2019 SIFF - FESTIVAL GUESTS AND HONOREES

DIRECTORS

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BARBARA BENTREE – DAVE GRUSIN: NOT ENOUGH TIME

In addition to being an award-winning film director, Barbara is a multiple award-winning vocalist/musician. She began in filmmaking by creating educational films, music videos, and documentary shorts before tackling her film about Dave Grusin. One of her more fascinating music credits was as part of the production team of The Mickey Mouse Club TV show where she auditioned and cast Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears in the show, to name just a few. Bentree brings her classical music training and jazz improvisation talents to her film directing, drawn to film because she feels it is a very musical construct…it’s all about rhythm, dynamics, tempo, juxtaposition, teamwork, and creative storytelling. Barbara also functions as the film’s music supervisor because she believes that music is so important to the story. She was uncompromising in her choices of music and live concert footage, no matter how hard the challenge. Having a 35 year history with Dave Grusin, Barbara feels that DAVE GRUSIN: NOT ENOUGH TIMEis the film she was destined to make. This film is not only a tribute to the extraordinary life and career of Mr. Grusin, it documents the "Golden Age" of television and film music. The movie also examines the heady time when Grusin's own record label (GRP Records) was at the forefront of transforming the music industry from analog to digital. The music industry has never been the same.



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BRIGITTE BERMAN – HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK:  SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA 

Brigitte Berman is an Academy Award®-winning producer, director, and writer who was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and graduated from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, where she studied English and Film. Her work in the film and television industry encompasses more than thirty years. She has produced and directed over two hundred documentaries, both independently and as a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. With her independent production company, Bridge Film Productions Inc., she has directed and produced two feature documentaries ‘ARTIE SHAW: Time Is All You’ve Got’ (1986) and ‘BIX: “ain’t none of them play like him yet”’ (1981).  Both have been showcased at numerous international film festivals.  BIX won her the Bronze Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival, and ‘ARTIE SHAW: Time is All You’ve Got’ won the Oscar for Best Feature Documentary, as well as First Prize at the Valladolid International Film Festival. Subsequently she wrote, directed, and produced her first dramatic feature, ‘The Circle Game,’ which had its world premiere at TIFF, as well as showcasing at a number of international film festivals. Berman has continued to work as a writer, director/producer both in theatre and in film, making documentaries and dramas to the present day. Her controversial and award winning ‘Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel’ (2010) feature documentary has been shown at over twenty-five international film festivals.  The 42nd NAACP Image Awards nominated ‘Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel’ for Outstanding Feature Documentary. ‘The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent’ is the second collaboration between Brigitte Berman and producer Victor Solnicki. It world premiered at TIFF 2016 and was showcased at various film festivals and select theatres across Canada, including a special presentation for Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebration at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on February 15, 2017. ‘HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK:  SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA’ is the third collaboration between Brigitte Berman and her late husband, producer Victor Solnicki. The film was completed in July 2018 and world premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in August/September 2018. It has been featured at a number of international film festivals and won the Audience Choice Award for Most Popular Canadian Film at the Whistler Film Festival. Currently Berman is working on the development of a feature documentary about soul music – a Canada/Australia Co-Production.


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ZACK BERNBAUM – THE DANCING DOGS OF DOMBROVA

Zack Bernbaum is an award winning Canadian director and producer from Toronto. He founded Ezeqial Productions to tell engaging, thoughtful, offbeat, and imaginative stories. Bernbaum’s first two features, 'And Now A Word From Our Sponsor' – starring Bruce Greenwood and Parker Posey, and 'Cold Deck' – starring Paul Sorvino and Robert Knepper, have been sold and released internationally, including theatrical runs in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to his narrative work, Bernbaum directs and produces commercials for brands and organizations such as Spotify and Outward Bound Canada. Bernbaum is developing a number of exciting projects, including 'Cut for Stone,' which finished in the Top 50 of the Nicholl Fellowship.


