Staff & Board
brenan (at) nwfilmforum.org
Brenan oversees projection, sound, lighting and other tech needs as our Technical Director. He has worked as a projectionist since the age of 16 and has worked extensively with the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle International Film Festival, and several other theaters around the northwest. Brenan became a volunteer projectionist at the Northwest Film Forum after moving to Seattle from eastern Washington in 2009. When not spending most of his time in windowless booths, he has a passion for electronics, music production and video art, synthesizers and all things hands-on & DIY.
Education and Artist Services Manager
CHIMAERA (at) nwfilmforum.org
CHIMAERA is a Northwest-based multidisciplinary conceptual artist, curator, producer, community organizer and educator from Tacoma, WA working in solidarity with communities most impacted by systemic oppression and generational trauma. Since 2001, they have organized for healing justice at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality addressing the school-to-prison pipeline and consulting with youth-serving organizations in Washington and California on culturally affirming trauma informed program models with an emphasis on transformative justice, social-emotional wellness and access to creative opportunities that increase academic and career fulfillment. In 2003, CHIMAERA created and screened their first short film at Third World Majority’s Digital Storytelling Conference in Oakland, CA featuring interviews of youth and adult activists who were instrumental in laying the foundation for current initiatives addressing the school-to-prison pipeline in Seattle. Since then, they’ve traveled throughout the state connecting artists from underrepresented backgrounds to opportunities to share their unique gifts, knowledge and stories with diverse arts and social justice communities and aspiring young creatives that included founding Groundswell Arts Collective in 2015, an informal interdependent network of influential artists, grassroots leaders and entrepreneurs from a cross-section of marginalized communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. CHIMAERA identifies as Black Diaspora, queer, non-binary Cancer-sun/Virgo-rising homegrown Hilltopian who loves indie films, Hip-Hop, allergy-friendly treats and examining life through the lenses of African spirituality, liberation frameworks and quantum theories.
Director of Operations
chris (at) nwfilmforum.org
As Director of Operations, Christopher Day is responsible for overseeing finances, systems and our Fiscal Sponsorship program. He was likely the face you saw on a nightly basis as House Manager, and will now see actually sitting inside our theaters once again. Chris graduated with a B.A. in Film from the University of North Texas in 2007, and relocated to Seattle in 2009, inspired by its vibrant film and arts scene. He has worked on various short film projects, both as director and editor, and has written extensively on film theory/appreciation for an online film journal he maintained for years. He recently edited the feature film The Life of Flowers. Chris began volunteering with the Northwest Film Forum in 2010, before coming on board as House Manager in 2012.
vivian (at) nwfilmforum.org
Vivian Hua heads up the Design department at Northwest Film Forum, and has been integral in leading the organization’s 2017 rebranding efforts. She is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer who first began working with NWFF as the Co-Founder of the national film and civil rights discussion series, The Seventh Art Stand. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of the socially conscious arts publication, REDEFINE, since 2004, and much of her work unifies her interest in the metaphysical with her belief that art can positively transform the self and society. She is currently working on a documentary about a former coal mining down in rural Appalachian Ohio, as well as touring her anti-Islamophobia narrative short film, Searching Skies.
Youth Education Manager
jonah (at) nwfilmforum.org
Jonah Kozlowski manages our youth education programs and teaches youth and adult filmmaking workshops. He works to grow community partnerships and new programs that will benefit and inspire young filmmakers and help them connect to resources in the filmmaking community. Jonah previously managed our adult education and artist services programs, and has volunteered and taught at NWFF since 2014. Jonah has been working in media education since 2005, is a teaching artist with Coyote Central and Blanket Fort Films, and has taught with Path with Art, and 4th World Media Lab. Jonah works in traditional and VR filmmaking, helping to put on SIFFX in 2015, and exhibitions at Local Sightings and Children’s Film Festival Seattle. He currently serves on the board of the ChangeStream Media, and the steering committee of Seattle Documentary Association.
louie (at) nwfilmforum.org
Louie Romo oversees lobby, box office and audience support facilities, concessions standards and staff. He also coordinates venue rentals, runs the box office, ticketing, and nightly deposits. He oversees, schedules, and trains Box Office staff and Front of House interns with focus on customer relations.
