Columbia School of Journalism Documentary Film Program

Columbia School of Journalism

This masters level program is designed to develop students as independent film producers and directors. Read more about DOC FEST ’16 here.

The Joyce A. de Groot Fund provides support for documentary film students in this program.


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

–Nelson Mandela


Born Into This, recipient fo the The Joyce A. de Groot memorial award selected to be part of the Columbia Univeristy Showcase at DOC NYC.

DOC NYC, November 12-19 is America’s largest documentary film festival. It was recently voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the “top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world”.  Based at the West Village’s IFC Center, Chelsea’s SVA Theater and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema, the eight-day festival showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations.

Each year the students in the Documentary Program at Columbia Journalism School produce a weekend of documentary film. Doc Fest 16 showcased 17 films created by emerging filmmakers from around the globe. Their films explored issues of immigration, deportation, homelessness among female war veterans, wage theft and worker abuse, literacy, family impact of incarceration, transgender struggles and PTSD to the world of black classical ballet dancers, competitive yoga, an inside look at a political campaign and more.

IMG_1529_2DOC FEST ’15

NYASHA KADANDARA and OLIVIA LACE-EVANS receive the second annual Joyce A. de Groot Memorial Award for their film, THROUGH THE FIRE at Columbia Journalism School DOC FEST ’15. Nyasha is a Zimbabwean-born multimedia journalist based in New York and is currently the Columbia Fellow at Al Jazeera English in Doha, Quatar. Olivia is a British multimedia journalist specializing in human rights, religious and international reporting. She is currently completing the BBC Fellowship in Washington, D.C.

 Code of Silencestepto

SCILLIA ALECCI and GEORGE STEPTOE’s film, CODE OF SILENCE, featured in investigative story on the front page of NY Times online: A Peril of Female Prison Officers: Other Officers Scilla Alecci is an Italian investigative journalist and filmmaker based in New York and George Steptoe is a British investigative journalist and filmmaker in New York. Their film, CODE OF SILENCE, was first screened at the Columbia Journalism School Documentary Film Festival, DOC FEST ’15.

Born Into This

Born Into This received the first Joyce A. de Groot Memorial Award at Columbia School of Journalism’s Documentary Program.

Columbia School of Journalism Documentary, Born Into This, first Joyce A. de Groot Memorial Award recipient

Sean Ryon and Lea Zora Scruggs are the films directors.  (!directors/c7zb)

directors Sean Ryon and Lea Scruggs

In addition, Born Into This won an Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival ( and has been selected to be part of the Columbia University Showcase at DOC NYC. Watch the Born Into This Trailer:

Born Into This is a documentary film directed by Sean Ryon and Lea Scruggs.
It follows the American Dream through an immigrant father and his son’s efforts to break into the world of professional boxing.