Meet the Festival jurors for the GGA shorts, mid-length, documentaries, and new directors competitions. Also, a hearty thanks to our screeners, listed at the bottom of the page.
Speakers and Industry Guests
Adriana Banta is an executive at 30WEST, an investment and advisory company with offices in Los Angeles and New York that provides capital and strategic guidance to high-caliber creative projects and forward-thinking companies operating throughout popular culture. Its media practice works with filmmakers to guide every stage of creative packaging, production, sales, distribution, and licensing in order to maximize production quality and audience reach. 30WEST was founded in 2017 and in early 2018 acquired a majority stake in fast-rising film distributor, NEON.
Zandashé Brown is a Louisiana-born-and-raised writer/director and the Artist Development Coordinator & Programming Manager for the New Orleans Film Society. A former fellow of NOFS’s Emerging Voices program, Zandashé now programs year-round events such as the annual South Summit, a convening that seeds conversations and actions around amplifying film and media content in the American South; she also organizes the Academy Award-Qualifying New Orleans Film Festival’s Filmmaker Summit, a series of panels, talks, and workshops that take place yearly during the festival. Brown programs for the narrative shorts and features categories at the festival, including the Southern categories. Her latest film, Benediction, was one of five selected for the 2020 Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmakers.
Sarafina DiFelice is a Creative Executive with the Original Documentary team at Netflix.
Graham Fine is Manager of Acquisitions at The Film Sales Company, where he focuses on discovering new projects and conceiving festival strategy. He also regularly represents The Film Sales Company on film festival juries and in producing labs. The Film Sales Company is unrelenting in securing distribution for independently produced narrative and documentary features, with over 200 titles sold since 2002 to a diverse group of domestic and foreign buyers.
Danielle Freiberg is the Director of Marketing and Publicity at IFC Films. Danielle was born and raised in Mill Valley, CA and attended Boston University. At IFC Films she works across titles in both IFC Films and IFC Midnight labels and oversees special events, film festivals, regional publicity, awards and grassroots/promotional marketing.
As Head of Tracking at Cinetic Media, Alexis Galfas works across the Finance, Management, and Sales teams to identify and bring in filmmaker-driven projects that are creatively unique and commercially viable. Her responsibilities include establishing relationships with filmmakers, building Cinetic’s film festival slates, assessing potential financing opportunities, and tracking film festival/industry trends. Recent films she has been involved with include Time, Collective, Summer of Soul, Land, Mucho Mucho Amor, RBG, We The Animals, Science Fair, Amy, Strong Island, and Boyhood. Prior to joining Cinetic in 2013, Alexis worked at Maximum Films, where she assisted in scouting literary properties for clients.
Zack Garcia joined the Sundance Institute in 2019 as a Coordinator for the Feature Film Program, focusing on tracking and outreach for all FFP Programs including the January Screenwriters Lab, as well as providing creative and departmental support, coordinating processes for submissions, script drafts, rough cuts, etc. Prior to Sundance, Garcia was the Executive Assistant to the creative team at social impact and film financing company One Community, assisting in all aspects of the Film and TV development process. He is a native of South Texas and a graduate of the film program at the University of Texas at Austin.
Sarah Harris is the Director of Programming for AFI Festivals where she leads the curation and events for the American Film Institutes’ three annual festival programs: AFI FEST in Los Angeles, AFI DOCS in Washington, D.C. and the NBC News-partnered Meet the Press Film Festival. She has been a film festival programmer for over fifteen years, working with AFI in various roles since 2012. Harris was a founding staff member and Senior Programmer of the Dallas Film Society, host of the Dallas International Film Festival.
As a consultant, Harris previously programmed films with the Sundance Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Aspen ShortsFest, Los Angeles Film Festival and Vimeo. In 2019 Harris joined the Cinema Eye Honors team, an annual celebration of non-fiction filmmaking craft, after serving many years on its nomination committee. Having spent much of her life in the South, she now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
Lucas Joaquin is an independent creative producer in New York City and a founding member (with Drew Houpt and Alex Scharfman) of the production company Secret Engine.
Most recently, Joaquin produced Karen Cinorre’s feature film MAYDAY, starring Grace Van Patten, Mia Goth, Havana Rose Liu, Soko, and Juliette Lewis, which premiered in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and had its international premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
Joaquin was a 2012 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow and worked for many years with the prolific production company Parts & Labor.