Guest Film Programmer
amanda (at) nwfilmforum.org
Amanda Salazar is currently a Programmer with the SFFILM Festival. She is also the co-Director of the Camera Obscura Film Society, a curated film event that takes place in various locations throughout the Bay Area, primarily in Petaluma, CA. Previously, she was the Vice President of Film Acquisitions at Fandor and Program Director of the Newport Beach Film Festival and Orange County Film Society. She is also a classically trained violinist and continues to perform when there is time between watching films!
rana (at) nwfilmforum.org
Rana San serves as a liaison between Northwest Film Forum and partnering organizations, groups, and individuals to build relationships that shape the future of live, interactive, engaging programming driven by and for the community. Drawing on her background in performing arts and cultural management, she has developed and produced cultural festivals, museum programs, and intimate creative salons in Seattle, Istanbul, and Barcelona. Rana has a passion for crafting collective experiences centering human connection and explores medium-melding story-telling through short film, dance, written word, and analog photography. Her stop motion animation short disarmed screened at Local Sightings in 2016 and she serves on the short film committee for the Seattle Turkish Film Festival.
Photograph by Melanie Masson
courtney (at) nwfilmforum.org
As Executive Director, Courtney Sheehan guides vision and strategy by overseeing artistic programs and services, operations, finances, and fundraising activities. Courtney has curated film programs and produced events for theaters and festivals on three continents. On a year-long Watson Fellowship, Courtney investigated the organizational structures, community roles, and programming strategies of twenty film festivals and media centers in India, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. As a journalist, Courtney has covered film events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival (IDFA in Amsterdam) to South America’s largest animation festival (Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro) and her publications include Bitch Magazine, Senses of Cinema, The Independent, and NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies. She co-founded Cine Migratorio, a migration-themed film festival in Santander, Spain. Courtney first worked at Northwest Film Forum in 2009 as a programming and Children’s Film Festival Seattle intern. She holds a degree in Visual Culture from Grinnell College.
Youth Programs Director
liz (at) nwfilmforum.org
Elizabeth Shepherd oversees all youth programs at Northwest Film Forum, including film presentations, workshops, and summer camps. She has spent more than 20 years in joyous work for film arts enterprises, engaging young people in events, exhibits, educational forums and performances that celebrate global culture. Her work for NWFF includes directing the annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle, the West Coast’s largest annual competitive festival of its kind. She also oversees touring programs of the festival, which travel annually to such locations as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater, the Honolulu Museum of Art, International House Philadelphia and many other prestigious venues. Her contribution to a highly specialized field has been recognized through numerous invitations to participate as a speaker, juror or panel member at festivals, symposiums and summits throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East. Before arriving in Seattle, she was the director of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.
Programs and Marketing Coordinator
paul (at) nwfilmforum.org
Since Paul’s introduction to Northwest Film Forum in 2011 as a Children’s Film Festival Seattle intern, he has been a seasonal assistant to Liz Shepherd, co-curator of the Film Forum’s inestimably popular semi-annual You’re Lookin’ At Country program, and a devoted Forum volunteer. In 2016 he joined the Forum as Courtney Sheehan’s Programs Assistant and now spends his days keeping the website, Facebook, and Twitter current, as well as providing support to Programming, Marketing, and Facilities as needed. When out of the office, he is an illustrator, video artist, and Ticketing and Concessions part-timer at the Egyptian Theater.
Photo credit: Oguz Uygur
Northwest Film Forum is overseen by a volunteer board consisting of 14 directors. 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.
