Melisande McLaughlin is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cinema and Media Studies and Fine Arts. She developed a passion for humanitarianism at a young age, having organised emergency aid to villages neglected by larger NGOs after the 2010 floods while growing up in Thailand. Since then, the arts have been her means to ethically and effectively engage with diverse communities to think through, challenge, and change the institutions that at best ignore and at worst oppress them.
At college, she has co-created Virtual Reality films on the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement in Kenya and artists’ responses to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico with Professor Decherney and filmmaker Jean Lee. She equally joined the Centre for Experimental Ethnography to assistant direct a documentary investigating relationships between migration, race, and dance in African-American churches. In the summer, she interned with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris and Jigsaw Productions in New York. Her current projects include organizing the 2020 Screening Scholarship Media Festival with CAMRA and creating a participatory documentary with the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition’s Hip Hop Heritage afterschool program. After graduation, she intends to continue bridging art, community partnerships, and research to address contemporary social and rights-based issues as a filmmaker and scholar.