Lauren Anders Brown ’07 documents life without documentation
Award-winning independent filmmaker and photographer Lauren Anders Brown ’07 knew what she wanted to spend her life working on even before college. She was interning in the film and photography field, but she wanted a core education as the foundation for her career. What she learned at UMass Amherst (including how not to be afraid of languages she didn’t know) has helped her build a vibrant and acclaimed international career.
Brown has worked as a camera assistant and operator on more than a dozen television shows and feature films, including Ugly Betty, Nurse Jackie, and Argo, to name just a few. These days, she runs her own production company, colLABorate: ideas and images, which has created short- and long-form video, photography, and multimedia projects covering a variety of health and human rights issues. Last year, Brown curated an exhibition for the United Nations. Her projects have taken her to over 40 countries around the world, where she has documented people in many low-resource settings, including conflict zones. In her own words, Brown believes in “the power of visual storytelling to amplify the stories of people who cannot tell them on their own.”
Her most recent project is Forged, a documentary film about how the dozen-years-long civil conflict in Syria has led to a loss of identity documentation, how that loss is being used to control the population, and how the Syrian people are trying to cope. The documentary focuses on the inhabitants of Idlib, a city in northwestern Syria, and highlights their resilience in the face of political conflict and natural disasters.
Brown, who has covered topics such as global disability rights, reproductive rights, and displacement, sees Forged as part of her larger goal of “artivism”—bringing art and activism together to amplify neglected voices and perspectives. Here she shares images from her time working on Forged, along with behind-the-scenes stories of the people and places that were featured.