Özlem Ayse Özgür

Özlem Ayse Özgür is a documentary filmmaker, and creative director of Cool Genie Pictures film production company, which she founded in 2015.  Currently she works as a videographer/producer in the Marketing and Communications Department of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona. Her film, "Taste Bud Memories," on refugees, food-ways and community in Tucson received a Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy Nomination in 2019 and won an Impact DOCS Award in 2020. Her latest short film “Edible Education” which focuses on the School and Community Garden Program in Tucson received a Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy Nomination in 2020. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and was included among the Best Experimental Films of 2015 in venues including the Frozen Film Festival in San Francisco, 2019 AAG Conference in Washington DC, and was invited for the Boston Biennial Project in 2016 and 2018, and Refugees Welcome Film Festival in Germany, Berlin, 2020.

Besides being a filmmaker, Özlem is a PhD candidate, studying Human and Film Geography in the School of Geography, Development and the Environment at the University of Arizona. She is the recipient of a P.E.O International Scholar Award and a Society of Women Geographers' Pruitt National Dissertation Fellowship for her research on refugee women’s socioeconomic wellbeing. She uses film geography, visual ethnography and qualitative methods in her research. After graduating from University of Arizona with a BA in Philosophy, BFA in Studio Art, she received her MA in Philosophy from Stanford University and MFA in Film from San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). She has taught film editing, cinematography and post-production, as well as philosophy at Pima Community College.

She also serves as a Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of a nonprofit, Owl and Panther, whose mission is to provide meaningful and healing expressive arts experiences in the community and the natural world for refugee families resettled in Tucson who have been impacted by trauma, torture and traumatic dislocation. 

In her leisure time Özlem does painting, gardening, cooking, pilates, and takes walks with her husband Brian Silverstein and her dog Zoe.