2020 Directors

Ashley Gerst

Ashley Gerst / U.S.A.


Ashley Gerst is a 2D and 3D animator living in Brooklyn NY. She holds a BFA in Digital Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in Computer Art from the School of Visual Arts. In addition to her professorial work at William Paterson, Ashley is a freelance animator working for a variety of production companies and clients in the Greater New York City area. She has created animation and VFX for broadcast commercials, TV shows, and documentaries for AMC, VH1, and BET. Some of her clients include Fast Company, Behance, Credit Suisse, Nivea, Nissan, Afrin, Red Bull, Hudson Media, CBS, Nurturing Press, iNomadics, RedwoodLiving and more.

Jules Koostachin -- OshKiKiShiKaw: A New Day (2020))

Jules Koostachin / Canada

OshKiKiShiKaw: A NEW DAY

Born in Moose Factory. Ontario, Jules Koostachin was raised by her Cree speaking grandparents in Moosonee, and her mother in Ottawa, a warrior of the Canadian Residential school system. She
is a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation. She currently resides in Vancouver where she is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, focusing on Indigenous documentary. This is her fourth year

Anna Paavilainen / Kaksi Ruumista Rannalla: Two Bodies on a Beach

Anna Paavilainen / Finland


Anna Paavilainen is a Finnish director, writer, and actor. Her breakthrough performance as an actor was in Zaida Bergroth’s “The Good Son” (2011), of which Paavilainen was nominated with The Jussi Prize (“The Finnish Oscar”). After several prestigious theater, film and TV roles, Paavilainen moved to Sweden to study at Stockholms Filmskola. Her monologue, “Play Rape,” which she wrote, directed, and performed, gained extensive media attention.

Rachel Reichman -- Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack (2021)

Rachel Reichman / U.S.A.


Rachel Reichman has edited scores of prize-winning documentaries, including “Hitchcock / Truffaut” “A Letter to Elia” and “Women, War and Peace: Peace Unveiled.” She directed the independent feature films “Work,” which premiered at MoMA in New Directors / New Films in 1996, and “The Riverbed,” which premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 1986 and was included in the Whitney Biennial in 1987.

Abby Dunn -- Control (2020)

Abby Dunn / Australia


Abby Dunn is a documentary director with a master’s in Documentary Directing from AFTRS. She has won numerous scholarships and fellowships that have taken her to create films in places such as Mexico, Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore. Recently, she won the ACCESS prize at the Australian International Documentary Conference. Dunn is currently in post-production for her next film and is based in Italy and Australia.

Brenda Strong -- #3 Normandy Lane

Brenda Strong / U.S.


Brenda Strong is best known for her seminal (acting and voice) portrayal of Mary Alice Young on “Desperate Housewives,” but this two-time Emmy-nominated and SAG Award-winning actress has had a long and endearing film and television career. In addition to acting and directing, she is also a producer, notably on the award-winning documentary “Fallen,” which looks at the human side of line-of-duty police deaths.

BJ Bullert -- Space Needle (2020)

BJ Bullert / U.S.


BJ Bullert grew up in Seattle, attended The Evergreen State College, Boston University, and earned an MLitt from Oxford in politics. Switching from academia to documentary filmmaking, she co-produced two films for PBS, and, while earning her doctorate, produced and directed “Earl Robinson: Ballad of an American” (1995). She taught at Muhlenberg College, the American University, and is currently on the faculty at Antioch University in Seattle. Since returning to the PNW, she has produced several documentaries with a regional focus.

Graciela García -- F*ck Boy Manifesto

Graciela García / U.S.


Graciela García recently graduated as a film major from Wesleyan University, receiving honors for her thesis film. She has a keen interest in both film and theater as an actor, writer, and director. She has studied theater and film in Greece and Prague, respectively. After participating in the student symposium at Telluride Film Festival, Garcia is moving to New York City.

Imelda O'Reilly -- Tumbling Towards Home (2020)

Imelda O'Reilly / Ireland


Imelda O’Reilly is an independent Irish filmmaker from Kildare. Her award-winning short films and feature screenplay have been represented at over 50 film festivals internationally around the world, including Cannes Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, and Cinequest Film & Creativity Film Festival. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Morocco, where her film Bricks, Beds and Sheep’s Heads was a Regional Finalist for the Student Academy Awards. O’Reilly appeared in the 2019 CASCADIA Film Festival with her short, “Eggs and Soldiers” (2016).

Marine Levéel / La Traction des Poles (Magnetic Harvest)

Marine Levéeli / France


Marine Levéel studied in a fine arts school where she practiced photography, video, and sculpture. She attended film school where she directed short movies as a student. She also worked on independent films as assistant director and set designer. Now she dedicates herself fully to screenwriting and filming. In her work, she combines observation of reality and impression. “Magnetic Harvest” is her first professional short film produced by Apaches Films.

