FESTIVAL NEWS

Ninth Annual Festival Jury

Pamela Cohn
Pamela Cohn
Pamela Cohn has been a documentary filmmaker and digital shooter since 2003. As an independent media producer and project director for the past seventeen years, Pamela Cohn has a broad range of experience in production, branding, animation, and film projects. In her blog, Still in Motion, she conducts in-depth interviews with filmmakers, producers, programmers and distributors, and reports from both domestic and international festivals. Pamela currently writes for FILMMAKER Magazine, Culture Unplugged and others arts, media and film sites and publications and is co-producing a multi-platform media outreach project that will launch this year. Her recent projects include producing the 2008 Inaugural Cinema Eye Honors and Documentary Voices: Pulling Focus, a symposium staged in Dubai, UAE. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1993 with honors in poetry, American history and Italian language and literature.

Imani A. Dawson
Imani A. Dawson
Imani A. Dawson is an award winning author and producer with nearly a decade of professional media experience to her credit. Her work has appeared in a variety of media outlets including MTV, BET and the Associated Press. In 2007, she was selected to participate in the LATV/Fox Media Fellows program. She is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.





Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney is a filmmaker who is involved in producing a number of documentaries with social themes. Her first film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which was short-listed for an Academy Award, is a feature-length documentary about the women of Liberia and their efforts to bring peace to their broken nation after decades of destructive civil war. Besides filmmaking, Abigail is co-founder and co-president of the Daphne Foundation along with her husband, Pierre Hauser. The Daphne Foundation is a progressive, social change foundation that makes grants to grassroots, community-based organizations working with low-income communities in New York City. Abigail also acts as Vice Chair of the board of a successful professional investment company, Shamrock Holdings Incorporated. Abigail received her Bachelors degree from Yale University, her Masters degree from Stanford University, and her Doctorate from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and their four children, one dog, three cats, a fish, a rabbit and an immortal turtle named Alfred.

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Producer, Director and Editor, has been committed to cultural and social issues documentary filmmaking for over a decade. Her editing debut garnered an Emmy for WGBH's Greater Boston Arts series, and she has continued to distinguish herself as both a producer and editor, having worked on numerous award-winning documentaries for public television and cable. Among these is Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a groundbreaking PBS documentary about manhood and gender politics in mainstream Hip Hop, on which she is co-producer and editor. Currently she is the co-producer and editor of Mrs. Goundo's Daughter, the story of a young Malian's mother's quest to protect her daughter from female genital cutting. She is also the producer and director of 180 Days, which examines the NYC Teaching Fellows Program through the eyes of three new teachers during their first year in the public school system. Her commitment to social change extends to working with non-profit and grassroots organizations on video programs.

Ben Herson
Ben Herson
Ben Herson, an internationally celebrated producer and musician, is the founder and director of Nomadic Wax - a global Hip Hop record label and production company dedicated to recording, documenting and presenting Hip Hop and underground music from around the world. He graduated with a major in African Studies and Anthropology from Hampshire College in 2000 and did post baccalaureate studies in Wolof (West African Language) at Columbia University. While studying West African drumming in Senegal, Herson stumbled upon a vibrant Hip Hop scene in Dakar, Senegal. Enthralled by the political and social message of the groups' lyrics, Herson returned with equipment and began befriending and producing some of Senegal's top MCs. These recordings formed the critically acclaimed African Underground Albums vol. 1 and 2. In 2004, Herson co-founded the Trinity International Hip Hop festival at Trinity College, the first international Hip Hop festival in the United States and began touring with global Hip Hop music and educational programming to colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 2007, Herson developed an award winning seven-part documentary series on youth, Hip Hop, and politics in West Africa titled African Underground: Democracy in Dakar, a selection of which was honored at the Media That Matters Film Festival with the Roots & Rhymes Award. Herson also produces and hosts a bi-monthly radio show on New York public radio (WNYE) featuring Urban music and political discourse from around the world.

Jennie Livingston
Jennie Livingston
According to New York Magazine's September, 2008 40th anniversary issue, Jennie Livingston's film, Paris is Burning, is one of the most important cultural works to come out of New York City in the last 40 years. Paris won a Sundance Grand Jury Prize and is, according to Variety, one of the top-performing documentaries in the history of the medium. Livingston's 35mm dramatic short Who's the Top? premiered at the Berlinale in 2005 and has screened at over 100 festivals and cultural venues worldwide, including theatrical runs at the Boston MFA and London's ICA. Her digital piece, Through the Ice, was commissioned for the 10th anniversary of WNET/Thirteen's Reel New York and also screened at Sundance in 2006. Currently, Livingston is at work on Earth Camp One, a feature documentary and mediation on grief and loss that's been funded by Netflix and by the Guggenheim Foundation. She's also written and is developing The Room in the Mountain, a dramatic feature set in the art worlds of East Berlin and New York in 1989. Livingston is a graduate of Yale, where she received the Sudler Prize for work in painting and photography.