Angela C. Lee is the Associate Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, a Los Angeles based arts nonprofit, where she oversees the Screenwriting, Directing, Episodic, and Producing Labs and the Fast Track Finance Market. Angela is also a Spirit Award-nominated Producer of Chloé Zhao’s debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Her work as a producer has been supported by the Sundance Institute, Berlinale, Film Independent, IFP, PGA, and Center for Asian American Media. A native Chicagoan, Angela graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics.
Carrie Lozano is director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, and is an award winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. She was most recently director of the International Documentary Association’s Enterprise Documentary and Pare Lorentz funds, where she supported more than 60 diverse films and filmmakers at the intersection of documentary and journalism.
Dana Merwin is the Program Officer at the International Documentary Association where she administers the Pare Lorentz Doc Fund and Enterprise Doc Fund. Prior to joining IDA, Dana was the production manager for Al Jazeera America’s documentary unit and the Peabody Award winning series Fault Lines. She was the Director of Operations for Jupiter Entertainment in Los Angeles, where she oversaw delivery of docu-reality series to various cable channels. She has served as a production manager on numerous film and television productions.
Layla is a senior publicist at Cinetic Marketing and PR working across festival, release, and awards campaigns for a range of narrative and documentary features. Campaigns she has led include Academy Award nominated features Time, Honeyland, Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Academy Award nominated short films Do Not Split, In the Absence, and A Night at the Garden; the acclaimed drama Vitalina Varela from auteur Pedro Costa; The Devil All The Time starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland; Cornelio Porumboiu’s The Whistlers; as well as the Oscar shortlisted Boys State and Gunda. Most recently at Sundance Layla represented prize-winning documentaries Flee, All Light Everywhere, and President.
Guillermo Restrepo is a Brooklyn-based film publicist who handles National and Digital Press campaigns for festival premieres and theatrical and streaming releases. Driven by a passion for independent films, he has led numerous film campaigns, including recent titles Saint Frances, La Llorona, and Shiva Baby. He is currently a National Publicist at Brigade Marketing, where he has worked with distributors such as A24, Amazon, GKIDS, Hulu, IFC, Magnolia Pictures, Netflix, Oscilloscope Laboratories, and Shudder. Guillermo is a gay Colombian immigrant who values on-screen representation, challenging narratives, and is dedicated to helping filmmakers share their stories.
Ryan Robinson is Senior Manager of Development for CNN Original Series and Films. Robinson joined CNN in 2016 and works across both series and films content. Most recently she’s worked on the 80-episode crime franchise VENGEANCE, Three Identical Strangers, Apollo 11, and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. She is based in Los Angeles.
Ellen Schneider is a strategist who has pioneered methods, frameworks, and other resources that have helped shape the sphere of “social impact media.” In 2000 she founded Active Voice/Lab, one of the first teams to design campaigns around story-based media to put human faces on complex social and policy issues. As executive producer of the PBS series, POV, she introduced models that measurably increased the power of independent documentary in public life. Ellen is currently improving creative partnerships among storytellers, funders, issue experts, and others, and has shared this expertise with media-savvy clients like Sundance, Ford, and Participant Media.
Ana Souza works at the Sundance Institute as the Manager of the Programming department and a Programmer on the features team for the festival, focusing on fiction films. She is also the Head Programmer for the Sun Valley Film Festival. She programmed shorts and features for the LA Film Festival for several years before becoming Head Programmer of World Fiction for their last edition in 2018.
Basil Tsiokos is Director of Programming for both DOC NYC and the Nantucket Film Festival, as well as Programming Associate for the Sundance Film Festival. Basil was the Director of NewFest: The NY LGBT Film Festival between 1996-2008. He serves on the nominating committees for the International Documentary Association Awards and Cinema Eye Honors. Basil writes about documentaries daily at what (not) to doc. He holds a Masters degree from New York University and two undergraduate degrees from Stanford University.
Kat is the CCO at Fork Films, where she works across departments to guide the development and release of new projects in all media, and alongside the COO oversees and supports project distribution and impact campaigns. Previously she served as Fork Films’ Director of Grantmaking where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company’s documentary grants program and served as the primary contact for Fork Films’ supported filmmakers.