Sudeshna Sen taught Classical Japanese literature and language at the University of Washington, University of Utah and at UC Berkeley as a Postdoctorate Fellow. She has a Ph.D in Classical Japanese from University of Oregon. She retired from teaching in 2012 so she could focus more on making films rather than analyzing them with her students. She also serves on the board of TheFilmSchool.
Her short film Julia’s Farm (2015) had its world premiere at the 13th Riverside International Film Festival in April 2015. She has worked on several local films such as My Last Year With the Nuns (dir. Bret Fetzer 2014), The Very Private Work of Sister K (dir. Johan Liedgren 2015) and post-production ADR for Big in Japan (dir. John Jeffcoat 2014).
Sudeshna lives in Seattle with her husband Parvez Anandam and two kids.
Megan Griffiths is an independent filmmaker who received her MFA in Film Production from Ohio University School of Film before relocating to Seattle in 2000 and becoming part of the city’s burgeoning film community. In 2010, Megan directed The Off Hours (starring Amy Seimetz, Scoot McNairy and Ross Partridge), which premiered at Sundance and went on to receive an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Cinematography as well as the Best Director Award from the Ourense Film Festival in Spain. In 2012, Megan directed Eden (starring Jamie Chung, Matt O’Leary and Beau Bridges), which premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival and won both the Audience Award and the Emergent Female Director award. Megan was the recipient of the 2012 Stranger Genius Award for Film.
Joanne Ort is a forward-thinking Certified Public Accountant with expertise providing financial advice, accounting, payroll and tax planning services to creative clients in the film and entertainment industry. Joanne’s credits include feature films Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas, and Sold, and the documentary Console Wars as well as the 2015 Washington Filmworks Innovation Lab project Strowlers and most recently Wallflower. Born and raised in the Seattle area, Joanne received her Master’s degree in Accounting and her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington. She is a member of the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants, has over 20 years’ experience providing business consulting, accounting, and tax services to closely held businesses and individuals. She is a board member of Women in Film Seattle and is looking forward to joining the creative and talented board of Northwest Film Forum as their Treasurer.
Matthew Dresden focuses on international and China law, with a focus on technology and entertainment law and Chinese transactional and IP work. He represents a wide range of companies, from start-ups to NYSE-traded companies. His work has included matters for film studios, cable channels, film and television production companies, video game developers, magazines, restaurants, wineries, international design firms, product manufacturers, outsourcing companies, and computer hardware and software companies.
Before attending law school, Matthew worked in Hollywood for eight years as an independent filmmaker and as a production executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures. Before that, he spent three years as a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University. He has also worked as a journalist, a transportation planner, a food critic, and a website designer.
Matthew was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spends his free time watching movies, hiking, cooking spicy food, and relaxing with his wife and daughter.
Sandy Cioffi is the founder and executive director of fearless360º, a new media and virtual reality production company in Seattle. Sandy recently founded and directed SIFFX 2016, a showcase of the most current and creative thinking in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360° immersion. As a 2016 Stranger Genius Award nominee, Sandy has been recognized as a cultural innovator.
Sandy has produced and/or directed several films as a film and video artist, including the critically acclaimed Sweet Crude, Crocodile Tears, Terminal 187, and Just Us. She has worked with human rights organizations in using video as a documentation and verification tool – specifically providing video evidence during the 1998 Marching Season in Northern Ireland. She documented the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride in 2003. Sandy was also a frequent guest on the NPR show Rewind which ended production when host Bill Radke left Seattle for Los Angeles. Sandy has also created media design for live performance at the Annex Theater, Hugo House, The Seattle Repertory Theater and On the Boards.
Sandy has worked with young people extensively as an artist in residence and through the mentor/apprentice film program at the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center. As a long-time educator, she has also taught film at Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and Cornish College of the Arts.
John DeShazo is an actor, theatre and film technician, and woodworker. He has collaborated creatively on projects with Northwest Film Forum, Annex Theatre, Typing Explosion, The Film Company, Megan Murphy, Matt Wilkins, Web Crowell, Herbert Bergel, Firehouse Theatre Project, Ampersand, Implied Violence, Empty Space Theatre, and Saint Genet.
