Participants have been announced for the Artist Academy, an immersive creative experience for filmmakers early in their careers, and the Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film writers, at the 55th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 15). The NYFF Critics Academy, now in its sixth year, is a co-presentation of Film Comment, a publication of Film Society of Lincoln Center, and IndieWire.

This year marks the seventh edition of the Artist Academy, offering an experience for 29 up-and-coming and established filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds. Tapping into both the Lincoln Center and New York film communities, the private three-day program features talks and case studies designed to inspire filmmakers’ artistic instincts and encourage collaboration. The complete list of 2017 participants can be found below, alongside more information on their current projects.

The three-day Artist Academy workshop, in which artists meet in an intimate atmosphere of creative celebration, will include a slate of screenings and panel discussions by esteemed veterans from a variety of disciplines. This year’s mentors include filmmakers Sara Driver, Benny & Josh Safdie, and Alex Gibney; Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope; Call Me by Your Name producer Howard Rosenman; Mudbound music supervisor Nancy Allen and composer Tamar-Kali; and others. Past mentors have included Julie Taymor, Christine Vachon, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, Laura Poitras, Ed Lachman, Nico Muhly, Joe Brewster, Michele Stephenson, Ira Deutchman, Sir Richard Eyre, David Tedeschi, and others. The 2017 Artist Academy is sponsored by Dolby and The Roy & Niuta Titus Foundation with support from Princess Grace Foundation.

Launched as an initiative during the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, with a local version first produced during the 2012 New York Film Festival, the Critics Academy is an annual workshop designed to nurture promising film writers and journalists as they attend and cover screenings and events at the festival. The ten selected Critics Academy participants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide variety of international films while navigating the practical challenges of covering a festival at the epicenter of New York’s film culture, attending NYFF press screenings and covering the festival in a variety of ways, from quick-turnaround film reviews to more in-depth articles and interviews. More than 50 writers have participated in the Locarno and NYFF Academies since their inception in 2012. The complete list of 2017 Critics Academy participants and their biographies can be found below.

Critics Academy participants will also partake in candid roundtable discussions with working writers and other members of the industry to put their work in context. The Academy’s 2017 mentors include journalists, critics, and editors, such as Melissa Anderson, Ashley Clark, K. Austin Collins, Ed Gonzalez, Mark Harris, Molly Haskell, Eric Hynes, Aliza Ma, Wesley Morris, Mekado Murphy, Nicolas Rapold, Alison Willmore, and Farihah Zaman, as well as IFC Films’ Arianna Bocco and Kino Lorber’s Richard Lorber.

Critics Academy is led by Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez; FSLC Editorial Director Michael Koresky; Academy organizer Brian Brooks; and Eric Kohn, Deputy Editor & Chief Film Critic of IndieWire.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is committed to fostering the next generation of filmmakers, critics, and industry professionals working in the world of cinema. With academies during the New York Film Festival and throughout the year, FSLC builds new audiences and continues to advance New York’s vibrant film culture. For more information on these initiatives, visit here.

The NYFF55 Artist Academy:
Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, Clara Sola
Zia Anger, My Last Film
Theo Anthony, Rat Film
Jessica Beshir, Heroin
Allison Rose Carter, Movie No. 1
Adinah Dancyger, Cheer Up Baby
Maria Dyer, InUTERO
Sabaah Folayan, Whose Streets?
Hannah Gross, Mindhunter
Eric Juhola, Growing Up Coy
Lewie Kloster, Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy
Noah Kloster, Legal Smuggling: The Series
Francisco Lezama, Una pintora romántica
Christopher Messina, Fourteen
Frank Mosley, 67 Thunderbird
Matthew Puccini, The Mess He Made
Cameron G. Quevedo, Atmahaú Pakmát
Jon Read, Madeleine, Madeleine
Heidi Saman, Namour
Aaron Schimberg, Chained for Life
Nova Scott-James, Natural Rites
Umberto Smerilli, Worldly Girl
Jeremy Stulberg, Winner Take All
Bassam Tariq, These Birds Walk
Anu Valia, Lucia, Before and After
John Wilson, Escape from Park City
Kevin Wilson, Jr., My Nephew Emmett
Rachel Wolther, Snowy Bing Bongs
Freek Zonderland, Truus’ Children

