Roberta Cantow was recognized with her first grant from The American Film Institute while still a graduate film student at NYU. Through the years, The New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and others provided grants for the completion of four film works. She received a N.Y. area Emmy for her film Clotheslines about the symbolic and artistic role of laundry in women’s lives. Her films and videos have garnered several Best of Category citations in film festivals around the country as well as an Award of Excellence for Dreamtime in 2008, and an Award of Merit for Not a Still Life, and in 2016 for Accordions Rising, all in the documentary category, from the Global Accolade Competition. Her other work, including If This Ain’t Heaven, The Book of Laughs, Iluminada (all 16mm film) and Mosaics, Doctor Clown, Moon Festival, and Bloodtime Moontime Dreamtime (a trilogy), has been exhibited in many of the venues for independents, including a presentation in the Cineprobe Series of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Her four 16mm films were selected for archival preservation by the Donnell Media Center, New York City, in 2001. All of her work will be housed in the Sophia Smith Women’s History Collection of Smith College (in perpetuity).
Before attending NYU, Roberta had received her B.A. from the University of Michigan with an emphasis in theatre and had studied mime in Paris for one year. In 1992, she also acquired an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, from USIU (United States International University), now Alliant University. She has been teaching English as a second language in adult, college and worker education programs and English as a foreign language in business schools since her time in France. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan.
Roberta’s experience with Digital Storytelling began with a workshop conducted by the Digital Storytelling Center (now, StoryCenter) in Berkeley, CA in 2004. She has conducted digital storytelling workshops with pregnant teens and with her ESL students at Palomar College. She has been trained by StoryCenter with workshops in Story Facilitation and Digital Story Facilitation. In the 2017-2018 academic year, she initiated a campus-wide program in digital storytelling at Palomar College, a collaboration with StoryCenter.
Roberta has made a decision to step away from documentary filmmaking to pursue both digital and live storytelling. To date, she has presented at seven live storytelling events.