JUDGES

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ABIRAM BRIZUELA

Abiram - Abi - Brizuela, a creative executive has worked on more than 30 international productions, including the award-winning adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. He has devoted much of his career to supporting artists across multiple disciplines and mediums and promoting diversity and inclusion in the arts and entertainment, leading to his most recent role as Director of Artist Community at the Sundance Institute.


> LOCAL JURY

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BECKY MURDOCH

A decade-long career in music brought Becky Murdoch to Nashville, and ultimately Los Angeles. It was here that she attended her first film festival which prompted her transition into film producing and volunteering/working at festivals in the Los Angeles area. Her background in music, film, and live events coalesced when she co-founded the Salute Your Shorts Film Festival in Hollywood, CA and is an emeritus festival director.


> LOCAL JURY

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BETH NAPOLI

Coming from a family of artists, a love of photography and cinema coalesced into a career in filmmaking for cinematographer Beth Napoli. Her work has screened at Poland’s Camerimage and the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at Cannes. Commercial clients include Vizio, Sharp, Nestlé and RED Digital Cinema. She lensed the commercial short film, Carrion, which unveiled the first footage from RED's 4.5K Raven camera. Recent projects include the upcoming feature film Rally Caps, starring Judd Hirsch and Amy Smart; and the short film Olfiction, commissioned by Zeiss Cinematography.


> CINEMATOGRAPHY JURY

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CELINE ROUSTAN

Céline, curator and champion of short films, works for the popular website Short of the Week. She has programmed for festivals including SXSW, SFFILM, Palm Springs International Film Festival and ShortFest and has contributed to the curation of the TIFF Short Cuts and the newly revamped Cannes Short Corner catalogue.


> DRAMA JUDGE

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CONSTANCE EJUMA

Constance Ejuma, an award-winning actress, writer, producer and media executive, is best known for Ben & Ara, a feature film in which she starred and subsequently received an AMAA award (fondly referred to as the African Oscar) for her efforts as a producer.  In addition to appearances on shows like Seal Team, The Good Doctor and Scorpion, Constance has also been featured in music videos for Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.  She is currently developing an art-house experimental feature titled Eucharia with Zina Saro-Wiwa.


> EXPERIMENTAL JUDGE

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ELLE SHAW

Elle Shaw, an actress and accomplished producer whose work spans network television, independent film festivals, and widely distributed podcasts.  In front of the camera you may have seen her on AMC’s “Halt & Catch Fire” or  CBS’s Pilot “The Odd’s.”  Producing highlights include “The Creep’s”, a one-woman theatrical show and the upcoming pilot “A Question of Service” (directed by none other than SYSFF’s Artistic Director Erin Brown Thomas).  She has been a programmer at Salute Your Shorts for three years and currently serves as the Festival Director.


> BEST OF FEST JURY

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ERIN BROWN THOMAS

Erin Brown Thomas, a multi-hyphenate filmmaker whose work spans comedy, dance, and documentary co-founded Salute Your Shorts Film Festival in 2017 where she currently serves as Artistic Director.  Her short comedy “Rekindled” played 12 Oscar-qualifying film festivals, winning 14 awards.  Erin has participated in the AICP and DGA’s Commercial Director Diversity Program and was a finalist for Shondaland’s Women-In-Film mentorship through SeriesFest.  ( Her YouTube channel “Versatile Assassins” has 90 thousand subscribers and 13 million views.) Her unproduced short film script “The Body of Chris”( placed at WeScreenplay (top 2%) and) won “best short script” at both Sedona Film Festival and Cordillera Film Festival and is a feature in development.


> BEST OF FEST JURY

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JULIAN DOAN

Julian Doan is a 2nd generation Vietnamese-American filmmaker. His short film "Raspberry" examines the absurd and tragic experience of witnessing death and saying goodbye, and premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently picked up for Showtime's short film compilation series, "Spotlights". He is developing his first feature film "Half Sweet" based on the same themes.


> BEST OF FEST JURY

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KEITH JEFFERIES

Keith Jefferies is an artistic, creative and problem-solving director of photography and camera operator. He’s shot several award-winning films, directed on the BBC’s flagship international channel BBC World, and founded a successful regional TV station for British cable company NTL. Favoring imaginatively choreographed blocking and evocative lighting as essential foundations for emotionally impactful storytelling, Keith is a Member of the International Cinematographers Guild, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and Associate Member of the Society of Camera Operators.


