In Advisor Studio sessions, Sundance Collab Advisors share field experiences and insights into their specific areas of craft, including writing, directing, documentary filmmaking, and producing for film and TV. 

Founded by Barack and Michelle Obama, Higher Ground Productions has quickly made an impact producing critically acclaimed film and television like the Academy Award-winning documentary American Factory. Other notable titles include Rustin, Leave the World Behind, Our Great National Parks and the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winning documentary, Crip Camp.

Tonia Davis, who serves as Higher Ground’s Head of Film Development & Production, has a long-standing career of shepherding inventive, thought-provoking projects as well as giving back to the community through her involvement in the non-profit sector.

In this one hour session, Tonia will share more about Higher Ground’s mission, what she looks for in creatives, and her advice from the executive’s perspective on how to balance entertainment with socially conscious storytelling. 

If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please complete this form, contact us at (435) 776-7790 or email us at to discuss your specific needs. Every effort will be made to accommodate advance requests; requests made within 5 days of the event may not be guaranteed.

Live event registration for Sundance Collab Advisor Studios is free of charge. A recording of this event will be posted to our Video Library the business day after the event and all members who registered can watch the recording for two business days after it is posted. After that, on-demand access to the recording can be purchased for $5.

Tonia Davis serves as Head of Motion Pictures for Higher Ground, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s media company. President and Mrs. Obama formed Higher Ground to produce powerful stories to entertain, inform, and inspire, and to lift up new, diverse voices in the entertainment industry. The company’s first film release, AMERICAN FACTORY, won the 2019 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature. At Higher Ground, Davis executive produced BECOMING, directed by Nadia Hallgren, the Oscar®-nominated documentary CRIP CAMP, the company’s first television series WAFFLES + MOCHI, as well as the animated series ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST which debuted in 2021 to wide acclaim. Under Davis' leadership, the company also presented the feature films FATHERHOOD, starring Kevin Hart, which broke viewing records around the globe, and WORTH, based on Kenneth Feinberg's memoir WHAT IS LIFE WORTH? Her most recent credits include Producer on George C. Wolfe’s Bayard Rustin biopic, Executive Producer on Sam Esmail's LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, and Executive Producer on the upcoming Netflix television series, BODKIN, starring Will Forte. more...
Moderator | Digital Course & Event Producer
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Katherine "Kat" Street is an LA-based award-winning filmmaker and Philadelphia native. A cinephile at heart, she writes female-driven stories with complex (oftentimes damaged) main characters, centered around self-discovery, self-love, and belonging. She has written numerous short-form projects, including original shorts, pilots, and features. She wrote and directed the dramatic short film “Cycles,” which received festival recognition in both acting and best romantic short. She also created her award-winning flagship web series "The New Adult,” which is currently streaming on Kweli TV. Kat is a Stowe Story Lab SAGIndie Fellow and a participant in the BlackMagic Collective Emerging Filmmakers Initiative. In 2021, she founded the Black Film Challenge, a project that showcases filmmakers of African descent and the movies they create. She earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in Cinematography and has literary representation with Culture Creative Entertainment. more...

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