Jess Kohl is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer whose work often focuses on the fringes of society, where she seeks to amplify voices globally that have historically not been heard. Her work combines a raw, intimate cinematic style with a sensitive understanding of her subjects.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins with 1st Class Honors, she went on to complete an MA at Goldsmiths in Cinematography. Her Raindance nominated first short documentary, Anarchy in the Philippines, follows a group of Filipino punk activists living under President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’. She went on to highlight the contrast between Indian and Western queerness in her candid and beautifully shot Nirvana, which was nominated for a One World Media Award, and screened at festivals including LSFF, BFI Flare & Ciclope. Her most recent film, Disciples, follows opposing skinhead groups in Malaysia, and was nominated as Best Documentary Short at the prestigious Grierson Awards.
Jess often uses photography as a tool to research topics and themes prior to and alongside embarking on a film project. In 2016, her series Friends of the Dead was exhibited in a solo show at The Vaults, London, and in 2020 she had her first Italian solo show at Palazzo delle Arti in Napoli.
A frequent collaborator with Dazed and Nowness, Jess’ distinctive directorial voice and talent for capturing nuanced and authentic moments has naturally led her to working on music videos and commercial projects, creating poignant campaigns for clients such as Nike, Google, Tinder, On Running, Dr. Martens, Speedo, and VSCO. Jess also directed a campaign for Gymshark called “The Return of Ryan Garcia” in celebration of the boxer’s comeback to the ring.
Jess is working on her first feature documentary, where she continues to explore the intersection of culture, religion, and gender non-conformity in the south of Italy.