MEET THE 2020 JUDGING TEAM
 
PREMIER JUDGE - DAVE EICHHORN

Dave Eichhorn is a multiple Emmy winning film and sound editor. Having worked in many Hollywood blockbusters, Dave has been awarded 3 Primetime Emmys, 11 nominations and 5 MPSE Golden Reel Awards.

 

He has literally been immersed in post-production since the age of 11, when he would create ‘radio skits’ with his older brother. Using 3 tape recorders and a collection of sound effects records, he would cue up the machines and the two would go to town. Now, with several hundred film and TV credits under his belt, he agrees that ‘perhaps there was a predisposition there, somewhere…”

 

Dave's comprehensive skillset as a film editor, supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer has landed him work with many talented producers and directors, including Mikhail Solomon, David Fincher, Jon Voight, Ernest Dickerson, Betty Thomas, Jon Turtletaub, Russell Mulcahy, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Charles Carner. His credits include shows for CBS, NBC, ABC/Disney, HBO, FX Network, Showtime, Hallmark, National Geographic, USA Network and many more. In all, Dave has been awarded 3 Primetime Emmys, 11 nominations and 5 MPSE Golden Reel Awards. He currently operates Post in the Woods, a boutique company in Los Angeles specializing in post-production services for indie filmmakers.

Roy Zafrani (MBA, B.Ed) is a screenwriter, director and editor, and alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

 

For over 20 years, Roy has written, directed and edited multiple documentaries, sports events, TV series, commercials, and narrative films, including: "The Other Dreamers" (winner of 13 awards, over 100 selections in international film festivals), "Over the Wall" (Best Screenplay at the 2017 LA Indie Film Fest, Best World Cinema Short 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", the American-Canadian series "The Consulting Offer" (Editor, Season 2) and more.

 

Some of his producing credits include 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", as well as tens of sports events for TV.

 

He is currently in production with several projects, including "Jamie's Book" (winner of multiple screenplay awards, including at the 2018 Irvine International Film Festival), the crime comedy "Cursed" and the dramatic fantasy "Mondays with Amy", which recently won Best Screenplay of the Year at the 21st California Independent Film Festival and at the 2018 New York Screenplay Contest.

 
FESTIVAL DIRECTOR - ROY ZAFRANI
 
LES BRANDT

Les Brandt was raised on the Great Plains of Amarillo, Texas in the northern most region near historic Palo Duro Canyon, which was the major battle of the Red River War, which ended in the confinement of southern Plains Indians. Was in choir from 7th grade to 11th grade as a 1st Tenor and had hopes of a singing career as a child. He began acting immediately after graduating high school and credits his beginning training to mentor Adam Roarke at The Film Actors Lab in Dallas, TX. Brandt continued training at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, NY and studied with Michelle Danner at Larry Moss/Edgemar Studio as well as The Groundlings, both in Los Angeles, CA. Brandt has guest starred on numerous network shows and movies throughout his career. Brandt also has a strong commercial work history with some of the most highly recognizable brands, advertising agencies, directors and actors as his latest project was opposite Oscar Winning actress Julianne Moore for a new national L'Oreal campaign also starring Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda Isabelle Adjani, Iris Berben and Vanessa Williams. The Home Depot, Old Spice (The Legend) Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Scott's Lawn, Yoplait GoGurt, a couple of Nissan spots one with Blake Shelton. Additionally, he worked with Oscar winner John Mathieson (Gladiator), and director Daniel Kleinman on the international spot for Monster.com. Brandt debuted on daytime television with a three-year contract in 1995 on the Amercian New York-based NBC soap opera "Another World"," and then was recurring on the NBC soap opera "Days of Our Lives," for a few years in Los Angeles, CA.

Les Brandt is always thankful for the work and any contributions he can make to the arts and is hopeful to get back to being creative, soon. Brandt managed to shoot a worldwide campaign for New York based icon, Schott NYC, on March 12...just 1 day after the World Health Organization addressed the nation declaring a Pandemic and issuing a travel ban. Brandt is hunkered down like everyone else and is grateful to be keeping the best company with his beautiful and loving girlfriend, Nicole, his 7 kittens and her dog, Lil Yappy.

A personal Covid 19 statement by Les Brandt: "As Planet Earth experiences this overwhelming crisis...my sympathy and condolences go out to all of those who have lost loved ones and are experiencing the hardships that this Global Pandemic is causing. We are all in the same tight grip during this unbelievable event in time. History has shown that the human race makes tremendous growth from the most difficult times and manages to come together stronger than before. Let's keep believing."