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STEPHAN A LUKACS – COPS

Stefan A. Lukacs, aka Istvan, was born in Vienna, Austria. Frequent childhood visits to the cinema with his dad have laid the foundation for a life-long love of movies. He moved to the U.S. and later graduated from New York Film Academy. In Europe he founded NonPlus Films in order to produce and direct commercials, creative documentaries, and shorts. After completing several successful shorts, he wrote and directed his first feature-length film ‘COPS,’ which hit European theatres in 2018 and is available on VOD internationally. The film was selected for a limited theatrical release in the U.S. by "Tales of Europe," a program focusing on rising European talents. Stefan is currently working on his first U.S. feature screenplay. He still goes to the movies with his dad.



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JENNIFER SEIBEL NEWSOM – THE GREAT AMERICAN LIE

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is a filmmaker, advocate, and thought leader. After graduating with honors from Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, she wrote, directed, and produced the 2011 award-winning documentary ‘Miss Representation.’ As a result of Miss Representation’s powerful impact, she launched The Representation Project, a nonprofit organization that uses film and media as a catalyst for cultural transformation. Her second film as a director, ‘The Mask You Live In,’ had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and explores how America’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men, and society at large. She also executive produced the Emmy Award-Winning and Academy Award-Nominated documentary ‘The Invisible War,’ and is an executive producer on the Emmy Award- winning documentary ‘The Hunting Ground.’ Newsom is the First Partner of California and lives with her husband and their four children in Sacramento, California.


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LINDSEY SEAVERT – LOVE THE FIRST: LESSONS FROM LUCY LANEY ELEMENTARY

Lindsey Seavert is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning reporter—though her greatest successes do not sit on a shelf. She is most proud of unearthing untold stories that encourage understanding—and bringing them to light. Her parents were Minnesota public school teachers who gave her the gift of curiosity, so with a book and pencil often in hand, she began writing as a young child, and hasn't stopped since. She graduated from Indiana University's Ernie Pyle School of Journalism and worked as a reporter at five news stations from Northern Minnesota, to Nevada, and Ohio before coming home to the Twin Cities. She's been a storyteller at KARE 11 since 2012. The legacy of teaching in her family inspires Lindsey to use stories as a vehicle to educate and serve the community. Her work often focuses on women, families, and children, but she is most passionate about bringing a voice to underrepresented communities, which is how she discovered the transformation inside Lucy Craft Laney Elementary school. When Lindsey is not on assignment, she mentors young journalists, enjoys running, creative writing, and volunteering in the community. Her greatest rewards are her husband Ian and their two children. Directing and writing a documentary has always been a life's dream, and Lindsey dedicates her work to her late father, Larry Seavert, who retired to Goodyear, Arizona and enjoyed life in the Pebble Creek community with her mom until his passing in 2015. Lindsey imagines her father smiling down on this project with pride, as he spent his career fighting for the rights of teachers and opportunities for students. ‘LOVE THEM FIRST: LESSONS FROM LUCY LANEY ELEMENTARY’ is Lindsey's first documentary as a director.


HONOREES

SANDY FROMM – Festival Ambassador

Retiring from family law five years ago has freed up my time to do things I love: I see over 100 movies a year; I travel as much as I can; and I have been able to be a founder of Anytown leadership camp – a program for high school youth, celebrating diversity and creating leaders to combat bias, bigotry and prejudice. I spend a lot of time with my family. My three children and six grandchildren are all in the Phoenix area and they love movies as much as I do.


