Meet the Jurors

Meet the jurors on our five features juries and our two shorts juries for SIFF 2021.

Thelma Adams

Thelma Adams

New American Cinema Competition

Thelma Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community and a founding participant in the Awards Site GoldDerby.com. A two-time Chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, she has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for AARP, Variety Yahoo! Movies,The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She co-produced the Emmy-nominated Feud: Bette and Joan. Adams studied history at the UC Berkeley, and received her MFA from Columbia University. Thelma Adams is the author of the best selling historical novels Bittersweet Brooklyn and The Last Woman Standing, and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as “a witty debut novel.”

Alvaro Delgado Aparicio

Alvaro Delgado Aparicio

Ibero American Competition

Alvaro holds a BSc in Economics and Management Studies and an MSc in Organizational Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Studied Film at the London Film Academy.

He has written and directed two award-winning short films. His short films have been in official selection in more than 80 film festivals around the world. His short film "The Companion" premiered at the Sundance film festival and became a Grand Jury prize finalist. It was nominated for Best Director at the World Independent Film Awards in Warsaw.

Alvaro wrote and directed “Retablo”, his First Feature Film which was developed at the Sundance Lab Feature Film Program. In 2018, Retablo had its world premiere at the Berlinale, winning the Teddy Award for Best First Film and the Crystal Bear Jury Special Mention for Best Film. Since then, Retablo has gone to win over 50 awards in the Film Festival Circuit worldwide including Vancouver, Sydney, New York, Chicago, Bucharest, Ukraine, Toronto, San Francisco and Switzerland, La Habana, Bilbao, South Africa, Brazil, China, among others. Retablo was Peru´s official entry for Best International Film at the 2020 Oscar Academy Awards. In the same year, received one of five nominations for Outstanding Debut at the BAFTA-British Academy Awards and was also nominated for Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Awards. Furthermore, Retablo was nominated for Best Director and Best Actor in the International Film category at the Chinese Academy Awards, winning in both categories.

Opal Bennett

Opal Bennett

Documentary Competition

Opal H. Bennett has been a curator since 2014. She is currently: Shorts Producer at POV, on the programming teams for Athena Film Festival and DOC NYC, and a Programming Consultant for The March on Washington Film Festival. She is also on the selection committee for shorts at Cinema Eye Honors. Opal has served on juries for SXSW, IndieMemphis, NewFest, Leuven ShortsFest, New Orleans, Cleveland and Seattle International Film Festivals among others. She has also participated on selection committees for documentary programming and grants. A Columbia Law grad, Opal holds a Masters in Media Studies from the London School of Economics, and received her B.A. from New York University.

Andrew Carlin

Andrew Carlin

New American Cinema Competition

Andrew Carlin currently serves as the Director of Theatrical Distribution and Sales for Oscilloscope Laboratories. Prior to that, he was the Head of Theatrical Sales for Music Box Films from 2012-2015. He has worked on the theatrical releases of over a hundred films, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, Oscar Nominee Monsieur Lazhar (2012), Oscar Winner IDA (2015) Oscar-Nominee Embrace Of The Serpent (2016). Over the past year, he's enjoyed becoming a father, learning how to cook, and generally avoiding all the people he knows and cares about.

Kristen Fitzpatrick

Kristen Fitzpatrick

Documentary Competition

Kristen Fitzpatrick is the Managing Director at Field of Vision and a Brooklyn-based distribution and impact strategist and production consultant. Prior to Field of Vision she was the Director of Acquisition & Distribution at Women Make Movies for 20 years. Kristen is a Rockwood/JustFilms Fellow and was also the Production and Impact Director at A Moment in Time Productions, a board member at NewFest and a programmer at Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn. In addition to her work at Field of Vision, Kristen is currently a production consultant at Still I Rise Films.

Marie-Therese Guirgis

Marie-Therese Guirgis

Documentary Competition

Marie Therese Guirgis is a film producer and production executive who has worked in both fiction and documentary film. Recent documentary credits include "MLK/FBI" by Sam Pollard, "Summer Of Soul" by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, and “The Brink” by Alison Klayman. Guirgis produced the fiction films “Keep The Lights On” by Ira Sachs and “The Loneliest Planet” by Julia Loktev.

Marie Therese is currently Head Of Production at Play/Action Pictures. Guirgis previously ran the documentary division of RatPac Entertainment, where she oversaw the development and production of numerous feature documentaries and documentary series. Prior to working in production, Marie Therese worked in film distribution for many years.

Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson

Ibero American Competition

Paul Hudson has run arthouse distribution company Outsider Pictures since 2005. Outsider has specialized in releasing Latin and Spanish films including titles such as La Isla Minima, Living is Easy with eyes Closed, Heli and The Last Suit. Upcoming releases include Helene from Finland and Berlin Film Festival favorite Kill it and leave this Town.

Aaron Hunt

Aaron Hunt

Shorts Jury - Live Action

Aaron Hunt is an endeavoring filmmaker, freelance cameraperson in production, and film journalist with bylines in Filmmaker, American Cinematographer, Sight & Sound, MUBI Notebook, Hyperallergic, and more. He is also the co-founder and senior programmer of DEDZA Films, a short film initiative supported by Kino Lorber.

