Raising Aniya is a film about environmental justice on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast—the epicenter of the American petrochemical industry—seen through the eyes of Aniya Wingate, a radiant and talented 17-year-old African American dancer. The film follows her and her mentor Walter Hull as they research and develop a dance performance on trips around the Gulf Coast through environmentally-damaged African-American communities, and chronicles a key relationship with a loving, protective guardian, her grandmother. Walter is a generation older, but like Aniya, he grew up in the arts and on the Gulf Coast. He sees Aniya’s talent but also feels a responsibility to push her beyond her comfort zone. At times, Aniya finds herself navigating competing belief systems: those of her new artistic and social justice community and those of the village-within-a-city that brought her up. Aniya’s creation of her performance provides a loose dramatic structure to the film, but site-specific and theater-based dance performances, interwoven with these community and family relationships, create a unique artistic experience. Through performance, Aniya depicts her personal transformation from victim of Hurricane Harvey and Houston’s notorious "cancer belt" to confident artist who confronts complex social issues head-on.
Director / Cinematographer/ Producer
Producer / Choreographer
John Fiege (Director, Cinematographer, Producer)
John Fiege is a director, cinematographer, and photographer whose films have played at SXSW, MoMA, Hot Docs, Cannes, and many others, and received distribution on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, and other platforms. His latest film, Above All Else, is a feature-length documentary about the Keystone XL pipeline that premiered at SXSW, with an international premiere at Hot Docs. The film won Best North American Documentary at the Global Visions Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. His short film, Slow Season, about a father and son’s memories of the BP oil spill, screened in many coastal areas threatened by oil and gas exploration, as part of a Working Films community screening tour, called Shore Stories. He photographed the Sundance documentary selection, and has worked on many other feature documentaries, including , which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. He has received numerous fellowships and grants, including from the Redford Center, Doc Society, Princess Grace Foundation, Austin Film Society, The University of Texas, Kodak, and Smithsonian Institution., his intimate portrait of immigrants working in the poultry industry, was nominated for a Gotham Award.
Walter Hull (Producer, Choreographer)
Over the past 13 years, Walter Hull is a rising Social Artists, Thought Leader, and Youth Advocate in Houston, TX. His choreography has roots in the stories of social justice for marginalized and minoritized communities that he refers to as his Village Responsibility. Through his assistance in building Urban Souls Dance Company, Walter has founded the U.R.B.A.N. Kids Initiative, which provides space for youth artists to develop as leaders in their communities. In addition to his artistry, Walter has shaped mentoring practices as a collaborative action in youth development organizations locally and nationally.
Christopher Lucas (Producer)
Christopher Lucas is a producer, writer, and educator. He produced Above All Else (SXSW, 2014) with John Fiege and Anita Grabowski as well as numerous shorts and commercial projects in collaboration with Fiege Films. He was an associate producer on The Sensitives (Tribeca, 2017) and Living Springs, an interactive environmental documentary about Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. He formerly worked as a studio director at KOBI-TV (NBC). In 2011, he was awarded a doctorate in media studies from the University of Texas, where he co-founded
A teenage African American dancer in Houston must draw on her community and her own resilience when she sets out to choreograph a performance about environmental justice and her experience with Hurricane Harvey.
Here is our latest work sample, which we are in the process of updating (should be done by July 1):
Here is a short film related to the film that we just completed. We plan to integrate some of this footage into the previous work sample: