Drama Award (2020)
She Who Wasn’t Tamed
Drama Award (2021)
The Pleasure of Killing Bugs
No Fan of Andy
Creciendo (Growing Up)
Pandemic Cinema Award
No Crying at the Dinner Table
Pitoc e Icinakosian
Experimental Award (2020)
Experimental Award (2021)
this is a completely normal home movie
Chicago Award (2020)
Children Play With Fire
Chicago Award (2021)
As We Are Planted
Rising Star Award
Meeting at Half Past Five
CineYouth 2021 Juries
Aaron Greer, coordinator
Aaron Greer is an independent filmmaker and media artist who focuses on telling stories about underrepresented communities and identity formation. He has directed and produced two award-winning feature films, Service to Man (2017), featuring Keith David and Lamman Rucker, and Gettin’ Grown (2004), and co-authored the award-winning screenplay Fruit of the Tree, which was selected for the Tribeca Film Festival’s All-Access program. Greer has also produced several short films and documentaries and is currently developing narrative podcast series. In addition to his production work, Greer is an Associate Professor of Film at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Angie Gaffney is the Executive Director of The Independent Film Alliance Chicago, a 501(c)3 organization that believes in Chicago as a place where all media creatives can achieve their dreams. As a life and leadership coach, Angie specializes in working with creatives, leaders, executives, and organizations to help them channel their power, manifest financial stability, and take their future into their own hands. As a producer, Angie develops authentic independent film and television content and is an expert on the growing Chicago film scene. Her production company, Black Apple Media, has been active since 2010. Her most recent films include Killing Eleanor (Best Narrative Feature Film, SCAD Savannah Film Festival 2020), Monuments (Nashville Film Festival Audience Choice Award 2020), and Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move (Official Selection SXSW 2017).
Brian Kahn is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement at Full Spectrum Features, where he’s charged with making sure its films are supported with powerful, attention-grabbing social impact campaigns and appearances in film festivals, educational institutions, and community organizations. With experience in both community and business development, he knows how to pull all the players and pieces together. Brian has produced educational PSAs, a horror film in VR, an episode of Land and Sea for CBC, and a documentary shot in Canada, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. He also adapted a novel into a film and produced films that played at festivals such as Cleveland International FF and HBO’s NY Latino Film Festival.
Lili Calfee, coordinator
For the past six years, Liliane has run summer film intensives within DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts for youth (ages 15-20) who are residents of Chicago public housing. Through two lenses, the lens of a camera and the lens of their life experiences—participants gain technical filmmaking skills and learn the power of their personal narratives. The program is designed to increase industry access and economic pathways to a new generation of Black and Brown storytellers. The short films have won awards at multiple festivals such as the Academy Award qualifying “Reel Sisters of the Diaspora” (NYC) and screened nationally and internationally, including the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner.
James Choi has produced two critically acclaimed female-led features. The first, Made in China by writer/director Judi Krant, won the Grand Jury Award for Best Feature and Best Female Director Award at South by Southwest (2009). The film received distribution by IFC films. More recently, Saint Frances, an indie dramedy by writer/lead actor Kelly O’Sullivan, won the Jury Award for Breakthrough Voice and The Audience Award at South by Southwest (2019). The film is being distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories has garnered two Gotham Awards nominations and a nomination for the Cassavetes Award at the 2021 Spirit Awards. An active member in Chicago’s filmmaking community, James was selected as one of Newcity’s Film 50 – the leaders of Chicago’s film culture for the past 3 years. Currently, his slate is buzzing with a Brazilian short documentary playing in museums and festivals around the world; his next writing/directing project All Things Considered set in Korea in the works; and numerous producing projects on his plate for production. James is based out of Chicago and also teaches film at DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts.
In addition to being a full-time instructor within DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts, Michael Flores’ documentary film projects have consistently gained recognition in the most prestigious film festivals around the world. Michael has worked on films such as Nick Broomfield’s documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; Tommy O’Haver’s The Most Hated Woman in America for Netflix, which premiered at SXSW; and Jason Kohn’s documentary Love Means Zero for Showtime, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He also recently edited a true-crime documentary for HBO and the Duplass brothers, which will be premiering soon.
