Festival Juries

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The 59th Chicago International Film Festival

Festival Juries

Meet the industry professionals who select the winners of our prestigous Festival awards.

International Competition Jury

headshot: Glenn Davis

Glenn Davis is an actor, producer, and Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company alongside Audrey Francis, where he has been an ensemble member since 2017. His credits include DownstateThe ChristiansYou Got OlderThe Brother/Sister Plays, Head of Passes, King James (also Mark Taper Forum), and most recently Describe the Night. Broadway credits include Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (also Kirk Douglas Theatre, Mark Taper Forum). Off-Broadway credits include Transfers (MCC Theatre), Wig Out! (Vineyard Theatre), and Downstate (Playwrights Horizons). Other regional credits include Moscow x6 (Williamstown Theatre Festival). International credits include Downstate, Edward II, The Winter’s Tale, and As You Like It, as well as Othello at The Shakespeare Company. Television credits include Billions, 24, The Unit, Jericho, and The Good Wife. Glenn is an artistic associate at the Young Vic in London and at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. He is also a partner in Cast Iron Entertainment, a collective of artists consisting of Sterling K Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Jon Michael Hill, Andre Holland, and Tarell Alvin McCraney. In 2021, Glenn founded The Chatham Grove Company along with his producing partner Tarell Alvin McCraney, which is currently in an overall deal with Universal Content Productions (UCP).

headshot: Sonia Herman Dolz

Sonia Herman Dolz. In 1993, her first feature length documentary, Romance de Valentía, about the art of bullfighting, received several awards at international film festivals, including the Gold Hugo for Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival. Lágrimas Negras (1997), about the senior Cuban musical band La Vieja Trova Santiaguera touring through Europe, became an international hit obtaining many awards, including the Golden Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Chicago Latino Film fFestival. Yo Soy Así (2000) about the senior artists of La Bodega Bohemia in Barcelona was internationally acclaimed, as well. The Master and His Pupil (2003) won the Grand Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, 1st prize at the Golden Prague Festival, the Golden Statue Arts and Culture in the Netherlands, Best Documentary Award at the Bergen International Film Festival in Norway, and AQCC Award Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montréal.

headshot: Valdimar Johannsson

Valdimar Jóhannsson is an Icelandic-based filmmaker. His debut feature film, LAMB (2021), won the Prize of Originality at the Cannes Film Festival where it debuted and was distributed by A24 and MUBI. The film was shortlisted for Best International Feature at the Academy Awards, was a recipient of the Nordic Council Film Prize and won 12 of 13 Edda Award nominations that year. Most recently, Jóhannsson directed a music video for Travis Scott’s UTOPIA visual album alongside Harmony Korine, Nicolas Winding Refn, Kahlil Joseph and Gaspar Noé. He is a graduate of the PhD program at Béla Tarr’s Film Factory in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and his mentors there included Tilda Swinton, Gus Van Sant, Carlos Reygadas and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, among others. Currently Jóhannsson is developing two original features and lives in Reykjavík, Iceland, with his wife and daughters.

headshot: Franco Lolli

Franco Lolli is a Colombian screenwriter, director, and producer Franco Lolli is a graduate of La Fémis (Paris, France). His short film Rodri, his debut feature Gente de bien, and his second feature, Litigante, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2011, he founded Evidencia Films in Bogotá, a film production company whose main focus is the creation of an auteur cinema both daring and with clear commercial potential on the international market. Lolli’s latest productions include La Perra by Carla Melo (short film official competition, Cannes 2023) and El Otro Hijo by Juan Sebastián Quebrada (New Directors, San Sebastián 2023). Lolli is back to Chicago as a fellow jury member four years after being awarded the Gold Hugo for Best Film, New Directors Section, for Litigante.

headshot: Laura Luchetti

Laura Luchetti is an awarded filmmaker who has directed feature films, short films, music videos, commercials, documentaries, and theater productions. Her first feature, Febbre da Fieno, was distributed in Italy by Disney and has been awarded by many international film festivals. Her short Bagni has been nominated for the Silver Ribbon Award for Best Animation and selected in more than thirty international film festivals winning many awards. Her second feature, Twin Flower, was selected at the Cannes Film Festival’s Atelier 2015; at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2015; presented at TIFF, awarded with the FIPRESCI mention; selected at the London Film Festival and at the Rome Film Festival. In 2018, Sugarlove was presented as a special event of the 33rd Venice International Film Critics Week and won Best Animated Film Award at Corti d’Argento. In 2020, Luchetti directed the TV series Nudes. In 2023, her third feature film, The Beautiful Summer, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival.