The NYFF55 Critics Academy:
Caroline Cao
Rooney Elmi
Sarah Fonseca
Devika Girish
Benjamin Y Goff
Caroline Madden
Luis Madrigal
Tayler Montague
Muhammad Muzammal
Jason Ooi


Nathalie Álvarez Mesén
Nathalie was born in Sweden but grew up in Costa Rica. She studied filmmaking and screenwriting in Stockholm and has a B.F.A. in Physical Acting from the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her short film Filip was awarded Best Live Action (15 minutes and under) during the Palm Springs ShortFest 2016 and has screened at festivals around the world. Her short film Asunder premiered at the 2015 Stockholm International Film Festival and was screened at the Telluride Film Festival. Nathalie was part of the Berlinale Talents and the TIFF Talent Lab in 2017. She is currently studying an M.F.A. in Film Directing and Screenwriting at Columbia University in New York, while working on the development of her first feature film, Clara Sola, a Swedish/Colombian coproduction that has received support from the Hubert Bals Fund and has been selected for several coproduction markets and labs in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

Zia Anger
Zia is a filmmaker and music video director. Her most recent short, My Last Film, premiered at the 53rd New York Film Festival. In 2015 her short I Remember Nothing had its world premiere at New Directors/New Films and its international premiere at the Locarno Film Festival. Other screenings include AFI Fest, Denver Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, and Vienna Independent Shorts. She has made music videos for various independent artists including Angel Olsen, Mitski, Julianna Barwick, Maggie Rogers, and Jenny Hval; the latter of whom she also tours with. Memorable performances include Pitchfork Music Festival, Basilica Soundscape, and Oya Festivalen. Her music videos have been featured in various online publications including Pitchfork,The Guardian, and NPR. In 2016 Zia participated in the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive. In 2015 Zia was included as one of Filmmaker‘s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” She is a 2015 fellow in film/video from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her short film Lover Boy. She has a BA/BS from Ithaca College; and an MFA from School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.

Theo Anthony
Theo is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker currently based in Baltimore. His work been featured by the The Atlantic, VICE, BBC World News, and other international media outlets. His films have received premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, SXSW, and Anthology Film Archives. In 2015, he was named one of Filmmaker’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His first feature, Rat Film, debuted at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival to critical acclaim, with Richard Brody of The New Yorker calling it “one of the most extraordinary, visionary inspirations in the recent cinema.” Rat Film will be distributed domestically by Cinema Guild and internationally by Visit Films.

Jessica Beshir
Jessica is an award-winning Mexican-Ethiopian writer and director based in Brooklyn. Her first short film, Hairat, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and has screened at festivals worldwide. Her second short film He Who Dances on Wood made its world premiere at 2017’s Hot Docs Film Festival. Her most recent short film, Heroin premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and is distributed by Topic. Beshir participated in the TIFF talent lab 2017 and is currently developing her debut feature film.

Allison Rose Carter
Allison has run productions for over 20 feature films. She got her start by living in Eyad Zahra’s basement while making The Taqwacores, which had its premiere at the inaugural NEXT category at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Since then, Allison has worked with dozens of talented new voices as well as established artists such as Andrea Arnold, Oren Moverman, Josephine Decker, and Demetri Martin. She has also participated in the Transatlantic Partnership as well as the Sundance Creative Producing Lab. She works all over the world, but resides in Brooklyn.

Adinah Dancyger
Adinah is a Korean-Polish-American filmmaker from New York City. Her 2015 short Chopping Onions traveled the festival circuit internationally, from Cannes, Berlinale, Hamptons International, Reykjavik Film Festival, and more. In 2016, she directed a film featuring queer musician and performer Mykki Blanco, who recites Zoe Leanord’s 1992 poem “I Want a Dyke for President.” She is currently in postproduction for her first feature film Girl Props, which she co-wrote, co-directed, and co-stars in alongside Victoria Cronin and India Menuez. She premieres her third short film, Cheer Up Baby, at NYFF this year.

