Northwest Film Forum is overseen by a volunteer board. The role of the board is to advance the mission and ensure the organization's long-term health. The board is composed of community members ranging from filmmakers to business professionals.
Nesib CB Shamah
Shortly after relocating to the Pacific Northwest, Nesib CB Shamah attended the Seattle Film Institute and fell in love with the process of film production and development. Years later, while leading the renovation of the historic Columbia City Theater music venue, CB produced and directed over 25 live music shoots, the music web series Destination Unknown and the Emmy-nominated documentary Welcome To Doe Bay. CB was a co-director on the dark comedy Worst Laid Plans, producer of the short films Haskell and Mehndi, as well as the 2017 SXSW feature Lane 1974. In 2019, CB was awarded the Seattle Mayor’s Award for Achievement in Film at the Seattle International Film Festival.
Kiran Dhillon is a scientist, film enthusiast and community organizer. She was a film festival organizer with Tasveer, a Seattle based South Asian film and art organization where she served in numerous capacities, including Festival Director, and oversaw programming, community partnerships, volunteer management, logistics, sponsorship, and marketing.
Kiran has a PhD in Genetics from the University of Washington and worked as a cancer researcher at the Fred Hutch for 8 years where she studied chemotherapy resistance in breast and ovarian cancers. She also co-founded Hutch United, an organization that promotes the success and retention of under-represented and other minorities in the sciences. She then joined the Rivkin Center as Director of Scientific Programs, where she oversaw an international ovarian cancer research grants program, scientific symposia, and content for a breast and ovarian cancer education program. Currently, she is the Executive Director at the Cancer Vaccine Institute at the University of Washington. As ED she directs the overall strategic program goals and general administration of the CVI to support research focused on igniting the immune system to end cancer. In addition to science and film, Kiran is passionate about honing her skills as a fluid acrylic artist.
Matthew Dresden is an entertainment attorney based in Seattle. He provides finance, development, production, and distribution legal services for filmmakers and other creative artists, and has worked on behalf of film studios, cable channels, production companies, video game developers, magazines, restaurants, wineries, international design firms, product manufacturers, outsourcing companies, and computer hardware and software companies. He also advises a wide range of businesses on their corporate and transactional matters, with an emphasis on media and entertainment, international intellectual property, and cross-border work. Matthew is widely viewed as an expert in Chinese intellectual property law, and is regularly quoted in publications from the New York Times to The Economist to Variety.
Sirin is a Turkish-American television producer and filmmaker. She has produced acclaimed series and specials for major broadcasters and streaming platforms. Sirin has covered stories around the globe and is the recipient of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for her work on “Child Brides” for PBS. After spending almost two decades in NY, she has moved to Seattle in 2017 and proud to be a part of the PNW arts community. She is the co-founder of Yomama, a platform that advocates for paid family leave and flexible work hours to end discrimination against working mothers. She also serves as the director of the Seattle Turkish Film Festival.
Becky Bruhn is a Seattleite, born and raised. She graduated from Queen Anne High School, has a BA in Economics from Western Washington University, and an MBA from Seattle University. After a short career in banking, she became a writer, co-founded a small theater, co-founded and ran a playwrights’ support organization, and has been a non-profit fundraiser for a genetics research institute for 13 years. She has been a playwright at 14/48 Theater Festival many times, has read her work on stage at Annex Theater’s Spin-the-Bottle and other venues, was on the board of Rain City Projects for seven years, is a volunteer cat foster parent through Seattle Animal Shelter, and won the blue ribbon at the 2021 Washington State Fair sourdough bread competition. In 2021, she began a video series called A Year of Baking Dangerously and a YouTube channel where she continues to explore the power of video storytelling.
Mujale has a background in graphic design, videography, photography, and publishing arts. Combined with 12 years of experience being a small business owner and 5+ years of teaching Art and Animation classes in the greater Seattle area. Being a visual artist/business owner/ teacher and having a desire for community building has given Mujale the opportunity to work with many organizations and community builders on various projects and services. He hopes to further develop his skill sets and inspire innovation and a creative way of thinking that positively impacts communities.⠀
John DeShazo is a woodworker, theatre and film technician, and actor. He has collaborated creatively on projects with Northwest Film Forum, Annex Theatre, Empty Space Theatre, Firehouse Theatre Project, Typing Explosion, The Film Company, Megan Murphy, Matt Wilkins, Web Crowell, Susannah Anderson, John Castro, Herbert Bergel, Ampersand, Implied Violence, Paige Barnes, Allie Hankins, Mary Margaret Moore, Paul Budraitis, Carl Lawrence, and Saint Genet, among many others. He lives in Norfolk, CT, where he is a member of the Board of Education and the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department.
AJ Epstein produces theatre, music and independent film through his company, The Ethereal Mutt, often exploring Science through Art. His credits include the off-Broadway shows An Oak Tree, with Tim Crouch, Mike Daisey’s How Theatre Failed America and his film and TV credits include Lynn Shelton’s We Go Way Back; Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain!; Tim Crouch’s England at The Henry; and Survival Skills. Seattle Weekly has named him Seattle’s Best Lighting Designer (2004), and his work as a designer and light artist have been seen in theatres and galleries worldwide. He sits on the boards of The Lark Center for Play Development in New York and Humanities Washington. He studied with Mabou Mines and toured with AC/DC, Rod Stewart and the Eagles. In 2010 he opened West of Lenin, an 88-seat black box theater in Seattle.
