International Competition Jury
Tatiana Leite was a film programmer at the Rio Film Festival from 2000-2009 and in 2010 became the International Adviser of the Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Culture. She curated and produced several film seasons and retrospectives such as Ozu’s, Guy Maddin, among others. In 2012, Tatiana created the production company Bubbles Project. Tatiana has already produced feature 5 films: Loveling by Gustavo Pizzi (Sundance 2018); Nona – If they soak me, I’ll burn them by Camila Jose Donoso (Rotterdam); A Family Submerged by María Alché (Locarno 2018, and winner of San Sebastian Film Festival New Horizons); Pendular by Julia Murat (Berlinale 2017, winner of the FIPRESCI Award); and Hopefuls directed by Ives Rosenfeld (Karlovy Vary, Locarno’s Carte Blanche, 2014). She is currently co-producing Rule 34 by Julia Murat, and is developing several other projects.
After his studies of Cultural Management in Vienna, Birmingham and Chicago, Gabor worked as a journalist and film critic. In 2003, he moved to Brussels to take charge of the distribution support department of the MEDIA Program at the European Commission’s Film Fund. In 2009, Gabor became acquisitions executive at the international sales agent, The Match Factory. In August 2010, Gabor moved to Berlin to take over acquisitions of the French-German sales company, Films Boutique, winner of the Golden Bear in 2017 and the Golden Lion in 2011 and 2016. As COO of the company he acquired films like On Body and Soul by Ildiko Enyedi, Border by Ali Abbasi, Charlatan by Agnieszka Holland, The Turin Horse by Bela Tarr, Faust by Alexander Sokurov, Einstein in Guanajuato by Peter Greenaway, and Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra. Gabor is a member of the European Film Academy.
Born in Tokyo in 1981, Mariko’s early self-produced shorts won awards at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen while he was a student at Hosei University. Upon graduation, he entered the Graduate School of Film and New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts, where he produced his first feature film, Yellow Kid, which won several awards, including the New Director Grand Prix at Takasaki Film Festival and the New Directors Award presented by the Japanese Film Professionals Awards. His 2016 feature Destruction Babies received numerous awards internationally, including the Golden Leopard for Best New Director at the Locarno Film Festival and the Silver Balloon at the Three Continents Festival, as well as in Japan, winning six awards at the Yokohama Film Festival. His most recent film is this year’s Miyamoto.
Jennifer Reeder constructs personal fiction films about relationships, trauma and coping. Her award-winning narratives are innovative and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism. These films have shown consistently around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, The Berlin Film Festival, The Tribeca Film Festival, The Rotterdam Film Festival, The London Film Festival, SXSW, The Venice Biennale and The Whitney Biennial. Her awards include several that have qualified her films for Oscar nomination. She won a Creative Capital Grant in Moving Image in 2015, short film funding from Rooftop/Adrienne Shelly Foundation in 2016, and short film funding from the Hamburg Film Fund in 2016. She was a USA Artist nominee for 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017. She was a Herb Alpert Film Award nominee in 2018. She is the 2019 recipient of the Alpert Film Award residency at the MacDowell Colony. Her most recent film, Knives and Skin, will be theatrically released in France in November through UFO and in the US in December through IFC Midnight.
Cosmina Stratan studied acting at the National University of Theatre and Cinema in Bucharest. Her first leading role was Voichita in Beyond the Hills, directed by Christian Mungiu, which won Best Script and Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. She was selected as Shooting Star at the Berlin International Film Festival two years later. Stratan’s additional credits include Shelley, directed by Ali Abbasi; Love 1: Dog, directed by Florin Serban, for which she won the Best Actress Gopo Award; Cobain, directed by Nanouk Leopold; the BBC series Doing Money; and the HBO series Shall We Kiss? She also has been involved in theater productions in Bucharest with Andrei Serban, Neil Labute, Andreea Cristina Bortun, and Gelu Colceag.
