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Judging Team 2022-2023


Shaw Jones

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.


Chelsea Nwasike

Chelsea Nwasike is an award-winning Filmmaker who holds a BA degree in Media Production at Bournemouth University, England, and a Master's degree at New York Film Academy. She first began her directorial journey in England when she shot a 45 mins pilot for the series "Twisted". She was awarded an Arts Award and Co-Creation Award plus a grant to lead and direct the production of. "Genetics for the public" project.

After working on Christopher Nolan’s three-time Academy Award-winning historical drama Dunkirk, Chelsea moved down to LA where she began writing and directing shorts. Some of which have been recognized as official selections and won awards at film festivals; her accolades include "Reaction" awarded as the Best Female Director, Best Sound Designer and Best Sci-Fi, and "Written Words" awarded Best Original Story, Best Narrative Film, Best Thriller, Best Editing. Chelsea's thread of films carries the theme of loneliness whatever genre it may fall under- which is heavily inspired by her experience of living independently from the young age of 10 in boarding school.

She is known for her uncompromising devotion to quality and depiction of true emotions. Chelsea is set to continue building her body of work as a writer director.


Jarek Marszewski

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.

He studied directing at FAMU, Czech Republic’s prestigious Film and TV Academy in Prague, before graduating from the Kieslowski Film School at the Silesian University, Poland. Jarek went on to receive his PHD in Film & Theatre from the Silesian University in 2023.

His films have won over 50 awards at festivals worldwide, including Best Foreign Film at Beverly Hills Film Festival, Best Picture at: Lost Angeles Film Awards, New York Film Awards, Festigious Film Festival (Los Angeles), London Eye Film Festival (UK), Fabrique du Cinema Awards (Rome, Italy), Directors Cut IFF (Vancouver, Canada), La Paz International Film Festival (Bolivia), Troia International Film Festival (Setubal, Portugal) and Maracay International Film Festival (Venezuela) to name but a few. His latest feature Bikini Blue is distributed in Europe, USA, Canada, Latin America and China.

In addition to his work in film Jarek has also directed a number of high-profile international dramas such as The Conspirators (Poland, 2018/2019 - Birmingham IFF - Best TV Pilot, Santa Monica IFF - TV Series Honarable Mention) and The Murder Commission (Poland, 2016) as well as acclaimed operas such as Aida (Italy/Qatar for Al Arabia TV, 2002), Madame Butterfly (Italy/South Africa for SABC TV, 2000) and The Magic Flute (Opera Podlaska, Poland, 2014).

BIKINI BLUE - a feature film trailer

2018 - 2019 - CONSPIRATORS (aka MŁODY PIŁSUDSKI) - a tv series trailer

2015 - THE MURDER COMMISSION (aka KOMISJA MORDERSTW) - a tv series trailer

2014 - THE MAGIC FLUTE (aka DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE) - a stage opera trailer


Nami Melumad

Recipient of the SCL's David Raksin Award for Emerging Talent in 2023, Nami Melumad is an Israeli-Dutch film composer, based in Los Angeles, California. Recent projects include Marvel's Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), Netflix's The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (2022), and the Paramount+ Series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022) as well as Star Trek: Prodigy (2021), making her the first female composer for the Star Trek franchise. Nominated for Breakthrough Composer of the Year (2020) by the International Film Music Critics Association, Nami won the BMI award for her score for the Oscar-winning documentary short, Colette (2020), as well as the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for her work on Passage (2018) and Best Short Score at Fimucite (2017). Her works 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.


Benjamin Schnau

Benjamin Schnau is an internationally acclaimed actor and author of the book 'The Reality of Hollywood'. He speaks native American English, German and French and is a professionally trained boxer and experienced in stage and weapon combat. He is widely known for his role 'Minion' in the Academy-Award Winning movie ‘Mank’ alongside Academy-Award Winner Gary Oldman, directed by David Fincher, released on Netflix, 'The Current War' opposite the protagonist George Westinghouse portrayed by actor Michael Shannon and for his lead role 'Jupp Klein' 'Megastructures' produced by National Geographic available on Netflix. In addition to acting in movies and television roles, Benjamin has been acclaimed for his “live” acting expertise, as manifested by his serving as the on-air “host” for prestigious Hollywood events like the red-carpet events at the American Heart Association.

He won the award for 'Best Actor' for his role of Leon in the movie 'Against All Odds' at the Oniros Film Awards and New York International Film Awards and also 'Best Supporting Actor of the Year' at the Top Shorts Film Festival for his role of Gunther Wolfgang in the movie 'The Little Picture".

Due to his multilingual ability, he is an established voice-over actor as well who has given his voice for movies like “American Animals” and “Nothing to Lose” which have been released in 2018.

Benjamin's book 'The Reality of Hollywood' was released worldwide in 2021 to educate and guide upcoming actors to establish themselves in the film industry in Hollywood long-term.

The Feature Film “Silent Night in Algona” shows him besides Hollywood Actor Taylor Nichols known for his roles in “Metropolitan” and “Jurassic Park III “which was released theatrically at the beginning of 2023 and won Best Picture and Screenplay at the Red Letter Awards. Silent Night in Algona is now available on streaming services AppleTV, Amazon Prime and DVD.

