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.
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.
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 her role as Executive Director in October 2018. She 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. 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. In 2018, she released her narrative short film, Searching Skies–which touches on the controversial topic of Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States–and in 2020, she will begin production on a comedic Asian-American series entitled Reckless Spirits. She is passionate about researching efforts to preserve cultural space and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures.
jonah (at) nwfilmforum.org
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.
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.
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 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.
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
Programming Assistant / Gala Producer
anastasia (at) nwfilmforum.org
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.
hanan (at) nwfilmforum.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.