Slamdance Film Festival Selects Jury Members (EXCLUSIVE)

January 24, 2015

The 21st Slamdance Film Festival has selected  jury members for its documentary, narrative and shorts competitions at the festival, which runs Jan. 23-29.

Narrative feature jury members: Richard Lorber, CEO of Kino Lorber; Todd Looby and Emily Upzcak. Documentary just members are Paige Williams of The  Josh Leake and Bryan Storkel.

Narrative and animation shorts jury members are Sarah Cornell, Rory Haines and Elle Schneider. Experimental and anarchy shorts jury members: Eve Cohen, Laura Merians and Dan Brawley.

Members for the micro short films competitition are Amber Benson (actress, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and writer, “The Witches of Echo Park”), Todd Berger (director, ” It’s A Disaster”), Laura Merians (cinematographer for “Björk,” “Atoms For Peace”), Kent Osborne (writer, “Adventure Time,” “Spongebob Squarepants”) and Damon Russell (producer, “Curfew” and director, “Snow On Tha Bluff”).

The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, will include 13 world premieres, two North American premieres and three U.S. premieres.

Notable titles include Branden Kramer’s “Ratter,” starring Ashley Benson, Matt McGorry, Rebecca Naomi Jones, John Anderson and Kaili Vernoff in the story of a young woman watched by a stalker who has hacked into all of her personal technology; and “Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang,” directed by Colin Offland. The Slamdance feature competition is limited to films made with budgets under $1 million and by first-time directors.

The micro-shorts competiton will include films shot on the Digital Bolex D16 camera by Slamdance alumni Ntare Mwine (“Kuhani)”, Marie Jamora (“Ang Nawawala”), Paul Rachman (“Zoe Rising”), Nedra McClyde (“First Baptist”), Jeremy Osbern (“The Only Good Indian”), Fernando Frias (“Rezeta”) along with Bright Ideas’ James Kaelan and Digital Bolex’s Elle Schneider.

The program will include the world premiere of Bright Ideas magazine’s tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s “Alphaville,”celebrating the film’s 50th anniversary in 2015 with a gender-bent remix of the film starring Brennan Kelleher and Caitlin FitzGerald (Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”).

The entire list of jury members:





Richard Lorber

Richard Lorber is the CEO of Kino Lorber Inc., a company that for 35 years has been a leader in the release of acclaimed world cinema, award winning American independent films and classics. Recent releases include Jean Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D and Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Lorber was the co-founder and head of Fox Lorber, as well as its successor Koch Lorber Films. Before his business career, he earned bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from Columbia University, taught art history and wrote art criticism. The French government has honored him with the “Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.”


Todd Looby

Todd Looby is a filmmaker and the Director of BendFilm in Bend, OR. His second narrative feature, Lefty, was named in “The Top 10 Movies of 2009” by the Chicago Tribune’s Metromix. His follow-up short film, Son of None, won the Special Jury Award at Slamdance ‘11. Todd’s 2013 feature, Be Good, starring indie-favorites Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg was called, “Well acted, crafted and observed” by Variety. Todd also released the Slamdance 2013 short doc, Lollywood. He is currently adapting the book A Saint on Death Row by New York Times best-selling author Thomas Cahill.


Emilie Upzcak

Originally from Boulder, CO, Emilie Upczak is a filmmaker, festival programmer, and Creative Director of the trinidad+tobago film festival, where she is spearheading the Caribbean Film Mart and Regional Database. She is also an MFA candidate in Film at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Emilie’s experimental video installations and short films have been exhibited worldwide. She is currently in pre-production on her debut feature, The Moving Parts of Love (working title), and is associate producer on the feature film, Play the Devil, directed by Bahamian filmmaker, Maria Govan.




Paige Williams

Paige Williams is an award winning filmmaker, entrepreneur, and the CEO & Founder of The Audience Awards, a film social network connecting audiences to film, festivals and brands. Now in its 10th year, Paige is the Executive Producer of The International Documentary Challenge – a 5-day film challenge with partners including POV, Fusion, DER and DocuMentors. Williams is excited to present the new Fusion Doc Challenge at Slamdance Film Festival this year.


Josh Leake

Portland-based producer/director Josh Leake is the founder and executive director of the Portland Film Festival. He produced Glena, a feature documentary that premiered at Slamdance ‘14. His film, Emptys, a documentary about people who collect beverage containers as their principal source of income, won first place at Tropfest New York. Leake is currently working on several projects including: Footsteps, Breathless, and an adaptation of a NY Times best-selling book. Follow him on Twitter @joshleake and @portlandfilm.


Bryan Storkel

Bryan Storkel loves telling true and unusual stories. His first film, Holy Rollers, was released by Warner Bros and featured on The Colbert Report and This American Life. His follow-up, Fight Church was picked up by Lionsgate/Netflix and is currently being developed into a series with Morgan Spurlock. Storkel also edited The Internet’s Own Boy, which was short-listed for this year’s Academy Awards. But most importantly, his film Little Hope Was Arson screened at last year’s Slamdance, where it sold to Independent Lens/PBS. Storkel is currently wrapping up his latest project, a 30-for-30 film he is directing for ESPN.