Missy Laney

Missy Laney

Documentary/Animated Shorts Jury

Missy Laney is the Director of Development at Adult Swim. Previously she worked at BitTorrent Inc leading their film strategy and Sundance Institute growing their #ArtistServices Initiative. Laney is based in Los Angeles.

Pierre Menahem

Pierre Menahem

New Directors Competition

A Paris-based film executive with more than 20-years experience in the Industry, Pierre worked at Celluloid Dreams as director of sales and acquisitions for 8 years, supervising a catalogue of more than 200 titles and attending all principal festivals and markets (Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Tokyo, Filmart HK, Locarno, Venice, Toronto, AFM). In 2004 he founded Scalpel Films with Eyal Sivan. During this period he served as jury member in several festivals and participated in many workshops on international sales and co-productions. In 2011 he created a sales division in production company MPM Film. Pierre is also the programmer for competition features, docs, and shorts, as well as the work in progress section of the Belfort International Film Festival. In 2015 he founded Still Moving with former MPM Film partner Juliette Lepoutre, a Paris based company dedicated to international co-productions and sales. They recently co-produced The Fever by Maya Da Rin (Brazil), Tlamess by Ala Eddine Slim (Tunisia), Pendular by Julia Murat (Brazil). Upcoming in their production slate are Feathers of a Father by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt), Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu (Malaysia), Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj (Palestine), Amanha (Tomorrow) by Pedro Pinho (Portugal), Baby by Marcelo Caetano (Brazil), Zafari by Mariana Rondon (Venezuela).

Andrés Nazarala

Andrés Nazarala

Official Competition (FIPRESCI)

Andrés Nazarala was born in Valparaíso, Chile, in 1976. He has been writing film criticism for almost two decades in magazines and newspapers from Chile and Argentina. He has been part of the jury in festivals like Toronto, Montreal, Moscow, Miami, San Francisco, Mar del Plata and Seattle in 2013. He is algo a filmmaker. His first film, "Debut", was part of the Chilean Competition in Sanfic (Santiago Film Festival). In 2019, his novel about cinema, "Hotel Tandil", came out in Latin America and Spain with positive reviews from critics. He lives in Buenos Aires.

Garineh Nazarian

Garineh Nazarian

New American Cinema Competition

Garineh Nazarian is the manager of New Releases at FilmRise, a major film distribution company based in New York, which releases primarily US fiction and documentary features for North America and Worldwide audiences. Before joining FilmRise, she ran a boutique distribution company working with Iranian filmmakers predominantly presenting the Iranian cinema to the North American audiences—in order to channel between the Iranian cinema and the North American audiences. Garineh graduated from Columbia University in film studies in 2013 before entirely shifting to distribution and focusing on the marketing and the business of the cinema.

Prior to settling in the United States for her studies, she worked in film production for over a decade as a producer and director on primary mainstream Iranian cinema and TV shows. Working in the spontaneous, impulsive and hyperrealist Iranian film industry taught her to become flexible with the various streams of the film industry. Therefore, after moving to the US she gradually shifted to film studies, research, and the business of this exciting industry.

Claudia Puig

Claudia Puig

Ibero American Competition

Claudia Puig is the president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a longtime critic on NPR’s Film Week. She teaches a college class on Diversity in the Media and is in demand in as a moderator and speaker on film-related panels. She is currently Senior Programmer for AFI Fest and program director for the Mendocino Film Festival. In addition, Claudia has a film consulting business specializing in cultural consulting. Previously, she was USA Today’s film critic for 15 years. During that time, she also hosted The Screening Room video series and wrote film reviews and analytical articles about the film industry. Before that, she was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times for 11 years covering city government, courts and the entertainment industry. While at the LA Times she was part of a team of journalists who won the Pulitzer for spot news reporting of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising. She has been a speechwriter and diversity consultant for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and program director for the Napa Valley Film Festival. A native Spanish speaker, Claudia has a B.A. in Communication Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Communications Management from USC. She also studied at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and at Cambridge University in England. In 2020 Puig won the Excellence in Entertainment Journalism award from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and in 2017 she was the recipient of the Roger Ebert Award for Excellence in Film Criticism from the African-American Critics Association (AAFCA). She was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times as one of the 14 film critics making media more inclusive and in Indiewire as one of 20 Latin Americans making a difference in American independent film.

Marina Richter

Marina Richter

Documentary/Animated Shorts Jury

Marina D. Richter is a Belgrade-born, Vienna-based film critic, script advisor, journalist, and published writer. Since 2004 a foreign correspondent for the culture resort of the Serbian daily “Politika”, she also contributes to the Austrian film-specialized magazine “Celluloid,” the “Asian Movie Pulse,” weekly “Vreme”, Estonian “Sirp,” Film.sk, Croatian “Lupiga” and online daily XXZMagazin. Her texts, interviews and reviews were also published in “Cineuropa,” European Film Academy’s “Close-up,” Austrian monthly publication “Morgen” and “Monitor”. She is the member of Serbian Fipresci and of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

In 2018, Marina founded Ubiquarian, an online platform specialized in short films and documentaries, where she’s acting as editor-in-chief. Since 2020, she is in the Selection Committee of NIFFF (Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival).