Maria Dyer
Maria is a filmmaker whose work straddles a range of genres, fusing fantasy and reality to create emotionally visceral characters and strange, mysterious worlds. Maria’s award-winning short films And Lo, Guilharmenia and Little People have been screened internationally. In 2014, she founded LaTiDa, a filmmaking collective to develop and craft short and long-form content, with strong female voices, attempting to bridge the gender gap in Hollywood. She is also a member of The Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. Most recently, Maria has produced The Great Invisible, an experimental net-noir series for Instagram, and is in preproduction on a narrative feature, InUTERO. She currently teaches filmmaking at New York University.

Sabaah Folayan
Sabaah is an award-winning storyteller who uses written and visual media to bring a fresh perspective to the urgent questions of our time. A Los Angeles native, she has thrived in vastly different environments, from South Central L.A. to the Upper West Side, she has an outlook on social change that is both inclusive and unapologetic. She attended Columbia University as a premedical student and graduated with a degree in biology. Drawn to community organizing, she honed strategic planning skills in the nonprofit and grassroots sectors before becoming a filmmaker. Sabaah made her directorial debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival with Whose Streets?, which chronicles the experiences of activists living in Ferguson, Missouri, when Michael Brown Jr. was killed. The film has been supported by the Sundance Documentary Film Program, Tribeca Film Institute, Ford Foundation, MacArthur and more. She plans to continue writing, directing, and producing documentary and narrative works that challenge the status quo, and is especially interested in creating episodic content for digital and television broadcast.

Hannah Gross
Hannah is a Canadian actor and theater artist based in New York. Film credits include I Used to Be Darker; Uncertain Terms; Stinking Heaven; Christmas, Again; and Unless. She can next be seen in Netflix’s Mindhunter, out October 2017.

Eric Juhola
Eric is director and producer of Growing Up Coy, a documentary about transgender youth and bathroom rights, which premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in 2016, and won two Best Documentary awards at international film festivals. Over the course of production, Eric was invited to be a Sundance Fellow and participated in the Sundance Producer’s Lab, as well as Doc Society’s first annual Queer Impact Lab. The film is being distributed worldwide by Netflix. Previously, Eric produced the ITVS documentary Broken Heart Land, broadcast on Amdoc’s America ReFramed and was funded to tour eight states in the bible-belt that have laws which prohibit discussion of homosexuality in public education. The film’s screenings sparked discussions that ultimately led to changes in anti-gay legislation in Oklahoma. Eric also produced the Gotham Award–nominated documentary Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, winning eight best documentary prizes at festivals, and then directed Nowhere Kids, a short fiction film inspired by the documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Lewie Kloster
Lewie is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film & Television. His first animation, Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy (2016), premiered at the New York Film Festival and went on to play at Sundance 2017. It was the first animation film he made in collaboration with his brother, Noah Kloster. They have been exclusively working together since. The grew up in the cultural hub of Minneapolis, and their animations aim to transplant the famed “Minnesota-nice” attitude into the grit and pace of New York City.

Noah Kloster
Originally from Minneapolis, Noah is an animator who lives and works in New York City with his brother, Lewie Kloster. While working nonstop on quirky crude animations, he is also a sophomore at Pratt Institute. He and his brother are creating Legal Smuggling: The Series, in which each episode is an opportunity to push the animation medium to strange places even as they stay rooted in telling nonfiction stories.

Francisco Lezama
Francisco is a filmmaker based in Buenos Aires. He graduated from the film directing program at Universidad del Cine, where he now teaches Film History. He works as a researcher and producer at the Film Museum of Buenos Aires and at MALBA film department. He produced Sucesos Intervenidos and Archivos Intervenidos: Cine Escuela, two collective found footage films, both premiered at Viennale. He wrote and co-directed the short film La Novia de Frankenstein, selected for the official competition of Locarno Film Festival, as well as for the Viennale, 53th New York Film Festival, and AFI Fest. In 2016 he wrote and co-directed Dear Renzo, which won BAFICI and was selected at BAMCinemaFest, Vila do Conde, Viennale, Entrevues Belfort, among other film festivals. He is currently developing Una pintora romántica, his first feature.