Sarah Cornell

Sarah Cornell is a filmmaker, actor and writer living in Los Angeles. Originally from Toronto, Sarah began her filmmaking career with her first short film, Planet Sun, premiering at the 2010 Slamdance Festival. Her original web series, Get Lost! is available online and she is currently in preproduction for her first feature film, Mail Order Bride.


Rory Haines

Rory Haines is a British filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is an HFPA award-winning graduate of the Columbia University MFA film program and his feature screenplay From Here to Albion was named on the 2013 Blacklist and purchased by Participant Media. Rory also ran 3 of the largest channels on YouTube, amassing over 13 million subscribers and 2 billion views. In 2014 Rory was hired as CEO of New Media Rockstars, the top daily audience destination for fans of the social media space and a leading agency for brands looking to market online.


Elle Schneider

Elle Schneider is a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and a dual recipient of the Marguerite Roberts scholarship for feature screenwriting. Originally from New York City, she works as a director and cinematographer for fashion films, music videos, commercials, and narratives. She was the cinematographer of 2013 SXSW Film Festival selection I Am Divine and cinematographer and co-producer of 2014 selection That Guy Dick Miller. Elle is a co-developer and creative director of Digital Bolex.




Eve Cohen

Eve M Cohen is the current Director of Content and Chief Creative Officer at Seed&Spark where she is dedicated to sustaining an independent film community. She loves making and watching movies, of any length and genre, but the short ones are her favorite. She is also a working Director of Photography in film and TV. Eve graduated from the UCLA/School of Arts and Architecture with a BFA in Photography and later received an MFA in Cinematography from the UCLA/School of Theater, Film and Television. She is also a content creator for Bright Ideas magazine.


Laura Merians

Laura Merians is a director/cinematographer living in LA and New York. In 2010, she began a collaboration with Whole Foods to shoot and direct content for their advertising campaign Dark Rye, which won her a James Beard award. Her short film Solipsist won Best Experimental Short at Slamdance ‘12. Her 2014 Atoms for Peace music video won Best Alternative Video at the UK Music Video Awards. She recently shot an interactive album cover and VR experience for Bjork’s new album. Her first feature film The Guilty Innocent, directed by Jamie Marshall and produced by Catherine Hardwicke, will be released in the fall.


Dan Brawley

Dan Brawley is the Executive Director of the Cucalorus Film Festival, an international celebration of filmmaking in Wilmington, NC, screening more than 250 films with programs on dance, social justice and emerging artists. Dan is a cultural catalyst, a ceremonialist, a real estate developer, a curatorial performance artist, and the founder of a growing village of transient creatives in historic downtown Wilmington where he conducts services as Saint 43 of the First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc. Dan is also the past-Chair of the Board of Alternate ROOTS, an organization serving 14 southern states and supporting artists working for social justice.





Lemmy Caution seduces himself in this shot-for-shot feminist remix of Jean-Luc Godard’s lo-fi science fiction masterpiece starring Caitlin FitzGerald.


COURTESAN – Misti Boland and Jeremy Osbern (USA)*

Two strangers meet on Christmas night… for sex and the exchange of money.


REDUX20 – Paul Rachman (USA)*

An experimental doc that steps into the spiraling frenetic journey of actor and artist Jason Cairns with whom the director worked 20 years ago on the film Drive Baby Drive.



A father wrestles with the decision to allow his young son to enter the world without him.


THE CHARACTER STUDY – Luke Pelizzari (Canada)

When an actor takes his character off the set and into his everyday life, he learns a valuable lesson about pretending to be something you’re (definitely) not.


JKTV – Elle Schneider (USA)

A documentary exploring the work of webcam artist Joey Kim.


ISOBEL – Marie Jamora (USA/Philippines)*

Isobel lives in the Philippines and has been acting and painting since she was four — now at the age of twelve, through conversation and archival footage, we see a portrait of her growing up.


THE DAMMED – Fernando Frias (Mexico)*

Ulises Zarazua has an American Passport but lives in Mexico city; I have a Mexican passport and live in New York. He made a song. I made a video.


COMING TO – Lindsay Haun (USA)

A man wakes up in a Koreatown hallway, naked except for a cock ring and frilly scarf.


FINGER GUNS – Bryan Chojnowski (USA)

Eve moves back to her hometown and it totally sucks, so Jack is going to make her smile — even if it kills them.


LOVE & I – Heather Kasprzak (USA)

A true story about a young woman who sets out to find the father she hasn’t seen in 30 years.


SALT WOUND – Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (USA)*

A collage of four artists creating and purging with some dirt, dolls, a blanket and a goldfish.



A couple drive to the beach to say their final goodbye — one does not return.


AN UNEXPECTED FAREWELL – Fredrik Ekholm (Sweden)

A desperate man comes across a golden frame, which takes him on an unexpected journey.


PASSPORT – Lisa Demaine (USA)

Off on a bender, a Hollywood legend escapes an unhappy film set only to discover there’s no escaping your own myth.


*Slamdance Alumni

This article is courtesy of:

The Audience Awards is film’s social network connecting audiences to films, filmmakers, film schools and film festivals. The Audience Awards hosts short film competitions where the audience chooses the best films.

June Noel

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