2021 Juries

Narrative Feature

Ryan Watt

Ryan is an entrepreneur, film producer, and most recently the Executive Director of Indie Memphis (2015 – 2020). During his tenure, the organization tripled in revenue and expanded year-round programs focused on artist development. He is the producer of narrative feature films including PILGRIM SONG (SXSW) by Martha Stephens , FORTY YEARS FROM YESTERDAY (Locarno) by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, OPEN FIVE by Kentucker Audley, and Associate Producer of FREE IN DEED by Jake Mahaffy, Best Film Winner at Venice Film Festival Orizzonti Competition and nominated for four 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Ryan provides consulting services with Watt Media Group focusing on business development for arts organizations. He is co-owner of Zio Matto Gelato, an artisan gelato brand founded by Matteo Servente, based in Memphis. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee – Knoxville with a major in Marketing and now resides with his family in Nashville.

Bryan Glick

Bryan Glick is just your typical C4 incomplete spinal-cancer-fighting non-binary queer agnostic Jew. They is a film sales and collaborative distributor focusing on prestige films for underserved communities via their company GQue Films. Recent films include Slamdance premiere “Workhorse Queen”, Hot Docs breakout “Bare”, Nashville and SXSW selection “Ludi”, and award winners from Rotterdam, Tribeca, Outfest, Heartland and Hot Docs Film Festivals. They have spoken about creative approaches to distribution at festivals/markets around the world such as Sundance, SXSW, Outfest, FilmEx, Bogota Audiovisual Market, and Doc Edge NZ.

Sara Thompson

Sara Thompson is the Director of Programming for deadCenter Film, Oklahoma’s largest film festival. Thompson graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Film Studies after which spending a few years in film and television production before joining the deadCenter programming team. In 2012, she became the festival’s first-ever short film programmer. In this role, Thompson elevated dCFF’s game tremendously, hunting and luring insightful, hilarious films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. In 2018, Sara moved to oversee all of deadCenter’s film programs as Director of Programming. She loves working at deadCenter connecting awesome audiences with amazing films.

Documentary Feature

Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan is the creative director for the Sidewalk Film Festival and Sidewalk Film Center & Cinema, as well as an instructor of Media Production at Lawson State Community College and a scriptwriting instructor at the University Of Montevallo. She was a co-instructor in the Documenting Justice documentary film program at the University of Alabama for 13 years and is a former contributor to Film Threat. She received a BFA from The Savannah College of Art and Design in Film/Video Production and a MA in Film Critical Studies from the University of Alabama where her focus of study was Children and Adolescence in Cinematic Horror. She recently served as the programming lead for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival Satellite Screen in Birmingham, AL and also co-hosts the cinema-centric podcast, SideTalks, in which she is usually right and her co-host, Corey Craft, is always wrong.

Andy Peterson

Andy Peterson is a senior creative media executive at the forefront of marketing film & television content to cause conscious & specialty audiences. Since 2005 Andy has been involved in launching dozens of independent and studio feature films and TV series’ including projects from A24, Abramorama, Focus Features, National Geographic, Neon, Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Sony Pictures and IFC Films among others. Recently Andy launched Docs/ology, an initiative for developing, promoting and supporting ‘praise-worthy’ documentary films, true stories and other non-fiction content — which has included work on the films Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, The Biggest Little Farm, Strange Negotiations, Jump Shot, Social Animals and the Oscar winning feature documentary Free Solo. In 2012 Andy founded the Justice Film Festival, a film experience that shines a light on social justice and celebrates emerging filmmakers from around the world. The festival, where Andy serves as creative director, will return for its 9th season in New York City at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture this November. Andy has lived in Nashville for 25-years with his wife and three children. An avid record collector Andy has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl in his collection, and can usually be found visiting contemporary art museums and other sacred spaces during his travels.

Beth Barrett

Beth has been with SIFF since 2003, and is responsible for managing the artistic vision of SIFF, including all aspects of programming for the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema’s 5 year-round screens, and the SIFF Education team. Graduating from the University of Iowa with a Masters degree in Northern Renaissance Art History, Beth moved to Seattle in 1993, and has worked as a baker, bartender, art docent, and digital prepress technician. She secured SIFF’s status as an Academy Award® qualifying festival for short film in 2008. Beth currently serves on the Board of the Film Festival Alliance and the City of Seattle Film Task Force. In addition to her daily work in programming, Beth has served on juries and panels in Palm Springs, Park City, Cleveland, Calgary, Vancouver BC and Berlin, Germany.