Courtney Quirin -- Guardian

Courtney Quirin / Canada


Courtney Quirin is a wildlife biologist turned documentary filmmaker and environmental journalist based in San Francisco. Quirin has a Master’s in Journalism and Documentary Film from the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and has reported for the Associated Press in South Africa as well as Al Jazeera, Bay Nature Magazine, and Mission Local in California.

Joanna Brodakwa -- Stopover

Joanna Brodawka / Poland


Joanna Brodawka, is a director, actress and film producer from Rzeszów, Poland. A graduate in Film Production Organization and Television in the Department of Radio and TV at the University of Silesia, she also has a degree in Directing from the Warsaw Film School.

Jackie Omanoff -- Chalk of Champions (2020)

Jackie Omanoff / U.S.


Jackie Omanoff, a Brooklyn-based storyteller who began as a producer in the advertising industry, currently works at CNN’s “Great Big Story.” She has received a number of awards while producing at the media company including a Silver Cannes Lion, Digital Drum Award, and Vimeo Staff pick.

Shaina Feinberg -- Stud Boob (2020)

Shaina Feinberg / U.S.


Shaina Feinberg, a filmmaker from Manhattan, is currently directing the second season of her digital series “Dinette”—the first season of which played at the Tribeca Film Festival and was featured in The New Yorker. She is developing projects for the scripted podcast space, feature films, and co-writing a book for a major publisher. She is also a New York Times columnist and has been featured on NPR. Her award-winning feature “The Babymooners” blurred the lines between documentary and fiction to examine gender stereotypes and has played at film festivals all over the country.

Lana Vlady

Sabina Vajrača / Bosnia


Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sabina Vajrača immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 as a war refugee. She started her professional career in theatre, writing, directing, and producing plays at The Lincoln Center, SITI Company, and Shakespeare & Company, amongst others. In 2005, Sabina ventured into the world of film by directing and producing the critically-acclaimed feature film BACK TO BOSNIA. The documentary premiered at the AFI Fest and screened at over 30 festivals worldwide, winning Director’s Choice at the 2006 Crossroads Film Festival.

Marie Sophie Chambon -- Stars By The Pound (2020)

Marie Sophie Chambon / France


Marie-Sophie Chambon, who studied scriptwriting at the French school of cinema La fémis, writes stories about ordinary girls and women with extraordinary destinies. After directing three short films, “Stars” is Chambon’s feature directorial debut and her eighth film as screenwriter.

Jennifer Schwerin / Unspoken Code

Jennifer Schwerin / U.S. & China


Jen Schwerin is an award-winning filmmaker working in the U.S. and China. In the U.S., her award-winning feature documentary, “Talking Trash,” which screened at festivals and aired on PBS. Her Emmy nominated short film, “The Vessel,” aired on PBS and screened at festivals. While living in China for 24 years, Schwerin created the first Chinese short films for MTV. She is currently developing a pilot for television.

Laura Neri -- Fugue / Greece (2020)

Laura Neri / Greece


Laura Neri, half Greek, half Italian filmmaker born in Belgium, studied film and screenwriting at the Free University of Brussels and earned her MFA in Film Directing at USC. Neri wrote and directed several award-winning short films including, “A Kiss on the Nose,” which screened at more than 50 festivals and received multiple awards. Her first feature film “Kill the Habit” earned her a “Best Feature Director” award at La Femme film festival in LA.

Aubree Bernier-Clarke -- A Normal Girl (2020)

Aubree Bernier-Clarke / U.S.


Aubree Bernier-Clarke is a non-binary director and cinematographer based in LA who began her career as a punk rocker in Kentucky. In 2013, she participated in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, through which she developed her first original short, “The Night Is Ours.” She is currently in production on a feature film collaboration with intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis.

Cécilia De Arce -- Tuesday From 8 To 6

Cécilia De Arce


Marziyeh Riahi -- Driving Lessons / Iran (2020)

Marziyeh Riahi / Iran


Marziyeh Riahi was born in Tehran, Iran. She is Editor in Chief of Short Film News, a website specializing in short films and documentaries in Asia that was established in 2004. She graduated with a degree in Cinema from the University of Applied Science and Technology, Tehran, and in Film Directing from the Iranian Young Cinema Society, Tehran. Also she is a member of The Network For Promotion of Asian & Asia Pacific Cinema and of the Iranian Society of Film Critics & Writers. “Driving Lessons” is her first short film.

Maya Cozier (Short Drop) 2017

Meryl Jones Williams / U.S.


