artists and storytellers in the world.
ROB WAUGH is a UK/New Zealand based composer who has over 20 years experience composing music for, among others, the BBC, EMI, Universal, ABC (Australia) and the UEFA Champions League. He has composed music for documentaries including BBC’s Best of British TV series and also PBS/Independent Lens’ In the Shadow of Ebola. In addition to composing Waugh is a voiceover artist and has a multimedia practice.
POCHANO is a music producer/rapper with a diploma in audio engineering from the Audio Institute of America located in San Francisco, California and CEO of 3rd World Entertainment, a fledging record label located in Monrovia, Liberia. After living as a refugee in exile, Pochanco returned to Liberia in 2005 to help the rebuilding process as a recording engineer/producer. Over the past years he has worked with and produced some of the most played/listened to songs by young Liberian artists, including his 2012 production, with the help of an old friend Chris Veits, Product of a Failed State.