Music Documentary Feature

Shanna Strassberg

Shanna Strassberg is a consummate television and music industry professional. She currently holds the professional title of VP of Music and Talent at CMT, part of the MTV/Viacom/CBS family. Having spent the last 16 years in TV production as both Talent Booker and Producer, Shanna has successfully worked with artists/celebrities on a multitude of series, live events, music specials and red carpets. Shanna has booked over 4,500 musical guests as well as celebrities from film, television, comedy and sports, on various networks and online properties. In the past few years Shanna has worked on the Dolly Parton Telethon “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund”, The Loretta Lynn Birthday Celebration at Bridgestone Arena and the original Documentary on the legendary Bluebird Café “Bluebird – The Movie”, and Ken Burns “Country Music Live at the Ryman”, among other things. She has great instincts for recognizing talent and getting the best version of that person to reveal themselves on camera. Shanna also spends time creating her own video series, dreaming up documentaries, and executing terrible recipe ideas in the kitchen. Also…she won an Emmy!

Heather Cook

Starting her career in music 20 years ago at The Voice Studio in Boston, MA, she later finished her degree in Music Business at Belmont University and went on start and run her own music publishing and artist management company for 3 years. She has served as the Administrative Director for AIMP Nashville and SOLID Alumni President, and is currently a Recording Academy Professional Member & Mentor.  In her position at peermusic she is responsible for the marketing, promotion and pitching of peer music’s 90+ year legacy catalog of hit songwriters, producers and artists as well as new emerging talent including Donovan, David Foster, Corey Hart, Poo Bear, Salaam Remi, James Poyser, Taboo and apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas, S.O.S., Black Violin, BJ The Chicago Kid, Andrew Simple, The Royal Foundry, The Undercover Dream Lovers, The Weeks and many more.  She has placed songs in commercials for Target, Apple, IKEA, Payless, Marriott, Rooms to Go, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, KIWI Shoe Polish, Kay Jewelers, Pandora, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Hershey’s, and ESPN among others.  She is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Music Business at Berklee College of music.  In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, genealogy, candle making and spending time with family.

Brian Loschiavo

Brian Loschiavo is Co-Founder and Head of Development at Riverside Entertainment, a Nashville and Los Angeles-based production company specializing in unscripted television, documentary film and branded content.

Graveyard Shift Feature

Bears Rebecca Fonté

Bears Rebecca Fonté is a transgender filmmaker, festival programmer, and journalist. She founded Other Worlds Film Festival after two years as the Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival. Her SciFi shorts ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE, PRENATAL, and THE SECRET KEEPER have played 150+ festivals including Fantasia, SciFi London, Boston SciFi, FilmQuest, Austin Film Festival and Dances With Films. Her LGBTQIA Horror short CONVERSION THERAPIST made is world premiere at Inside Out in Toronto and US Premiere at aGLIFF (the All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival). Bears Rebecca also was one of the producers on the Sundance Jury-Award Winning short THE PROCEDURE. She has written for Hammer to Nail and AMFM Magazine since 2014, covering independent film, including regular coverage of Sundance, SXSW, Fantasia, and Fantastic Fest. After five years on the aGLIFF Board of Directors, she was appointed Artistic Director in 2021.

Miguel Rodriguez

Miguel Rodriguez is the founder and Executive Director of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, a Southern California-based film festival dedicated to the exploration of genre cinema, performance, and art. He is also the co-founder of the non-profit repertory cinema group Film Geeks San Diego, which runs annual themed film and discussion series, currently in their seventh year. He works as a film curator and programmer for San Diego Latino Film Festival, and partners regularly with The Frida Cinema, FilmOut San Diego, San Diego Italian Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, and most recently the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Isabella Price

Isabella L. Price is a filmmaker, writer, podcaster, host, performer and youtuber out of the PNW. She has worked on CUT’s 100 Years of Beauty series, produced a horror burlesque live show called Nocturnal Emissions, and directed a virtual national run of Mae West’s play SEX in 2020, currently she works with Langston Seattle, curating their Fade to Black series, focused on Black filmmakers and the Black image in media.

Tennessee Feature

Amy Bertram

Amy is a trilingual cinephile who revels in teaching all aspects of Film Studies, from Film and TV History to specialized courses on French film (French Film History, French New Wave) and on directors (Scorsese, Hitchcock, Joel and Ethan Coen, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, and Ava DuVernay) at Belmont University in the Cinema, Television and Media Department. Her research focuses on contemporary French filmmakers François Ozon and Claire Denis. Her recent article on Ozon’s connection to Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his film Water Drops on Burning Rocks (1999) appears in the Edinburgh University Press series ReFocus on Ozon released in Aug. 2021. Amy serves as the Motion Pictures representative on the Diversity Council of Curb College at Belmont and coordinates a panel for the Diversity Symposium in the fall. She firmly believes in the power of film as an empathy tool and as a way to teach about tough subjects. Amy served on the Narrative Feature jury for the Nashville Film Festival virtually in 2020, as well as conducted Q&As with international directors Marité Ugas, Myriam Verrault, and Jeanne Leblanc. She also was on a jury for the first WCTE student film festival in Cookeville, TN in 2020. She led more than two dozen Motion Pictures majors on a cinematic journey to Paris and Lyon, France in 2019 and hopes that study abroad can resume its regularly scheduled program in 2022. When possible, Amy escapes with her husband to the mountains for hiking, climbing and whitewater canoeing.

Valorie Quarles

Valorie Quarles has worked as a filmmaker and educator for more than three decades. She has spent her career focusing on bringing diversely talented individuals together and creating cohesive production teams to serve stories that matter. She has a MFA in Motion Pictures from Florida State University and has received grants and recognitions from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, the Southern Arts Council and film festivals. As a leader in the film community, she served as the president of the Nashville Film Festival and a guest speaker for film festivals, universities and conferences. Furthermore, she had the opportunity to serve as the unit production manager on the distributed faith-based feature film Love Again. Valorie has taught both undergraduate and graduate students at the Watkins College of Art and Lipscomb University and is currently teaching at Belmont University. She is a member of Women in Film and Television, Catholics for the Creative Arts and the University of Film and Video Association.

Billy Senese

Filmmaker / Defy Film Festival Founder & Senior Programmer

Billy Senese is an independent director, producer, and writer living in Nashville. He has written and directed several indie short films and audio plays, including the award winning horror short, THE SUICIDE TAPES. His debut feature film, CLOSER TO GOD, screened at numerous film festivals to critical acclaim, including winning Best Screenplay honors at Fantasia International Film Festival. His second feature, THE DEAD CENTER, a psychological horror film starring Shane Carruth (PRIMER, UPSTREAM COLOR), won the Nightfall award at the LA Film Fest and went on to screen extensively on the festival circuit, winning Best Director and Audience Award at other film festivals. Senese co-founded Defy Film Festival in Nashville in 2016. Defy is a nonprofit festival that focuses on films that tread new ground, turn storytelling tropes on their head, and forge new paths in cinema. Senese is the senior programmer and board president.

New Directors Feature

Lauren Lukow

Lauren Lukow is the Manager of Creative Producing and Artist Support for the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, where she focuses on discovering, nurturing, and amplifying the work of emerging independent producers, screenwriters, and directors in narrative features. Through a series of Labs, granting, mentorship, professional development, and networking activities, she works with the Feature Film Program team to tailor support for artists on their current feature film while also providing direct ongoing creative and strategic feedback. Recent films supported by the program include THE 40-YEAR-OLD-VERSION, NINE DAYS, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO, FAREWELL AMOR, THE FAREWELL, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, PATTI CAKE$, and SWISS ARMY MAN, among others. Before Sundance, Lauren worked in development at Pixar Animation Studios where she supported their in-house screenwriters, directors, producers, and development executives in the earliest phases of their creative process, including on Pete Docter’s Soul. Prior, she held positions at the Virginia Film Festival, Arvold Productions, and Mockingbird Pictures. An independent producer herself based in Los Angeles, Lauren’s projects have screened internationally at film festivals around the world. Lukow has served on the literary committee for San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theatre, as well as on the jury for the UCLA’s MFA Screenwriters Showcase and DePaul University’s Premiere Film Festival. An alum of the University of Virginia, she continues to give back as a board member on the UVA Entertainment Club of Los Angeles.