Meryl Jones Williams is a filmmaker and actress residing in Brooklyn. As a filmmaker, “Biophilia,” a film she co-produced and played the lead, premiered this year at Citizen Jane, Brooklyn, Northbend, Indiefest, and Middlecoast and just celebrated its online premiere on Vimeo’s curated channel “Ladies with Lenses” and “Women and Hollywood.” She is currently in development for her first feature as a writer/director as well as developing “Dom” the short into a sister feature to direct in 2020.

Lana Vlady

Lana Vlady / Italy


Lana Vlady is an Italian actress and director of Russian origin, born in St. Petersburg who moved to Italy at the age of 7 and grew up in the province of Pisa. As an actress, she starred on television and in films. She wrote, directed and starred in her first short film “La Lepre (The Rabbit),” which appeared in the 2019 CASCADIA festival.

Alice Douard -- Plein Ouest / Due West

Alice Duard / France


Gayatri Bajpai -- HALWA (2020)

Gayatri Bajpai /


Gayatri Bajpai is director of the short films “Muck” (2014), “Housewarming” (2017), and “Rio” (2017). She is a two-time UCLA Directors’ Spotlight Winner of Best Documentary for “Muck” in 2014 and Best Comedy for “Housewarming” in 2016. Bajpai is also co-directing a portrait documentary short with Niray Bhakta (her co-director on “Halwa”) about a Mexican trans woman who was human trafficked by a drug cartel into sex slavery.

Sandy Jeglum -- Concerning Contraception (2020)

Sandy Jeglum / England


Sandy Jeglum is a documentary filmmaker with over a decade of experience editing and producing short and feature-length films. Jeglum focuses on telling stories that support gender equity, including web shorts for KIVA (2013), Foundation for Women (2013), and America Rise (in-production). She holds a master’s with distinction in Documentary Production from the University of the West of England. “Concerning Contraception” is her directorial debut.

Satinder Kuar -- Blood & Glory (2020)

Satinder Kaur / U.S.


U.S. Army veteran, Satinder Kaur is a writer, director, and producer. She received her MFA in film directing from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she was the recipient of the James Bridges Award for excellence in directing. In 2019, Kaur won the Grand Prize for her short film “Blood and Glory” in the Women in Media CAMERAderie initiative sponsored by NBC

Eve Chems de Brouwer -- Sous-lecorce / Same

Ève-Chems De Brouwer / France


Born to an Egyptian mother and a Belgian father, Ève-Chems De Brouwer is a graduate of the Strasbourg National Theater’s École Supérieure. She has performed extensively on stage and on television in both France and Russia, taught at Centre Rézodanse Egypte, directed and performed “Le Gène de l’amour fou” and written “L’Aire de Broca.” In 2013, she collaborated with Nicolas Cantin and created “J’entends les Murs” with two blind men and a female dancer.

Marie Clements -- Red Snow (2020)

Marie Clements / Canada


Marie Clements’ independent media production company specializes in innovative works that explore an Indigenous and intercultural reality. “Red Snow” has won several awards, including Most Popular Canadian Feature Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature Film at the Edmonton International Film Festival, and won Best Director of a Feature Film at the 2019 American Indian Film Festival (AIFF) in San Francisco.

Cynthia Silver -- The Shallow End (2020)

Cynthia Silver / U.S.


Cynthia Silver is a New York City-based stage and film director and an acting teacher who was one of 10 filmmakers selected to participate in the 2019 Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program. Silver trained at New York City’s Atlantic Acting School where she is now a faculty member and earned her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Jane Stiles -- Dom (2020)

Jane Stiles / U.S.


Jane Stiles is an actress and writer known for “Why Not Choose Love: A Mary Pickford Manifesto” (post-production), “Blue” (2012), and “Capture the Flag” (2010). In addition to co-writing and co-directing “Dom,” she has written, directed, and acted in the short film, “One Eye Small” (2018).

Olivia Jensen -- Waiting By The Phone (2020)

Olivia Jensen / U.S.


Olivia Jensen is an animator and illustrator from Chicago. Her aim as an artist is to tell stories that evoke raw human emotion in a visually beautiful way.

Deborah Shaffer -- Queen of Heart-Audrey Flack (2020)

Deborah Shaffer


Deborah Shaffer has been making social issue documentaries since the early 1970s. In the 1980s, she directed the Oscar-winning short, “Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements,” and the Emmy-nominated “Fire from the Mountain,” which both aired on PBS. In 2001, she directed two shows for the PBS series “Art 21: Art in the 21st Century.” She also co-directed and wrote “Rwanda: Ladies First” for WNET’s “Wide Angle” and was awarded an Emmy in 2004. In 2016, she co-executive produced “Very Semi-Serious,” an HBO Emmy-award winning documentary about New Yorker cartoonists.

Marion Lacourt -- Sheep, Wolf, And A Cup Of Tea (2020)

Marion LaCourt