Jameka Autry is a producer, director, and 2020 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellow. Past fellowships include the 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellowship, 2017 Impact Partners Creative Producing Fellowship, and 2018 Double Exposure Investigative Film Fellowship. In 2018, she was selected as part of the inaugural DOC NYC “40 Under 40” list. She received the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Sundance/A&E Brave Storyteller Award Festival and a 2019 UC Berkeley School of Journalism Investigative Reporting Postgraduate Fellowship. Currently, she balances her film projects as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts with mentoring filmmakers at SFFILM’s FilmHouse residency program. Recent films include Through the Night, Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops, Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing, In My Father’s House, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., We the Animals, and Love, Gilda.
Effie T. Brown is the CEO of Gamechanger Films, which launched in 2013 as the first film fund for women filmmakers, and under Brown’s leadership, now includes projects by and about people of color, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. She has also overseen Gamechanger’s expansion into television and digital content. Brown is also an award-winning film, television, and digital producer known for her highly acclaimed, multi-platform repertoire as well as championing inclusion and diversity in Hollywood, both behind and in front of the camera. Brown has produced several critically acclaimed films and award-winning projects including Real Women Have Curves (2003 Film Independent Spirit Awards Producers Award), Dear White People (2015 Best First Screenplay Independent Film Award), and HBO’s Project Greenlight, among several others. Brown also served as an executive producer on Lee Daniels’ Star on FOX and Disney Channel’s Zombies. Prior to Gamechanger, Brown founded Duly Noted, Inc., a company dedicated to ground-breaking narratives that use genre to challenge and advance our culture in a disruptive way. Brown’s dream is to change the world through film and TV – celebrating our differences while bringing us all closer together.
Rachel Caplan is passionate about film as the spark for social change. In 2010, she created the San Francisco Green Film Festival as the Bay Area’s first environmental arts event, to bring communities together to share urgent stories about the climate crisis. Rachel has over 20 years of experience working in film exhibition, including positions with the Edinburgh, London, and SFFILM Festival. As a publicist, she handled international theatrical campaigns for Paramount, Universal, and DreamWorks. In 2019, she was part of the team to launch the first London Green Film Festival, a 10-day free outdoor event in the heart of the city. Rachel has an M.A. in Cinema & Television Studies from the British Film Institute (BFI) and is a BAFTA member.
David Fear is a Senior Editor and critic at Rolling Stone, and the former Film Editor of Time Out NY. His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, Esquire, Spin, NY Daily News, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Moviemaker, Nashville Weekly, and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, as all writers must.
Born in Mexico City (1981), Mara Fortes is a researcher and a curator. She holds a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Swarthmore College and is a doctoral candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago. She is a curator for the Telluride Film Festival and programs for the Ambulante Documentary Film Festival and the CUORUM Independent Festival of Gender and Sexual Diversity (which she also co-founded). She was previously the head curator at the audiovisual department of the Center for Digital Culture. She has been a programmer and International Relations Coordinator at the Morelia Film Festival and curated programs for the Raina Sofia Museum, La Otra Bienal, and London MexFest. She authored Historia de la Noche with Fabiola Torres-Alzaga. In collaboration with Lorena Gómez Mostajo, she edited Chris Marker Immemoria, and the first Spanish translation of Amos Vogel’s seminal book, El cine como arte subversive. She was a regular contributor to the arts and culture magazine Picnic.
Gabby Goss is an aspiring filmmaker who lives in Alameda, California, with her parents and younger sister. She is an 11th grader at Bishop O’Dowd High School. In her free time, she enjoys playing water polo, reading, acting, singing, and making films. She has made several films in the past and especially loves making films that relate to environmental issues. She is also a big fan of science fiction movies and books and hopes to pursue a career that involves movie editing or directing.
Simone Griffin is a 16-year-old mixed-race filmmaker living in El Cerrito, California. She currently attends Oakland School for the Arts in the Digital Media Sub Pathway with a focus on directing and editing. For her sixth birthday, Simone received a Flip video camera as a gift and has loved directing and filmmaking ever since. At the same age, she taught herself Adobe Premiere Elements to edit her films, and editing continues to be her favorite step of the filmmaking process. Now in high school, Simone has made five independent short films and two documentaries, and edited two episodes of OSA: Off the Table, Oakland School for the Arts’ Tiny Desk spinoff. She sometimes dabbles in photography, digital drawing, 3D modeling, and music production, as well. Simone’s favorite pastime is playing video games, as she is also greatly intrigued by video-game storytelling and direction. Some of her other loves include iced tea, fashion, music, and cats.
