Jessica Chriesman is a filmmaker based in Birmingham, Alabama. The daughter of a journalist and a librarian, she learned to craft a story at an early age. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Filmmaking and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she made a variety of films. In 2020, she obtained an Executive Certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and National Arts Strategies.
Since 2015, she has had the privilege of participating in film festivals across the United States and internationally including Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Vermont, and Saskatchewan. In 2019, she was a finalist in Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Pitch Competition. In 2022, her film Philoxenia won Best Short Documentary at the Fairhope Film Festival. Jessica is a recipient of the 2022 Southern Artists for Social Change grant.
Jessica was named a MAP Fellow specializing in storytelling in 2021 and since then has been working with the Jane Goodall Institute on defining their global storytelling strategy. She has evaluated JGI’s storytelling strategies by interviewing staff members including Dr. Goodall herself. In early 2023, she lead a storytelling training for 40 of JGI’s Africa Programs staff in Kigoma, Tanzania.
As an independent filmmaker, she uses her skills and talents to direct, produce, write, shoot, and edit her own work and tell the stories of clients across the south. Jessica’s skills have enabled her to be able to develop and oversee many projects and work with various clients adapting to their needs and delivering quality content. She has researched, directed, and/or filmed projects for organizations including Alabama Public Television, Twin Cities Public Television, Southern Foodways Alliance, Vox Creative, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Central Alabama, Secret Stages Music Festival, Homewood Church of Christ, Scrollworks Youth Music School, and Bib & Tucker Sew Op.
Jessica is the chair of the Alabama Humanities Alliance Young Professionals Board. She is also the Director of Education and Outreach at Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema where she plans learning opportunities for kids and adults, filmmakers and film fans alike, through the lens of film and media.
Compelled by stories of people and places, in her budding career Jessica has focused on telling Southern stories through the lenses of food & culture, social justice & history, and nonprofit organizations & the populations they serve.