Giovanna Chesler directs documentary and narrative films addressing themes of the body, sexuality, and gender. She works an Associate Professor and the Director of the Film and Video Studies Program at George Mason University, and Affiliated faculty in Film and Media Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Mason.
Giovanna is in development on a feature length film on memory loss and addiction titled Java that she has written and will direct. She has directed nine films including the short fiction drama JAVA (2017, HD, 10min), Bye Bi Love (HD, 17min) a short melodrama about a woman who receives an invitation to her ex-girlfriend's wedding, Period: The End of Menstruation (16mm, 54min) a feature documentary on cultural and medical trends in menstruation which is distributed by Cinema Guild, New York, BeauteouS: The Trilogy, an examination of three sisters and their relationships to beauty (16mm, 43min) and hand-some, a reflexive documentary on a failing lesbian relationship (16mm, 13min) distributed by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.
Awards for Giovanna's directed films include Honorable Mention in Fiction Filmmaking from the University Film and Video Association for Bye Bi Love and the Gold Plaque Award for Best Student Documentary from the Chicago International Film Festival for BeauteouS: Stephanie. Her documentary feature Period received worldwide attention as a touchstone on the menstrual suppression debate, beginning with a front-page article in The New York Times. Giovanna's directed films have played at over 120 international festivals in fifteen countries. Her new media work includes Tune in HPV, an early transmedia project and web television channel for awareness, expression and entertainment around the human papillomavirus.
Recently, Giovanna has worked as Producer of feature documentaries including the award-winning and nationally televised Out in the Night (dorosh-walther 2014) about four black lesbian women who became criminals for defending themselves against a homophobic street attack, and Zeinabu irene Davis' documentary Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA about the first Black independent film movement in the US.
Over two decades, Giovanna has also produced videos for progressive organizations, video artists and filmmakers, working with a team of talented video makers affiliated with her production company, G6 Pictures. Early in her career, she worked as the Associate Producer and Production Manager on Wild at Start: High Technology Adventures and the American Dream (2000, Capela) following 15 startup companies in Silicon Valley during the high tech bubble of the late 90's.
Giovanna received an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University (Most Distinguished Graduate) and a BA in Anthropology and minor in Women's Studies (with Highest Distinction) from the University of Virginia. She has taught courses in directing fiction and documentary film, community engaged video activism, transmedia for social justice and sound theory and design at the University of California, San Diego, American University, Marymount Manhattan College and Mason. Her published work focuses on sound, sound theory, documentary, and service learning / collaborative learning teaching. She regularly presents work at academic conferences.
In her current role as Director of a film production program at Mason, Giovanna is building an inclusive and diverse film program with the talented, award-winning filmmakers who comprise the Film and Video Studies faculty. The Film and Video Studies staff truly support these efforts through their vision, innovation and commitment to the students and their work. Read more about the Film and Video Studies program in GMU's Mason Spirit Magazine.
Giovanna serves on the Indie Caucus steering committee, championing independent documentary on PBS. She has served on the selection committee for the AFI Docs, festival juror for Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Washington Film Festival, and has curated programs of experimental feminist films for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. She co-founded Ladyfest San Diego with photographer Kim Manchester in 2005. In San Diego she received the Most Distinguished Filmmaker award from San Diego Women Film Festival for her service to that organization and work creating a curriculum to teach young girls filmmaking that is still in use today by the Girl Scouts of America. In 2016, Women in Film and Video DC identified Giovanna as one of 31 women filmmakers of note.