2017 Jury

Often described as a wicked good kid from Boston, Lela has been with the Tallgrass Film Festival since late founder Timothy Gruver invited her to Wichita in 2003 to serve as festival producer and co-founder. She lived in Los Angeles, Chicago & Denver before touching down in Wichita full-time in 2011 to take on the role of TFA Executive Director. In 2016 she hung up that hat to focus on the Tallgrass brand, marketing and communications. She currently serves as the Acting Executive Director for the Film Festival Alliance, which serves 100 member film festivals from across North America, and as the Filmmaker Relations staff for the Woods Hole Film Festival. In addition to 10+ years of experience in the entertainment industry in Hollywood, including marketing and publicity, she also holds a degree in the culinary arts. In her spare time, she can often be found in her kitchen producing, marketing and publicizing her culinary creations for her film festival compadres (@toastchick.) How do you like them apples?
John Kapelos is a Canadian actor and producer from London, Ontario known for his roles in The Breakfast Club, Roxanne and Sixteen Candles. An alumnus of The Second City, Chicago, John Kapelos’s theatrical work spans eight years from Second City’s Touring Company (1978–1982) to six revues as a member of the famed Resident Company (1982–1986), and finally Second City’s critically acclaimed return to off-Broadway in Orwell That Ends Well at the former Village Gate in New York City Other film works include Garry Marshall’s Nothing in Common, opposite Tom Hanks, and Touchstone’s Stick It show his improvisational and comedic timing skills. Whereas roles in The Boost, with James Woods, and Internal Affairs with Richard Gere, present his adaptability for dramatic roles.
Award winning filmmaker and Motion Picture Institute co-founder Douglas Schulze brings twenty-eight years of real world experience to the classroom. His first feature film credits include Hellmaster (HBO and Cinemax) 1993, Dark Heaven (ThinkFilm) 2004, Dark Fields (Lionsgate) 2011, Mimesis Night of the Living Dead (Anchor Bay) 2012, The Dogs’ Fighter (Amazon Prime) 2013, The Dark Below (featuring Veronica Cartwright) 2015 and is currently directing the comedy tv pilot The Monster Show. Doug’s tenure in the film industry has included collaborations with a wide variety of Hollywood professionals including Michael Goi (former ASC president/DP of American Horror Story), Academy award winning special effects artist Chris Walas (the Fly) and the late David Carradine (Kill Bill). He is currently developing Mimesis 2. Doug holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Cinematic Arts from Eastern Michigan University.
Laura Heberton is a producer of award-­winning, ground-breaking narrative features as well narrative and doc shorts that have premiered at top festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Berlin, SXSW and London BFI. Notable features include Jonathan Lisecki’s “Gayby“, Matt Porterfield’s “I Used to Be Darker“, Josephine Decker’s “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely“, Lance Edmands’ “Bluebird“, Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-­Beck’s “God Bless the Child” and Alison Bagnall’s “Funny Bunny“­­.  She currently is producing Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-­Beck’s (“God Bless the Child”) third feature, “When She Runs” as well as their short, “Mother, Mother” and Jennifer Reeder’s short, “All Small Bodies“. Projects she has worked on have received support from numerous organizations such as IFP, the SFFilm/Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Sundance Institute, Cinemart, the Polish Film Society, the Tribeca Film Institute and Rooftop Films. She serves on the boards of New York-based Union Docs and Pittsburgh-based Silver Eye Center for Photography, and task forces at a number of arts organizations. She has been on multiple film festival juries and is also a writer of screenplays and fiction.
Violet Lucca is the Digital Producer of Film Comment magazine and host of The Film Comment Podcast. In addition to creating content for the online and print versions of the magazine—interviews, reviews, features, and multimedia pieces—she regularly contributes writing to Sight & Sound. Lucca studied film and film production at the University of Iowa, graduating with honors, and received her master’s degree in cinema studies from New York University in 2009. She has also worked at the Watermill Center, Macmillan Publishers, and WNYC’s The Takeaway.

