Suzanne LaFetra and David Collier felt in their bones that Destiny Arts was special from the very first time they attended a performance. It was a shocking reminder of what it means to be a teen in Oakland. Yet, they were impressed and captivated by the students' ability to herald their personal struggles for a public audience. In a place where 1/3 of all teenagers drop out of high school, how is Destiny Arts able to successfully guide these teens though this tumultuous period? Natives of the Bay Area, raising four teenagers of their own, the two paired up in this labor of love to tell the story of five remarkable youth and their journey of becoming FREE.

Read the Directors' Statement

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David Collier

Director/Producer/Director of Photography

David Collier is an award winning documentary filmmaker, and the principal and founder of Studio B Films. He received an Academy Award nomination in 1993 for his feature length documentary For Better or for Worse. Studio B Films is a video production company in Berkeley, specializing in commercial work and documentary-based storytelling.

Suzanne LaFetra


Suzanne LaFetra is a freelance writer, journalist and filmmaker. She is the Executive Producer of the documentary, She Wants to be a Matador (2009). She has long believed in the power of film as a medium for social change. Being the mom/stepmom to four adolescents has made her particularly keen on the youth development work portrayed in F R E E. This is her directorial debut.


Jennifer Chinlund


Jennifer Chinlund is an award-winning editor. She has edited dozens of documentary films including Children of the Amazon,  The Self Made Man, Discovering Dominga, Baby It’s You, and Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, which won an Emmy and was nominated for an Academy Award. Other broadcast credits include Secrets of Silicon Valley and Beyond the Call, both on Independent Lens; Coming to Light, Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, on American Masters; and Ishi, the Last Yahi, on PBS’s American Experience. Her films have been shown at many international film festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, San Francisco, Telluride Mountainfilm and Tribeca.

Todd Boekelheide


Todd Boekelheide is an award-winning sound engineer and composer. He has scored more than 60 films, including Spin, Regret to Inform, Inside Bellevue, The Future of Food, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse and Nina Takes a Lover. He has earned both Emmy and Academy awards for his work.


Sara Needham

Outreach & Distribution Producer

Sara Needham is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist who enjoys telling stories that not only open hearts and minds but also have the ability to bring about collective change. She has explored a variety of topics ranging from genetically modified food, to California politics, to gun violence, to the colorful life story of a Gregorian friar. Her work has appeared on PBS, in film festivals worldwide, online, and in living rooms & classrooms. She believes successful distribution comes about when a film is given a path that allows it to open up conversations and to make a difference in the world.