Kiran Dhillon is a scientist, film enthusiast and community organizer. Since 2009, she has been a volunteer film festival organizer with Tasveer, which produces the 10-day Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, the largest South Asian film festival in the world. She has served in numerous capacities for Tasveer, including Festival Director, with experience in aspects of festival organization such as 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. At Fred Hutch, Kiran served in several leadership roles including Chair of the Student-Postdoc Advisory Committee, member of the Fred Hutch Diversity Council and co-Founder and Board Member of Hutch United, an organization that promotes under-represented and other minorities in the sciences. She played a key role in developing mentorship programs, a fellowship and, seminar series within Hutch United. Currently, she is the Director of Scientific Programs for the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer where she oversees all things scientific including an international scientific grants program, international and regional scientific symposia, scientific communications and scientific content for community education program.
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.
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.
Heather Hughes is a screenwriter and producer and the president of Heather Hughes Productions.
She is a recipient of the Templeton Foundation’s Kairos Prize for Screenwriting and is represented by the Nethercott Agency and literary agent Gayla Nethercott. She teaches screenwriting at the Seattle Film Institute.
Her current projects include Fast Pass, a comedy co-written with Kate Wharton, to be directed by Mischa Jakupcap, Joy to the World, a family comedy, and Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer, a jukebox musical based on the songs of Kenny Rogers.
She holds a BA in History, with a concentration in Military History, from the University of Washington.
Matt Isaac is the former Film and Media Arts Curator, Program Director, Executive Director, and Development Officer for media arts and cultural organizations in New York. He has curated, produced, initiated, managed, or presented projects at Artists Space, Queens Museum of Art, Electronic Arts Intermix, New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop), Margaret Mead Film Festival, Knitting Factory, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and CEPA Gallery, among many others.
He founded and was Executive Director of Perimeter Media + Culture Projects, a 501(c)3 cultural organization that presented film festivals (including the New York Animation Festival), media arts exhibits, educational workshops, and international arts exchanges in collaboration with consulates, arts organizations, and festivals in more than 20 countries.
Matt helps artists, organizations, and projects with publicity and promotion, and has participated in the production of and funding for film and television productions, including several documentaries broadcast nationally on PBS.
He has served as a review panelist for public funding agencies (including the New York State Council on the Arts re-grant program), a juror for film and media arts festivals, and as a presenter and moderator for public panels and discussions.
As a business development consultant, Matt has helped design programs and secure more than $30 million in funding for cultural organizations, film and arts projects, and non-profit agencies.
He has helped conceptualize projects, and strategize for and secure a wide variety of federal, state, municipal, and private grant funding for new and existing programs.
He has an MA in Communications / Media Studies from The New School for Social Research in New York City.
Raya Leary is a proud generalist who’s lived and worked in Seattle for 8+ years. She currently serves as project manager for local design firm Civilization, and was an owner of risograph publisher Cold Cube Press before leaving the company in 2016.
During her time at King County funder 4Culture, she focused on community outreach as a tool for advancing equity and inclusion. She served on a grant panel for the Washington State Arts Commission and consulted on community-driven efforts to place public art at the 23rd & Union Corridor which acknowledges African American history in the Central District.
Her interest in film has landed her in screening roles for both Tacoma Film Festival and Seattle Shorts, led to various positions on local productions, and ended in an annual FilmStruck subscription she can’t seem to give up.
Miriam Marcus produces independently financed feature film productions through her company, Moody Independent. Moody Independent develops original content and offers production management services to the film community. Miriam has produced 19 pictures since 2002 with budgets between $1M and $7M. Recent films include Altar Rock (2016), Grey Lady (2014), and Crooked Arrows (2012), including a slate of direct to TV movies for cable channels such as Lifetime and Ion Network. Miriam relocated to Seattle from the east coast 5 years ago and is thrilled to bring her experience as a producer to the NWFF community.
