Since 2012, POV has brought together visionary filmmakers and inventive technologists to “re-imagine the documentary for web” in a single weekend. The ninth edition of our non-fiction lab, POV Hackathon has concluded… Now, spend some time exploring what four teams of hackers — most of whom had never met before participating — created in just one weekend at the Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago!

Find out more about the POV Hackathon process and future calls for participants »

See photos from POV Hackathon 9 at the Chicago Innovation Exchange »

Start viewing the prototypes from POV Hackathon 9 »

In Your Own Words: Understanding the Troubles

Participants’ Choice Award winner!

In Your Own Words: Understanding the Troubles prototype at POV Hackathon 9

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View the source code »

Team: Brian Ashby, James Ellis, Jon Linton, Yana Kunichoff

About the project: A video player prototype for the oral history project “In Your Own Words: Understanding The Troubles,” a collection of first-hand accounts of the conflict in Northern Ireland from 1966-1998. This prototype platform could be used for other oral history projects.

This prototype is best viewed in Chrome, and viewed as an immersive oral history tool.


  • Javascript: Our web app is built as a single page web application via a lightweight module pattern in regular old Javascript, with paired with JQuery.
  • Python: Data manipulation before visualization data: Data is stored seprately in an external JS file as individual JS objects
  • Mustache.js: We template video content and contextual content with the Mustache.js lightweight templating engine.
  • D3.js: For data visualization and interactive with video content.
  • Path.js: Lighweight JS app router for single page app prototyping.
  • CSS3: For animating elements and making smooth transitions.
  • Foundation: Our choice of CSS/grid framework.
  • SCSS/SASS: Our choice of CSS preprocessor.
  • Vimeo: Letting Vimeo handle the heavy lifting for the videos, we included the Vimeo-developed Froogaloop library to easily create and manipulate video player controls.
  • Versioning with Git and on Bitbucket: None of this would be possible in the time that we had if it weren’t for great developer collaboration tools. Github gives us a rock-steady sharing platform to work from.

Brian Ashby (Photo: Emmanuel Camacho)

Brian Ashby is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker, and a principal of Scrappers Film Group. His feature films include Scrappers (co-director, 2010), Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists (co-producer, 2014), and The Area (co-producer, forthcoming). He is the co-creator of the web series The Grid (Gaper’s Block) and Central Standard (WTTW11).

James Ellis (Photo: Emma Dessau)

James Ellis is a neuroscientist by training, and a data analyst/programmer in practice. He recently took his Master’s exit from Northwestern University’s Neuroscience program. Currently, he turns out statistics and visualizations for NFL and CFB teams at STATS, LLC. He loves to make data interesting and accessible for large audiences.

Jon Linton (Photo: Ben Stern

Jon Linton is co-founder of Studio 424, a Chicago-based boutique branding & digital studio. Jon’s experience includes concepting, designing, and developing a broad range of web applications for many well known clients including the Clean Energy Trust, IIDA, The Joyce Foundation, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Mcknight Foundation, American Family Insurance, Golin, IRi Worldwide, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Temple University.

Yana Kunichoff (Photo: Michelle Kanaar)

Yana Kunichoff is a Chicago-based reporter and producer who is interested in storytelling and data around issues of immigration, inequality and education. She is currently a journalism producer at Scrappers Film Group. Her work has also appeared in Al Jazeera America,, In These Times, and the Chicago Reporter.

Chicago: 1893-2023

Chicago: 1893-2023 prototype at POV Hackathon 9

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View the source code »
Learn more about the films from Chicago: 1893-2023 »

Team: Sarah Bump, Sarah Macaraeg, D Schmüdde, Lucio Villa

About the project: A dynamic learning tool and video player disguised as a personality quiz, Chicago 1893-2023 prompts audiences to explore the social forces shaping the lives of the characters — and themselves.

Please view this prototype in Firefox or Chrome.


