Leonard Cortana is a P.hD Candidate at the Cinema Studies Department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts where he gained a Certificate in Culture and Media from the NYU Anthropology Department.
He works as an Adjunct Instructor in International Film and Media History at NYU and Emerson College. Prior to NYU, he conducted several artistic and educational projects with non-profits and UN agencies that engage with youths in Chile, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Australia, France and Bulgaria. He became a Trainer for European Commission Youth Program projects and the Children International Summer Village Organization (CISV) and designed methodologies in theatre and storytelling for social inclusion. He also took part and co-organized artistic residencies in France and the Netherlands and worked as an actor for several theatre companies and collectives in Europe and Australia. In 2012, Cortana founded the collective Inform’ART France, which brought together youth workers and artists. Among their projects, the collective drew upon the Human Library methodology to create a network of practitioners all over France. They also co-directed a short documentary, A land in between (2015) that told life trajectories of Sardinian migrants between France and Sardinia. He also took part in the youth delegation of the Festival Against Racism in Brussels and Montreal.
Cortana is also a filmmaker. His last documentary Marielle's Legacy Will not Die follows activist movements spreading the intersectional legacy of Afro-Brazilian activist and politician Marielle Franco in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As his film circulates transnationally, he creates networks of advocacy with other anti-racist activists.
His doctoral research focuses on the transmediatic circulation of transnational narratives about racial justice and activist movements, that re-open wounded historical memories between Chile, Brazil, France and the US with a special emphasis on productions from the Black diaspora. He investigates how to build methodologies to re-center the voice and expertise of frontline activists to adequately report issues at stake and amplify voices of marginalized communities in the public digital sphere while ensuring a better online protection.
Cortana earned the EU Commission NOHA Masters in Humanitarian Assistance and holds a double-degree in Comparative Politics and Hispanic Literatures and Cultures at Sciences-Po Aix en Provence. He also received a BA in Cinema and Aesthetics from Panthéon Sorbonne University.