Team & 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.
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
chris (at) nwfilmforum.org
As Managing Director, 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.
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
derek (at) nwfilmforum.org
Derek Edamura is a documentary editor, teaching artist, and community organizer who focuses on creating meaningful partnerships that empower emerging artists to tell the stories that are important to them in the way that is most representative of their authentic experience. Over the past 13 years, I have worked for corporate clients, non-profits, short independent films, and feature-length documentaries. I have also worked as a teaching artist for secondary schools, community centers, and various summer programs. Currently, I am the Digital Storyteller for the Port of Seattle focused on expanding the video program and integrating community storytelling into our narratives. Much of my work aims to create meaningful relationships that allows communities to collaborate and create art through equity, imagination, and joy. derekedamura.com
grants (at) nwfilmforum.org
Zach Frimmel joins the Forum as a contractor managing NWFF’s Collective Power Fund for the Warhol Foundation’s Regional Regranting Program, which provides emergency relief funds for visual-based artists in King Co.
Zach is a self-taught and active musician (as riife), conceptual artist, and journalist. He’s lived in Seattle since 2012, held a six-year tenure as the Program Coordinator at Artist Trust, and hustled as a short-list writer for KEXP and The Stranger for several years.
His solo project’s debut topics of cancer (in-progress) is a multi-concept album that addresses soft boi magik, colonialism, neurodiversity, and dark souling through tension-melodic riffs, midcult references, and literary devices. topics of cancer plays on the constellation of metaphorical cancers that gut him inside, which Venn-diagrams with a caricature case study on himself as a darkly emotional cancer sign.
As an unconventional friend-maker, Zach enjoys connecting social dots to create a more socially responsible big-picture and championing nontraditional leadership.
Vivian Hua 華婷婷
vivian (at) nwfilmforum.org
Vivian Hua is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer who worked with NWFF in various capacities before stepping into their role as Executive Director in October 2018. Vivian first came to the organization as the Co-Founder of the national film and civil rights discussion series, The Seventh Art Stand, and then as the organization’s Design Lead, where she led rebranding efforts. Vivian 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.
In 2017, Vivian released their narrative short film, Searching Skies – which touches on the controversial topic of Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States – and in December 2021, will begin production on Reckless Spirits, a BIPOC-led metaphysically-minded comedic series.
Vivian is passionate about cultural spaces, sustainable practices, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They regularly share stories of observations through the storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!
Photograph by Auriza Ugalino for The Future Ancient
Cinema Programming Coordinator
hana (at) nwfilmforum.org
Hana is a writer and film curator born and raised in Seattle. Prior to joining Northwest Film Forum, she studied Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA, with her research focusing on non-English language film distribution and consumption in the United States and the representation of multiracial people throughout Hollywood history.
Hana has served as a festival screener for the Hawai’i International Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. She enjoys attending film festivals of all sizes when she travels around the world. She is passionate about film appreciation and discussion, especially with youth audiences. As a proud alum of TeenTix, Hana especially looks forward to welcoming young people to the Forum to see, create and experience films from around the world and their own backyard.
When not at a movie screening, Hana enjoys cooking and playing with her cat, Mirai.
Photograph taken by Maya F-P
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!
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
rana (at) nwfilmforum.org
Rana San is an artist and arts administrator who, prior to stepping into her role as Artistic Director, served as the Community Programmer at NWFF, co-creating programming driven by and for the community. Rana co-directs the annual Cadence: Video Poetry Festival, the only video poetry festival in the PNW.
Drawing on her background in performing arts and cultural management, she has curated and produced cultural festivals, museum programs, and intimate creative salons in Seattle, Istanbul, and Barcelona. Her creative practice melds dreamwork, written word, body in motion, video poetry, and analog photography. She’s interested in the ways we relate to ourselves, each other, our surroundings, the unknown, and the new meanings that are made in spaces where artistic mediums meet.
Rana’s first 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
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.
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
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 the Communications Manager and Audiovisual Technician for Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound.
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
Marketing & Outreach Specialist
elise (at) nwfilmforum.org
Elise is an artist and dance film enthusiast and she is joining the Northwest Film Forum team as the Marketing and Outreach Specialist. In addition to her role at NWFF, she is also creating dance films in the Greater Seattle Area. Elise is excited to be a part of NWFF and looks forward to supporting the organization’s mission and vision.
Photograph by Olivia Thomas
Programming Assistant / Gala Producer
Anastasia Babenko is a Programming Assistant and 2020 Gala Producer at Northwest Film Forum. Before switching to film and moving to Seattle, she used to work as a news reporter in Ukraine, Germany, and Washington D.C. Her first curatorial experience at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle inspired her to become more actively involved with film programming. Besides her work at NWFF, Anastasia is also a part of Seattle International Film Festival’s 2020 programming team.
As an educational assistant on the Education and Artist Services Management, Hanan assists with adult workshops and programming setup. She coordinates with instructors to schedule class dates, collects promotional material from instructors and assists with material setup. Hanan is also a filmmaker, organizer and poet.
Jonah Kozlowski manages our education and artist services programs and teaches youth and adult filmmaking workshops. He works to grow community partnerships and new programs that will benefit and inspire youth and adult filmmakers and help them connect to resources in the filmmaking community. Jonah has volunteered and taught at NWFF since 2014. He 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 VR exhibitions at Local Sightings and Children’s Film Festival Seattle. He currently serves on the boards of Seattle Documentary Association and ChangeStream Media.
