Chanda Chevannes is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, writer, and educator. She makes artful documentaries that seek to amplify women’s voices. Her award-winning films have been broadcast on six continents, have been seen by more than four million people, and have inspired tangible legislative and social change. As a biracial and bisexual woman, Chanda’s experiences have taught her that there are two things we need more of:
joy and justice. She hopes her work serves to bring both into the world.
DOC Releases The Roadmap
Chanda spent the better part of 2018 researching and writing The Roadmap to Creative Distribution, a practical guide for independent filmmakers. The guide is available from the Documentary Organization of Canada.
sheridan profiles chanda's work
Chanda was recently featured on the cover of Ovation, Sheridan's alumni magazine: "Everyone has a story: the scientist calling out how the environment can make us sick; the HIV-positive woman facing violence; the artist turning her cancer diagnosis into a one-woman play. Chanda Chevannes’ films uncover the passion, pain and purpose those experiences carve into a life."
Chanda’s newest feature documentary, UNFRACTURED (91 min., 2017), had its World Premiere at Toronto’s Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival, where it screened as the festival’s opening night film, received an enthusiastic standing ovation, and was honoured with the award for Best Canadian Feature Film. It has since had its International Premiere at DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, and has screened across the US, in Europe, South America, and in Australia. It follows introspective biologist Sandra Steingraber as she reinvents herself as an outspoken activist to join the fight against fracking in New York State. UNFRACTURED is an environmental film with a happy ending.
Chanda’s first feature documentary was Living Downstream (84 min., 2010), a cinematic documentary about cancer and environmental toxicants. Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream had over 200 public screenings and was broadcast on Al Jazeera English, YLE (Finalnd), TV Cultura (Brazil), Outside Television (US), TVNZ (New Zeland), and Netflix. It won a Gracie for Outstanding Documentary and the Best Documentary award at both the Salem Film Festival and The People’s Film Festival in New York. Chanda’s short films include Pity Face (19 min., 2018), That of God (55 min., 2008), and SASA! (30 min., 2007).
In 2005 and 2006, Chanda lived in Uganda, producing educational films with Raising Voices, an organization committed to preventing violence against women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. These films are currently in use by thousands of grassroots organizations around the world and have contributed to tangible legislative and social change in the region. Before becoming a director, Chanda was an associate producer and production manager at Primitive Entertainment for five years, where she worked on thirteen productions ranging from television series to theatrical documentaries.
Chanda is passionate about using media for social change and public education. She has authored several educational resources, including a pair of 200-page guides for individuals and groups using Living Downstream; two blogs for the National Film Board of Canada’s CitizenSHIFT website; and a monthly column on documentary films and their makers for Troy Media. In 2018, the Documentary Organization of Canada published a 60-page guide researched and written by Chanda, titled The Roadmap to Creative Distribution.
Chanda has trained as an artist-educator with the Royal Conservatory and as a workshop facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project. She has led filmmaking workshops in a variety of settings, ranging from universities to public libraries. She is an instructor in the Business of Film and Television post-graduate program at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre and is a regular workshop facilitator with the DOC Institute, designing and delivering workshops for emerging documentary professionals across Ontario. In 2014, she was an Innovator in Communities with the Toronto Public Library, where she led a series of filmmaking workshops for residents in the underserved communities of North York and Scarborough.
In 2015, Chanda was a recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship, which enables Ontario-based artists to take their work in new creative directions. In 2013, she was named a Woman to Watch by Sydney’s Buzz on Indie Wire.
Chanda is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Media Arts Program. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists; a former board member of the Documentary Organization of Canada; and a founding member of the Toronto Chapter of Film Fatales, an international collective of women filmmakers. Chanda lives in Toronto and is the proud mother of two beloved and badass children, Hannah and Henry.