New Directors Jury

headshot: Scott Dummler

Scott Dummler is an accomplished filmmaker, having worked in 20 countries around the world and with two National Emmy nominations to his credit for Directing and Producing. Scott has worked on a wide variety of documentary films, commercials, narrative films, and culinary television. He began working with Roger Ebert in 2010, directing the pilot episode of Roger’s return to public television along with various special segments including film festival coverage around the world with Chaz Ebert. He’s worked on a wide variety of projects for the Ebert Company and RogerEbert.com since then, including directing their video reports from the Cannes Film Festival every year since 2011 along with shooting and editing a new documentary directed by Chaz Ebert. Most recently, Scott produced and edited the feature-length documentary Live at Mister Kelly’s, documenting Chicago’s nightclub heyday on Rush Street and beyond in the 1950s and 60s.

headshot: Fionnuala Halligan

Fionnuala Halligan is Screen International’s executive editor for reviews and new talent, occasional comment writer and compiler of the Stars of Tomorrow young talent initiative. She started writing for the publication over two decades ago in Hong Kong/China but has been based in the UK over recent years. A journalism graduate, Fionnuala started work as a film critic for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, where she was based for 12 years. She has retained a long-lasting association with Asia and was a consultant to and international programmer for the Macao International Film Festival for five years (2016-2021). Now full-time with Screen International, she has served on multiple festival juries from San Sebastian to Jerusalem and has written two books on filmmaking, Filmcraft: Production Design and The Art Of Movie Storyboards. She is a member of Bafta, the European Film Academy and the UK Critics Circle.

headshot: Hrönn Kristinsdóttir

Hrönn Kristinsdóttir has been active in the filmindustry for 25 years. She is educated in Theatre Studies, Literature and Cinema in both Berlin and Los Angeles. Hrönn has produced over 20 films. Her latest fiction feature film Lamb by Valdimar Jóhannsson, received the Prize of Originality in Un Certain Regard in Cannes 2021, amongst other awards. Her latest documentary, Mannvirki, was nominated for the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam 2023 and is currently traveling festivals. Hrönn has been a voting member of the EFA since 2001 and is one of the founders of WIFT in Iceland. Hrönn lives in Reykjavík, Iceland with her husband and daughters.

headshot: Lakshmi Padmanabhan

Lakshmi Padmanabhan is a writer and academic based in Chicago. She is Assistant Professor of Radio, TV, Film at Northwestern University where she teaches courses on queer and feminist film, experimental film and visual art, and critical theory. Her academic writing is published and forthcoming in journals including Cultural Critique, Camera Obscura, JCMS, Women & Performance, Art History, and New Review of Film and Television. Her essays, criticism and reviews have been published in e-flux, Post45, Seen, Public Books, and Jewish Currents. She is the editor of the forthcoming volume, Forms of Errantry, on the experimental films of Miryam Charles. She has recently programmed experimental films at venues including e-flux screening room, Union Docs, Doc Lisboa, and the Block museum in Evanston, IL.

Documentary Competition Jury

headshot: Caryn Capotosto

Caryn Capotosto is a three time Emmy-winning documentary producer known for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a feature documentary about Mister Rogers that won a 2019 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, a Producers Guild Award, and a 2018 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Documentary. She received a 2016 News and Documentary Emmy Award for her role as co-producer on Best of Enemies, as well as a 2021 News and Documentary Emmy for her role as Executive Producer on the short documentary The Love Bugs. She contributed to the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom (Associate Producer 2013). Recent projects include the Emmy-nominated Netflix series Ugly Delicious (Executive Producer, 2019) and the Emmy Award-winning documentary Feels Good Man (Producer, 2021). Mostly recently, she produced Little Richard: I Am Everything (2023), which opened the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

headshot: Amir George

Amir George is an award-winning filmmaker and curator based in Chicago. As an artist, George creates spiritual stories, juxtaposing sound and image into an experience of non-linear perception. George’s films and programs have screened at institutions and film festivals including Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Anthology Film Archives, Royal College of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,, BlackStar Film Festival  and Camden International Film Festival, among others.

headshot Marco Williams

Marco Williams is an award-winning filmmaker and educator. His directing credits include Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; The Undocumented; Inside the New Black Panthers; Freedom Summer; I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education; Two Towns of Jasper; The Spiritual Deficit and The American Dream; In Search of Our Fathers; and From Harlem to Harvard, among others. He has won numerous awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a George Foster Peabody Award, an Alfred I duPont Silver Baton, a Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award, the Full Frame Documentary Festival Spectrum Award, and the National Association of Black Journalists First Place Salute to Excellence Award. He is a Professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Radio, Film and Television.