Christopher Messina
Christopher is a filmmaker and cinematographer, working in experimental, narrative, and documentary. His work has been programmed in festivals and galleries around the world. His feature credits as cinematographer include For the Plasma, If There’s A Hell Below, and the documentary features The New Radical and Hot Sugar’s Cold World. Additionally, his work as a camera operator can be seen in Josh and Benny Safdie’s Heaven Knows What.  He is currently shooting Dan Sallitt’s latest feature, Fourteen.

Frank Mosley
Frank has been called “a superb actor and filmmaker” (, “an indie hard-hitter” (The Playlist), and “the kind of experimentalist we don’t see often enough” (Keyframe). He is an alumnus of the 2015 Berlinale Talents and a graduate of Black Factory Cinema’s 2016 Auteur Workshop, led by the late Abbas Kiarostami in Cuba. His directing work, such as Her Wilderness, Parthenon, and Casa De Mi Madre, has been shown at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival, Dallas Museum of Art, Maryland Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Fest, Marfa Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Fest, Northwest Film Forum, Edinburgh Art Festival, and more. As an actor, Frank has appeared in Upstream Color, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s segment in Collective Unconscious, The Bulb, The Procedure, Americana, Person to Person, and Some Beasts, for which he won the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance at the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival. His work is available for viewing on Fandor, and he’s currently penning two new feature films, 67 Thunderbird and All the Sacred Words, and he’ll be seen next in Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life, Nicholas Bateman’s The Wanting Mare, Caleb Johnson’s The Carnivores, and Niu Han’s A Sweet Life.

Matthew Puccini
Matthew is a Brooklyn-based, Bay Area–raised filmmaker. His first film, Solo, won the King Award for Screenwriting at NYU’s First Run Film Festival. His latest short, The Mess He Made, premiered at SXSW, has screened at over two dozen festivals, and is a finalist for this year’s Iris Prize. Matthew received his BFA in Film Production and minor in Dramatic Literature from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is also a recipient of the 2017 Richie Jackson Artist Fellowship.

Cameron G. Quevedo
Cameron is an award-winning filmmaker and ethnomusicologist currently based in Philadelphia. His work explores themes of cultural decay, social erosion, man’s relationship to the land, and the individual’s search for meaning, relevance, and a sense of personal legacy. His 2016 film, El Tucán, has screened widely in both the U.S. and Mexico, and was awarded “Best International Latino Film” at the 2017 Latino Film Market. Cameron holds an MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas, as well as an MA in Ethnomusicology and an MC in Indigenous Documentary Film from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a recipient of the Princess Grace Film Award, the University Film and Video Association Carole Fielding Grant, the Jesse H. Jones Endowed Centennial Fellowship, and the Warren E. Skaaren Endowed Presidential Scholarship. His newest film, Atmahaú Pakmát, will be traveling the festival circuit through 2018.

Jon Read
Jon is a freelance producer out of Brooklyn. Noted work includes Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, and Demetri Martin’s Dean. Upcoming work includes Josephine Decker’s Madeleine, Madeleine and Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person, which recently premiered at Sundance 2017 and was the Closing Night selection of New Directors/New Films in New York. Jon also produced Jackson Kroopf’s short film bobbyanna, which played the 2017 Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival and is a 2017 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow.

Heidi Saman
Heidi was named one of Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces to Watch in 2014. Her first feature film, Namour, won a Jury Award at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival and was developed with the Sundance Institute and funded by the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant and a Knight Foundation Grant. Namour was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s distribution company, ARRAY, and is currently streaming on Netflix. In 2008, Saman’s short film The Maid (il Shaghala) premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. She is a 2016-2018 Pew Fellow in the Arts and is currently an associate producer for NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Aaron Schimberg
Aaron is a filmmaker living in New York, currently in postproduction on his second feature, Chained for Life, starring Jess Weixler. The film is the recipient of a Cinereach grant. His debut feature, Go Down Death, was called “an astonishing out-of-nowhere film” by Filmmaker and “a stunning midnight movie in the tradition of Jodorowsky and The Saragossa Manuscript” by The Dissolve. The film was part of the IFP Narrative Lab, premiered as the closing night film of the Fantasia Film Festival’s Camera Lucida section, and is distributed by Factory 25. Aaron is a programmer at Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater, where he has curated dozens of programs, including a series of North Korean films and a Tatsumi Kumashiro retrospective. He is a co-founder of Grand Motel Films, which recently rediscovered and restored the lost 1966 film Who’s Crazy?, featuring an original soundtrack by Ornette Coleman.