> CINEMATOGRAPHY JURY

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LILAN BOWDEN

Lilan Bowden is an actor/director most notable for her role as “Bex” on Disney Channel’s Emmy and GLAAD nominated show Andi Mack.  Credits also include Murderville, I Think you should Leave, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Drunk History, Future Man, Parks and Recreation, and CONAN.  Her directorial debut Becoming Eddie was an Official Selection at Bentonville and Palm Springs International, and is the inspiration for a TV series in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment.


> LOCAL JURY

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MIKE WADE

Mike Wade, a Los Angeles native, holds a B.A. in Psychology from Cal State. He went on to study at the Howard Fine Acting Studio and is a graduate of the Joanne Baron / D.W. Brown Studio in Santa Monica. Mike’s desire to perfect his craft is the driving force in his life. Acting credits include Fitz Small on Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy, in addition to For the People, Timeless, and NCIS. Mike can currently be seen as Lt. Soto on SEAL TEAM for Paramount+.


> BEST OF FEST JURY

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NATALIE CORSIE

Natalie Corsie is a designer and Visual Development Artist at DreamWorks Animation. Her credits include Spirit Untamed (2021), Scoob! (2020), and Stillwater (2020).


> ANIMATION JUDGE

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NICOLE BURCH

Nicole Burch, actress, writer and comedian living in Los Angeles, is a Sunday Company alum from the Groundlings Theater, where she’s best known for her show The 7 Guys You Date Before You Get Married, the longest running elective show to date. She’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Hulu’s Casual, HBO’s Barry and two national commercials.  In 2020, Amazon released Nicole's first comedy special Never Been Kissed.


> COMEDY JUDGE

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PAUL SLOOP

Paul Sloop has been the lead programmer of short films for the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival since 2002.  In addition to his long-standing role in Cleveland, he is also the Director of Programming for both Film Pittsburgh and the Cordillera International Film Festival in Reno/Tahoe, NV.


> BEST OF FEST JURY

> GENRE JUDGE

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RITA BAGHDADI

Rita Baghdadi is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been supported by Sundance, Tribeca, Film Independent and the International Documentary Association. Her latest feature SIRENS (Sundance 2022), was acquired by Oscilloscope for theatrical release this year. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and board member of GlobalGirl Media.


DOCUMENTARY JURY

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SEUN BABALOLA

Oluwaseun Babalola, filmmaker, photographer, and community activist, has worked as producer on television series such as the Emmy-nominated United Shades of America (CNN), Africa Everywhere (The Africa Channel), Streets of Dreams (CNBC), and the feature film documentaries, Trichster, Picture A Scientist (PBS, Netflix), and Frederick Douglass In Five Speeches (HBO).


DOCUMENTARY JURY

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TARA BUCK

Tara Buck is best known for her role as Ginger on HBO's gritty Southern vampire drama True Blood. She recurred on the fourth and fifth seasons of the highly acclaimed Showtime series Ray Donovan and was cast as the lead in the independent feature film Great Plains. Most recently Tara appeared alongside Seth MacFarlane in the highly anticipated third season of the science fiction comedy, The Orville.


> LOCAL JURY

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TYLER CLARK

Tyler Clark is an award-winning, multi-faceted cinematographer with narrative credits such as Rotor DR1 (2015), The Shade (2019), and many short films, including commissioned collaborations with Beats by Dre and Hulu.  Taking inspiration from a deep passion for film photography and classic film photographers of the past, Tyler seeks to bring a photographic nature to every image with rich use of color and dynamic camera moves.  Commercially, Tyler continually collaborates with multiple clients including Nike, Jordan, NHL, Bumble and more.


> CINEMATOGRAPHY JURY

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WHITNEY SKAUGE

Whitney Skauge, an award-winning filmmaker dedicated to representation, is Vice President of Development at two-time Oscar-nominated Breakwater Studios, dedicated to the craft of the short documentary. Their debut short film, produced by Breakwater Studios, premiered at SXSW and was distributed by LA Times Short Docs in 2021. Their films act as an extension of social and political activism with hopes of helping audiences understand themselves and the world around them better.


DOCUMENTARY JURY

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YOKO OKUMURA

Yoko Okumura has directed episodes of Freeform’s Good Trouble and The Bold Type as well as Sam Raimi’s Quibi/Roku horror anthology 50 States of Fright, for which she sold a story pitch. She is now in post-production on her debut feature, Blumhouse and Epix’s Unseen.


> SUPER SHORTS JUDGE