In addition to 25 exceptional films directed by women, CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival’s mission includes education. This year we’ll educate via two incredible panel discussions geared toward the community and filmmakers.


Finding a Mentor–It’s Not a Mystery

Friday, April 13, 11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m.

Western Washington University Academic West 204

Becoming a professional filmmaker can be difficult, even for someone with established contacts. But with patience, talent and some pluck, no matter where you are in your career, you might be able to connect with a mentor in the film industry with or without a degree.

Hear from experts in the industry about:

  • How to find a mentor, and
  • How the right mentor can help emerging talent by connecting them with professionals who can offer advice and guidance about the industry’s business practices and culture, and by helping them focus their efforts and hone their skills.

Mentoring can help ensure new generations of filmmakers have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those who have gone before.

The panel will be introduced by CASCADIA Advisory Board Member and WWU Dean Kit Spicer. Get behind-the-scenes information from these amazing panelists.

Mary Lou Belli

Mary Lou BelliTwo time Emmy award-winning MARY LOU BELLI has been directing television for over 20 years including NCIS New Orleans, Station 19, Pitch, Monk, Famous In Love, Devious Maids, The Quad, American Woman, and Hart of Dixie as well as Wizards of Waverly Place, Sister, Sister, Girlfriends, and The Game. Her short film, Straight Eye for the Gay Guy won “Best Mini-short” at the California Independent Film Fest where she also premiered I Heard Something, a thriller that went on to play fests internationally. She has done ground-breaking work on web-series. Her most recent The Drink Lonely Wives Book Club is currently on the fest circuit.

Mary Lou is the Co-chair of the Women’s Steering Committee at the DGA where she also serves on the Western Director’s Council, and the Leadership Council PAC. She is an Honorary Board member of the Alliance of Women Directors and a long time member of Women In Film.

She has served as judge and/or guest speaker for the CSU Media Arts Fest, a judge for the Miss America Outstanding Teen Pageant, a jury member at the Sapporo Short Festival, Newport Beach Film Fest, and The Voice awards, a lecturer at the Chautauqua Institute, and a panelist for Women In Film, the DGA, SAG, and AFTRA and the LA Times Festival of Books. She has been a guest artist at the International Thespian Festival for secondary school theatre where she gave workshops to thousands of teens and high school theatre teachers. Through her teaching, she supports many of the vibrant diversity programs including ABC/Disney, Sony, AFI’s directing workshop for Women, and Warner Bros. Directing Workshop mentoring the next generation of directors.

She is the co-author of three books: The NEW Sitcom Career Book, Acting for Young Actors, and  Directors Tell the Story which she co-wrote with fellow DGA member Bethany Rooney. She is currently at work on her 4th book, “PERFORM: Acting for the Screen” for Focal Press.

Mary Lou teaches directing part time at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.


Tema Staig 

Tema Staig

Staig is the Executive Director of Women In Media since 2010. The organization encourages gender balance in film and entertainment industries by providing networking, professional development, and advocacy for above- and below-the-line women and all genders who love making movies with them. They are best known for creating the #WiMCrewList – a searchable database of women above- and below-the-line.

By trade, Staig is a Production Designer and Art Director with a background in Scenic Art. She has Art Directed and Production Designed numerous features, commercials, and shorts including Kissing Jessica Stein, Happy Hour, and Battlefield America, as well as commercials and music videos.  She participated in the first IFP Project Involve: NY fellowship, where she had the opportunity to assist legendary Production Designer, Therese DePres on American Splendor.


Tracey Shrier

Tracey Shrier

After graduating from the University of Advancing Technology from Tempe, Arizona, Shrier began working on local productions as well as Hollywood films that came to town. Shortly after, she made the big move to Los Angeles to further her production experience. Since then, Shrier has worked on numerous feature films, shorts, corporate videos, music videos and even PSA’s. In addition to working on films, Shrier’s love for filmmaking extends to film festivals, where she has served on several selection committees and worked as the Executive Assistant for the director of Dances With Films. Now that Shrier is back in Seattle, she serves on the Board of Directors for Seattle Women In Film and continues to be an active voice in the Seattle film community.

Shrier has produced numerous corporate videos and photo shoots for Microsoft, Xbox, ArenaNet, FIFA, Outerwall, VREAL, Intel, Amazon, and many private customers.


Avielle Heath Emmy

Avielle Heath–Panel Moderator

A CASCADIA Board Member, Heath is an Emmy-winning producer specializing in production design and casting, working locally with Hand Crank Films. When not producing, you’ll find her as a casting director for commercials and industrial projects, or a production designer/art director for both commercial and narrative work.  Her work includes TV, features, short films, music videos, commercials, industrials, web-series and promotional videos.  Heath has a BA in management, with a minor in international business. She is a liaison for Washington FilmWorks and owner/operator of Bellingham Film, a community organization to help support and promote the Film Community.