  • HTML5 was used for placing background video.
  • CSS3 was used for animation, opacity and the layout.
  • JQuery was used for user interaction with the quiz.
  • Final Cut Pro X was used to edit the video.
  • LogicX was used to edit the audio.
  • GitHub was used as a developer collaboration tool.

Sarah Bump (Photo: Emma Dessau)

Sarah Bump is a full stack web developer hailing from Chicago. She earned her degree from St. Norbert College and gained her web development skills from the Web Development Immersive program at General Assembly. She is interested in civic-tech and enjoys creating applications that bring awareness to social justice issues.

Sarah Schmüdde (Photo: Sehar Sufi)

Sarah Macaraeg is an independent journalist, writer and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Fellow. Her reporting has been cited by Al Jazeera America, Colorlines, Crain’s Chicago Business, Fusion and Vice. Macaraeg’s narrative nonfiction includes a Best American Essays notable and a book on women workers across Chicago, forthcoming in 2016.

D Schmüdde (Photo: D. Schmüdde)

D Schmüdde has worked at the intersection of technology and art for more than a decade. As an integrated producer at the film and digital production company Beyond the Frame, he’s have had the pleasure of collaborating with teams who are pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling and engaging audiences worldwide.

Lucio Villa (Photo: William Camargo)

Lucio Villa is a photojournalist and web developer from Compton, CA. His work connects journalism, data and photography. He is a firm believer of online open-source tools and helps journalists incorporate them in their reporting. Currently he is the News Applications Developer at Hoy in Chicago.

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said prototype at POV Hackathon 9

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Team: Thomas Calabrese, Juan F. Paredes, Shuwen Qian, Celso White, J. Faye Yuan

About the project: An interactive love diary comprised of curated digital entries testing the limits of memory and technology in its ability to shape the stories we tell.

The prototype is best viewed in Chrome.


  • HTML5
  • CSS3 for animations.
  • JQuery
  • React.js to drive the main interface.
  • HTML5 Video and Audio to serve media.
  • Moqups to wireframe.

Thomas Calabrese

Thomas Calabrese is a designer who likes to think about strategy, people, and science fiction. He studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design, as well as the School of Visual Arts with a Masters in Branding.

Juan F. Paredes (Photo: Ines Paredes)

Born in Colombia and based in Brooklyn, Juan F. Paredes has a passion and insatiable interest for exploring human behavior and emotion in all its shapes and forms. He enjoys projects that create tangible, cathartic experiences as a way to challenge norms and incite change. He currently freelances as a videographer on corporate accounts and passion projects.

Shuwen Qian (Photo: Emma Dessau)

Shuwen Qian is a designer and developer. Originally from New York City, he moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago and now works on the UI framework team at MediaMath.

Celso White (Photo: Andy Koh)

Celso White is a web developer and user experience designer. He studied mechanical engineering in college and then quickly transitioned into the digital world. For two years, he led user experience projects at various agencies and began to pick up front end development. You can now find him freelancing and using that same mechanical engineering analytical approach to solve the digital problems around us.

J. Faye Yuan (Photo: Sydney Angel Photography)

J. Faye Yuan is a New York based Chinese-American writer and director, and the creator of He Said/She Said. Born in Shanghai and raised in the Midwest, her bilingual writing explores themes related to the politics of migration and the millennial pursuit of love and happiness. She graduated from Wellesley College and has a Master’s degree from Tufts University. Prior to filmmaking, she was an Analyst at an insurance technology advisory firm. He Said/She Said is her first interactive documentary.


POPS+LIFE prototype at POV Hackathon 9

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Team: Sufian Kaki, Garland McLaurin, Yiannis Moses, Emmanuel Obi, Sunil Patel, Gaby Ruiz-Funes

About the project: POPS+LIFE is a geolocation based scavenger hunt crowdsourced in parks, neighborhoods and historical sites. Fathers and children search for locations with clues to solve missions. They collect game points, tag photos and unlock facts. The game encourages exploration while building relationships between fathers and their families.

Currently this application is best used in mobile browsers.

