Biography

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Charissa, (pronounced Careesa), King-O’Brien has been making nonfiction films and videos since 1999 as an independent documentary filmmaker in Boston and then in Chicago where her mentors were Documentary Editor David Simpson, Animator/Filmmaker Chris Sullivan and Filmmaker Shellie Fleming. She received a M.F.A. in Film, Video and New Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Charissa’s first film, “In My Father’s Church”, (2004), is an autobiographical film which follows the story of Charissa wanting to get married to her partner Kelly in her minister father’s conservative church. It has shown at festivals and conferences internationally, screened on television in Israel, and is being distributed through Women Make Movies. Her second film, “Over the Moon”, (2010), follows the journey of Charissa and her partner Kelly attempting to get pregnant. Drawing from her background in painting and photography, Charissa interweaves hand drawn animation and poetic imagery throughout the film. “Over the Moon” premiered at the Reeling International Film Festival in Chicago where it won the Documentary Feature Honorable Mention award. “Over the Moon” has been shown in festivals worldwide and has been part of a traveling LGBT film outreach program in Latin America. Her third film, “The Paper Mirror”, (2012), documents two well-known artists, Riva Lehrer and Alison Bechdel collaborating on a portrait. “The Paper Mirror” has toured around the country at various film festivals and is being distributed through Frameline. Charissa’s fourth film, “Hyde Park, Chicago” is currently in production. “Hyde Park, Chicago” captures an unique moment in the integrated neighborhood’s history when one of its residents runs for president. We learn about a troubled past with housing issues and race relations through interviews with past and current residents of HP. Charissa has won three Community Arts Assistance Program grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council.

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