THE DEFENDERS is a large format photo series shot by filmmaker Vanessa Black in Kiev documenting the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution, the response to the Invasion of Crimea, as well as the days leading up to the conflict along the Ukrainian-Russian border from the perspective of the capital.

Using a large format Graflex camera, as well as black and white Czech film, Black wanted to commemorate the events in Kiev’s Independence Square using the same language of WWI & WWII war photography. By using 4x5 negatives, this time intensive photographic process aimed to honor these everyday heroes.



Vanessa Black is a NYC based millennial filmmaker who blends pop-culture with politics to inspire the masses to take action on world issues.   After reporting on the youth behind the headlines during the Ukraine Crisis, Black launched her company BLKFLM as a way to combine creative storytelling and impact for important word issues.

Using a counterculture lens to examine politics,  Black’s work has been featured on National Geographic, CNN, Tribeca Film, VICE, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, Esquire, Now This, RYOT News, Mic, Refinery 29, Marie Claire, Teen Vouge, i-D Magazine, BuzzWorthy, MSNBC, Upworthy, Buzzfeed, NRDC, The Guardian, BBC and more.  Her VIACOM campaign "Witness the Power of Story" is broadcasting on  MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET, Spike TV, Logo TV and CMT for an audience of 700 million.

Black dove into environmental filmmaking through her work directing a slate of short films for Vice President Al Gore about the Climate Crisis, titled YOUTHFUEL.  Black and Martinez met shortly thereafter at the United Nations Peace Day.

Black's work has screened at SXSW, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, SoHo House New York, The Chelsea Film Festival, 5 Point Film Festival, Focus Film Festival Santiago Chile, The Environmental Film Festival at Yale, The Environmental Film Festival Washington DC, among others.  She has spoken at MCON, SoHo House New York, Thew New Yorker’s Video Consortium, VIACOM’s annual executive meeting, SoHo House New York, The Environmental Film Festival in DC, Huffington Post Live and Finding The Fabulous. Black is fiercely dedicated to storytelling that aims to help improve the quality of life for society at large.

Outside of her commercial exploits, Black's docu-style storytelling celebrates real people, focusing everyday heroes as the subjects of her commercial and documentary projects. 

Black is fiercely dedicated to storytelling that aims to help improve the quality of life for society at large.