New Directors Jury
Melika Bass is the recipient of an Artadia Award (NYC), a Special Mention Prize from the International Jury of the 2018 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, 2 Media Arts Fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, and the Kodak/Filmcraft Imaging Award from the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Alongside Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Bass was one of a dozen international directors chosen to create an original film for Sigur Ros’s Valtari Mystery Film Experiment. Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2018,” Bass has screened films at BAMcinemaFest; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Torino Film Festival; Film Society of Lincoln Center; Kino der Kunst; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; BFI London Film Festival; Human Rights Film Festival; CPH DOX; the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany, and the New Museum.
Miriam J. Petty
Miriam J. Petty is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. She earned her PhD from Emory University’s Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and previously taught at Rutgers University and Princeton University. Her first book, Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood, explores the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era and has been awarded the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Best First Book Award for 2016-2017. An academic with a longstanding commitment to public scholarship, Petty is also an avid producer of public programs; her recent projects include the 2015-2016 film series “Seeds of Disunion: Classics of African American Stereotypy” at the Black Cinema House of Chicago. She is currently at work on a book manuscript examining media mogul Tyler Perry’s productions.
Sonia Smith-Evans is currently senior Vice President of Development and Production for The Ebert Company. She previously served as supervising producer on the television show Ebert Presents: At the Movies that aired on PBS stations nationally. Smith-Evans also served as an associate producer on the 2017 Whitney Houston documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me, and worked as Vice President of Development and Production for Spicerack Productions, overseeing family-focused content. She began her production career as a production associate for ABC Studios, where she worked on such hit shows as Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and Dirty Sexy Money. Smith-Evans received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and currently serves on the board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation; Cabinet of Curiosity, an artistic company; My Little Rose, a Los Angeles-based teen mentoring organization; and on the Black Perspectives committee of the Chicago International Film Festival.
Abby Lynn Kang Davis
Abby Lynn Kang Davis is an Emmy Award®-nominated creative executive primarily working with storytellers and curators in the nonfiction space. At Freestyle Picture Company (Tangerine, The Florida Project), she assisted in the directorial debuts of top female talent such as Jennifer Aniston, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Eva Longoria, and Demi Moore. In 2011, Davis began at Preferred Content, one of the leading film, television, and digital sales, production, and advisory companies, where she was responsible for bringing multiple projects to market, most notably Rich Hill (Sundance 2014) and The Nightmare (Sundance 2015). Most recently, Davis executive produced 306 Hollywood (Sundance 2018/PBS POV), Wrinkles the Clown (Magnolia), and the television docuseries The Devil You Know (Viceland). She currently serves as Head of Originals and Business Development at Breakwater Studios, one of the first venture-backed branded content studios by MWM’s Gigi Pritzker and Clint Kisker.
Christy LeMaster is Assistant Curator of Performance and Public Practice at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She founded Chicago’s rough and ready microcinema, The Nightingale, in 2008. She has programmed series for TRACERS, Chances Dance’s 10th anniversary retrospective, and co-programmed Run of Life, an experimental documentary series for the Chicago avant-garde arts venue Constellation. She teaches media theory at Columbia College Chicago and has been a movie critic on the NPR Chicago affiliate WBEZ and written for Chicago’s essential weekly film listing, CINE-FILE.info. She was a 2011 Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, a Summer Forum 2012 resident, and a visiting artist at ACRE Residency. She has served on juries for Media City, Onion City, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, and the Dallas Video Fest. Her writing has been published in INCITE Journal of Experimental Media and Brooklyn Rail.
Martina Melilli is an Italian audiovisual artist and director. Her short films have been selected for many national and international festivals (among others, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Jihlava IDFF, CineMigrante, and DocuTIFF). She’s the winner of the 2017 edition of Artevisione, a project supporting young Italian artists, curated by SkyArte and Careof, with the film Mum, I’m Sorry. Melilli is one of the artists of the 2018 edition of VISIO, European Programme on Artists’ Moving Images, and the connected exhibition, European Identities: New Geographies in Artists’ Film and Video. My Home, in Libya, her first creative documentary, had its world premiere at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival, and then travelled to DOK Leipzig, Trieste FF, and many others, winning prizes and special mentions. It screened at the Festival last year.
