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Leyla Mandel (b. 2003) is a young American film maker. She is currently a combined degree student at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts where she studies film and political science.


In high school Leyla co-founded Sunrise Watertown and has made films for her group. She sees the natural world as a place of beauty and a place of enjoyment, but also recognizes that it is a contested space, contaminated by political discourse. A lot of what she’s learned from this activism has influenced her film and photography work. Leyla’s films explore issues about environmental sustainability and social justice. 

More recently, her work has expanded to also explore other ties between identity and political struggles. In 2023, she was awarded a Tufts Summer Scholars grant which allowed her the possibility to travel to Urla, Turkey. There, she began work on Balık, a film that takes a closer look at her own family’s migration to Turkey, as well as how Erdogan’s ruin of the economy has affected local fishermen who rely on government subsidies, minimum wage and the exchange rate.

Leyla also has extensive editing skills and has worked on collaborative films as the primary editor. In the past she has interned with groups such as City Life/Vida Urbana and The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice to produce media for their campaigns. She is open to new learning experiences.

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