Out-Look Jury

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.

headshot: Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer and AIDS historian. With Jim Hubbard, she co-founded the MIX:NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival that lasted 33 years, with spin-offs in Mexico, Brasil and Copenhagan. She is co-writer or co-producer of four feature films: The Owls and Mommy is Coming (dir. Chery Dunye), Jason and Shirley (dir. Stephen Winter) and United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (dir. Jim Hubbard.)

headshot: Leila Sherbini

Leila Sherbini is a filmmaker and archivist from Chicago. She currently works as the Festival and Operations Manager of the Reeling Film Festival, the second longest running LGBTQ+ film festival in the country, and the Onion City Experimental Film Festival. She is also the Programs Manager for the not-for-profit arts organization Chicago Filmmakers. Sherbini graduated with a B.A. in Radio/Television/Film from Northwestern University in 2017 and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2023.

headshot: J. Gibran Villalobos

J. Gibran Villalobos is an independent curator, arts administrator, and art historian. He serves as the interim Executive Director of the Chicago Artists Coalition and as the National Engagement Program Manager for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Previously, he has held posts as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Partnerships and Community Engagement Manager for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Cultural Liaison for the Chicago Park District, and Curator-in-Residence for the Chicago Cultural Center. He serves as Chair of the Chicago Artists Coalition Board of Directors. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Arts Administration & Policy. Gibran holds a BA in Art History and a BS in Public Relations from Northern Arizona University and an MA in Arts Administration & Policy and MA in Modern Art History & Theory from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

City & State 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.

headshot: Harriet Marin Jones

Harriet Marin Jones is an award-winner director and producer who grew up in different countries in Europe. After studying at Loyola University in Chicago and American University in Washington, D.C. she pursued her Masters in Cinema Studies at New York University. During her studies, she wrote and directed a dozen short films that won numerous awards. Her first feature film, Epouse-Moi, was distributed by Gaumont. In 2008, she started her own film and TV company, Abelart Productions. King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones (2022), her first documentary, has won so far over half a dozen awards

headshot: Kelly O'Sullivan

Kelly O’Sullivan is a writer, director, and actor originally from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her first feature screenplay, Saint Frances, premiered at South by Southwest where it won a Special Jury Recognition for “Breakthrough Voice” and the Audience Award for Narrative Feature. She was nominated for a Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award for her role in Saint Frances and the Independent Spirit Cassavetes Award. Her short film, My Summer Vacation, played at Chicago International, Austin, Woodstock, American Film Festival in Poland, and many others. Her second feature screenplay, Mouse, was selected for The Blacklist, an annual survey of favorite screenplays yet to be produced. Kelly was named one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and was a member of Film at Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy. She is represented by William Morris Endeavor and currently resides in Chicago.

headshot: Alejandro Riera

Alejandro A. Riera is a film critic and the media coordinator for several music and film festivals in Chicago, where he lives. He has been writing about film and television since 1993, when he joined the team of ¡Exito!, the Chicago Tribune’s Spanish-language weekly. He is a member and treasurer of the Chicago Film Critics Association and a rabid defender of Latin American cinema.

Live Action Short Film Competition

headshot: Drew Durepos

Drew Durepos is a Chicago-based filmmaker and educator. His work explores social themes through an Absurd lens. His films have screened at festivals such as London Short Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Athens International Film & Video Festival, Drunken Film Fest Oakland, Washington DC International Film Festival, FIDBA International Documentary Film Festival (Buenos Aires), and Onion City Experimental Film Festival (Chicago). In 2018, he received his MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He teaches at UW–Milwaukee and Loyola University Chicago and is a member of the Nightingale Cinema programming collective. He has seen at least 100 movies.

headshot: Ivan Garcia

Iván García is Creative Director at Univision Chicago. He grew up on the US-Mexico border, like many he was born in El Paso, lived in Mexico, went to School in El Paso, and worked in content production in Ciudad Juárez. He made the full-time move to the US in 2010 working in a NBC and CBS affiliate. Later in 2013, he joined Univision in Chicago, where he has produced national shows, campaigns, specials, short docs and creative content that empowers our Latin@ community through stories of struggle and success. He is the recipient of many awards, including 18 Regional Emmys, two National Daytime Emmy nominations, a Silver Telly Award, Regional Edward Murrow and Peter Lisagor awards, and the Univision Circle of Excellence.

headshot: Floyd Webb

Floyd Webb is Founder/Curator of Blacknuss.tv; his past work includes associate producer on Mansa Tiafa (2021), Space Moms (2020), the award-winning Julie Dash film Daughters of the Dust (1992), Chicago producer of the American Masters film The World of Nat King Cole (2006), and producer and director of music videos, short documentaries, and 3D animations projects. He works in new media storytelling with Augmented Reality and VR360. Floyd was also the Chicago production consultant on the 50th Anniversary of The March, a documentary directed by John Akomfrah of U.K.-based Smoking Dogs Films, and co-produced by Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions, recounting the story behind the 1963 March on Washington. He is presently directing an independent feature film, Legally Drugged, for a late 2024 release.