Zaki Hasan is an author, film critic, and professor of Communication and Media Studies. His reviews and analyses appear regularly in the San Francisco Chronicle and IGN, and he is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle. He is also co-host of the MovieFilm Podcast, featuring bi-weekly news, reviews, and interviews related to the film industry.
Elizabeth Ito is a 15-year veteran of the animation industry and the creator of the Cartoon Network short, Welcome to My Life. She recently finished making her first series, City of Ghosts, at Netflix Animation. She currently lives in Los Angeles, staying home with her family, and coming up with new ideas for fun projects to make.
Dorota Lech is a Polish-born, Toronto and Los Angeles-based film programmer and independent curator. Since 2013, she has worked for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where she is a Lead Curator of the Discovery Program and International Programmer for Central and Eastern Europe. She also produces the Hot Docs Forum, a pitching event aimed at garnering financing for international documentaries, at North America’s largest documentary festival. Dorota is also a programmer at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and holds a double M.A. in Political Science and Gender Studies from McGill University.
Santiago Meza is a junior at Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, CA. He is studying film and has made a handful of short films. Currently, he is working with International Baccalaureate (IB) schools around the globe on a collaborative project about racism. He plans to follow film into college and create a career out of it.
Lucila Moctezuma is Program Director at Chicken & Egg Pictures where she oversees the development and implementation of the organization’s programs in support of women and gender-nonconforming nonfiction filmmakers. Previously she was Executive Producing Director at UnionDocs, a center for documentary art in Brooklyn; managed the Production Assistance Program at Women Make Movies, providing support to women filmmakers in the development of their projects; was Director of the Media Arts Fellowships for The Rockefeller Foundation, a highly prestigious program that supported media artists in the US and Latin America; and was founding Director of TFI Latin America Fund. She was Vice President of the Board of Trustees of The Flaherty. Originally from Mexico City, Lucila is on the documentary selection committee of the Morelia International Film Festival.
Rosa Morales is a writer, filmmaker, and a member of the SFFILM team, most recently serving as the Associate Manager of Narrative Film. Inspired by a lifelong passion for storytelling, she has built her career in supporting artist development programs that uplift voices of filmmakers from under-represented communities. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a focus in Media and Latinx Studies and was a member of the 2019 Industry Academy with Film at Lincoln Center. Born and raised in San Francisco, she is committed to cultivating and celebrating the bountiful art community in the Bay Area and beyond.
Kimberly Parker is a freelance producer based in Los Angeles. Most recently, Parker lead produced Josef Kubota Wladyka’s sophomore feature, Catch The Fair One, which is in post-production. She produced A24’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Best Director, Sundance 2019) and I Am My Own Mother, one of two American films in Cannes Cinéfondation 2018. Parker’s previous films include Katie Says Goodbye (TIFF 2016), starring Olivia Cooke and Christopher Abbott, and Broken Night (Tribeca, Cannes Next 2017), an interactive VR film starring Emily Mortimer. Her first feature as a lead producer, Those People, won Audience Awards at Outfest and NewFest. Parker was a 2016 SFFILM/Rainin Producing Fellow. She participated in EPI’s Trans Atlantic Partners, Berlinale Talents, and the Sundance Women in Film Financing Intensive. Parker is a three-time IFP alum, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. She is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Film MFA and Johns Hopkins University.
Jennifer Partika is an elementary school educator who has taught in San Francisco public schools for the last 10 years. She loves working with children from diverse backgrounds and feels lucky to have the city of San Francisco, and all it has to offer, as an extended classroom. Ms. Partika loves sharing films with her students and appreciates the stories and lessons that enhance curriculum and expose students to new places and ideas. She has been fortunate enough to have filmmakers visit her classroom to talk about their work and even teach the class how to create their own short films. Working with SFFILM over several years, she has witnessed many students become inspired to tell their own stories through participation in various SFFILM community/education programs, one of whom is her own daughter who is currently studying film production at Chapman University.
