Justin Schell

Justin Schell is a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and the Digital Humanities Specialist for the University of Minnesota Libraries. His first documentary, Travel in Spirals, tells the story of Hmong hip-hop artist Tou SaiKo Lee's journey back to Thailand, 30 years after he was born in a refugee camp there. He's in the final stages of post-production on my first-full length documentary, We Rock Long Distance, which weaves the story of Lee along with two other artists, M.anifest (originally from Ghana) and Maria Isa (born in St. Paul, MN but with "Sota Rican" roots in both New York and Puerto Rico) as they travel from Minnesota to their original homes of Ghana, Thailand, and Puerto Rico, while complicating the very idea of home in the process. Schell's videos have been shown in the Walker Art Center, TPT, and online at the Huffington Post and the Progressive. They have also been screened in the Twin Cities Film Fest, Twin Cities Underground Film Festival, and the Qhia Dab Neeg Hmong Film Festival. He has written for the Walker Arts Center, Rain Taxi, Mshale, Twin Cities Daily Planet, and my history of Twin Cities hip-hop is published in the Hip-Hop in America. He got a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota and though he lives in Minneapolis, he'll always call the Boogie Down Brewtown of Milwaukee, WI home.