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The Filmmakers

Margaret Brown Director

Margaret Brown’s documentary work examines the American South, from her seminal film on Townes Van Zandt “Be Here to Love Me,” to the story of the BP oil spill’s lasting impact “The Great Invisible,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW in 2014. Her film “The Order of Myths,” which examined Brown’s native Mobile, Alabama and its still segregated Mardi Gras celebration, won numerous awards including a Peabody and the Truer Than Fiction Independent Spirit Award. Her most recent film "Descendant" won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision at Sundance in 2022 and was acquired by the Obamas' Higher Ground Productions.

“Descendant” won the DOC NYC Award for Best Director, the Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best Historical Documentary, and was named to the Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. The film also received nominations for outstanding direction, best documentary feature, and outstanding original score from Cinema Eye Honors, the Producers’ Guild of America, and the NAACP Awards. It explores the story of the only known slave ship that’s ever been discovered on North American soil, the specter of its crimes both past and present, and the steadfast resilience of Africatown's descendants in the face of a century of denied history. Brown has also done short form work for The New York Times, Field of Vision, and episodic work for Netflix, including an episode of the acclaimed series “Dirty Money.”

Josh Penn Producer

Josh Penn is a producer with the Department of Motion Pictures. He produced Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, the Cannes CamĂ©ra d'Or, and was nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture). In addition, Josh was nominated for Outstanding Producer at the 2013 Producer's Guild Awards.  He has produced Monsters And Men (Sundance Special Jury Prize), Philly D.A. (Winner of the 2021 Gotham Award for Breakthrough Nonfiction Series), the live documentary A Thousand Thoughts, Wendy, Users (Sundance 2021 Best Directors Award), and Farewell Amor among others. He was an Executive Producer on Patti Cake$, Western (Sundance Special Jury Prize), The Great Invisible (SXSW Grand Jury Prize), and Bloody Nose Empty Pockets. Josh and the DMP had three films premiere at Sundance 2020, and three more in Sundance 2021.  In 2018, Josh became a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. Outside of his work in film, Josh was previously the Michigan New Media Director for President Obama's 2008 campaign and a Senior Digital Program Manager for the 2012 re-election campaign.

Michael Gottwald Producer

Michael Gottwald is a founding partner and producer with the Department of Motion Pictures. He produced BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, directed by Benh Zeitlin, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes; it was nominated for four Academy Awards. Michael has produced episodes of “HIGH MAINTENANCE” and collaborated with acclaimed filmmakers Bill & Turner Ross on TCHOUPITOULAS (premiered at SXSW), WESTERN (Special Jury Prize at Sundance), CONTEMPORARY COLOR (a concert film collaboration with David Byrne), and their most recent, BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS, which premiered at Sundance and the Berlinale. Michael produced Geremy Jasper’s debut feature PATTI CAKE$, the closing night film of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. He also produced ITVS and Topic’s Peabody Award-winning documentary series PHILLY D.A., which premiered at Sundance 2021 before being broadcast nationwide on PBS. Currently he is in development on projects with Isabel Castro and Carlos Lopez Estrada, and in production on projects with Josephine Decker and Geremy Jasper. Before producing, Michael worked for both Barack Obama presidential campaigns, in 2008 and 2012.