Documentary Short Film Competition

headshot: Kate Bowen

Kate Bowen is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago, IL. She is currently the Executive Director of ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions); an artist-led, community focused residency and exhibition program based in Chicago, IL and Steuben, WI. She is a member of the Board of Pilsen Alliance; a non-profit focused on raising grassroots leadership and fighting for community self-determination on Chicago’s lower south side. As an organizer and arts worker her practice is grounded in collaborative, abundant community building. She believes in open experimental platforms and feral pedagogical systems. She also works with the Museum of Contemporary Photography as their Video Programs Coordinator and as a technical assistant to the artist Barbara Kasten.

headshot: Colette Ghunim

Colette Ghunim. As a documentary filmmaker and nonprofit co-founder, Colette is committed to utilizing the camera to heal herself and communities globally. Her first documentary, The People’s Girls (2016), received over 2 million views and won Best Short Documentary at the Arab Film Festival for its bold spotlight on street harassment in Egypt. In co-production with Kartemquin Films and funded by Latino Public Broadcasting, she is directing Traces of Home, her first feature-length film documenting her inner quest to find home through unearthing her parent’s forced migrations from Mexico and Palestine. Colette is also the co-founder of Mezcla Media Collective, a nonprofit organization aimed to cultivate a thriving landscape for over 700 women and non-binary filmmakers of color in Chicago. Her work has been highlighted on international outlets such as Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Univision, and TEDx. She was named 2023 USA Leader with the Obama Foundation, Filmmaker of the Moment on Newcity’s Chicago Film 50 List, and was featured on Arab America’s “30 Under 30” list

headshot: Christina Nguyen

Christina C Nguyen is a filmmaker and expanded cinema artist exploring the periphery of human perception and experience. Her interest in systems results in the use of specific forms and structures to interface between the digital and analog methods of data and vision. Her films are distributed by Canyon Cinema. She also works in production and post-production sound in experimental cinema and documentary. Films featuring her sound work have screened at Berlinale, Viennale, International Film Festival Rotterdam, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival, among others. She is from San Francisco, California, earned her MFA in Film and Video at the California Institute of the Arts, and currently teaches at Northwestern University in Radio/Television/Film.

Animated Short Film Competition

headshot: Vicko Alvarez

Vicko Alvarez is a Chicago based illustrator and graphic designer. Her illustrations have been showcased at The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and featured in the award-winning Tales from la Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology. Her work has been covered by the Chicago Tribune, Mitu, Newsy, and her practice has been the subject of panels at the University of Chicago, Harvard, the University of Utah, and the largest comics convention in Chicago, C2E2. At the heart of her work is a desire to depict the multitude of realities in the Latinx diaspora and engage communities across age, race, and gender. While ScholaR Comic is her primary labor of love aimed at younger audiences, this page houses her work in the realm of fine exhibit art and graphic design. In an effort to bring quality design to everyday creatives and dream weavers, this page is also the only means of soliciting design projects.

headshot: Naghmeh Farzaneh

Naghmeh Farzaneh is an Iranian filmmaker, art director, and animator based in Chicago. Her independent films have received international recognition and awards in festivals such as Animateka, Heartland, Chicago Children’s Film Festival, Tricky Women, Farhang, New Orleans Film, and Oberhausen Film Festival. Her animated short, Scent of Geranium, was a Vimeo Staff Pick and selected as one of the ten best short films from 2017 by the National Geographic Short Film Showcase. Over the last decade, Naghmeh has collaborated with independent artists and filmmakers. She has held key roles as a director and art director for clients such as The New Yorker, Meow Wolf, Sesame Workshop, ACLU, TED-ED, and Onassis Foundation. In her latest collaboration, Naghmeh was the animation art director of the feature documentary In the Dark of the Valley, which received an Emmy nomination for outstanding Social Issue Documentary in 2022. Naghmeh Farzaneh serves as an assistant professor at DePaul University, teaching animation.

headshot: Douglas McLaren

Douglas McLaren is the Assistant Director for The University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center and the Board President for the Media City Film Festival in Windsor, ON/Detroit, MI. He received a Masters in Film Archiving from the Selznick School of Film Preservation jointly offered by the George Eastman Museum and the University of Rochester and has previously worked at Cornell Cinema, Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, and the George Eastman Museum.