Beckie Stocchetti

Beckie Stocchetti is the Executive Director of the Hawai’i International Film Festival, a multi-island Festival and 41-year old non-profit organization that has earned the distinction of being the nation’s creative pipeline to the Pacific Islands and the primary source for the exhibition and discovery of API films and talent. At the helm of HIFF, Beckie has revitalized the organization, spotlighting emerging talent from Asia and the Pacific Islands, and bringing focus to local Hawai’i content and filmmakers through competition programs, cash awards, in-flight screenings on Hawaiian Airlines, content development, and new youth programs. She launched a Virtual Reality exhibit at HIFF that spotlights immersive new media works primarily from the Asia-Pacific region. Beckie has tripled the staff size at HIFF since taking over as Executive Director and more than doubled its economic impact to the state. Having a focused career on developing independent creative talent, Beckie regularly speaks at national and international Festivals and conferences on supporting and evolving local film industries and spotlighting diverse voices through film. Previously, Beckie lived and worked in Chicago as a filmmaker and held numerous industry positions including with Kartemquin Films documentary production company, launching a filmmaker-in-residence program with the City of Chicago Film Office, and spearheading a local digital media production fund with Chicago Filmmakers. Beckie has served on various Boards and dedicates her time to building investment in the independent film industry. She has a degree from the University of Chicago in Cinema and Media Studies and an MBA from Quantic.

Sarah Childress

Dr. Sarah Childress began her multi-faceted career in advertising, perfecting her project management skills at BBDO then moving to a creative boutique agency to supervise TV campaigns for brands like ESPN and the Discovery Channel. Her growing interest in the mechanics of moving images led her to Vanderbilt University, where she earned a Ph.D. concentrating in Film and Media Studies. At Vanderbilt, she taught award-winning undergraduate film and writing courses and worked with the Office of the Dean of Students to develop grant-funded co-curricular film series and programs. Since then, Sarah has taught film courses at Bowdoin College and Belmont University and has introduced films and moderated discussions at the Frist Art Museum, The Belcourt Theatre, and the Nashville Film Festival. She also produced Música Campesina, which screened at internationally renowned festivals, including the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Latinbeat festival, BAFICI, and the Mill Valley Film Festival. Her short film Blue Dragon Mussel Wagon exhibited at the Boston Center for the Arts, Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany. She also served as Chief Creative Officer for Headstrong Media Group, extending the creative output of legacy musicians into profitable educational realms and supporting those efforts with digital infrastructure and outreach campaigns. Currently, she is partnering with The Belcourt Theatre to develop a series of Cinema Studies videos for high school students and is the business manager for Ian McDonald, founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner.

Narrative Shorts

Daniel Crooke

Daniel Crooke (he/him) is the Programs Manager at Outfest, where he has served in various programming capacities including lead Shorts Programmer since 2016. He has also worked with the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, NewFest, Palm Springs ShortFest, and TCM Classic Film Festival.

Beatrice Loayza

Beatrice Loayza is associate web editor at the Criterion Collection. She is a film critic for the New York Times and a contributor to Film Comment, The Baffler, Cinema Scope Magazine, Reverse Shot, and others.

Carlos Aguilar

Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by RogerEbert.com, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, MovieMaker Magazine, Remezcla, Filmmaker Magazine, Slate, Bustle, Americas Quarterly, among others. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).

Documentary Shorts

Kalyna Kutny

Kalyna’s love for all things entertainment has taken her through the industries of fashion, travel, television and film; and has based her in the exciting worlds of New York, The Cayman Islands, Los Angeles and now Nashville. After spending over a decade in NYC working with Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and HIT Entertainment, her desire to make amazing entertainment drove her to LA where she spent six years working for HBO Films, where she was instrumental in such hit films as LIBERACE, TOO BIG TO FAIL, GAME CHANGE, to name a few. That experience led to her work for Blossom Films, helmed by Academy Award winning actor Nicole Kidman for a few years. While now splitting her time between Nashville and Los Angeles, she oversees the Publishing and Podcast divisions for Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media while also maintaining a foot in producing film projects for UM as well.

