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Tenth Annual Festival Jury
John Biaggi has worked at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival for the past thirteen years, starting as deputy director. He became director in 2008. John works on every aspect of the festival’s many projects which include the two flagship festivals in New York and London, as well as festivals in Munich, Toronto, San Francisco and a traveling festival that reaches over 40 sites in the United States and Canada. He screens upwards of 200 films each year at festivals worldwide, including the festival’s extensive submissions. John also helps organize the many co-presentations the festival presents with other festivals and organizations worldwide.
Prior to his work at Human Rights Watch, John was a festival coordinator for the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He also enjoyed a successful career as a director and producer of independent films and as a director of photography on numerous films and videos for television. John graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology/Archaeology from Stanford University in 1985. He lives in Irvington, NY.
Moni’ca Brown grew up listening to underground Hip Hop in Seattle, Washington, which makes her a Hip Hop snob. Nonetheless, this enriching youth experience prepared her for the pursuit of her greatest passion: using the arts to engage and educate underprivileged teens who have been left out of the running for the opportunities she was given. Everything that makes her who she is came from those who saw potential in her. When she applied to the League of Young Voters in the summer of 2009, she wanted to make an impact on the lives of all the young, smart people she saw left out of the major debates that were deciding their future. Endlessly inspired by the power and magic of nonprofits everywhere, the League in particular has become synonymous with sharing her most personal dreams. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at the New School.
Dan Cogan is the co-founder and executive director of Impact Partners, a fund and advisory service for investors and philanthropists who seek to promote social change through film. Since its inception two years ago, Impact Partners has been involved in the financing of over 25 films including: Freeheld, which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film; The Garden, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2009; and The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, which won an Emmy in 2007 for Best Documentary Special. Mr. Cogan received his B.A. from Harvard University magna cum laude and attended the Film Division at Columbia University’s Graduate School of the Arts.
Daphne Farganis is director of Educational Initiatives for Freemind Ventures/The Black List Project, where she has developed national educational initiatives for both K-12 and universities across the country. Daphne specializes in bringing together partners within the arts, cultural, educational and business communities to find common ground through education oriented projects. Based primarily in New York, Daphne has more than ten years of experience in forging strong, and sometimes surprising, collaborations among a wide range of individuals and groups. Her most recent projects includes designing and implementing special initiatives for: the Hip Hop Theater Festival, The Kennedy Center, DC Commission on Arts and Humanity, New York University, The People’s Speak/Howard Zinn, Brave New Voices/HBO, Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School.
Prior to this, Daphne was the founding director of the Institute for Urban Education at New School University, an innovative program supporting high school students in their transition to higher education. In addition, she held post of project director at the International Education Center (Denmark) where she designed curriculum on global issues. There she worked with a number of globally recognized figures, including Cornell West and the late Sekou Sundiata. She is graduate of Vassar College and holds a master’s degree from the Bank Street School of Education. She joined Freemind Ventures/The Black List Project in 2009.
Catherine Gund, the founder of Aubin Pictures, is an Emmy Award-nominated producer, director, writer and organizer. She is the director of the award-winning film “What’s On Your Plate?”, which aired on Discovery’s Planet Green in February and is in educational and community-based screenings now. The home video will be available in September. Catherine’s media work, which focuses on arts and culture, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health and other social justice issues, has screened around the world in festivals and theaters, on PBS and the Sundance Channel, and at universities and museums.
As a filmmaker who has worked in all aspects of production for 20 years, her interest lies in telling stories and finding the details that educate and inspire. Gund’s productions include Motherland Afghanistan (AFI Fest Official Selection; PBS broadcast), A Touch of Greatness (Best Documentary Award, Hamptons Film Festival, Ohio Film Festival, and Denver International Film Festival; PBS broadcast; Emmy nomination), Making Grace (theatrical release), On Hostile Ground (Sundance Channel broadcast), Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance (Best Documentary Award, Chicago Underground Film Festival), When Democracy Works, Positive: Life with HIV and Keep Your Laws Off My Body, as well as work with the collectives DIVA TV (co-founder) and Paper Tiger Television. She co-founded the Third Wave Foundation and was on the founding board of Working Films. She has served on the advisory council for MediaRights.org and as a consultant for the Robeson Fund.
Cynthia Lopez is the vice president of the award-winning P.O.V. documentary series. Under her previous leadership as communications director, national media coverage of P.O.V. programs have more than tripled. She has forged strategic partnerships with Harpo Studios, Netflix, ABC News’ Nightline, WNYC New York Public Radio, Pentagram, Inc., Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and Ms. Magazine, among many others. The promotional campaign Lopez spearheaded for the P.O.V. film, Farmingville, won the prestigious EPPSilon Award.
Before joining P.O.V., Lopez spent four years at Libraries for the Future as Advocacy Director, developing innovative strategies to serve some of the nations poorest libraries. She is also a founding board member of NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) and is an advisor to REEL New York (Thirteen/WNET New York). She has been a presenter at a variety of venues including: Medimed (Spain), Prague Eastern European International Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs (Canada), SilverDocs, Independent Feature Project, White House Conference on Libraries, United Nations Women’s Conference, Channels for Change (Scotland) Center for Democratic Communications (South Africa) and Videazimut (Peru), among others.
Nancy Schwartzman is a filmmaker, writer and activist working for over thirteen years to create community solutions to combat sexual violence and promote public debate. She recently completed the 24-minute documentary The Line, a personal film that explores consent from a sex-positive point of view. With an emphasis on interactivity, new media and dialogue, she launched THE LINE Campaign and group blog WhereIsYourLine.org to continue the discussion. Her work has been profiled in Time Out New York, Feministing.com, Think.MTV.com, Ms. Magazine, Bust Magazine and more.
Nancy is the founder of NYC-Safestreets.org an online initiative noted by The New York Times, Gawker, The Village Voice and The Daily News to engage community organizations and businesses to create safer routes for pedestrians, especially women. From 2002 to 2005 she was a founding editor and creative director of HEEB Magazine. For six years Nancy was the program officer at the Fund for Jewish Documentary Film. She has curated short film festivals at the Pioneer Theater, Berlin, London and Tel Aviv. Her essays have been featured in The Independent, HEEB, Sh’ma and Plenty Magazine, and the upcoming anthology “Pleasure and Peril: Moving Past the Sex Wars.”
Melinda Tenenzapf is a 19-year-old student of film and political science at Marlboro College in Vermont. Melinda hails from Brooklyn, New York, where she was raised by her Jewish father and Jamaican nanny. Growing up in a diverse family, with regular visits to the Jamaican countryside, her unique childhood inspired her to make her first documentary, Jewmaican, at age 15.
While continuing to explore her own background, Melinda aspires to tackle the issues of globalization and inequality through her films, as she already does through her studies. She is currently an intern with Nomadic Wax global Hip Hop label & production company in Brooklyn, working as an assistant editor on the upcoming documentary, Democracy in Paris.
Edited by Daniel Cassady and Austra Zubkovs
Published on March 1, 2010