His latest feature film Righteous Thieves playing the critical role 'Mauren' was recently released by Lionsgate in movie theatres throughout the U.S. and will be released on Apple+ Amazon Prime in Fall 2023.

He was also cast as the President of the United States 'Steven Chambers' in the upcoming feature film "Unpresidented" that is set for filming in Summer 2024.


Jean Vincentelli

Jean Vincentelli is a French actor, and the winner of the Best Actor award at Festigious International Film Festival and at Best Supporting Actor award at the Actors Awards, for his challenging role in “Memories of Time”.

Always fascinated by Cinema and storytelling, Jean has worked in a wide range of genres, performing a variety of rounded characters. He has worked with great French filmmakers, including Nicole Garcia (“A Way Of Love”), André Téchiné (“In The Name Of My Daughter”, opposite Guillaume Canet and Catherine Deneuve), Pascal Chaumeil (“Heartbreaker”) and more.

Jean has been playing in TV movies, such as the popular “Plus belle la vie”, “Dommages collatéraux”, “Sous le soleil de Saint Tropez”, “Les enquêtes de Laviolette”, “Section de Recherches”, “Camping Paradis” and “Mission sacrée”, as well as in the American TV series “Royal Pains”.

Additional movies:

- " Un balcon sur la mer", directed by Nicole Garcia,

- " L'homme qu'on aimait trop", directed by André Téchiné,

- " Mascarade", directed by Nicolas Bedos.

TV Series:

- "Plus belle la vie"

- "Demain nous appartient"

Also known for: “Kosmodrom” (winner at the Hollyfestival 2014), “Impie”, “Résurgence commode”, “Le Périple”, "Les Chiens", directed by Julie Stunault, "Les Précieuses", directed by David Arnaudo, and many others.


Mor Cohen

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.




Anup Kulkarni

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.


Buffy Milner

Buffy Milner is a multi award winning actress and director from Suffolk, England. Buffy won 6 awards for best actress for her performance in the short film ‘Type’ which premiered in the festival circuit in 2018. Since then she has booked multiple national commercials and tv shows and continues to make a name for herself in the industry.


Rui Yao

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.


Roy Zafrani

Roy Zafrani is an accomplished screenwriter, film director, author, and alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). With over 20 years of experience, he has written, directed, and edited a wide range of documentaries, sports events, TV series, commercials, and narrative films.

His notable works include "The Other Dreamers" (winner of 13 awards and over 100 selections in international film festivals), "Over the Wall" (Best Short Film at the 19th annual Phoenix Film Festival), "On the Edge" (multi-award-winning documentary), "Until the End Amir" (Opening Film at the Oscar Qualifying Festival In the Palace), "Fed Cup", "Davis Cup", "Assi Dayan: Embittered" (Vienna Jewish Film Festival), "On Tiptoes", "European Beach Tennis Championships", and the American-Canadian series "The Consulting Offer" (Editor, Season 2), among many others.

Roy has also produced several films, including the American drama "Passage" (Excellence in Producing Award at Idyllwild Film Festival), the British spy-thriller "The Doorman", "Opening Serve", and "Davis Cup: Road to the Finals". Additionally, he has written several screenplays such as "Jamie's Book" (winner of multiple screenplay awards, including at the 2018 Irvine International Film Festival), "Lenny" (Austin Film Festival), and the dramatic fantasy "Mondays with Amy", which recently won Best Screenplay of the Year at the 21st California Independent Film Festival.

Apart from his work in the film industry, Roy has written three bestselling books: "Paper Wings" and "Cursed" (novels), and "The Snail Who Left His House" (a children's book). Currently, he is publishing his crime-thriller novel, "Start Over".


Casey Ruggieri

Casey Ruggieri is an NY based actor, writer, and filmmaker. Straight out of Film School in NY, Casey landed in LA and has written and worked in various formats, including commercial, tv, film, theater, improv and sketch. Casey's short film “Drag” debuted in October 2021 at HorrorHaus Film Fest in Los Angeles and was Nominated for Best Actress and Best Original Score, as well as made a splash in a new horror fest Horrors 4U. Casey's production company, Fernleaf Films, is currently in development on her next film, a genre horror piece in the vein of It Follows, which will shoot in Upstate NY.

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 and Gus Van Sant.

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.


Beate Malkus

Beate Malkus is a multilingual award-winning German actress based in Berlin.

Starting her acting career in theatre, she quickly has played lead roles in both national and international productions, including 'Blissestrasse' and the Canadian-Czech TV Series 'Clay's POV' directed by Canadian director Paul Donovan, the Swiss Sci-Fi film 'Alekto' and the British-German feature film 'One Night in Berlin' for which she has won 'Best Performance of Fest' at the Actors Awards Los Angeles. Known for her outstanding acting performances, Beate plays her roles with great variety and risk, her characters are often strong and frangible withal - as in 'The Departure', in which she plays a woman preparing for her deportation based on a true story.

She approaches her roles not only by method acting, but as well was trained in the Chekhov and Meisner techniques. Actually, Beate is preparing for a new project coming up. Aside of acting, she also undertook law studies in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands and off-screen has become prominently involved in international human rights projects.


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