Abby Sun

Abby Sun is an artist, film programmer, and researcher at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, where she is a graduate student in Comparative Media Studies and edits Immerse. Most recently, Abby is the Curator of the DocYard and co-curated My Sight is Lined with Visions: 1990s Asian American Film & Video with Keisha Knight. Expanding on the latter’s programmatic urges, Abby and Keisha launched Line of Sight, a suite of artist development activities, in 2021. Abby has bylines in Film Comment, Filmmaker Magazine, Film Quarterly, Hyperallergic, and other publications. She has served on juries for festivals like DokuFest, Cleveland, Palm Springs, and New Orleans, as well as nominating committees for the Gotham Awards and Cinema Eye. Abby has reviewed applications for BGDM, NEA, SFFILM, LEF Foundation, Sundance Catalyst, and spoken on and facilitated panels at TIFF, NYFF, and other film festivals. Her latest short film, “Cuba Scalds His Hand” (co-directed with Daniel Garber), premiered at Maryland Film Festival in 2019. Her hometown is Columbia, Missouri, US.

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson is a film programmer, writer and lecturer based in Toronto. He is the programmer for Short Cuts, the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual showcase of shortform cinema, and the programming director for Aspen Shortsfest, an Oscar-qualifying film festival recognized as one of the premier short film festivals in North America. A longtime film critic and arts journalist, he contributes to such publications as Uncut magazine, Cinema Scope and Sight & Sound.

Animated Shorts

Siqi Song

Siqi Song is an Oscar-Nominated animation director from China, currently based in the United States. Her animated shorts have screened internationally at numerous film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Annecy, Ottawa, and more. She is named a Film Independent Directing Fellow in 2018, BAFTA Los Angeles Newcomer in 2019, and nominated for an Oscar and an Annie Award for her short film SISTER in 2020. Song studied Experimental Animation at the California Institute of the Arts and China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Sudeep Sharma

Sudeep Sharma is a Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival with a focus on documentary feature films. He is also Co-Director of Programming for the Palm Spring International ShortFest. He has worked in programming for many eclectic and recognizable festivals including the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Aspen ShortsFest, LA Film Festival, AFI Fest, Tribeca Film Festival, Indian Kaleidoscope Film Festival and was Director of Public Programming for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. He holds a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA and has taught film and television courses at universities throughout Southern California.

Adam Koehler

Having worked at Sundance Institute, FilmRise and IFC Films, Adam Koehler has been in the film acquisitions space for 7 years. In addition to monetizing library titles via IFC Films Unlimited, Adam plays an integral role in curating the release slates of both IFC Films and IFC Midnight. He has led acquisitions on films like Hunter Hunter, A Banquet, The Djinn and The Wretched, and is always searching for new creative voices in filmmaking.

The Edge Shorts

Blake Williams

Blake is a filmmaker specializing in stereoscopic video who lives and works in Toronto, where he is completing his PhD at the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute. His video work has screened at the Berlinale, Locarno Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival.

Shelley Shay

Shelley produced the award winning documentary, Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles, where I was also in charge of all archival footage, research and photography. I am working to develop the documentary into a feature film. I have served as a judge to a number of festivals, as well as a key organizer and liaison for film pitches and presentations at Film-Com. Using my masters and background in studio arts she continues to work on projects of social relevance.

Jonathan Rattner

Jonathan Rattner is an artist and filmmaker who primarily produces experimental nonfiction films and videos. He holds M.F.A’s in Film and Video Production and in Intermedia Art from the University of Iowa and a B.F.A. in Film and Television from Tisch School for the Arts, N.Y.U. Rattner has screened work at film festivals, microcinemas, and galleries around the world including the Whitechapel Gallery, Walker Art Center, Anthology Film Archives, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Antimatter, Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, L’Alternativa Film Festival, and The European Media Arts Festival. Rattner is currently president of the art collective COOP and holds the position of Associate Professor of Cinema Media Arts and Associate Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Graveyard Shift Shorts

Bears Rebecca Fonté

Bears Rebecca Fonté is a transgender filmmaker, festival programmer, and journalist. She founded Other Worlds Film Festival after two years as the Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival. Her SciFi shorts ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE, PRENATAL, and THE SECRET KEEPER have played 150+ festivals including Fantasia, SciFi London, Boston SciFi, FilmQuest, Austin Film Festival and Dances With Films. Her LGBTQIA Horror short CONVERSION THERAPIST made is world premiere at Inside Out in Toronto and US Premiere at aGLIFF (the All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival). Bears Rebecca also was one of the producers on the Sundance Jury-Award Winning short THE PROCEDURE. She has written for Hammer to Nail and AMFM Magazine since 2014, covering independent film, including regular coverage of Sundance, SXSW, Fantasia, and Fantastic Fest. After five years on the aGLIFF Board of Directors, she was appointed Artistic Director in 2021.

