Alumna Yana Gorskaya: In her own words

Editor: Alum Yana Gorskaya isa prolific editor in both documentary and feature films. She took time out of her busy schedule with the 2013 Sundance film Valentine Road to talk to students about her experience.

I had the pleasure of coming to Sundance this year as consulting editor on the moving and tremendous first feature documentary by Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road. The film examines the middle school shooting of Lawrence “Larry” King the day after he asked his murderer to be his valentine. The shooter, 14 year old Brandon McInerney, was tried as an adult.

HBO lunch in honor of Valentine Road

Marta set out to make the film some four and a half years ago, driven by a passionate need to understand how something like this could ever happen in Oxnard, CA.

She received a standing ovation at our Sundance Premiere, and I’m glad I forgot my makeup bag in LA –because I would have been a mascara stained mess by the end of it all. Viewing the film with Marta, editor and fellow USC alum Tchavdar Georgiev, and mentor, friend and documentary goddess Kate Amend was unforgettable.

With director Marta Cunningham and editor Tchavdar Georgiev

Tchavdar had the bizarre experience of trying to explain the film to some fest-goers on a bus. They assured him “don’t worry, we keep our guns away from our children.” So did Brandon’s family, by all accounts.

The fabulous folks at HBO picked up Valentine Road based on an early version of the film. Their faith had everything to do with getting us to the finish line, and they treated us with loads of TLC at the fest.

Perhaps the most surreal Sundance moment for me this year was catching up with filmmaker Martha Shane of After Tiller. Martha was my editorial intern once upon a time, and everywhere I went people were raving about her fantastic, sensitive documentary feature. Having known her as a college student just starting out, I’m completely unsurprised. You can catch a glimpse of Judith Helfand’s arm in this photo of us — another documentary fairy godmother. Judith co-hosted the Chicken & Egg party, honoring Sundance documentaries they co-funded and supported — including Valentine Road and After Tiller. It was a marvelous group of folks and I left thoroughly inspired. 

Now back to the real world.

With Martha Shane of After Tiller

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