Member Screening: The Buddy System and Lola: Girl Got A Gun

Join us for this month’s NYWIFT Member Screening Series featuring The Buddy System by Megan Smith-Harris (Director/Producer/Writer) and Laela Kilbourn (Director of Photography) and Lola: Girl Got A Gun by Anna Fredrikke Bjerke (Producer). The filmmakers will be available for a Q&A immediately following the screening.

The screening series provides members with the opportunity to show their work in a theatrical setting. Screenings take place at Anthology Film Archives, followed by networking at a nearby bar.

The Buddy System
Megan Smith-Harris (Director/Producer/Writer)
Laela Kilbourn (Director of Photography)
58 mins, 2017, Documentary

The Buddy System tells the intimate stories of three families touched by autism, who experience meaningful change when a specially trained assistance dog comes into each of their lives. The film also showcases the work of Patty Dobbs Gross, a pioneer in the field of breeding, training, and placing autism assistance dogs across the country, and features her adult son, Dan, one of the first recipients of an autism service dog in the world. Dogs like Buddy allow children to develop essential social skills, heighten emotional empathy, and help to level the playing field so they finally feel like they belong.

Megan Smith-Harris’ career encompasses documentary, television, film, theatre, writing, blogging, and radio. She is the president and co-owner of Pyewackitt Productions, an independent production company with a commitment to create high quality, socially relevant programs with a unique perspective. Smith-Harris’ latest film, The Buddy System, is an award-winning documentary about the extraordinary impact of specially trained autism assistance dogs on the lives of children on the spectrum. She also produced and directed the critically acclaimed documentary Trial By Fire: Lives Re-Forged, which continues to air on PBS and stream on Amazon Prime. In addition, Smith-Harris helmed three documentaries for WEtv: Surrogate StoriesChild Brides, and Polygamy. More at

Laela Kilbourn, Director of Photography, was recently chosen by Indiewire as one of “8 More Female Cinematographers You Should Know About”. Her documentary feature credits include five Sundance Film Festival hits: How To Dance in Ohio, award-winning American Teen, Emmy-nominated Word Wars, and her additional camera work on Hot Coffee and Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom. Kilbourn also filmed Magic Camp, winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Family Filmmaking Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival; Sync or Swim, winner of the Billie Award for Journalism from the Women’s Sports Foundation; and History’s eleven part docu-series Sandhogs. She has worked on projects for HBO, NBC, AMC, A&E, Nick Jr., ESPN, MTV, VH1, WeTV, Trio, TruTV, and TV One. Kilbourn also collaborated with Pyewackitt Productions on the two-hour television special, Surrogate Stories (WEtv) and Trial by Fire: Lives Re-Forged which aired domestically (PBS) and abroad. She has a degree in social anthropology from Harvard University.

Lola: Girl Got A Gun (pictured above)
Emily Elizabeth Thomas (Writer/Director)
Devin Tusa (Producer)
Anna Fredrikke Bjerke (Producer) – NYWIFT Member
14:45 mins, 2017
Lola: Girl Got A Gun is about a young girl searching for purpose and belonging in a conservative West Texas household. Will she become who her family wants her to be? Or will she become the bold and brave woman she desires to be? Lola bares witness to a young and angelic girl who experiences the emotional weight of her mother’s abuse by her conservative NRA member father. The heaviness of the abuse permeates her home, and she searches for an outlet for her anger and fear.

Emily Elizabeth Thomas is a New York-based writer/director, and the founder of Jane Street Productions, an indie production banner dedicated to female-centered narratives. Thomas is proud to have been born and bred in Austin TX, where she was raised in true cowgirl fashion. She got her start in filmmaking at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she honed the crafts of 16mm filmmaking and screenwriting. Thomas moved to New York for her MA from New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, where she self-directed her curriculum to focus on screenwriting, and the methods by which film and television might confront the intersectionality of gender, sex, and politics. 

Devin Tusa is a New York-based Producer and Business Affairs Associate that has worked on a number of TV pilots, short films, commercials, and branded content. He has worked for such companies as AMC Networks, Magnolia Pictures, and Marvel Entertainment. Under his production company OldRiver Productions, he has created work for such clients as Lacoste, Apple, Atlantic Records, and the United Nations. Tusa currently works at HBO in Business Affairs, and is passionate about discovering stories worth telling and bringing to visual life. He is a graduate of New York Universities’ Tisch School of the Arts.

Anna Fredrikke Bjerke is a Norwegian filmmaker and curator based in New York City. Fredrikke Bjerke was trained in filmmaking, art history and curatorial practices at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, England. She got her start in the creative arts by curating large scale exhibitions in East London, where she was immersed in the city’s multicultural art and film scene. Through this work, she became skillful at managing and executing the creative visions of artists, and developed her own creative practice. Apart from her work as a filmmaker, Fredrikke Bjerke is personally dedicated to advocacy for the LGTBQ+ community. She holds an M.A. from New York University.

April 24 @ 7:00pm
7:00 pm — 9:00 pm (2h)

Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue (at 2nd Street)

$7 for NYWIFT Members
$9 for Students, Seniors, Members of Women Make Movies, IFP, AAWIC, ImageNation, DCTV, and Center for Communications
$12 for Nonmembers

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.