Hidden Star Films is an all female filmmaking team that brings creativity with meaning to storytelling. A Hidden Star marks the directorial debut of Mary Elizabeth Gentle and Alia Tarraf. The two women became friends while working on the Disney Live Action team through Allison, a filmmaker and Mary Beth’s best friend. The three women used to dream of starting a production company one day but after Allison’s sudden death in 2016, it seemed that their dream died along with her. Until Mary Beth and Alia stumbled upon a treasure trove of never-before-seen diary footage that Allison had documented of herself. So they did what she did. Partnering with psychologist and death midwife, Dr. Staci Emerson, they began documenting themselves on their journey through grief in order to find their own answers. That’s when they realized their dream hadn’t died, it became Hidden Star Films. And it is just the beginning.
Mary Elizabeth has spent the past 20 years working in the entertainment industry on a number of films on both the filmmaker side and in studio production at Walt Disney Studios. Her affinity for storytelling has led her to write several feature screenplays, a novel, and produce the feature length documentary What the F@#- is Cancer and Why Does Everybody Have It?.
As a diverse filmmaker, Alia has been featured on MTV and in Glamour magazine and has been working in studio production at Walt Disney Studios for the last 10 years. She was also a producer on the feature length documentary What the F@#- is Cancer and Why Does Everybody Have It?and has written and performed for the CBS Multicultural Comedy Showcase, The New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Middle Eastern Comedy festival.
Harvard-educated clinical psychologist, Dr. Staci Emerson, Ph.D., unwittingly became a death midwife over 17 years ago when a beloved patient’s breast cancer returned and the question of whether to accompany her to the door of death became an unexpected life-changing choice. Staci has been helping people and their loved ones process the death experience and live with resilience, exuberance, and love ever since. She’s also an outspoken supporter of women’s empowerment, inclusion and fairness.
Dr. Emerson has served as a psychological consultant for numerous companies (The Walt Disney Company, Netflix, CBS), hospitals (Cedars-Sinai), schools (David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, USC, LAUSD), and non-profits (PBS, The Why? Foundation).
Aside from mentoring hundreds of world-class athletes, executives and filmmakers, Dr. Emerson has joined Hidden Star Films as a partner in exploring what it means to create projects that dive deep into the human experience.