Céline Roustan

Céline Roustan

Shorts Jury - Live Action

Céline eats and breathes short films as a senior programmer, industry relations manager and development associate for the website Short of the Week, programmer for the Palm Springs ShortFest and the Dublin International Film Festival, associate programmer at SXSW and programming consultant for Quebec City's FCVQ. She does find time to watch feature length films and serves as the Africa/Middle-East region programmer of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. To this day she has yet to lose a sock.

James Slotek

Jim Slotek

Official Competition (FIPRESCI)

Jim Slotek is a longtime former Toronto Sun columnist, movie critic, TV critic and comedy beat reporter who founded the film blog Original-Cin (original-cin.ca). He’s been a scriptwriter for the NHL Awards, Gemini Awards and documentaries, and was nominated for a Gemini Award for comedy writing on a special. His work can also be read in Zoomer magazine and Movie Entertainment.

Ioanna Stais

Ioanna Stais

New Directors Competition

Ioanna joined forces with Greek production company Heretic in 2014 to launch the international sales department of the company Heretic Outreach, first international sales agency to be based in Southeastern Europe. As manager of Heretic Outreach, she oversees acquisitions and all rights sales worldwide. Features Ioanna has worked on include Golden Bear Winner Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn by Radu Jude, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Awards nominee, Retablo by Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio, Isabella Eklöf’s Holiday, and Muayad Alayan’s The Reports on Sarah and Saleem. Previous employers include Wide Management and Festival de Cannes.

Millán Vázquez-Ortiz

Millán Vázquez-Ortiz

Shorts Jury - Live Action

Millán Vázquez-Ortiz (1978) has been involved in the cinema industry for over 20 years, mainly as a distributor. Millan is the co-founder and managing director of Freak Independent Film Agency (Spain). Through the years Millan, and his team, have produced successful distribution strategies for short films and documentaries. As an entrepreneur, he has also been involved in the creation of platforms like Feelmakers.com or Uptofest.com, as well as the sales company Feelsales or the Cineposible Film Festival (2006-2011). Millan has been visiting professor in different cinema schools like EICTV (Cuba) and an eventual producer.

Chris Wells

Chris Wells

New Directors Competition

C. Mason Wells is the Director of US Distribution for MUBI, a curated streaming service that also theatrically distributes ambitious films by both emerging and world renowned filmmakers. He was previously Director of Theatrical Sales for the longtime independent distributor Kino Lorber, Director of Programming for the relaunched Quad Cinema in New York, and has curated film series for the IFC Center, Anthology Film Archives, BAM, and the Criterion Channel. Additionally, he has produced the films Anne at 13,000 Ft (Toronto & Berlin Film Festivals) and Two Plains & a Fancy (BAMcinemaFest), written Thirst Street (Tribeca & Venice Film Festivals), acted in films for Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel) and Dan Sallitt (Fourteen), and written about film for Film Comment.

Farihah Zaman

Farihah Zaman

Documentary/Animated Shorts Jury

Farihah Zaman is a queer Bangladeshi-American filmmaker, critic, and curator. Her first feature was the award-winning documentary Remote Area Medical, followed by This Time Next Year (premiered 2014 Tribeca Film Festival) and the doc-fiction hybrid Feast of the Epiphany (premiered BAMcinemafest 2018), as well as several shorts (Kombit, Nobody Loves Me, American Carnage, and To Be Queen, which is part of the Emmy-nominated New York Times Op-Doc series From Here to Home). She produced the Sundance-award winning Netflix Original, Ghosts of Sugar Land, which was shortlisted for 2020 Academy Award nomination. Zaman has written for Reverse Shot, Film Comment, Elle, Huffington Post, Filmmaker Magazine, and AV Club, among others, and her diverse background in the film industry includes roles at independent distributor Magnolia Pictures, IFP, The Flaherty Seminar, and serving as the Production Manager for Field of Vision (founded by Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook), where she worked with artists like Marshall Curry, Garrett Bradley, Lyric Cabral, Josh Begley, and Ramell Ross on films eventually published at The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Vice, Wired and more. She was the Documentarian in Residence at Bard College 2018-2019, has been named a Top 40 under 40 filmmaker by Doc NYC and Topic Studios, and is a member of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Alexander Zwart

Alexander Zwart

Official Competition (FIPRESCI)

Alexander Zwart was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and a Greek mother. He studied Audiovisual Design and graduated in Fine Arts and Creative Writing from the renowned Rietveld Academy art school in Amsterdam. He now works as a film programmer, gives lectures and publishes in the Netherlands’ most well-known monthly movie magazine, De Filmkrant. In addition, he is the co-founder and creative director of CineMeow – a film event focused on cats and film that roams from screen to screen, like stray cats do.