As the 7th annual Top Shorts 2021 approaches, we're excited to announce this year's judging team!
Meet the team:
PREMIER JUDGE: DAVE EICHHORN
Dave Eichhorn is a multiple Emmy winning film and sound editor. Having worked on many Hollywood blockbusters, Dave has been awarded 3 Primetime Emmys, nominated 11 times, and has over 300 credits for clients like Disney, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, FOX, CBS, NBC, FX Network, Showtime, Hallmark, NatGeo, and more.
His rather unusual but comprehensive skillset as a film editor, supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer has landed him work with a who's who list of top-name Hollywood directors. He also has worked on numerous commercials and trailers for companies like Facebook, Subaru, and Nike.
Dave now owns and operates Post in the Woods in Los Angeles, a full-service post house geared specifically for indie filmmakers. "I just love working with talented new up-and-coming directors and producers, and they love having a one-stop-shop for professional film finishing services. I get to treat every project as if it were my own, while working one-on-one with filmmakers. This is easily the most creative and satisfying part of my career, and it’s a great way to utilize my 32 years of industry experience.”
JURY PRESIDENT: CASEY RUGGIERI
Casey Ruggieri is an L.A. based actor, writer, and filmmaker. Since graduating from Ithaca film school with a Cinema and Photography degree, Casey has written and worked in various formats, including commercial, tv, film, theater, improv and sketch. Casey released her short film “Drag” this year which has made it into the new horror film fest, Horrors 4 You. Casey's production company, Fernleaf Films, is currently in pre-production on her next two films, both of which, are genre-based.
Some of her onscreen credits include Oscar nominated “Gone Girl” (directed by David Fincher), Golden Globe winner “House of Lies”, “Tales of Halloween”, “Kroll Show”, “S.W.A.T.”, and “Party of Five”, as well as dozens of national commercials that allowed her to work with directors like Rian Johnson.
Casey is very active and passionate about her work with young students in the non-profit sector. She is currently a head mentor with Young Storytellers, an LA based nonprofit that works with elementary students, teaching them the fundamentals of storytelling and screenwriting.
Shaw Jones was born and raised in Memphis, TN. He majored in Psychology and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and began acting after he landed a talent scholarship at KD Studio Actors Conservatory. Following that, he starred in the feature Dust to Dust alongside Wille Nelson and Robert Vaughn, then continued his journey by relocating to Los Angeles. Shaw has worked on NCIS, Shooter, Criminal Minds, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 911, Snowfall, All My Children, The Young and the Restless and many others. He can be seen in the upcoming feature film End of Sentence with Academy Award nominee John Hawkes.
Shaw can be seen as a lead in the sci-fi feature Proximity with two-time Emmy winning director Eric Demeusy.
Lisa Roumain is an award winning Actress based in Los Angeles. She was born in Puerto Rico, and grew up in South Florida. She has played a diverse range of characters in TV projects such as Yellowstone, Westworld, Grey’s Anatomy, & Criminal Minds, as well as worked on the core motion capture troupe in Avatar. This year, she can be seen in 8 upcoming films, the new series Blindspotting, and has just wrapped the first season of a new motion capture animated series.
Meet Anup Kulkarni celebrated Hollywood Cinematographer and VFX supervisor, who’s happy to be called a globe trotter. In his career, he has had the opportunity to work in some prestigious and Academy award-winning projects like Life of Pi, Thor 2, Percy Jackson, R.I.P.D, and many more. His work speaks loud, and it is this magic and experience that has won him a total of six Best Cinematography awards and accolades. Anup was also the lead judge for many prestigious film festivals in the US.
Call it perks of the job that he has traveled to various parts of the world and experiences new cultures, meets new people, and learns through life. Over his distinguished career, he has worked on projects in 8 languages – English, Hindi, Spanish, Korean, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian and Mixtec. His cinematography, photography & VFX knowledge has taken him all over the world, working on a variety of formats, like features, TV shows, short films, international documentaries, music videos, etc.
Jolie Lennon is an accomplished actress and action performer. She is known for her lead role in the feature film Codename Venus, playing an Amazonian warrior and a special action performer in DC’s Wonder Woman and Justice League. Jolie won the Top Shorts best actress of the year award for 2019 for her lead role in the Oscar qualifying short film SYLVIA.
Photo by Vanessa Valentine
Rui Yao is a Chinese writer, screenwriter and director. He is a Professor of film at Guangzhou University and has been a Visiting Scholar at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in Film Studies from Communication University of China and his M.A. degree in Screenwriting from Beijing Film Academy. He has written more than 40 scripts/episodes for film and TV, including feature film Lin Shi Yan Yuan（临时演员）and Angry Kid（愤怒的小孩）.
