Jonathan produces award–winning documentaries for broadcast and educational distribution. His films tell the stories of people and communities struggling to overcome oppression to reach their highest potentials. In addition to his documentary work, Jonathan founded the Workfare Media Initiative, The Youth and Gender Media Project and The Cante Sica Foundation, three foundation-funded grassroots outreach and engagement projects that provide transformational educational experiences through facilitated screenings and discussions and immersive digital resources on the web. Jonathan also directs short fiction films, is a film professor at UCLA and Chapman University and works as a visual artist.
Jonathan Skurnik is a documentary producer, director and cinematographer. His most recent documentary, Becoming Johanna, broadcast on PBS in the summer of 2021. Five of his other films previously broadcast on PBS and European Television, as well as on domestic Satellite and Cable stations. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and in art galleries in New York City and at over two hundred film festivals throughout the world. He has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the American Indian film festival, the Change Maker Award at the Media That Matters Film Festival, the Audience Award for Outstanding Achievement at Outfest, the Harry Chapin Media Award for films about poverty and Best Documentary Award at the UrbanTV film Festival.
Jonathan has worked in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South and North America. His films have been supported by ITVS, Vision Maker Media, the MacArthur Foundation, the Fledgling Fund, the Paul Robeson Fund, The Arcus Foundation and many other foundations and private donors. He served as the chair of the steering committee of New Day Films, the only cooperatively run educational film distribution company in the US.
In addition to his documentary work, Jonathan founded the Workfare Media Initiative, The Youth and Gender Media Project and The Cante Sica Foundation, three foundation-funded grassroots audience outreach and engagement projects that provide transformational educational experiences through facilitated screenings and discussions and immersive digital resources.
Jonathan has led workshops and master classes in theory and production for filmmakers in the US and China and teaches undergrad and MFA documentary students at UCLA and Chapman University. He also writes and directs narrative film and television, and creates multimedia installations.
Films by Jonathan Skurnik
A Lakota man faces his boarding school history and heals himself and his community.
Badger Creek is a portrait of Native resilience as seen through a year in the life of three generations of a Blackfeet family living on the rez in Montana.
When Johanna, a 16-year-old transgender Latina, begins her transition and gets kicked out of her home and school, she finds a foster family who loves her and a supportive school principal who helps her graduate and thrive.
What happens when you bring gender training to a public elementary school? In Creating Gender Inclusive Schools the Peralta Elementary School in Oakland CA demonstrates the power of an open and honest conversation about gender.
A Day's Work, A Day's Pay follows three welfare recipients in New York City from 1997 to 2000 as they participate in the largest welfare-to-work program in the nation.
The Youth and Gender Media Project consists of four short films that capture the diversity and complexity of gender nonconforming youth. These award-winning films provide students and educators with unique tools to explore critical questions about gender identity and family acceptance, and are ideal for discussions about bullying and inclusiveness. When you purchase this package of four films, you get 25% off the price of purchasing the films individually.
The Elevator Operator is an intimate portrait of an immigrant forever caught between what he's left behind and his pursuit of the American Dream.
Anneke is 12. She loves ice hockey and is a hardcore tomboy. Everybody who meets her assumes she's a boy, but she's not sure if she wants to be a girl, a boy, or something in-between when she grows up.
Everybody wants to be loved unconditionally. But what do you do when your child tells you they're questioning their gender? The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children follows the journey of moms, dads and siblings of kids who are questioning whether they're a boy, a girl, or something in between.
Spit It Out is a funny and poignant portrait of Jeff Shames' successful efforts to come to terms with his stutter and his family's legacy of denial.