We used HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to build a mobile-first web application. We also used the JavaScript library Leaflet to pull geolocation data from a browser and to simulate guiding a user through a scavenger hunt.


  • HTML5, CSS and JavaScript to build a mobile-first web application.
  • Leaflet Javascript library was used to pull geolocation data from a browser and to simulate guiding a user through a scavenger hunt.

Emmanuel Obi (Photo: Emma Dessau)

Emmanuel Obi believes that web technology has the capacity to improve human quality of life by providing a platform upon which need can be efficiently and cheaply communicated. This belief drove him from arcana of the ivory tower to a life as a humble Internet builder. Let’s make something great together.


Gaby Ruiz-Funes (Photo: Aarti Patel)

Gaby Ruiz-Funes started her career as an engineer and project manager for ITW, a B2B industrial manufacturing company. At Northwestern University, she majored in Engineering and Human-Centered Design, a path that allowed her to combine Design Thinking with optimization, supply-chain analysis, and organizational behavior. She recently decided to apply that experience to a new pursuit – learning to code.

Garland McLaurin (Photo: Breht Gardner)

Garland McLaurin is a Peabody-Award winning filmmaker. His love for storytelling comes from its power to artistically explore the complex and conflicting social and psychological layers of people and society. His current project POPS+LIFE is a web series exploring fatherhood for African American men.

Sufian Kaki (Photo: Raja Varman)

Sufian Kaki is a Graduate student of Electrical Engineering at IIT Chicago. After his undergrad degree in Electronics Engineering, he founded a maker-space in India that facilitates and mentors electronics and computer enthusiasts working to translate their ideas into prototypes. He is also very passionate about building his Iron-Man suit someday.

Sunil Patel

Sunil Patel specialize in web design and development. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the Brooklyn College and works as Web Developer at POV Digital.

Yiannis Moses (Photo: Emma Dessau)

Yiannis Moses is a software developer. Pizza enthusiast.


POV Hackathon mentors play a critical role in providing feedback, project management, therapeutic counselling… whatever is needed at any time to help the teams get their prototypes presentation-ready over the course of the weekend. At POV Hackathon 9, two mentors shared their expertise with the teams, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and for sharing their wisdom.

Julie Keck (Photo: Erin Drewitz)

Julie Keck is a writer and filmmaker who developed a dangerous but useful social media habit while promoting her serious documentary, some kinky shorts, and a slew of LGBT webseries. Now she speaks around the country and drives social media strategy for

Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson is a film and impact producer at Kindling Group, a nonprofit film production company in Chicago. Laura received her M.A. in International Development Studies from George Washington University. She also earned a graduate certificate from the GWU Institute for Documentary Film. Laura is passionate about online organizing and compelling storytelling, and bringing the two together to inspire people to take action in their communities. She is directing Kindling’s documentary short The 39th, Associate Produced Kindling’s @home and Radical Grace, and runs impact production for the suite of Kindling’s projects.

Participants at POV Hackathon 9 in Chicago

Thanks to our partner, Kartemquin Films for making the first POV Hackathon in Chicago a success, and to the Chicago Innovation Exchange for hosting POV Hackathon 9!

About Kartemquin Films:
A collaborative center for documentary media makers who seek to foster a more engaged and empowered society, Kartemquin sparks democracy through documentary. Their films, such as The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, and The New Americans have left a lasting impact on millions of viewers. A revered resource within the film community on issues of fair use, ethics, story and civic discourse, Kartemquin is internationally recognized for crafting quality documentaries backed by audience and community engagement strategies, and for its innovative media arts community programs.

About the Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago:
The Chicago Innovation Exchange is the University of Chicago’s new center to help scholars and entrepreneurs translate their ideas and new technologies into start-up businesses and products.

If you missed any of them, here are links for quick access to the POV Hackathon 9 prototypes:

» In Your Own Words: Understanding the Troubles (Participants’ Choice Award winner)
» Chicago: 1893-2023
» He Said/She Said

Want to see more? View the prototypes from past POV Hackathons at »

Keep up with developments at POV Hackathon: Subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.