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HOPE LEIBSOHN – Festival Ambassador

Hope Leibsohn is an estate planning attorney at the law firm of Sherman & Howard. She has over 25 years of experience in sophisticated wealth transfer strategies. Hope specializes in customized legacy plans based not only on tax planning strategies, but also on incorporating each client’s unique family dynamics and core life values. Creative in her approach, Hope designs various trusts to incentivize beneficiaries to become productive, contributing members of society. Hope’s personal and professional motto is “How best may I serve.” Hope and her husband, Steven Leibsohn, are community leaders. They give not only financial contributions, but also they share their time and talent. Culture and the arts is a key area of passion for Hope and Steven. They have not only been significant supporters of the Scottsdale International Film Festival, but have also been sponsors of several ‘Beyond’ series of enrichment programs for ASU Gammage. Hope’s philanthropic engagement is long-standing and diversified. She has previously served on the Board of Directors for Celebrity Fight Night, Social Venture Partners, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley. Hope, Steven, and their daughter, Chanel, collaborated as a family on projects for Teach for America Arizona (TAA), including previously creating the “WOWies,” an innovative program designed to recognize first year corps members of TAA who were creating transformational learning environments for students at low-income schools in Arizona. Hope and Steve are committed to continuing to support exploring the depth of humanity and acceptance of others through film and other entertainment experiences. They view the arts as a journey to the soul. 


POST-FILM DISCUSSION MODERATORS

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GAYLE BASS - Opening Night Emcee
Gayle Bass brings a background in talk radio and television as well as a master’s degree in journalism to the RightThisMinute team. A pioneer in reporting news of the Web to listeners, Gayle became known as “The Click Chick” on KTAR radio in Phoenix, breaking down the hot, newsworthy and interesting news of the Internet. She also co-hosted a political round-table on radio and spent eight years as a co-host of Your Life, A to Z on Phoenix’s KTVK-TV.-


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SAMIRA KIANI – Ph.D

In 2016, Samira Kiani was hired as an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Prior to ASU, Dr. Kiani earned her medical doctorate degree from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and completed her postdoctoral training in the center for Synthetic Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she worked on developing synthetic gene circuits to reprogram the function and behavior of mammalian cells based on the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 technology.  


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ANDREW MAYNARD
Andrew Maynard is the author of "Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies," a professor in the ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society and leading expert on the socially responsible development of emerging and converging technologies. For over 20 years, he has worked closely with experts from around the world on the challenges and opportunities presented by technologies ranging from nanotechnology and genetic engineering to artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

He blogs on technology and society at 2020Science.org, produces the YouTube channel Risk Bites and is active on Twitter as @2020science.


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ENRICO MINARDI – Ph.D

Arizona State University (ASU) - Enrico Minardi's interests include a comprehensive and interdisciplinary examination of Italian culture and society. In his essays on modern poetry, he pays particular attention to gender-related issues when focusing on female authorship. Enrico is a senior lecturer of Italian and French at ASU and has taught at Truman State University, MO; University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI; University of Indiana; Elon University, NC; and Duke University, NC.



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M.V. MOORHEAD
M.V. Moorhead won five first-place Arizona Press Club awards for criticism during his nine years with Phoenix New Times. His reviews and other writings have appeared in Phoenix Magazine, Wrangler News (wranglernews.com) and on The Robot’s Voice (therobotsvoice.com) as well as his own blog, Less Hat, Moorhead (mvmoorhead@blogspot.com); his work has appeared in other publications ranging from USA Today to Weird Tales. He was the host of “Another Saturday Night” on KTAR for more than two years, and has written and directed radio plays for Sun Sounds of Arizona. A native of Pennsylvania, he lives in Phoenix with his wife, kid and two Chihuahuas with three eyeballs between them.


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EMMA ROBERTSON

After a career in journalism, Emma Robertson side-stepped into television working first for the British Broadcasting Corporation, where she developed and produced the BAFTA-nominated, Heston Blumenthal’s ‘In Search of Perfection.’  Stints at Britain’s Channel 4 and ITV followed where Emma combined her love of food, adventure, and character-led documentaries to create Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory, amongst other films. Emma left television in 2012 to explore her passion for documentary film. In 2017 she moved to Phoenix to follow the story of three professional female athletes.



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JANET ROBINSON  

Scottsdale Community College (SCC) - Janet Robinson has been teaching film studies since 2000. With years of experience in the Los Angeles movie industry, and her Master’s degree in education, Janet has taught foreign film abroad, ranging from silent film in China to Czech film in Prague, through the Education Abroad Program at SCC.