Board of Directors

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Amy Ettinger – Executive Director & Founder

In 2001, I fulfilled a dream to share my personal passion for foreign film with the Valley by launching the Scottsdale International Film Festival. In the 19 years hence, I have cultivated, sustained, and expanded the annual Festival from a three-day event to a 10-day event.  Along the way, and with the help of many, the Festival has withstood ongoing adversity in a state where the arts mortally vie with other arts organizations, professional sports, politics, and the heat for time and for money.

In an era when most people seem to consume images and information in a weird sort of group isolation, the Festival provides the opportunity to have a collective encounter with the moving image on the big screen. Art can be challenging as well as fun, and the Festival’s Board of Directors and I bring the community together to experience films which will rarely be seen locally. I scour the globe to find works of art and our attendees frequently participate together in post-film discussions to process what they have viewed. 

Over the seasons, the Festival has showcased many hundreds of films to over 100,000 attendees. Along the way we have shouted from the rooftops about our OSCAR® and GOLDEN GLOBE® winning films and famous guests. But at the end of the day, the reason I serve with this organization is because it makes an invaluable contribution to our collective quality of life and to the cultural well-being of the place where I live. Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.

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Mike Simonyi - President

When I moved to Phoenix from the East Bay area of California in the mid-80s, I missed the busy film festival scene. I was able to use mail-order video rental services to see foreign and independent films that didn’t play in the Phoenix area, but I still missed the people who went to the festivals - open-minded folks like me who wanted to know about other cultures and viewpoints.

When I attended the second Scottsdale International Film Festival in 2002 (I saw five films!), I knew that I had found the like-minded event that I had been missing. After that Festival, I volunteered to handle the mailing of the programs and over the years have moved on to performing other volunteer duties. All of these roles have been interesting and fun and allowed me to feel as if I was contributing to the progress of the Festival.

Over the years, I have made a point to talk to Festival attendees and have heard fairly consistent stories from them that the films we screen present a culture or viewpoint that they never would have experienced otherwise. Films have the power to change minds and hearts for the better. In 2017, I joined the Board of Directors. I feel this has been one of the best things I have done for the Festival as I’m able to see the positive impact that we have on our region. I am proud to be a part of it. We invite YOU to be a part of our journey – donate, volunteer, join the Board or become a sponsor!

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Ellen Nusbaum - Secretary

With equal parts positivity, investment, expansiveness and gratitude, I relish the creative and logistical impact I and my fellow Board members have on the Arts in the community where we work and play. We connect our city in a joyous way to the rest of the world. Because I am passionate that Film Festivals create identity and kinship, I am both a Festival donor and a member of the Board of Directors.

As a Board member, I use my particular skills to help tackle the various challenges and opportunities that emerge when planning a 10-day event, which include:

  • Brainstorming new alliances and events that grow sponsorships, donor lists, and funding.

  • Writing and editing grant applications.

  • Designing the annual program guide and poster.

  • Crafting brand identity for annual promotional pieces, presentations and t-shirts.

Scottsdale International Film Festival Board members also have the opportunity to:

  • Network with local, regional, national and international film professionals, enthusiasts, creatives, industry talent and executives.

  • Attend dynamic fund-raising events.

  • Interact in a productive way with our local community.

We’re currently looking for other Valley professionals to join our Board and share their unique talents and perspectives. Think you might have innovative ideas and abilities to contribute? Then do not hesitate to reach out to me, other Board members or the executive director to learn more!

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Beth Renfro - Treasurer

What’s your favorite film? That’s a question I’m asked frequently, and I’m usually at a loss to answer. In truth, my favorite film is the last one I watched, good or bad. It’s one of the reasons I’m committed to film as art – for me, each one watched is an opportunity to explore a new viewpoint, a new world or a new perspective. Film festivals permit the viewer to explore a variety of these viewpoints, worlds and perspectives together with others in a focused way, which at its core is what filmmaking truly is – the collaboration of a variety of voices coming together to tell a focused yet shared story.

Singularly, a story is one voice – that of the author. Yet no film exists in a singular mindset. They are the culmination of visions from a variety of participants, from the PA working for credit to the Teamster driving the equipment truck. Every voice is heard, although the viewer may be unaware of each individual’s contribution to the whole. A film shares the vision of everyone who brought that story to life. I’m sure it’s why my chosen career gravitated toward marketing, which also at its core requires good storytelling and collaboration.

It’s also why we need you – the ticket-buyer, the volunteer, the Board member, the sponsor – as a part of our story. For no film festival exists without the collaboration of voices it takes write the script and produce the show. As a member of this Board, I’m pleased to contribute my part in order ensure that the filmmakers of tomorrow continue to have a space to share their stories with the world. And a place to see my new favorite film. Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.