Niaz Mosharraf
Niaz Mosharraf
Niaz Mosharraf was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the United States in 1997. He graduated from the elite Brooklyn Technical High School in 2007 and is now attending Brooklyn College studying film productions and marketing and minoring in business. His first film, America For Dummies won the Media That Matters Film Festival's Youth Voice Award in 2008 and the Woodstock Film Festival's Jury Award. Niaz was one of the two U.S. representatives for the 2008 Youth Initiative Bar Camp in Istanbul hosted by the Soros Foundation to discuss social media and its effects around the world. Mosharraf, along with a group of six other filmmakers has also co-produced and co-directed Over Here, a project under WNET/Thirteen and Reel Works Teen Filmmaking. His love for filmmaking was kindled by his experience in Reel Works and he eagerly wishes to pursue it in the future. Niaz is very inclined toward political and social issues and hopes to one day make a difference in this world through his passion for filmmaking.

Deborah Rudolph
Deborah Rudolph
Deborah Rudolph joined HBO as a producer's assistant, working to produce an award-winning, national anti-violence PSA campaign and is now manager of Corporate Social Responsibility. Before joining HBO, Ms. Rudolph worked as a freelance photographer, as well as a production coordinator for videos and commercials in both NY and LA. She graduated from NYU with a degree in Fine Arts, and recently completed a Masters degree in Communications at Columbia University. She serves on the Leadership Council of Scenarios USA.

Rebecca Schleifer
Rebecca Schleifer
Rebecca Schleifer is the advocate for the Health and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. She has authored numerous reports and advocacy documents on HIV and AIDS in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and North America, focusing on the human rights of people living with and at highest risk of HIV and AIDS. Her research and advocacy have covered the role of criminal law in addressing (or impeding) the response to HIV/AIDS; government restrictions on HIV/AIDS information to youth and harm reduction services to injection drug users; access to HIV prevention and other post-rape services to survivors of sexual violence; and abuses against people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS in the United States, Bangladesh, South Africa, Jamaica, Ukraine, India, and Thailand. Rebecca has a JD and an MPH from the University of California, Berkeley, and an AB from Harvard-Radcliffe College.

Yvette J. Alberdingk Thijm
Yvette J. Alberdingk Thijm
Yvette J. Alberdingk Thijm is executive director of WITNESS, an international human rights organization, and an attorney with nearly two decades of experience in media and new technology. Prior to joining WITNESS, she served as executive vice president of Content Strategy & Acquisition at Joost, the global online video platform formed by Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype and Kazaa. Previously, Alberdingk Thijm spent more than a decade at MTV Networks International (MTVNI) and was instrumental in its international growth and its forays into new media. As executive vice president of Business Affairs for MTVNI, she oversaw business affairs for all of its branded businesses and channels worldwide (excluding the U.S.A.), including digital media initiatives, audiovisual co-productions, new business development, strategic partnerships and joint ventures. In both these roles, she expanded the global reach of the companies through the development and implementation of strategic content, new media, and marketing strategies. She speaks Dutch, English, French and German.

Shiyah Trotman
Shiyah Trotman
Born and raised by his grandmother in Brooklyn, New York, 17-year-old Shiyah Trotman started his film journey through the Bronx's Ghetto Film School where he made the short film Superstitious. His ventures have taken him to Paris, France where he was part of another Ghetto Film production, Et Alors Charlottle. Shiyah received his first behind-the-scenes look on the Tribeca Film Festival as part of the Tribeca Film Fellows production of "Our City, My Story." Shiyah has been a member of the youth committee in the Urban Visionary Youth Film Festival and contributed to its success by helping coordinate the event and hosting its annual Video Slam. Recently, Shiyah interned for Soze Productions, home of independent filmmaker Paola Mendoza (On the Outs) and producer Michael Skolnik (Without The King). He also acted as a production assistant on Paola Mendoza and Gloria LaMorte's entre nos. Aside from film, Shiyah loves poetry and attends workshops of Urban Word NYC. Currently, he is a high school senior at the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice.

Lalitha Vasudevan
Lalitha Vasudevan
Lalitha Vasudevan has worked with youth both in and out of school, as a teacher and as a researcher. She is interested in how youth craft and produce stories while using different literacy, technologies, and media. Currently, Lalitha is studying education, literacy and media in the lives of court-involved youth by using a multimedia storytelling methodology. Her research includes publications in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, E-Learning, and English Education, and is co-editor of the volume titled, Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility (2008, Peter Lang). Lalitha, who completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, is an assistant professor of Technology and Education at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

Edited by Austra Zubkovs

Published on February 10, 2009

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