Nova Scott-James
Nova is a filmmaker, artist, and community organizer born and raised in Harlem, New York. Her work explores themes of individual and collective memory and trauma, surrealism, death, ritual, and healing. Nova is an adjuct instructor at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, teaching in special programs including the Future Filmmaker’s Workshop. Her workshop “Finding Your Voice” is designed to engage the high school age participants in what inspires them most, and support them in expanding their creative potential. Two of her short films, Handmade in Thamaga and My Third Eye, have premiered at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in the New York African Film Festival, in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Nova is the COO of Upside Film Festival, a community micro film festival in Harlem. Upside’s July 2017 premiere event “Upside Film Festival: The Space Between Power + Precarity” was a major success, celebrating short films from a talented group of black women directors in NYC, including Ja’Tovia Gary and Francis Bodomo. Nova’s latest film, Natural Rites, explores contemporary ritualistic rites of passage, as a means to process collective trauma and seek spiritual enlightenment.

Umberto Smerilli
Born in Pescara, Italy, Umberto is a composer who studies music (sax, piano, guitar) and composition. In 2006 he received his international masters degree in Film Music at the Italian National School of Cinema at Centro Sperimentale, led by Academy Award winner Luis Bacalov. He has composed soundtracks for many shorts, documentaries, and features, including Scramble, winner of the David di Donatello 2008 award for Best Short; The Tournament, presented at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Nastro d’Argento Best Short award; Pinuccio Lovero; Pugni chiusi; Worldly Girl, winner of the 2017 David di Donatello award for Best Emerging Director.

Jeremy Stulberg
Jeremy is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and writer. He is a Sundance Documentary Producing Fellow and the recipient of grants from numerous organizations, including the New York State Council on the Arts, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Tribeca Film Institute Documentary Fund, ITVS, the Colin Higgins Foundation, the Arcus Foundation, and the Fledgling Fund. Jeremy most recently produced and edited Growing Up Coy, a documentary about transgender youth and bathroom rights, which was acquired by Netflix and released worldwide after playing festivals around the world. Previously, he directed and produced Broken Heart Land, an ITVS Co-Production about HIV and homophobia, which premiered on PBS in 2014 and was instrumental in changing anti-discrimination laws in Oklahoma. His debut feature as director/producer was Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, which premiered on the Sundance Channel after winning eight Best Documentary prizes at festivals around the world, and was nominated for a Gotham Award. Additionally, Jeremy has produced and/or edited episodic television docu-series such as Viceland’s WOMAN: With Gloria Steinem and CNN’s Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man. With his husband Eric Juhola, Jeremy is cofounder of the film and television production company Still Point Pictures, which develops and produces groundbreaking social issue documentaries and fiction films. Jeremy is currently working on the documentary Winner Take All, which challenges audiences to critically examine the electoral college system and representational government in the United States.

Bassam Tariq
Bassam is a writer and independent filmmaker. He is a TED Fellow and was named one of Filmmaker‘s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His first feature film, These Birds Walk, premiered at SXSW and is distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories. These Birds Walk was named by Indiewire, The Playlist, and Sight & Sound as one of the best movies of 2013. It was also recently named one of the 50 best foreign films of the 21st century by The New Yorker. His five-year transmedia documentaries 30 Days/Ramadan and 30 Mosques, are part of the permanent collection at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab. He’s been commissioned to make short films by VICE, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, and the Red Cross. In 2016, he was a fellow of Sundance’s Art Of Nonfiction Residency and participated in the 2017 Sundance Screenwriters Lab for his new film. He lives in New York with his wife and two sons.