 

Nami Melumad is a Los Angeles based film & tv composer. Her credits include over 130 films and tv series, most notably Absentia starring Stana Katic (Amazon, AXN Networks), Miss Arizona starring Johanna Braddy, and the upcoming comedy, An American Pickle starring Seth Rogen. She is the first female composer to ever score a Star Trek episode. Nami won the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for her work on Passage (2018), Best Short Score at Fimucite (2017) and Best Featurette Score at Idyllwild Festival of Cinema (2018). Her works have been performed by the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and Helix Collective Ensemble. Nami is an ASCAP Film-Scoring Workshop Fellow (2016), and graduated the Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV program (SMPTV) 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 voting member at the Television Academy, a board member at the Alliance for Women Film Composers, and is represented by the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency.

NAMI MELUMAD
 
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 May 15th as a lead in the sci-fi feature Proximity with two-time Emmy winning director Eric Demeusy.

 

Jean Vincentelli is a French actor, with recent wins at Festigious International Film Festival (Best Actor) and at the Actors Awards (Best Supporting Actor), 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”.

Also known for: “Kosmodrom” (winner at the Hollyfestival 2014), “Impie”, “Résurgence commode”, “Le Périple”, and “Migrantis”.

JEAN VINCENTELLI
 
MAXIMILIANO HERNÁNDEZ

Maximiliano Hernández was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He attended a BFA program in Theatre at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts in Harlem. During this time he began his career as a working actor performing on stage and television. He has appeared in dozens of critically acclaimed television shows, award winning films and some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of cinema. He has enjoyed success as an actor and is pursuing his next career of writing, directing and producing. He founded The Ministry Filmworks in 2018 in order to create original content and produce American films and television shows that highlight the power of diversity on screen, and give a clearer view of what America actually looks like.

 

Max lives in Charleston, SC and commutes to work all over the country.

 

Lisa Roumain is a Los Angeles based Actress, Model and Producer, who has appeared in over 50 national commercials & print campaigns.

In feature films & TV, her versatility has won her roles in “Avatar”, “Jersey Girl”, “Dating Daisy,” & “Rush Hour.”

 

In the last few years, Lisa has had a strong presence in film festivals, starring in the multi-award winning short films “King Eternal” and “Monster in a House”. She has earned award nominations for her work in the web series “Split”, the horror/action film “Shallow Water,” and for “Hurricane” as Actress, Producer & Production Designer.

In 2016, Lisa won Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Awards  2018 is an exciting year, with several upcoming film releases, including the noir thriller “Mr. Bowling Ball,” the dark comedy “Strayed,” the drama feature “Every Night & Every Day,” and Seas. 2 , Ep. 1 of HBO’s “Westworld.”

LISA ROUMAIN
 
CASEY RUGGIERI

Casey Ruggieri is an LA based actress and writer. After graduating in Cinema and Production, she has written in various formats for the big and small screen including; feature, short, sketch and sitcom.

Some of her onscreen credits include the Oscar nominated "Gone Girl" (Directed by David Fincher), Golden Globe winner "House of Lies", "S.W.A.T.", "Party of Five", “Tales of Halloween” and "Kroll Show", as well as dozens of national commercials.

Casey is very active and passionate about her work with the arts for youth in the non-profit sector. She helped start G.R.O.W.T.H. (girls reaching out and within to heal), an LA based afterschool program working with at-risk teen youth.

Currently, she is a head mentor with "Young Storytellers", a nonprofit that works with elementary level students, teaching them the fundamentals of screenwriting and storytelling.

Rui Yao is a Chinese writer, screenwriter, and director. He is an Associate Professor 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 8 scripts for film and TV, including 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 70 research articles in various academic journals, 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 served as jury 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 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.

RUI YAO
 
 
JAREK MARSZEWSKI

Jarek Marszewski is a director and screenwriter. His feature films have won over 50 awards at international film festivals.

 

He studied directing at FAMU - the Film Academy in Prague, Czech Republic, then graduated from the Kieslowski Film Department at the Silesian University, Poland.

He also is a graduate of the English Department at the Wroclaw University, Poland.

 

His short films have been awarded multiple prizes at the international festivals, including: “Berliner Tango” - Gold Medal at the World Short Film Festival in Huy, Belgium, 1995; Grand Prix at the Non Commercial Film Festival (Germany, Berlin, 1996), “The Rats” - Grand Prix at the Short Film Festival Brnenska “16” (Brno, Czech Republic, 1993).

His debut feature “Tomorrow Heaven Comes” received the Best First Film Award at the Festroia Film Festival 2002 (Setubal, Portugal), the Best Actor Award at the Gdynia Film Festival 2001 (Poland), the Critics' Award at the Young Film Festival 2001 (Koszalin, Poland).