Ron Falzone, coordinator
Ron Falzone is an award-winning screenwriter, associate professor in Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago and an Insructor at the Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City. Films he has co-produced and written have screened at festivals in The U.S., Canada and Europe.
Mariano DiMarco teaches at Columbia College Chicago’s Cinema and Television Arts department and also at The Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City, the only film school in the world devoted exclusively to comedy filmmaking. His films have screened in the United States and Europe.
Gary Fox is a filmmaker living in Chicago. He also teaches film courses at Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University and The Harold Ramis Film School at Second City.
Shayna Connelly, coordinator
Shayna Connelly is a Chicago-based filmmaker whose work explores liminality and the boundaries between documentary, experimental and fiction filmmaking. Her collection of eight films called A Memory Palace of Ghosts connects the ways hauntings affect our daily lives in the form of traumatic events, mental illness, everyday routines, the search for truth and the aftermath of grief.
In honor of his genre work, Bloody Disgusting named Jason Tostevin independent horror’s most influential short-film maker in 2018. He co-founded the renowned Nightmares Film Festival, FilmFreeway’s top-rated genre fest.
Miguel Rodriguez is the founder and Executive Director of the Horrible Imaginings, a San Diego-based film festival dedicated to genre cinema, performance, and art. He is also a film curator and programmer for San Diego Latino Film Festival, The Film Geeks San Diego, Digital Gym Cinema, and the Museum of Photographic Arts.
John Otterbacher, coordinator
With a Master of Science in Communications from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and an MFA in Film from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, John Otterbacher lives in Chicago where he splits his time between teaching and filmmaking. Otterbacher has mainly worked as a producer and cinematographer specializing in independent film/tv/new media and work for non-profit organizations. As a college professor, Otterbacher has taught at a number of institutions and is currently coordinator for the Cinematography program at Flashpoint Chicago. He is a member of the Education Advisory Committee for Cinema/Chicago, a Creative Cabinet member for IFA Chicago and the Executive Producer of Orange Chair Productions Ltd. Nearest Neighbors, Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago, and Moving Parts are John’s most recent projects.
Sarah Jane Biagini
Sarah Biagini is a media artist working in 16mm film and video. She holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA from University of Colorado at Boulder. She has been a Filmmaker in Residence at Alchemy Film and Moving Image Residencies in Scotland and a Visiting Artist at Hellenic International Studies in the Arts, in Paros, Greece. Her work has been screened most recently at International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, UnionDocs, and the Denver Art Museum. As an educator, Sarah is committed to building community access to moving image technologies, and is also a founding member of Process Reversal, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to film arts preservation and education. Sarah is the lead programmer for the 2021 Mimesis Documentary Festival.
Charles Borg is an award-winning writer/producer with an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman University. As a professional story consultant, he’s worked with writers, heads of development, producers, and directors represented by the likes of Paradigm Agency, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Nasdaq Studios, and Circle of Confusion, to name a few. He ghost-writes features and helps develop series bibles. He also teaches at Flashpoint Chicago and Columbia College Chicago with a focus in creative producing, screenwriting, and Documentary film and theory.
Hannah Welever, coordinator
Hannah Welever is a multi-hyphenate filmmaker with a hustle mentality and a Midwestern upbringing. With a colorful background in cinematography, Hannah has shifted her visionary skills to become an accomplished director of various forms. Accolades including an AICE Award for her Nike Force is Female campaign, Best Director at SeriesFest for webseries Good Genes, and a recipient of the ASC Vision Scholarship. Hannah’s latest short film, Swipe Up Vivian, has screened around the country (virtually) this past year at festivals such as Outfest, Frameline, Atlanta International, Chicago International, and Fantasia. Hannah is committed to creating refreshing and empowering content that remains at a point of accessibility and relevance to women and minority communities. In early 2019 Hannah created a production company as a hub for underrepresented artists called Good Trouble Films. Hannah currently works as the Director’s Assistant on Showtime’s Work in Progress produced by Lilly Wachowski.
C.J. Arellano is a queer writer/filmmaker specializing in genre-driven and comedic content. He was named by the International Screenwriters’ Association as one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Case Unsolved, the horror feature he’s written and will direct, won the Asian American International Screenplay Competition, as well as the IFP Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival’s Pitch at Industry Days competition. Geller High School’s Mondo-Secret Crush Committee, his teen rom-com screenplay, won grand prizes at the New York Screenplay Contest and Columbia College Chicago’s Written Image contest. C.J. has also directed videos for big brands such as The Second City, McDonald’s, Bob Dylan’s whiskey brand Heaven’s Door, and Motorola. View his writing and directing work at CJarellano.com.