Jonathan Marlow is an incessant curator, composer, cinematographer and intermittent film producer and filmmaker with a handful of award-winning films to his credit. Prior to his role as Chief Strategy Officer of Kanopy, Marlow was (or continues-to-be) affiliated with numerous film festivals (including Telluride, Crossroads and Camera Obscura), film institutions (Northwest Film Forum, San Francisco Cinémathèque, Canyon Cinema, the Flaherty Film Seminar) and technology-centric film distribution companies (notably Amazon, VUDU, Fandor and others). In addition to Marlow’s articles and interviews for numerous online and print publications, he is known to host screenings throughout the world showcasing remarkable films that are generally unavailable elsewhere.
Sharlese Metcalf began her radio career at Green River Community College in 2001 hosting their Northwest music focused show Local Motion on KGRG. She attained her Broadcasting Certificate from Green River, and was offered a job at Jones Radio Networks. There, she worked on Classic Country and Top 40 shows as a production assistant. While at Jones Radio, she was given a KEXP internship to work on the show Audioasis as an assistant to the host and booker. In 2009, She became an Audioasis producer, and in 2012, was promoted to host and KEXP’s Music Community Events Coordinator. Sharlese currently works as DJ, is a rotating host on KEXP’s Expansions show, promotes events at clubs around town as False Prophet, is a member of the collective TUF and is KEXP’s Education Coordinator.
Alan Pruzan is a founding partner of Forrest-Pruzan Creative, product invention studio specializing in games and toys. He was one of the original game-makers at ENTROS in Seattle, creating a wide variety of physical and social entertainment experiences. His background is in film and video arts, and he worked for many years in the media arts scene, both as a facilitator and as a multi-media artist.
After a lengthy sojourn around the country, working on sets and collecting experiences, Nesib CB Shamah settled in the Pacific NW attending the Seattle Film Institute with a focus on cinematography. Highlights include: the music series Destination Unknown, feature music documentary Lemolo: A Beautiful Night, dark comedy Worst Laid Plans and producer of the sci-fi short Haskell. Most notably CB is the co-director and producer of the Emmy-nominated live music documentary Welcome to Doe Bay.
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 started her production career working in episodic television for Warner Brothers Television, the FX Channel and CBS Television while living in Los Angeles. Jennessa later moved to Seattle, Washington and partnered to form Pressing Pictures, LLC – a production company dedicated to creating compelling commercial and narrative works. Jennessa’s producing credits include Lane 1974 which premiered at SXSW in 2017 and received distribution through The Orchard along with two grand jury prizes, My Last Year with the Nuns, which premiered at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival with distribution through Fandor, Spin, a short film premiering at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and she co-produced the comedic web series Rocketmen. She is the Executive Producer for Stefanie Sparks’ comedy In Case of Emergency which won an audience award for best feature at the Bushwick Film Festival. Jennessa is currently developing Ahamefule Oluo’s highly anticipated film Thin Skin based on a true story which was featured on This American Life.
Lindsey Windham is a Sr. Marketing Manager at Amazon where she leads partner marketing and go-to-market strategy for Amazon’s smart home services business. Her first two years at Amazon were spent as the primary owner of the Universal Pictures Home Entertainment relationship – from P&L management to crafting pricing, promotional, and marketing strategy for the Jurassic Park, Despicable Me, Fast and the Furious, Pitch Perfect, and Fifty Shades franchises. After PNW-set film Captain Fantastic left her in tears on the floor of the Guild 45th, she knew working to champion great films was part of her calling. Prior to joining Amazon, Lindsey got her MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, worked as an English teacher and talent acquisition director with YES Prep Public Schools and Teach for America, and earned her BA in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University. She also enjoys running, building her wine collection, planning group movie outings, traveling to film festivals, and soaking up every ray of Seattle sunshine.