Anu Valia
Anu is writer, director, and actor who has produced videos for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, MTV, IFC, CollegeHumor, Vox Media, Refinery29, NYLON, Above Average, and more. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Anu has made award-winning short films that have screened across the country and abroad. Her most recent short film, Lucia, Before and After, won the Jury Prize for U.S. Fiction at the Sundance Film Festival. It was also an official selection at festivals around the world, including South by Southwest, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival. Lucia was a recipient of Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology grant and is a companion piece to her feature We Strangers. Her previous short, Drifters, was a Special Jury Mention for Narrative Shorts at New Orleans Festival, and won Best Experimental Short at Aesthetica Short Film Festival. Her student thesis film, Figs, was a Student Academy Award Semifinalist, a National Board of Review Grant Finalist, and an NYU Wasserman Award Finalist. Anu directs the Refinery29 series Womanhood, featuring Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone. Womanhood has been featured in The New Yorker, Indiewire, Splitsider, Elle, and more. Her work at CollegeHumor has won a Bronze Telly Award and was nominated for a Webby. She is an artist resident of SPACE at Ryder Farm, as well as an ambassador for the American Film Showcase, a U.S film diplomacy program promoting arts involvement and education abroad.

John Wilson
John is a lo-fi documentarian based in Brooklyn. His short films are narrated collages of street life shot on disposable media and can be found at

Kevin Wilson, Jr.  
Kevin is a New York–based filmmaker and an MFA Candidate in New York University’s Graduate Film Program. Wilson first emerged as a rising talent in 2009 when he directed multiple sold-out performances of his debut play The Emmett Till Story, a brutal depiction of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Since that time, Wilson has directed a number of award-winning short films and documentaries. Wilson’s most recent short film, My Nephew Emmett, has been selected to screen at a number of Oscar-qualifying film festivals and was recently a winner at the 44th Student Academy Awards. Wilson is currently in development for his first feature film, which is slated to go into production in summer 2018.

Rachel Wolther
Rachel is a director and producer whose work has screened at the Berlinale, Rotterdam, and New York film festivals, among others. Her Snowy Bing Bongs premiered at BAMCinemafest in 2017. Since 2015 she has directed episodes of GE Podcast Theater’s two science fiction series LifeAfter and The Message, which was the most downloaded podcast on iTunes for fall 2016 and won numerous awards. Her producing credits includes features Stinking Heaven (2015), See You Next Tuesday (2013), Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Butter on the Latch (both 2014), and shorts My Last Film (2015) and Bad at Dancing (2015), winner of the 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear.

Freek Zonderland
Unashamedly critical of people’s preconceived notions about each other and the world at large, Freek is a cinematographer, editor, and producer, a self-taught “swiss army man” inspired by and reaching for the world around him. Besides his many successful commissioned camera and editing projects, mostly for nonprofit organizations that aim for a better society and planet, Freek has been developing his skills on his own narrative and documentary work, including, among others, the award-winning shorts Red Curtains (2012) and GILLES (2016), as well as Lukas by the Sea (2016), Slip Away (2017), the upcoming children’s series Edward’s Miraculous Bookstore (2017), and the feature-length, globe-spanning documentary Truus’ Children (2018). In 2015, Freek cofounded the socially engaged, internationally oriented filmmakers’ collective Blunt Cinema (


Caroline Cao
Caroline is a Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York while buried in her New School Nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger in her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or the debut play she’s producing and directing for New York New Works Festival, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-out, shamelessly engaging in writing Star Wars fan fiction, and dreaming of winning Hamilton lottery tickets. She runs the blog The Maximinalist Millennial, offers writing and scripting services, and her writing has appeared on Birth Movies Death, The Mary Sue, and The Script Lab. Follow her at @Maximinalist.

