: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


In a world quick to decapitate and fearful of turning to stone, we dare to meet Medusa's gaze. The documentary film MEDUSA explores the myth of the snake-haired gorgon, offering a fresh perspective that illuminates her legacy in the modern world.


Medusa, a timeless emblem of tragedy and metamorphosis, enchants with her petrifying stare. This documentary explores her profound impact, inviting viewers to reconsider her narrative through three unique lenses: a contemporary viral sculpture, a transperson who identifies with Medusa, and a chorus of diverse voices exploring her enduring myth. 


I create work that possesses subtle philosophical nuances, often employing a subconsciously politically charged approach, which aligns with my dedication to critical (socio-cultural) theory and interdisciplinary work in media. My intention is to make my work widely relatable and appealing to a broad audience. Therefore, I strive to embody this commitment in a manner that is not clinical or didactic, but rather visceral, poetic, and imaginative. This pursuit has led me to explore the boundaries of the documentary genre, delving into the overlapping realm of reality and fantasy. To me, the most authentic definition of a documentary arises when the manner of creation mirrors the content. I am fascinated by how issues, ideas, and individuals are represented in documentaries, often experimenting with the forms they take. No genre can be universally applicable, thus necessitating adaptability. Recognizing that our perception of the immediate world is inherently unique, I aspire to push these boundaries by allowing narrative and experimental cinematic techniques to blend into my documentary films.

As the director of MEDUSA, my vision is to challenge and reimagine the traditional narratives surrounding the iconic character of Medusa. My aim is not only to explore but also to contribute to the mythology of Medusa, introducing new dimensions to her story through our film. Building upon my previous work and personal interests, I am particularly intrigued by how the subject matter of a film can extend to influence its very format. Drawing inspiration from the power of storytelling and the transformative nature of myth, our film delves deep into the story of Medusa, unveiling its complexities, relevance, and resonance with the modern world. "MEDUSA" takes a multifaceted approach to storytelling, incorporating interviews, verite footage, animation, social media graphics, archival material, and news clips. Through these various techniques, we weave together a rich tapestry of voices and perspectives, including classicists, artists, survivors, and experts. Their narratives converge to create a dynamic and profoundly moving portrait of Medusa that defies conventional retellings.


Jesseca Simmons - Director, Producer, Editor
Jesseca Ynez Simmons is a filmmaker and versatile media professional. Jesseca’s films have been screened at film festivals such as the Austin Film Festival, Hot Docs, Sedona Int'l, and St. Louis Int'l. Her mid-length documentary I Can Only Be Mary Lane was awarded the Director’s Award for Artistic Merit at the 2018 Santa Cruz Film Festival. Community screenings were held throughout Chicago at venues like Buddy Guy's Legends, Rosa's Lounge, Fitzgerald's Nightclub, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and the Chicago History Museum, among others. Jesseca regularly collaborates with other filmmakers as director of photography and camera person. Her imagery has been seen at IDFA, Chicago Int'l Film Festival, DocLisboa, as well as National Geographic’s short film showcase. Jesseca has been recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers for her work on Emerald Ice, a short “docufantasy” about the American Poet Diane Wakoski. In 2021, the Ohio Arts Council awarded Jesseca an Individual Excellence Award in Media Arts for her continued work on experimental documentaries. As an admirer and advocate of independent cinema, she founded the Dayton Independent Film Festival and served as the Director from 2019 to 2022. In 2021, Jesseca was selected to be a part of the inaugural Constellation Incubator, which brought together filmmakers to completely reimagine what the independent filmmaking process could be. Jesseca received her BA in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University.

João Queiroga - Producer
João Queiroga is a Portuguese director, performer, and educator. The arts have been part of Queiroga’s identity since he started performing as a young actor on Portuguese TV and theater. At the age of 17, Queiroga studied in India for two years and continued his education abroad attending the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Peking University in China. He holds an MFA in documentary media from Northwestern University's School of Communication, and a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest College in communication, cinema, and theater. He is a Calouste Gulbenkian scholar, a Hoffman scholar, a Davis UWC scholar, and a Fulbright recipient. He has worked for several non-profit organizations, such as Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival, as well as Fortune 500 companies as an editor and cinematographer. Additional experience includes assignments with Chicago Filmmakers, the Beijing International Movie Festival, WGN-TV Chicago, and Cannes International Film Festival. As a filmmaker his work has screened internationally at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), DocEdge, BFI: Flare, DocLisboa, and many others. His hybrid documentary film “Our Skin” was recently nominated for an Iris Award and won the Lili Award. Queiroga was a Department Chair at New York Film Academy and is currently a Professor at Northwestern University in Doha, Qatar.


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