The Chicago International Film Festival has a long history of screening LGBTQ-themed films beginning in 1969, showcasing the talents of queer filmmakers around the globe including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Amos Gutman, John Cameron Mitchell, Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, Gus Van Sant, and Bill Condon, to name a few. We are presenting these films in a competitive program with a juried award, the Q Hugo, highlighting the importance of gay-themed films in contemporary international cinema.
Matthieu Dupas is an Assistant Professor of French at Northwestern University. His research and teaching address the representations of gender and sexuality in early modern and contemporary French literatures and cultures, the history and the theory of gender and sexuality, queer theory. He has translated into French David Halperin’s What do gay men want? published by Editions Amsterdam as Que veulent les Gays? in 2010.
Morgan Jon Fox
Morgan Jon Fox is a writer/director from Memphis, Tennesse, newly transplanted to Chicago who was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine. His early no-budget films Blue Citrus Hearts and OMG/HaHaHa were film festival hits and won Best Narrative Feature awards at Reeling. His feature documentary, This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, gained praise for capturing the true story of a Memphis teen who was forced into a religious-based “straight camp.” Moving into episodic content, he created FERAL, an 8-episode show about a close-knit group of 20-something artists. Morgan’s six-time award winning short film The One You Never Forget is currently screening at festivals.
Kara Keeling is Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at The University of Chicago. Keeling is author of Queer Times, Black Futures (New York University Press, 2019) and The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Duke University Press, 2007) and coeditor (with Josh Kun) of a selection of writings about sound and American Studies entitled Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), and (with Colin MacCabe and Cornel West) a selection of writings by the late James A. Snead entitled European Pedigrees/ African Contagions: Racist Traces and Other Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).
Chicago Award Jury
The Chicago Award is presented to a Chicago or Illinois artist for the best feature, short film, or documentary. The Chicago Award applauds and celebrates the tireless efforts of regional filmmakers who contribute to the art of cinema.
McKenzie Chinn is an actor, filmmaker, poet, and educator based in Chicago. She is the writer, producer, and lead actor of the feature film Olympia, which premiered at the 2018 LA Film Festival. She has appeared in independent film and on television, including Empire, a recurring role on CBS’ The Red Line, and projects with director Sam Bailey (Brown Girls). On stage, Chinn has worked with Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Steppenwolf, and A Red Orchid Theatre, as well as The Second City in Chicago, and Woolly Mammoth and The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. An accomplished poet, her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, PANK, Rattle, Redivider, Crab Fat Magazine, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net. Chinn is a 2015 Leonore Annenberg Artist Fellow and is part of the acclaimed Growing Concerns Poetry Collective.
Mike Paulucci is an accomplished director, producer, and editor working primarily in Chicago. His films have played at 100+ film festivals all over the world, and in 2016 his short film Pronouns premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2018, Paulucci received the prestigious Chicago Award for his short film Hashtag Perfect Life at the Chicago International Film Festival. Paulucci’s narrative film work has dictated how he works with actors, clients, and crews from major international brands to local non-profits. It informs his narrative storytelling and has sharpened his skills as a commercial director. Paulucci has created work for brands like Jack Daniels, Tumi, Sprint, and United to name a few. A particular highlight, in 2016 he worked with Spike Lee, Common, and Joakim Noah to create a video campaign to end gun
violence in Chicago.
Risé Sanders-Weir is a filmmaker and film educator. She is Director of Production and Post for Chicago’s Kartemquin Films. Sanders-Weir recently executive produced We Are Witnesses: Chicago and The Marshall Project and was series producer for Steve James’ 10-hour America to Me series—cited by The Hollywood Reporter as the best reviewed series in 2018. Sanders-Weir has directed and produced documentaries for the past 20 years. Her work has been recognized with Emmy and Hugo awards as well as nominations for an NAACP Image award and an MPSE Golden Reel award. Her work has been seen on PBS, History, National Geographic, CNBC, A&E, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and others.
Live Action Short Film Competition
Animated Short Film Competition
Shelley Lynn Dodson
Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Film Video New Media Animation department at SAIC, Independent filmmaker and animator
Associate Professor, Department of Radio/TV/Film, Northwestern University
Documentary Short Film Competition
Programmer of Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival, Director of the Nightingale Cinema