The Vital Role of the Documentary Editor

Saturday, April 14, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Pickford Film Center

Documentaries have emerged as a powerful medium that can reach a wide audience to promote an agenda, create awareness of a cause, or affect social change. While disseminating that information is crucial, editing the footage requires a keen sense of storytelling and the ability to see possibilities in the material.

Hear from experts in the industry about the crucial role of a documentary editor and how they help shape a story by absorbing the director’s vision, looking at footage through the eyes of the audience, and then determining what stays, what gets cut, and even how the footage comes together.

Virginia B. Bogert

Bogert has directed, written, edited, and produced award-winning media for nearly three decades, from features, shorts, and commercials, to corporate, documentaries, and television. Her company Laughing Dog Pictures,, focuses on human rights issues, citizenry, and the Arts, for non-profit organizations.


Her many credits include award-winning documentaries for Public Television, international commercials, and programs for MoPop during her tenure as Director of Film and Media. Virginia holds a BA in English from NYU, a Masters in Media Ecology/Communications (Cinema Studies) from NYU, and Certification in Educational TV from SUNY. She’s been a member of Women in Film Seattle since its 1990 inception and president for ten years.


Sandy Jeglum

Sandy Jeglum is an independent documentary filmmaker based out of Seattle, WA. For over a decade, Sandy’s career has revolved around editing – from editing short and feature-length film to producing and editing content for digital media. Jeglum edited and produced web shorts for the non-profit organizations and worked as a digital media producer. Jeglum was the co-producer/assistant editor of the award-winning feature-length documentary CRAZYWISE (2017) and edited the award-winning feature-length documentary Headhunt Revisited (2017). Driven by the power of storytelling to expand perceptions, increase empathy, and promote social change, women’s rights have been at the center of Sandy’s career. She is excited to continue working toward gender equity as the editor of the feature-length documentary America Rise.


Lisa Gruwell Spicer

Lisa SpicerProducer and editor Lisa Gruwell Spicer is 30 years into her filmmaking career.
Starting out in Seattle as production assistant in corporate video, she went on to
earn her BA in Broadcast Journalism at the UW. An internship in the
documentary unit at KCTS (PBS) lead to employment, including Bill Nye the
Science Guy. Working on Bill Nye as both an Associate Producer and Assistant
Editor, she won 3 Emmys in editing (1996, ’97, ’98). Her first independent film
(16mm), Without The Trees, the Sky Will Fall (1990), documented Lummi Indians
of the Pacific NW working with indigenous Mayans of Mexico to preserve their
respective rainforests.


In 2003, Spicer moved to Bellingham, and produced
videos for clients, such as Slum Doctor Programme and WWU. She went on to
pursue her MA in Anthropology from WWU (2012), and discovered how well the
tools of anthropology apply to documentary production and editing. She and
Fredrick Dent founded Spicer Dent Productions in 2013, and have been
producing the web series Homeless in Bellingham, which won a 2017 Mayors
Arts Award. For the upcoming authorized documentary about the life and times of
Cheech and Chong, she served as Consulting Anthropologist.

Michele Westmorland


Michele Westmorland

Westmorland is the 2018 Official Selection Director of Headhunt Revisited. She is an award-winning freelance photographer including worldwide travel, lifestyle and underwater photography. Her years of diving have led Michele to being an active proponent of marine conservation issues. In addition she is passionate about the culture of Melanesia as highlighted by her project Headhunt Revisited.

Westmorland started dreaming of bringing Caroline Mytinger’s story back into public view as far back as 1995. It began when a copy of Caroline’s book, New Guinea Headhunt, was given to her as a gift. In 2000, Michele began the journey of piecing together the amazing life of Caroline Mytinger. Planning the expedition was an adventure of its own and was completed in 2005 after spending eight weeks on board the MV FeBrina with expedition team and the crew of the vessel. They visited many of the same villages and locations where Caroline painted her stunning portraits.

Yassamin Maleknasr

Yassamin Maleknasr

Maleknasr is the first Iranian woman filmmaker to graduate from the University of Southern California in Film and Television. In 1995 Ms. Maleknasr directed and acted in her first feature film: The Common Plight which has turned into a cult movie amongst Iranian youth. Her intimate and humanistic films promoting social and economic change have resulted in university, NGO, and public policy discussions and panels. Fluent in English, Farsi, and Dari, she is an award-winning actress who found her true calling behind the cameras as a documentary film director. Currently Maleknasr has revealed her life-long struggles with epilepsy as a way to encourage others with disabilities to overcome blocks to successful and productive lives.

Liz Darrow–Panel Moderator

CASCADIA Technical Adviser Liz Darrow is a freelance editor specializing in documentary and short form fiction film. Her work has been screened in The Sidewalk Film Festival, The New York City Food Film Festival, and the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival. Liz lives with her husband and two children in Bellingham. This is her second year acting as Technical Director for the Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival.

Don’t miss a single second of these women sharing their knowledge right here in Bellingham! Stay up-to-date by checking out our CASCADIA Facebook page and website for more details and follow the events and encourage others to join you in this educational opportunity!