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.
hilary (at) nwfilmforum.org
As Development Director, Hilary manages fundraising operations while providing leadership for the organization’s fiscal growth and sustainability. She has worked in development, marketing, communications, and on strategic planning with several organizations, including youth media organization Spy Hop, Writers Guild Foundation, Maine Alliance for Arts Education, Bootleg Theater, Social Impact Media Awards, and many more. Hilary holds a degree in Women’s Studies (Gender & Aesthetic Expression in Media, Literature and Film) from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has also explored documentary filmmaking with the NW Film Center, Maine Media Workshops and Barefoot Workshops. When not raising critical funds and awareness for high-caliber arts education programs and independent film, her interest in photography, collage, travel, creative writing, and contemporary art keeps her busy. Hilary has also lived overseas on numerous occasions (France, Ireland and South Korea) and frequently dreams of other destinations. She is also the curator of NWFF’s Stairwell Gallery.
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.
Design Lead and Marketing Associate
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 discussion series, The Seventh Art Stand, and also curates other community and politically-oriented events. For over 12 years, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the socially conscious music and arts publication, REDEFINE, and much of her work unifies her interest in the metaphysical with her belief that art can positively transform the self and society.
Education and Artist Services Manager
jonah (at) nwfilmforum.org
Jonah Kozlowski oversees our programs that connect filmmakers and media artists with the resources they need to grow, collaborate and explore new technologies. These include classes and workshops for adults and youth, equipment access and training, networking events, work in progress screenings, and production workspaces such as our lab and meeting room. Jonah previously managed the equipment rental department and taught youth and adult classes at Northwest Film Forum. He has been working in youth and adult media education since 2005, was festival coordinator for Seattle Shorts Film Festival, is a teaching artist with Coyote Central and Path with Art, and serves on the board of the Seattle based nonprofit, 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.
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 Instagram 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.
tommy (at) nwfilmforum.org
Tommy Swenson is a returning Seattle native with over 15 years’ experience building communities in celebration of film. He’s worked with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin, Texas since 2009. After beginning in their video department, he quickly moved into film programming at the historic Ritz Theater and eventually took on Drafthouse’s Austin market as a whole. A graduate of the Evergreen State College, Tommy previously worked for many years at Seattle’s legendary Scarecrow Video and as a volunteer with the Grand Illusion Cinema. Through his film programming work, Tommy is interested in the heuristic potential and radical possibilities created by recentering historically neglected and marginalized films and creators, particularly within the world of genre filmmaking. He approaches film programming as a project of collaboratively exploring and re-mapping the nodes of cinematic knowledge which have been relegated to cultural gutters, creating new narratives around multitudes of separated, fractured and irreconcilable films. What new ways of seeing and thinking emerge when we begin to experience cinema as a network of affects rather than a collection of dissociated objects? When he isn’t deep diving for youtube videos with zero views, Tommy guiltily enjoys sneaking contraband snacks into movie theaters.
Photo credit for all but Tommy Swenson’s staff photo: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. John works for Meyer-Wells.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.