Michael Patrei

External Advisor, Refugee Project, Hamilton College

Michael Patrei is a professional independent filmmaker who lives in Central New York. Michael has become deeply involved in his community along with keeping his fingers on the pulse of both regional and global human needs. Michael's passion is in constant innovation, and in continuously fusing these innovations with his overall mission to contribute to the greater good of our society through filmmaking and the arts. Michael is the founder of The Guild of Thespian Puppets. Besides being a puppeteer, he is also the visionary force behind conceiving and crafting all of the Guild's original puppets. Michael is on the Board of Directors for the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. In his spare time Michael is the lead singer of the Tom Waits tribute band The Swordfish Trombones. Michael's film, "BALLOU: a documentary film" is a 90-minute feature length documentary about the struggles and triumphs of an inner city high school marching band from Washington, DC and features interviews with Colin Powell and Jesse Jackson. BALLOU has received national attention with a television premiere on the BET Network, screening at the White House for First Lady Laura Bush, and featured stories on Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and ABC World News. Michael has recently completed a feature length film Falling Frames and has directed several short documentary films for Cinelan's 3-Minute Stories series entitled, "Haunted Beardslee Castle," "Super Fertile Derby Girl," "The Brass Ring," and "DEMON Biker Chihuahua," which can all be seen on Hulu. Michael is also the Director and one of the founders of the UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival. This annual event takes place in Utica, NY in October of each year. It combines film, art, music, and a conference into one festival in order to expose human rights violations and issues from around the globe in hopes of offering practical solutions to these pressing issues.