Photograph by Oguz Uygur
L is a contributing designer and filmmaker behind the curtain for NWFF’s marketing goodies. Last year, L wrote/directed her first short film, I Know How You Like Your Coffee. When she’s not here at the Film Forum, she can be found either at the downtown library or freelancing elsewhere around Seattle. Whether it’s on-set work, video editing, print or education, L has been involved with CUT, The Future is 0, The Stranger, Seattle Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum.
Photograph by Sofi Lee
Children's Film Festival Seattle Associate Producer
Carl Lawrence is a Seattle-based artist, director, and organizer whose work oscillates between performance, installation, and visual art. Within his work, he wields theatre, club culture, and visual art as experiential strategies to locate meaning and solidarity in the contemporary world. He frequently collaborates with untrained performers, performers with disabilities, children, and machines alongside DJs and more traditionally trained artists to break down notions of otherness and democratize the field of storytelling in art. He has presented work locally and nationally at venues such as The Watermill Center, On The Boards, ITINERANT Performance Art Festival, Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Olson Kundig, and Base: Experimental Arts + Space. His most recent work entitled ✞aaaa✞, which premiered in March 2019, was called a “spectacular demonstration of multidisciplinary work” by Seattle Dances. He is also the Co-Director and Co-Founder of festival:festival, a free visual and performing arts festival that presents and supports underrepresented artists and cultural workers in Seattle. Through festival:festival, Lawrence advocates for economic justice for artists and cultural workers with the intention of building a more vibrant and sustainable arts economy in Seattle.
Photograph by Jacob Rosen.
Graphic Design & Social Media Associate
cara (at) nwfilmforum.org
Cara Nguyen is on the team doing creative digital marketing and design for the Forum. They produce illustrations, graphics, and social media content for various NWFF programs, grants, and events. Cara is a writer, visual artist, and researcher who has worked primarily in the realm of cultural arts and education programming. Their work, as seen in the Wing Luke Museum, the Little Saigon Creative Space, and various publications, is about preserving local histories, digging into ancestral memories, and cultivating a new world.
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.
Local Sightings Film Programmer
awallacestark (at) gmail.com
Andy performs many duties at Northwest Film Forum, including writing film descriptions and assisting with programming. He is a member of the Programming Team for Local Sightings Film Festival, the Guest Programmer of the 2019 Short Cuts Film Festival in Olympia, WA, and is a contributor to the Tacoma Film Festival. He reminds you to please dispose of your garbage as you exit the theater.
Northwest Film Forum is overseen by a volunteer board consisting of 15 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Sadiqua Iman is founder of Earth Pearl Collective, a non-profit organization that supports the work of women living at the intersections of the African Diaspora who are dedicated to healing their communities through creative collaborations. They have produced art galleries, performances, and festivals, and will be partnering with Northwest Film Forum this Fall for their annual Sovereign Festival. Sadiqua graduated from Seattle University with her MFA in Arts Leadership and is also the co-founder of the African centered healing arts collective Nile’s Edge. As an independent arts influencer she freelances as a director, costume designer, and curator with many theatres and arts organizations around Seattle. If you happen to be part of Seattle night life you may have witnessed Namii, her drag king/ burlesque persona. Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Sadiqua has quickly planted roots in her new home of Seattle since 2016.
Filiz Efe McKinney is a woman filmmaker, a Turkish-born immigrant, and a Seattleite since 2008. She runs Brave Sprout, a partner organization to the Forum, producing educational and documentary films. When she’s not behind the camera or in front of her edit suite, you can find her teaching the next wave of budding documentarians. She also serves on the KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio Board of Directors to support the mission of creating a more informed public.
A multidisciplinary artist, Filiz holds a BFA in Cinematography, an MA in Communication Strategies and Public Relations, a Master of Communication in Digital Media, and is an Adobe Certified Expert in Premiere Pro CC.
Filiz is currently working on a documentary film and a series of community discussions that aim to spark a conversation on accent bias and how it affects individuals, and society more broadly, in our rapidly growing city.
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 identifies as a queer Mexican and Indigenous Latinx creative producer and community organizer. As an advocate for social change, Jessica uses anti-racist, anti-oppressive and decolonizing frameworks to create narrative shifts and storytelling strategies that build community power. They work at Nia Tero where they manage the 4th World Indigenous Media Lab alongside local film veteran Tracy Rector, and support the amplification and production of Indigenous stories based in Nia Tero’s key focus areas, the Amazon and Pacific Islands. She is a programmer for the Seattle Queer Film Festival, arts curator, and budding Impact Producer. Jessica resides on the traditional unceded territory of the Duwamish people (presently known as Seattle, Washington) with her dog, Luna Ramirez Thomas.
Sudeshna Sen is a Seattle based filmmaker. 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 (dir. Megan Griffiths SXSW 2018) MOPZ (dir. Todd Rohal SIFF 2017) and AUTO (dir. Steven Schardt TriBeCa 2017) in recent years. She has a Ph.D in Classical Japanese literature. Previously she was Professor of Japanese literature and Visual Culture at University of Washington and University of Utah.
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 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.