The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands
A nuanced look at colonization in the 21st century within the U.S.
- 60 Minutes
Six thousand miles west of California, the Mariana Islands include the U.S. Territory of Guam and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (or CNMI). From the beaches of Guam to the White House, from the CIA to the Peace Corps, from beauty pageants to the UN – The Insular Empire follows four indigenous island leaders, to discover what it means to belong to America’s ‘insular empire’ in the Pacific. The Insular Empire is a personal story about believing in the American dream, even while being denied the rights and privileges that most Americans take for granted. Part political tragedy, part personal history, The Insular Empire explores America’s role in the Marianas – and how the islanders have resisted, accommodated, assimilated, and survived.
Vanessa Warheit has worked as a director, producer, editor, and cinematographer of non-fiction video since 1999. She edits, produces, writes and directs video for television, non-profit, and corporate clients. Vanessa holds a Master’s in Communication from Stanford University, and a BA with honors from Bryn Mawr College. Her first feature documentary, The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands, aired nationally on PBS and is distributed by New Day Films. Other independent film credits include Director/Co-Producer of the Webby Award-nominated travel series “Hit the Road”; Producer/Director/Editor of Constructing Experience, a short documentary which aired on PBS and NBC; Associate Producer for the national PBS documentary Great Wall Across the Yangtze; and Additional Cinematography for the award-winning PBS documentary Daddy and Papa.
Vanessa is currently producing a short, funny, animated film for children about climate change and CO2 pollution, called Worse Than Poop! She also creates educational video content for Stanford University. Vanessa is a certified Climate Leader with the Climate Reality Project, an experienced educator, and an engaging public speaker. She lives with her husband and son in Palo Alto, California.
Producer/Director/Camera/Writer: Vanessa Warheit
Narrator: Lesley Ewen
Director of Research: Amy E. Robinson
Editors: Laurie MacMillan, Vanessa Warheit
Story Editors: Laurie MacMillan, Helen Slinger
Associate Producers: Cinta M. Kaipat, Amy E. Robinson
Original Music: Todd Boekelheide, Alex Lu
Assistant Producer: Matt Listiak