Nicolás Pereda is a filmmaker whose work explores the everyday through fractured and elliptical narratives using fiction and documentary tools. He often collaborates with the theater collective Lagartijas tiradas al sol and actress Teresita Sánchez. His work has been the subject of more than 30 retrospectives worldwide in venues such as Anthology Film Archive, Pacific Film Archive, Jeonju International Film Festival, and TIFF Cinematheque. He has also presented his films in most major international film festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Locarno, and Toronto, as well as in galleries and museums like the Reina Sofía in Madrid, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York. In 2010, he was awarded the Premio Orizzonti at the Venice Film Festival. His latest film, Fauna, screens as part of the 2021 SFFILM Festival.
One of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” Alex Schmider is an award-winning film producer and the Associate Director of Transgender Representation at GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBTQ media advocacy organization. At GLAAD, he advises media and entertainment leaders, editorial teams, brands, and companies on how best to approach LGB and, specifically, transgender characters, storylines, marketing, social impact campaigns, and gender inclusion on digital platforms and in the technology sector. He is a producer of the feature documentary, Disclosure, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and is now available globally as a Netflix Original Documentary, as well as the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival feature documentary selection, Changing the Game. He runs the social media strategy and accounts for both films.
Jazz Tangcay is Senior Artisans Editor at Variety where she covers all the crafts below-the-line through interviews, frame breakdowns, and video series. She is also on the Awards team covering the races from the Emmys to the Oscars. Prior to joining Variety, Jazz was at Awards Daily, covering the Awards beat and reviewing films. She is a member of Rotten Tomatoes and the Critics Choice Association. Jazz is originally from the UK and moved to Los Angeles seven years ago.
Scott Tobias has written on film and television professionally for over 20 years. For much of that time, he was the film editor for The AV Club before spending two years as co-founder and editor of The Dissolve, a film site for Pitchfork Media. He currently freelances for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Ringer, Vulture, The Guardian, and other outlets, and co-hosts the film podcast The Next Picture Show. His favorite movie is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but he can get talked into Tokyo Story, Vertigo, or Once Upon a Time in the West any other day. He resides in Chicago with his wife and two daughters, within walking distance of the legendary Music Box Theatre.
Jamy Wheless graduated with a degree in Visual Arts from Auburn University in 1987. After working as a freelance illustrator, storyboard artist, and in traditional animation, Jamy turned his talents toward computer animation. In 1996, his short film, Avery, premiered at SIGGRAPH where it caught the eye of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. In 1996, he joined ILM as a technical director and character animator on commercials. He transitioned to feature production in 2000, becoming a lead animator on the Star Wars prequels and The Pirates of the Caribbean films, among others. Jamy later co-founded Lightstream Animation Studios. Currently, as the CEO and Animation Director of IGNITE Animation Studios, he leads a team dedicated to bringing captivating stories and inspiring characters to life for feature films, television, and augmented reality projects. He recently co-directed the Oscar-nominated short film The Pig on the Hill. He next short, Andy, is scheduled for release in June 2021. Jamy Wheless graduated with a degree in Visual Arts from Auburn University in 1987. After working as a freelance illustrator, storyboard artist, and in traditional animation, Jamy turned his talents toward computer animation.
In 1996, his short film, Avery, premiered at SIGGRAPH where it caught the eye of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. In 1996, he joined ILM as a technical director and character animator on commercials. He transitioned to feature production in 2000, becoming a lead animator on the Star Wars prequels and The Pirates of the Caribbean films, among others.
Jamy later co-founded Lightstream Animation Studios. Currently, as the CEO and Animation Director of IGNITE Animation Studios, he leads a team dedicated to bringing captivating stories and inspiring characters to life for feature films, television, and augmented reality projects. He recently co-directed the Oscar-nominated short film The Pig on the Hill. He next short, Andy, is scheduled for release in June 2021.
Alison Willmore is a film critic at Vulture and New York magazine. She previously worked as a critic and culture writer at BuzzFeed News and the TV editor at Indiewire. Her writing has also appeared in the AV Club, Salon, Time Out New York, and Movieline.
Programmers + Screeners
SFFILM is grateful to all of the individuals who helped the Festival Programming team sift through thousands of submissions to this year’s edition.
Director of Programming
Associate Director of Programming
Associate Programmer/Golden Gate Awards Manager
Mid-Length / Short Film Programmer
Director of Education
Education Program Manager
2021 Festival Screeners
Lívia Campos de Menezes
Jesse Hawthorne Ficks
Cynthia J. Lew
Ines Pedrosa e Melo
Inês Pedrosa e Melo