Documentaries

Published by the Atlantic on March 13, 2017: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/516765/the-slam-poets-of-istanbul/
Three days after the Reina nightclub attack in Istanbul, a group of young writers and poets meet in Taksim Square to support freedom of speech and to express themselves about the ongoing conflict in Turkey.Three days after the Reina nightclub attack in Istanbul, a group of young writers and poets meet in Taksim Square to support freedom of speech and to express themselves about the ongoing conflict in Turkey.

There are an estimated 8,000 urban refugees seeking asylum in Bangkok.  Thailand considers them illegal immigrants regardless of having U.N. refugee status so they remain mostly hidden and scrape by on odd jobs and donations.  Urban Refugee: Bangkok tells the story of this community living in the shadows of Bangkok, waiting in limbo for another chance at life.

Featuring Dwight Turner of the Courageous Kitchen and In Search of Sanuk and his work assisting Bangkok's most vulnerable asylum seekers.

Director's statement on "Christmas in Karen State":

On Christmas Eve of 2014 I traveled to the black zone village of Basa in Karen State Myanmar, accompanying Karen Jesuit priest and social anthropology scholar Father Vinai Boonlue. Also joining us were Karen students from Chiang Mai and some of their relatives from the borderland refugee camps.   It was an intense and physically demanding experience - as once we reached the shores of Karen State we needed to walk for almost eleven hours, wading rivers and climbing up steep rocky jungle passes (all while carrying my camera equipment and trying to shoot when possible). It was an experience that would help me to understand first-hand the effect the 60 year civil war has had on the Karen, and the losses they have suffered. The route we took was dotted with grave markings of fallen Karen soldiers, and with each grave we passed the Karen we traveled with would stop and discuss who the soldier was, or reminisce about someone they had lost in the conflict. The KNU soldiers (Karen National Union guerrilla army) who led us on our journey were baby-faced family men - kind and funny young men who have risked their lives since they were teenagers to protect the independence of their people.

"The Karen of Huay Tong", a documentary by Tara Milutis.  Original music by Dominick Boyle.

Nestled deep in the mountains of northern Thailand lies the Sgaw Karen ethnic minority village of Huay Tong. A vibrant tight-knit community where Animism, Buddhism and Christianity can be found side by side and ancient traditions coexist with the modern world. The past is connected to the present like a golden thread through the singing of the Thaa, a thousand-year-old tradition that is being lost amongst the new generation. The knowledge of natural medicine, and the art of weaving are also at risk of fading into history. Yet with so many dramatic changes happening, the community comes together through a shared belief in what matters most in life. And as you discover what the Karen of Huay Tong hold true above all else, you may reflect upon your life and discover what matters most to you.

Baby Arabia's Ramadan is a short documentary about Thailand's oldest and most famous Muslim folk bands - made for an online documentary project aimed at promoting the understanding of Islam and Ramadan to a global audience. Directed, shot and edited by Tara Milutis / Second camera Lillian Suwanrumpha.

Official trailer for VIETNAMESE GIRL, a feature documentary I produced, directed and edited that explores the lives of a group of Vietnamese and ethnic minority women caught between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future.   The film screened at a number of international film festivals from Kathmandu to New York City.

This film documents a day in the life of my grandfather, Anthony Lisinichia, when he was 88-years-old.   First generation Sicilian-American, child of the depression, WWII veteran, widower and patriarch, “Eighty Eight” documents some very simple activities of his life:  going to the YMCA, shopping for groceries and visiting the cemetery.  His life may follow a routine that most people wouldn’t think is very exciting, but once I was a part of that routine I realized how fulfilling it really was.  Life doesn’t have to be big to be beautiful.

I met many of my grandfather’s friends from the YMCA during the shoot, some of whom are in their nineties. Incredibly dynamic, active and as mentally sharp as any thirty-year-old, they live their lives in the background of our society while holding the wisdom of the twentieth century in their hearts and minds.  Sadly our society marginalizes senior citizens to an alarming extent.  If people actually took the time to talk to the elders in their families and communities, to really talk to them about their childhoods, their lives, their opinions on the world, I think society would see how important they are.  How their insight and perspective can be invaluable in helping us understand our world and ourselves.  I was so lucky to have been able to make this film with my grandfather and grateful for the lessons I learned from it, especially since he has now passed. We had a great time making the film and the project brought us much closer.  We transcended the traditional role of grandfather and granddaughter and became friends and co-creators in film. 

Si's House is a short documentary about an ex-sex worker in Thailand who turned her life around and became a house mother to refugee families in Bangkok.

A short documentary about the plight of urban asylum seekers in Bangkok, and Dwight Turner - the African-American ex-patriate dedicated to helping them survive.

"The Monk" is an intimate portrait of Prasuputh Chainikom, a Theravada monk in Bangkok, as well as a rare behind-the-scenes view of life inside the gilded temples of Thai Buddhism.

A short documentary I made to help raise funds for a remote medical clinic in Myanmar's Karen State that profiles the work of Father Vinai Boonlue - an ethnic Karen Jesuit priest who does aid work in the region.