Prairie Dust Films is an independent documentary company founded by Courtney Hermann and Suree Towfighnia in 2002. As Coordinators of The Michael Rabiger Center for Documentary at Columbia College Chicago, the pair fostered a culture and community supportive of the documentary form and its practitioners. Our mission is to make films that present contemporary American issues in an entertaining way. We recognize the diversity within our culture and inspire creative solutions for positive social change. Prairie Dust Films records stories for future generations and documents an alternative record of events. We honor our documentary roots in verite storytelling while understanding that each film merits its own unique particular style.
Our films have been broadcast nationally, screened in festivals and been shown in communities around the world. Prairie Dust Film has received funding from CPB/NAPT, Playboy Foundation, Paul Robeson Fund, POV/American Documentary, Seventh Generation Fund, private foundations and individual donors.
Aside from films, we specialize in media that engages audiences and encourages them towards thoughtful action. Prairie Dust Films' projects work well as part of campaigns. Successful campaigns have centered around the advocacy and legalization of industrial hemp, rights for the elderly and health care reform for rural America, among others.
A big part of our work is mentorship and to that end we co-founded the Lakota Media Project, an initiative that educates Native youth and women who create stories from their own perspectives. Aside from this work, we offer master classes in shooting and storytelling for others interested in crafting their ideas into a documentary. Prairie Dust Films uses many forms of media to help deliver the message including film, music, graphic arts, and education. Please explore our work and contact us for more information.
Suree Towfighnia (director/cinematographer) is an independent filmmaker. She produces and directs documentaries and commercials, shoots video and news, and works with youth on media making in public schools and hospital environments.
Suree has produced and directed award-winning documentaries that have screened on PBS’ POV and in festivals and events both in the US and internationally. As cinematographer, she has worked for PBS documentaries, ITVS, non-profits and award-winning filmmakers.
She teaches master classes on filmmaking for Cinema Chicago, Columbia College, the Lakota Media Project and EICTV in Cuba and partners with Chicago Public School teachers to create videos with elementary students as part of the Center for Community Arts Partnership.
-At its essence filmmaking is a relationship. I make films to understand humanity and connect with life.-