Rooney Elmi
Originally from Toronto and now based in Columbus, Ohio, Rooney is a creative specializing in film and pop cultural criticism. Her work has been featured in i-D, Mubi, Okay Africa, Little White Lies, and more. Rooney is interested in cyberculture, internationalism, and anticapitalism, which led her to create SVLLY(wood) Magazine, a biannual print and digital independent movie editorial geared toward curating a radical cinephilia. With a background in marketing, producing, and postproduction, she is currently switching gears to direct her first short film on black Muslim girlhood and developing two feature documentaries on the omnipresent surveillance state. Find our more at

Sarah Fonseca
Sarah is a publicly educated writer who lives in New York City, via the foothills of Georgia. She’s especially interested in Caribbean cinemas, documentary and action genres, and the lesbian image (from pre–Hays Code to new New Queer). Her film writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Autostraddle, Bitch Flicks, Lambda Literary Review, Posture Magazine, MUBI Notebook, Slate, and Wussy Magazine. Fonseca’s favorite NYC movie theater is Brooklyn Central Library’s Balcony Conference Room. She tweets @girlsinmitsouko.

Devika Girish
Devika recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in Modern Culture and Media. Originally from Nagpur, a small city in Central India, she is fascinated by the intersection of aesthetics and politics in film. She wrote her honors thesis on “The Indian Neo-Wave: Independent Cinema in Neoliberal India,” and her interests include postcolonial, immigrant, and feminist cinemas. Her writing has appeared in Film Comment, Tehelka, and Post- magazine, among others. Devika purports to not have a favorite film, but if you press her, she will admit that Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up is the greatest film she has ever seen. You can read her writing at or tweet her @devikagirgayi.

Benjamin Y Goff
Benjamin is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Stone, a website focusing on American film culture and the history and cultural implications of hip-hop. He hosts the weekly The Stone Podcast, discussing a range of topics within the world of cinema and music. Benjamin has interned at Magnolia Pictures, where he was a part of the marketing team for the Oscar-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro, as well as with the film curation team at Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Benjamin is currently a Masters student in Film Studies at Columbia University in New York.

Caroline Madden
Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, Caroline recently earned her Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her thesis “‘You Weren’t There’: The Representation of Women in Vietnam Veteran Melodramas” was an amalgam of her critical interests: feminism, masculinity, 1980s cinema, and 1960s culture. Caroline also enjoys analyzing film soundtracks, namely the intertextual relationship between the pop/rock song’s lyrical text and singer’s sociocultural impact with the film’s narrative and formal structure. Her work on this subject, Bruce Springsteen as Soundtrack: Film, Television, and the Music of the Boss, will be published by McFarland & Company, Inc. in 2019. Caroline’s other writing appears on Screenqueens, Bitch Flicks, and PopMatters.

Luis Madrigal
Born in Mexico City, Luis is a freelance correspondent and essayist whose work appears regularly in the Mexican newspaper REFORMA, and in Nexos, a cultural magazine where he writes mainly about movies. In 2016 he won the Ibero-American Essay Contest for Young Writers and has been selected a finalist twice in the Film Criticism Contest organized by Mexico’s National Cinematheque. He is currently a graduate student in the Creative Writing in Spanish program at New York University.

Tayler Montague
Tayler is a student at SUNY Purchase and a freelance journalist. She has had bylines in publications such as NYLON, Rookie, Teen Vogue, and Pitchfork. She hopes to bring her love of film and writing together to create pieces that are both personal and allow for a productive conversation about movies.

Muhammad Muzammal
Muhammad is an Economics major, with minors in Film Studies and Engineering, at Hofstra University. He is set to finish his studies in May 2018. He is a staff writer for the Hofstra Chronicle, as well as a digital artist/photographer ( and a screenwriter.

Jason Ooi
Jason hails from a small city in Southern California known for its auto square (Cerritos), but now resides in New York City, where he frantically tries to consume as much repertory cinema as he can, pursuing a degree in Cinema Studies at NYU while working as an intern at Kino Lorber and a projectionist in the Cinema Studies archive. His cinematic interests are rooted in international art-house (mostly French), experimental and avant-garde filmmaking, and trashy American blockbusters. You can find his writing on sites such as The Film Stage, The Playlist, and Audiences Everywhere. Follow him @JasonOfOoi.