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Mike Binder

I was a television editor and producer for 25 years, and I have always been in love with cinema. I am a believer in the power of film to positively impact an audience. Anything is possible in film; time travel, space travel, adventure, romance, thrills, chills, monsters, and aliens. And film has the power to educate and inform. In an era where the media tends to paint with a broad brush, I love the idea that foreign film can peel back assumptions and stereotypes and reveal people from all parts of the world to be something unexpected: just like us. I also love that foreign and independent films tend to tell stories that won’t make a $Billion at the box office, stories that are brave, beautiful, unsettling, challenging, brilliant, or just different. These are stories that need to be told, stories that deserve an audience.

As a Board member, I use my skillset to help raise the profile of the Festival to engage our audience, and hopefully, compel them to become involved and attend. Once they get a taste, the heavy lifting is done. Those who have attended become regular attendees, encourage others to attend, and become brand ambassadors for the Festival, and this is how we grow. In my role, I seek to:

  • Grow our audience through social media, email, and advertising.

  • Create appealing media pieces that encourage participation.

  • Assist in the execution of our annual bumper video that precedes each film.

  • Assist in crafting brand identity for annual promotional pieces, presentations and t-shirts.

We are actively looking for passionate people to join our Board, share their unique talents and perspectives, and help take us to the next level. Do you have innovative ideas and abilities to contribute? Please reach out to me, or any of our other Board members to learn more!

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Zacory Boatright

My relationship with film started long before I began making films and writing for the stage in college. There is a rich tradition of storytelling in my family, and it has played an important role in my professional and personal life. I chose to join the Scottsdale International Film Festival Board because it gives me an opportunity to connect with storytellers from around the world.

The Festival elevates and amplifies the voices of people far flung from our daily experiences here in Arizona and creates a space in which we collectively take pause, listen and celebrate those diverse stories as a community. I believe in the unifying nature of effective storytelling, and film is one of the most universal mediums through which we are able to connect cross culturally and break down barriers that might otherwise keep us apart.

I believe in the Scottsdale International Film Festival and its mission - not only because I’m a filmmaker and a storyteller, but also because it creates unique moments that allow for our entire community to share the joy, passion and pain that good films have in abundance. We invite YOU to be a part of our story – donate, volunteer, join the Board or become a sponsor!

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Kate Jansen

I love independent filmmaking. This has been a growing passion of mine for years, both in my work with Scottsdale International Film Festival, as well as being a consumer of independent films. I have repeatedly seen the importance of supporting independent filmmakers and the value that they bring to the community. It is essential to have independent voices telling stories that would not be told otherwise and addressing issues that most find difficult to tackle. Film is a unique medium that gives us the opportunity to delve deeply into one person or idea, or examine a broad idea from many different viewpoints. As a psychologist, I love to see filmmakers convey the emotional experience of another person in a way that connects with the audience. This shared experience creates opportunities for increased empathy, greater knowledge, and connection as a community.

I am grateful to be able to support the important work of independent filmmakers their endeavors with the Scottsdale International Film Festival. As a donor and Board member, I am able to see first-hand the dedication and hard work that goes into creating such an event. I am extremely grateful to be a part of the community that has formed around this festival – filmmakers, volunteers, sponsors, and audience members that makes this event such a success!

For more information on serving as a Board member, volunteering, submitting your work, or becoming a sponsor please contact us. I am proud to be a part of the Scottsdale International Film Festival, and hope you find your creative community with us as well! Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.

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Doug Mings

I began my career as a Horticulturalist at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, seeing first-hand the benefits of non-profit organizations and the potential they had for building good things within communities. From there my career took me to Guest Services for resort hotels, and then into politics, where I helped to bring positive change to my community through service. I have always had an affinity for film, particularly documentaries and their ability to educate. In 2000, I co-founded the Big Picture Film Series, a roving series of documentary film screenings and discussions in Metro Phoenix. I enjoy seeing people discussing a variety of issues, which I believe truly fosters change.

As a member of this Board, I use my experience to help raise awareness of the Festival, to continuously improve the customer experience and to bring vital and informative media to the eyes of our patrons.

Scottsdale International Film Festival Board members engage our community by:

  • Providing a platform for important voices in the worldwide filmmaking community.

  • Hosting events that benefit the Festival and the community of Scottsdale and Metro Phoenix.

  • Presenting an annual event that is a source of pride for our community.

In a continuing effort to grow the Scottsdale International Film Festival, in both size and diversity, I hope that you will consider joining us. We are always looking for people who love film to join us on any level they can. If you think that you are that person, or you know someone who may be, please reach out to us!