Ashley C. Battle is a groundbreaking filmmaker and music producer from Chicago, Illinois. Born in Chicago’s south suburbs, Ashley exhibited a love of music and storytelling from an exceptionally young age. Ashley’s passions led her to study audio engineering and music production at The Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in 2011, Ashley began filming music videos for local Minneapolis talent. These early experiences allowed Ashley to create unique cinematic visuals underlined with her own self-composed, self-produced music. Ashley began her professional career in 2012. She first worked as a commercial Production Assistant (P.A.) and eventually landed an internship with Schumacher Camera in Chicago. Currently, Ashley works in the camera department for several national commercials, docu-series productions, and scripted projects. Ashley is currently signed to One at Optimus as a director and continues to shoot and direct her own content.
Yannis Sakaridis, coordinator
Yannis’ career has spanned thirty years in film production. He is the director of Amerika Square, Greece’s official selection for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominations 2018 and has recently been appointed as the Creative Director of Drama International Short Film Festival. Yannis lived in London for 18 years where he has directed and edited documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC, Cinema trailers for Warner Brothers and experimental short films. His first feature film as a director, Wild Duck, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013. The film went on to enjoy a successful festival run. Amerika Square premiered at the 2016 Busan International Film Festival and went on to play the prestigious Chicago Film Festival and Palms Springs Film Festival. It was released in the USA, China, Spain, UK, HBO and was screened and awarded at a number of festivals.
Co-Founder and Chairman of Ningbo Short Film Festival ( NSFF ). Vice President, Secretary General of Ningbo Short Film Association Graduated from the Communication University of Zhejiang, over 20 years professional working experience in TV production, produced many short films and online films. Main works including: Unplanned farewell; Cultivating one’s mind like; pasture cattle; Black clouds press down on the city; Female Special Police.
Isabel Ivars has more than 12 years of experience in the film industry with special knowledge and a passion for international films and television. With a background in the Arts and Filmmaking, Isabel specialized in film marketing and distribution after a few years working in banking, combining her passion and knowledge for the arts with her experience and interest in finance and marketing. Isabel has worked for Sales Agencies over the past 7 years. She combines her current position as Head of Festivals for Films Boutique with projects collaborating with institutions on financing project reviews, seminars, and works in progress to aid in the production, marketing, and distribution of films.
Tom McSorley is Executive Director of the Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa, teaches Film Studies at Carleton University, and comments weekly on cinema for the CBC Radio One program Ottawa Morning. He has edited over a dozen books on Canadian cinema and is the author of Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster, a book-length study of the 1991 Egoyan film. In February of this year, his first book of poetry, Partial Clarities, was published by Elboro Press in New York City.
Susan Kerns, coordinator
Susan Kerns is an Associate Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Chicago Feminist Film Festival. She is currently producing the unscripted series Uncoiled and the VR experience Scapegoat. Formerly, she produced the documentary Manlife, wrote the screenplay for Little Red, and produced or directed numerous short films. She also works in content acquisitions for Cow Lamp Films in Chicago and has spoken about film festivals and distribution at SXSW. Her scholarship has appeared in Journal of Film and Video, The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Feminism, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Nip/Tuck: Television that Gets Under Your Skin, and others. She holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Since 1981, Cecelia Condit’s videos have created heroines whose lives swing between beauty and the grotesque, innocence and cruelty, youth and fragility. Her work puts a subversive spin on the traditional mythology of women in film and the psychology of sexuality and violence. Exploring the dark side of female subjectivity, her “feminist fairy tales” focus on friendships, age, and most recently the natural world. She has shown internationally in festivals, museums and alternative spaces, and is represented in collections including the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and Centre Georges Pompidou Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France. She has received numerous awards including grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, American Film Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mary L. Nohl Foundation. She is a professor emerita in the Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was director of the graduate program in film for 30 years.