His script The Return of the Magician（逃脱的遭遇） has been elected as the “Youth Screenwriting Plan” project funded by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China. He has directed various short films and TV commercials. Many of his short films have been awarded or nominated by international film festivals and international film associations.
Rui has been a fellow of Kyoto Filmmakers Lab at the 2009 Kyoto HISTORICA International Film Festival, fellow of Berlinale Talent Campus at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, and fellow of Asian Film Academy at the 2008 Busan International Film Festival.
Rui has published more than 100 research articles in various academic journals, more than 10 academic books credited as author, co-author, or editor in the field of Film Genre, Narration, Adaptation, Business and History. He has also been project leader of two Chinese National Social Science Foundation Projects and core team member in more than 10 government-sponsored research projects.
Rui has also served as jury member at the 2019 Chinese Beijing College Student Film Festival, 2018 Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival, the 2014 Chinese International New Media Short Film Festivals, the 2014 Chinese Beijing College Student Film Festival.
Rui is the Chair of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Film & TV Institute of Guangzhou University, the Deputy Secretary-general of Guangzhou Film Association, the Deputy Secretary-General of Film History Studies Association, Chinese Collegial Association for Visual Art. Rui is a member of China Film Association, China Screenwriters Association, China Film Critics Association, and Chinese Collegial Association for Visual Art.
Nami Melumad is a Los Angeles based film & tv composer. Recent projects include the HBO Max comedy An American Pickle starring Seth Rogen, the Amazon thriller-drama series Absentia with Stana Katic, and EA's VR video game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. Her score for Star Trek: Short Treks: Q&A landed her an upcoming Star Trek series, making her the first female composer for the franchise. Nami also contributed music and arrangements to Amazon’s hit, Borat Subsequent MovieFilmand scored the Oscar-winning short documentary, Colette. Her score to the Star Trek episode, Short Treks: Q&A in 2019, landed her an upcoming Star Trek series, making her the first female composer for the franchise.
Nominated for Breakthrough Composer of the Year (2020) by the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA), Nami's works have screened worldwide and claimed multiple international accolades, including the IFMCA Award for Best Score for a Video Game, the IFMCA nomination for Best Score for a Comedy, the Hollywood Music in Media Award (for Passage) and the Short Score award at Fimucite (for Luminarias). Her compositions have been performed by the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, The Israel Sinfonietta Beer Sheva and Helix Collective Ensemble. An alumna of the ASCAP Film-Scoring Workshop, Nami graduated the Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV program at the University of Southern California. She holds a B.A. in multi-style composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music, where she was admitted directly to sophomore year. She is a board member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and a voting member at the Television Academy. Nami is represented by Maria Machado at the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency.
HUGO DIEGO GARCIA
From Oyonnax, France, Hugo Diego Garcia is a French and Spanish actor/director of Italian descent.
Garcia pursued both boxing and law school before his undeniable passion for acting took precipice. He went on to study theater and cinema in Paris and Los Angeles before adding writer and director to his resume. His first short film, TONY, screened at numerous festivals worldwide and garnered several awards. His performance in it was highly praised and the film was named one of the "Best 10 Short Films of 2019" by the UK Film Review, and earned praise from Silver Bear winners, the D’Innocenzo Brothers (Boys Cry). Hugo Diego Garcia won Best Narrative Film, Best Crime Film, Best First Time Director, and Best Actor at Top Shorts 2019.
In 2019, Garcia wrote and directed Cagnolino which is slated for festivals as he continues to develop more projects for 2021.
Photo by James De Pietro
Mor Cohen is a multiple-award-winning Israeli actress and filmmaker. She began her career as a child, taking roles in Israeli television and regional theatre. After graduating from The Academy of Performing Arts in Tel Aviv, Mor relocated to work in Hollywood and later New York, committing herself fully to acting and producing. She is a festival director and lead curator at the New York Film Awards which has been running since 2017.
On screen, Mor can be seen in Natalie Portman’s directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Altrac Productions’ The Leshiy, and Kate Espada’s most recent film This Is Our Home. Her producorial credits include the Off-Broadway production Scoop, the German-American co-production Klaviermann, and multiple award-winning short films such as The New Galileos and Over the Wall, both starring her as well.
Jarek Marszewski is a multi-award winning director and screenwriter who has
gained recognition throughout the world for his innovative approach to filmmaking
and unique visual style