Megan Griffiths is a writer/director working in film and television. She has directed shows for HBO, EPIX, TNT, Hulu, USA, Fox, Netflix, and Amazon, and her features include THE OFF HOURS, EDEN, LUCKY THEM, SADIE, and the forthcoming I’LL SHOW YOU MINE and YEAR OF THE FOX. Griffiths has also served as a producer on several films including THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM, directed by Todd Rohal, and YOUR SISTER’S SISTER, directed by the late Lynn Shelton, Griffiths’s close friend and frequent collaborator. Griffiths was recently invited to join the director’s branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and in her adopted hometown of Seattle she has received accolades including the 2012 Stranger Genius Award for Film, 2013 City Arts Film Artist of the Year, and the 2015 Seattle Mayor’s Award for Film.
Nicholas Hanauer earned his degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington and has worked at the family-owned Pacific Coast Feather Company, where he continues to serve as Co-chair and CEO. In the 1980s he co-founded Museum Quality Framing Company, and in the 1990s he was one of the first investors in Amazon.com, where he served as adviser to the board until 2000. He founded gear.co, which merged with Overstock.com in 2003, and Avenue A Media, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2007. In 2000, Hanauer co-formed the Seattle-based venture capital company, Second Avenue Partners, which advises and funds early stage companies. He is the co-author, with Eric Liu, of The True Patriot, and co-founder of the League of Education Voters, a non-partisan political organization dedicated to improving the quality of public education in Washington. He serves on the boards of Cascade Land Conservancy, the University of Washington Foundation and the Biosphere2 climate research project.
Filiz Efe McKinney
Filiz Efe McKinney is a Turkish-American filmmaker based in Seattle, Washington. Her work focuses on supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Filiz sees film as a provocation for deeper understanding on an emotional level, and as a springboard to broaden discussion within communities and drive organizational and cultural change.
This storytelling approach is exemplified in her recent documentary, Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years (2021). When not helming Brave Sprout, her production company, Filiz serves on the boards of KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio and Northwest Film Forum, where she works to help create a more equitable and vibrant future in Greater Seattle.
A University of Washington graduate and a multidisciplinary filmmaker, Filiz holds a Master of Communication in Digital Media, a Master of Arts in Communication Strategies and Public Relations, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinematography.
Alan Pruzan has been creating entertainment professionally in one form or another since the 1980s, as an artist, activist, and media arts enabler. He has served as a consultant, investor, and executive producer on many feature films, including THIN SKIN, THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF LITTLE DIZZLE, FRANK VS GOD, and the documentary SWEETHEART DEAL. He was a founder and principal of Forrest-Pruzan Creative, a prolific board game invention and design studio in Seattle. His company created and licensed hundreds of game titles over the years, including several multi-million selling titles. He retired from the toy industry after selling his company in 2019. He has served on the board of Northwest Film Forum since 2000.
Jessica Ramirez (she/they) identifies as a queer Mexican of Indigenous descent. Jessica is a multi-disciplinary creative and works as a Creative Producer at Nia Tero alongside local film veteran Tracy Rector. She has created several global public art campaigns and co-created Kin Theory, a unique global platform for Indigenous creatives to find connections that support narrative sovereignty. She hosts the Seedcast podcast where Jessica shares stories of Indigenous experiences from around the world. Prior to joining the Nia Tero team, Jessica spent her time as community organizer advocating for transformative change for underrepresented and underserved communities in Washington state. Jessica resides on the homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples (presently known as Seattle, Washington) with her dog, Luna.
Sudeshna Sen is a Seattle based filmmaker. She is the writer/ director of MEHNDI (SIFF 2018) TURRET SYNDROME (2016) and JULIA’S FARM (Bumbershoot 2015). She is an Associate Producer on THIN SKIN (Bentonville 2019). Her films have screened at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), Outfest, Boston LGBT Film Festival (Wicked Queer), New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) and many others. Besides her own films, she has worked on several productions- SADIE (SXSW 2018) M.O.P. Z (SIFF 2017) and AUTO (TriBeCa 2017). Sudeshna has served on the board of Northwest Film Forum since 2014. She has a Ph.D in Classical Japanese literature and visual culture.
Tifa Tomb is a director based in the Seattle area, who’s most recently directed short film, Retch, was awarded Best Film – Seattle Black Film festival 2020, and was an official selection at SIFF 2019. She works as a Media Producer at the University of Washington, and freelance edits feature length and short narrative and non-fiction work. She is currently in post-production for her live-action/animated short film, CREAK! (2021)
After spending the last few years transitioning from an educational career into filmmaking, Tifa now pursues projects exploring themes of home, and the deconstruction of linear time.
Peter J. Vogt
Peter J. Vogt is an award-winning filmmaker with over 30 years experience in the film industry. His work has premiered at festivals such as Sundance, New York Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and Bumbershoot, as well as art centers such as the Center On Contemporary Art. His work regularly runs on regional and local PBS, and his 2004 Up Thornton Creek aired nationally. Highlights include: Hype! which premiered at Sundance and achieved worldwide theatrical release; Nuts&Bolts, winner of a special jury prize at the 2000 Seattle Film Festival and shortlisted for the prestigious AFI’s digital film award. Peter is part owner of Optimistic Camera.
Jennessa West is the founder of Pressing Pictures – a production company dedicated to creating diverse commercial and narrative works. West started her career working in long form episodic television in Los Angeles for companies as Warner Brothers Television, FX and CBS Productions. Jennessa’s recent producing credits include Megan Griffith’s feature film SADIE which premiered in competition at SXSW 2018 with distribution through Amazon. SJ Chiro’s coming-of-age film LANE 1974 with Katherine Moenning, which premiered at SXSW in 2017 and received two grand jury prizes from acclaimed festivals and distribution through The Orchard. She produced MY LAST YEAR WITH THE NUNS with fellow producer Michael Seiwerath which premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2014 with distribution through Fandor. Jennessa’s latest feature, THIN SKIN, is making its way around the festival circuit and will premiere in September 2021.