Kellee Terrell is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist who writes about race, gender, health, and pop culture. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Essence, The Advocate, Vogue, Ebony, Al-Jazeera, The Root, Huffington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Shondaland, ZORA, The A.V. Club, NPR, and HelloBeautiful. She earned her MFA in Cinema from Columbia College Chicago.
Filmmaker and activist Lajwanti (Laj) P. Waghray is currently working on Searching for Sparrows, a documentary about four citizens finding solutions to the loss of bird habitats in India. She also directed On Hands, Sleepovers, and the third installment of the three-part series Guns, Grief, and Grace in America. She also pitched at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and was a DVID fellow at Kartemquin Films in 2014. In addition to her film work, Waghray co-founded Didi, which aims to end violence against women in the South Asian communities in Milwaukee, and she is on the Board of Lynden Sculpture Garden.
Amy Beste, coordinator
Amy Beste is a curator and media historian. She is director of public programs and senior lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she organizes Conversations at the Edge, an award-winning series of screenings, performances, and talks by leading media artists. She has also organized numerous other screenings and exhibitions, most recently Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio (with Corinne Granof) at the Block Museum of Art, the catalogue for which received the 2019 Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators.
Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan
Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan (b.1996 Quezon City) is a Filipino independent film director, screenwriter, musician and poster artist. He is known for films such as Umbilical Cord to Heaven (2019) (Talimpusod Patungo sa Paraiso) and Remedy (2021) (Hilum). In 2019, Eblahan’s Umbilical Cord to Heaven won the 16th CineYouth Festival’s Best Experimental Film, screening at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival and the 13th NFFTY, winning the Best Experimental Film Award. In 2020, Umbilical was an Official Selection at the 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival. In 2021, Eblahan’s Hilum had its World Premiere at the 43rd Clermont-Ferrand International Film Festival at Clermont-Ferrand, France where it won the International Student Jury Prize as well as the International Jury’s Special Mention.
A native of Minnesota and a
Haroula Rose, coordinator
Haroula Rose is a filmmaker, songwriter and singer from Chicago. Her feature debut as writer/director Once Upon a River was called “One of the Most Anticipated Films” by Time and Filmmaker, winning 19 awards at 40 festivals worldwide. The Once Upon a River soundtrack was a collaboration between Haroula and other artists such as Rodney Crowell, Will Oldham, JD Souther, and Peter Bradley Adams, with a score by Zac Rae. Rose’s film work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in Madrid, Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, WarnerMedia, Warner Brothers Directing Workshop, and Tribeca All Access. Her upcoming LP will be released in September 2021.
Alex Thompson is a Chicago-based filmmaker whose debut feature, Saint Frances, won the Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Voice at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival. He was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and was part of Film at Lincoln Center’s 2019 Artist Academy. Saint Frances is currently being distributed domestically by Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Ian Keiser started Easy Open Productions in 2015 with the main intent of spotlighting new voices in independent film. Since then he has executive produced more than 16 indie films including This Isn’t Funny and Saint Frances. Those films have won awards at SXSW and Tribeca before going on to play places like Netflix, Showtime, and Starz.
Andre Muir, coordinator
Writer and director Andre Muir is the son of Jamaican immigrants, born in Chicago and now living in Brooklyn, NY. His work on short films “4 Corners” and “Patois” have been selected and won at numerous film festivals. His commercial and music video work has been featured in The New York Times, Complex, Vice, Rolling Stone, Ad Week, and Ad Age among many other outlets. Andre Muir was selected for 2018’s SHOOT New Directors Showcase. As an artist, Andre creates spiritual stories, juxtaposing sound and image into an experience of linear and non-linear perception. The importance of language as it pertains to culture, and language’s position as a vehicle of communication or lack-there-of is a central theme often explored throughout his work.
Jax is an LA-based creative producer hailing from Atlanta, GA. A Harvard grad, Jax has worked at various production companies and is currently working in Development at Hoorae Film & TV.
Ramone Hulet is a Chicago-born filmmaker and Creative Producer. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Vogue Magazine, and on Netflix. He is the creator of Blackinfilm.com, an online database of Black filmmakers, and was selected as a 2021 Champion of Good by the Ad Council. Ramone currently lives in Los Angeles and works full-time in the feature film industry.