Miguel Rodriguez

Miguel Rodriguez is the founder and Executive Director of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, a Southern California-based film festival dedicated to the exploration of genre cinema, performance, and art. He is also the co-founder of the non-profit repertory cinema group Film Geeks San Diego, which runs annual themed film and discussion series, currently in their seventh year. He works as a film curator and programmer for San Diego Latino Film Festival, and partners regularly with The Frida Cinema, FilmOut San Diego, San Diego Italian Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, and most recently the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Isabella Price

Isabella L. Price is a filmmaker, writer, podcaster, host, performer and youtuber out of the PNW. She has worked on CUT’s 100 Years of Beauty series, produced a horror burlesque live show called Nocturnal Emissions, and directed a virtual national run of Mae West’s play SEX in 2020, currently she works with Langston Seattle, curating their Fade to Black series, focused on Black filmmakers and the Black image in media.

Tennessee Shorts

Billy Senese

Filmmaker / Defy Film Festival Founder & Senior Programmer

Billy Senese is an independent director, producer, and writer living in Nashville. He has written and directed several indie short films and audio plays, including the award winning horror short, THE SUICIDE TAPES. His debut feature film, CLOSER TO GOD, screened at numerous film festivals to critical acclaim, including winning Best Screenplay honors at Fantasia International Film Festival. His second feature, THE DEAD CENTER, a psychological horror film starring Shane Carruth (PRIMER, UPSTREAM COLOR), won the Nightfall award at the LA Film Fest and went on to screen extensively on the festival circuit, winning Best Director and Audience Award at other film festivals. Senese co-founded Defy Film Festival in Nashville in 2016. Defy is a nonprofit festival that focuses on films that tread new ground, turn storytelling tropes on their head, and forge new paths in cinema. Senese is the senior programmer and board president.

Tom Neff

Tom Neff as over thirty years’ experience in the film industry with many national and international awards, including an Oscar nomination, an Emmy win, and an Emmy nomination. A member of both the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy, Neff has worked in every film format from HD to 35mm to IMAX.

Neff founded the Documentary Channel™, which aired to over 45 million viewers nationally. Neff has written, directed, produced, or executive produced – often filling all of these roles in a single project — well over 100 documentaries, including Oscar nominated Red Grooms: Sunflower in a Hothouse; the Emmy winning documentary Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire; the 6 hour series on country music, America’s Music: The Roots of Country; the IMAX film, Our Country; Beatrice Wood: Mama of Dada; Louise Dahl-Wolfe: Painting with Light; Herb Alpert: Music For Your Eyes, and many others.

Amy Bertram

Amy is a trilingual cinephile who revels in teaching all aspects of Film Studies, from Film and TV History to specialized courses on French film (French Film History, French New Wave) and on directors (Scorsese, Hitchcock, Joel and Ethan Coen, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, and Ava DuVernay) at Belmont University in the Cinema, Television and Media Department. Her research focuses on contemporary French filmmakers François Ozon and Claire Denis. Her recent article on Ozon’s connection to Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his film Water Drops on Burning Rocks (1999) appears in the Edinburgh University Press series ReFocus on Ozon released in Aug. 2021. Amy serves as the Motion Pictures representative on the Diversity Council of Curb College at Belmont and coordinates a panel for the Diversity Symposium in the fall. She firmly believes in the power of film as an empathy tool and as a way to teach about tough subjects. Amy served on the Narrative Feature jury for the Nashville Film Festival virtually in 2020, as well as conducted Q&As with international directors Marité Ugas, Myriam Verrault, and Jeanne Leblanc. She also was on a jury for the first WCTE student film festival in Cookeville, TN in 2020. She led more than two dozen Motion Pictures majors on a cinematic journey to Paris and Lyon, France in 2019 and hopes that study abroad can resume its regularly scheduled program in 2022. When possible, Amy escapes with her husband to the mountains for hiking, climbing and whitewater canoeing.