“Bikini Blue”, his second feature film, has won over 40 awards at festivals worldwide, including Best of Fest at: Los Angeles Film Awards 2017, New York Film Awards 2017, Festigious International Film Festival 2017 (Los Angeles), Beverly Hills Film Festival 2018, London Eye Film Festival 2017 (UK), Fabrique du Cinema Awards 2017 (Rome, Italy), Directors Cut IFF 2017 (Vancouver, Canada) and others.

He also works on tv series (”The Murder Commission”, Poland, 2016) and operas (”Aida”, Italy/Qatar for Al Arabia TV, 2002; “Madame Butterfly” Italy/South Africa for SABC TV, 2000; “The Magic Flute”, Opera Podlaska, Poland, 2014).

 

Beate Malkus is an award winning German actress. After graduating from theatre school in Hannover, Germany, she ran through a clown education and worked with great teachers like Philipe Gaulier (London) and Pascale Ben (France). Beate performed in theatre-productions all over Germany and then moved to Berlin, Germany, to pursue her career in film acting.

 

She quickly played lead characters in a lot of films such as the international productions 'One Night in Berlin' by Kivmars Bowling or 'Blissestrasse' by Canadian director Paul Donovan. Fluent in several languages, Beate Malkus recently made her Canadian television debut starring in the TV Series Clay's P.O.V. by Paul Donovan in the permanent role of Cassandra for two seasons (26 episodes) so far.

 

Beate Malkus won several American acting awards for her lead performances in the Swiss Sci-Fi movie 'Alekto' and the British-German drama 'One Night in Berlin'. She plays her roles with great variety and her characters are often in a way strong and frangible withal. She approaches her roles not only by method acting, but as well works with the Chekhov technique after having taken a masterclass with Lenard Petit of Michael Chekhov Acting Studio NY.

 

Aside of being actress, Beate devotes herself to human rights due to her pre-acting law studies in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands. This work brought her to countries like Turkey, India and Iraq.

BEATE MALKUS
 
ANUP KULKARNI

Anup Kulkarni is a multiple award-winning cinematographer and Visual effects supervisor who has a background in visual effects as a 3D camera tracking & matchmove technical director at the Rhythm & Hues Studios. His work has taken him all around the world and he has contributed to projects in a variety of genres, ranging from feature films, TV-shows, documentaries, and dramas to sci-fi, thriller, and art films.

 

"Frames, colors, and lights, not just my passion or hobbies, but the very parameters through which I perceive life and all the creativity that it encompasses,” says the artist. “Walking down in my visualization world with photography and VFX as my companions, while digging deeper, I also realized that it was not only frame and colors which were enhancing the beauty of my visualization, but the real binding factor to all this was lights! That made my frame complete.”

 

With an eye for naturally-motivated lighting and inspired movement, Kulkarni has earned multiple cinematography awards. According to Kulkarni, this deeper understanding of visual arts gave rise to a new passion, and that was cinematography for motion pictures. In Los Angeles, he has had the opportunity to work on award-winning and prestigious projects such as Life of Pi, Thor 2, Percy Jackson, R.I.P.D and many others.

Mor Cohen is an award-winning Israeli actress and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from The Academy of Performing Arts in Tel Aviv in 2013, Mor relocated from Israel to New York, and worked directly with Hollywood A-lists in Paris and LA.

On screen, Mor can be seen in Natalie Portman’s directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness, Mean Murderer (now on Amazon Prime), and multiple award-winning thriller The Doll. Her producorial credits include Off-Broadway production of Scoop, award-winning short film The New Galileos, and multiple award-winning short film Over the Wall.

MOR COHEN
 
RICHARD PRENDERGAST

Richard Prendergast is a Director and DoP with over 10 years experience. He always strives to create new ways of storytelling through moving image, with exceptional results. His background is predominantly broadcast sports documentary and more recently high end branded content and commercials. Clients include Nike, Red Bull, Coca-Cola, BT Sport, Sky Sports to name a few.

Richard's short film, Sylvia, was BAFTA's 2019 Best Short Film Long List (Top20). It was also selected as Top Shorts 2019 Best of Fest runner-up. 

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

HUGO DIEGO GARCIA
VIRGINIA BACH

French director and screen writer. She has written and directed 3 multi awarded short films and 2 music videos. Tell Him, her third short film won Best short film of the year award at Top Shorts 2019. She is currently writing her first feature film, a coming of age, teen drama.

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

JOLIE LENNON
MASON HEIDGER

Mason Heidger trained at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and has spent 10 years since acting in many shorts, features and commercials, including playing Officer Rucka in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He won Best Performance of the Year at the 2019 Actors Awards for his work in the film "Making Time”.

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