Margaret Bialis, coordinator
Margaret Bialis is an animation director and artist currently living in Chicago, IL. She is inspired by bright colors, bold designs, and sincere storytelling in both narrative and non-narrative disciplines. Her short films and commissioned pieces have been screened at film festivals and galleries internationally. After receiving a BFA from DePaul University, she has freelanced with motion design studios including Golden Wolf, Gunner, Studio Moross, Jacky Winter, Carbon VFX, and more.
Allie Trigoso is an independent animator and cartoonist living in Chicago, IL. She uses a multimedia approach in her work, mixing 2D imagery, stop-motion, and photo collage to create weird, garish worlds populated by gross women and ugly babies. Her newest animated film, Stay Tunafish, is scheduled for release in Summer 2021.
Alex Moy is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary designer and visual artist whose work sits closely to deconstructivism. He specifically utilizes animation as a practice to better understand the relationship between movement and structure. His work has received multiple awards and has been screened internationally.
Emily Drake, coordinator
Emily Drake is a marketing and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience, supporting everything from non-profit to CPG brands. She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a dual bachelor’s degree in advertising and professional writing. Currently, she can be found producing podcasts and other content as part of integrated marketing campaigns for a handful of professional associations in her role with SmithBucklin, the world’s largest association management and services company. As part of this role, she leads public relations efforts for the 17,000+ attendee, annual ACM SIGGRAPH conference and supports the management of its annual Computer Animation Festival programming. In her spare time, Emily serves as president of the Cinema/Chicago Associate Board and has a soft spot for CineYouth.
Emily Shinyi Hsu
Emily Hsu is a producer with over a decade of experience in animation, visual effects, and gaming across the entertainment industry. Her credits include award-winning animated feature films, stop-motion movies, independent shorts, and game cinematics from companies including Blizzard Entertainment, LAIKA, Pixar Animation Studios, and PDI/DreamWorks. Since October 2017, Emily has helped bring the worlds and stories of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo to life. She is a former Computer Animation Festival Director for SIGGRAPH 2019, presiding over the Oscar-qualifying Electronic Theater, and is a proud member of the Producers Guild of America, Visual Effects Society, Women in Animation, and ASIFA-Hollywood.
After graduating from MIT with a CS degree in computer graphics, Max worked at Pixar Animation Studios for 10 years as a technical director on movies like Cars, Wall-E, Up, Brave, and The Good Dinosaur, creating creative technology around lighting, shading, animation, and simulation. He went on to co-found Oculus Story Studio in 2014, where he produced and supervised some of the early groundbreaking, award-winning narrative VR experiences, including “Lost,” “Henry,” “Dear Angelica,” and “Wolves in the Walls.” Max won an Emmy for his work with “Henry” and “Wolves in the Walls,” and a Lumiere and Peabody Award for “Dear Angelica.” Max founded Adventure Lab as a gig economy platform that allows performers all over the world to turn social games into immersive performances using the magic of VR as a cheap mo-cap system. Max and his wife are obsessed with escape rooms, having escaped 85 together. His proudest and most adventurous moment is when he used the final puzzle of an escape room to propose to his wife.
Jacalyn Gisvold, coordinator
Jacalyn Gisvold is a current Senior at DePaul University, pursuing a BFA in Film and Television with a concentration in Creative Producing. She’s interested in programming, story development and experimental film. When she’s not watching or creating something, you can find her playing ultimate frisbee or working on some kind of arts and crafts project! She is super honored and grateful to have been able to take part in this year’s CineYouth Film Festival.
Ananda White is a senior at DePaul University, majoring in Film and Television. When she isn’t making her own short films, she’s probably watching something on one of the many streaming services. She has a fascination with all genres of films, but her favorites since childhood are coming of age and comedies. Thanks to the festival, she has gained a newfound love for short films.
Ray King is a director, screenwriter, and musician from Chicago, currently in their final year studying filmmaking at DePaul University. King’s initial interest in film came from a desire to act, but they quickly fell in love with cinema from behind the camera. They prioritize queer narratives and the uplifting of marginalized voices in their work. They are currently developing their first feature film, tentatively titled Road to Sylvia. In addition to filmmaking, King’s passion for music manifests in their ever-growing vinyl collection and large compilation of musical instruments taking up far too much space in the home they share with their partner, Beyla, and two cats, Rama and Zuko.