Episodic

Claire Taylor

A proud member of SeriesFest since 2015, Claire currently serves as the Director of Programming where she over sees all programming for the annual festival based in Denver and year round initiatives including the Storytellers Initiative in partnership with Propagate Content, Women Directing Mentorship in partnership with Shondaland, Women Writing Competition in partnership with Big Swing Productions, Spotlight Your Town Initiative in partnership with National Geographic Films and Visible, the Executive Elevation Mentorship, and Independent Pilot Competitions including the Digital Short Series, Late Night, Pilots in Progress, Smartphone Series, Podcast Spotlight, and Collegiate Spotlight. Before joining the SeriesFest team, Claire focused on applying her passion for storytelling through producing theater and television for Triptyk Studios based in NYC (An American In Paris, Amelie: The Musical, Xanadu).

Chuck Hayward

Chuck Hayward is a renaissance man – in that he’s a man who’s stayed multiple times at Renaissance Hotels. But mostly he writes things. A lot. And sometimes he actually writes them well. And sometimes they’re even funny! Just ask his fellow writers on Netflix’s Dear White People, Disney+’s WandaVision, ABC’s Mixed-Ish, or Showtime’s Flatbush Misdemeanors. Or you can ask the directors and producers of the movies he’s written, Netflix’s Step Sisters, the indie film Fat Camp; and the upcoming remake of the 90’s cult classic, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. Chuck promises they’ll confirm it. You calling him a liar?!?!

Shawn Harwell

Shawn Harwell is a screenwriter and professor who lives in Asheville, NC. His credits include the series Eastbound & Down and Red Oaks, and the Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis starring film The Campaign.

NextGen Shorts

Meghan Oretsky

Before joining Vimeo in 2014, you could find Meghan cheering on filmmakers in the comments section of countless videos on their site. Today she serves as a senior member of Vimeo’s curation team, for which she watches and curates thousands of short films a year. In October 2014, she created Ladies With Lenses, a collection of exceptional short films made by women, and hosts regular screenings of those films at venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, Museum of the Moving Image, and VICE. Find out more about the channel and screening series at @ladieswithlenses.

Dan Hudson

Dan first started with NFFTY in 2015 as venue manager and outreach coordinator. Venue manager again in 2016 and 2017, and has programmed the animation and music video categories since NFFTY 2017. He joined NFFTY full-time in 2018, first as Festival Manager for NFFTY 2018, and has been NFFTY’s Executive Director since January 2019.

A graduate of Seattle University’s MFA in Arts Leadership program, he has over ten years of professional experience working with arts nonprofits. He primarily has worked with theatre and film organizations—including Intiman, ArtsWest, SIFF, Northwest Film Forum, and Scarecrow Video—in a variety of marketing, development, and operations roles.

He programs Seattle’s Grand Illusion Cinema—where his programming was twice profiled by The Stranger—as well as Art House Theater Day, a nationwide event. He also serves on the board of TeenTix, an arts access and youth dev organization.

Allison Inman

Allison Inman is education and engagement director at the Belcourt Theatre, Nashville’s nonprofit film center — a dream job that allows her to watch and discuss films with people of all ages. She’s worked in film engagement for ITVS and Rocky Mountain PBS, leading public screenings and discussions of social-issue documentary films in Nashville, Denver and New Orleans. She served as a producer of the Moving Picture Boys’ 2019 film SAINT CLOUD HILL, which profiles a tent city in Nashville facing eviction. With the Moving Picture Boys’ Jace Freeman and Sean Clark, she co-produced and directed the short film Carthage House of Beauty, which premieres at the 2021 Nashville Film Festival.

VR Films

Jeffrey Travis

Jeffrey is an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and engineer. He is the founder of Positron, where he and his team invented Voyager®, the world’s first full-motion chair for cinematic VR. He and his team have worked with studios such as Universal, Dreamworks and Disney and companies such as Intel, Verizon and Walmart to integrate VR content into multisensory experiences that delight audiences in Positron’s chairs. Jeffrey is passionate about elevating storytelling and art through immersive technologies.