2016 Jury

Jon Lindstrom, Filmmaker
As an award-winning, Emmy nominated actor, director and screenwriter, Jon has crossed all mediums and worked with many of today’s major names.  He was one of 5 finalists in the prestigious New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Director Competition (along with Equity director, Meera Menon) at the 2013 St. Louis Int’l. Film Festival for his debut feature, How We Got Away With It.

As a screenwriter he co-authored (among others) the aforementioned How We Got Away With It and The Hard Easy, starring Vera Farmiga, Bruce Dern and Peter Weller. Primarily known for his acting career, he was recently seen throughout HBO’s True Detective and the recent God’s Not Dead 2. He’s been honored with numerous acting accolades, including the Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series and won the Angel Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Monaco Int’l. Film Festival.

Cynthia Canty is the host of Stateside, the public radio talk show focused on Michigan news and policy issues as well as culture and lifestyle stories. Stateside airs on Michigan Radio (91.7 FM Ann Arbor/Detroit/91.1 FM Flint/104.1FM West Michigan) Monday-Friday from 3–4 pm (10-11pm repeat). Cynthia is a veteran Detroit radio personality and Emmy Award winning news anchor. She served as a news anchor and morning show personality with Jim Harper at WNIC-100.3 FM, WDTX-99.5 FM and WMGC-105.1 FM from 1980-2011. She’s also hosted public affairs programs at WKBD-TV, and was a reporter and anchor on WKBD’s “Ten O’Clock News.” Her reporting and writing have earned her many awards, including an Emmy and honors from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Associated Press and the Detroit Press Club.
Aaron’s debut feature was the 2015 offbeat comedy Wedgerino, which he wrote, directed and starred in. Currently he is prepping his second feature, Skippers. He works as an assistant director and production manager on indie films and commercials, and was formerly a production coordinator at the TV network Viceland. Also spending time as a freelance writer, he won a 2011 Lisagor Award for Best Arts Reporting & Criticism for an article on Henry Miller. Aaron recently relocated from Brooklyn to Evanston, Illinois.
One of Variety magazine’s “110 Students to Watch,” Russell Sheaffer is an experimental film and documentary filmmaker who received a Master’s Degree from NYU’s Department of Cinema Studies and is currently working on his PhD in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University. Most recently, his short experimental documentary “Acetate Diary” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was named one of the “12 best shorts” of Tribeca by Film School Rejects. His experimental work has screened at numerous venues and festivals including MoMA, Inside Out, Anthology Film Archives, MIX NYC, and Queer Lisboa. In addition to his own experimental work, he has worked as a producer for documentary and fiction films, including Josephine Decker’s “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely,” which premiered in Forum at Berlinale in 2014, and ESPN’s “The Diplomat,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013.
Jess Levandoski is an independent film producer and commercial director with over 75+ short films and commercial projects under her belt. She is currently in development on the all-female helmed project, ‘Flower Girls’, which is slated to start production in St. Petersburg, Florida late fall of 2016,  after that she begins on directorial debut of the western she wrote, ‘La Plata’, starring Krisha Fairchild. Jess is also the director of the Middle Coast Film Festival, programs for the the Adirondack Film Festival and sits as a Juried Panel Member at The Sparrow Film Project in Queens, NY.  She’s got 2 great little humans she raises in Chicago with her Cinematographer husband, Matthew Levandoski.
Previously, Hall held the position of Director, Artistic Director and Director of Programming at the Sarasota Film Festival (2005- 2014) and Programming Director at newportFILM in Newport, RI (2009-2011). In addition, Hall was Programmer for The Nantucket Film Festival in Nantucket, MA (2002-2005) as well as a former Director of New Media for Bravo/The Independent Film Channel (1997-2000). He has also worked in the Industry and Guest Services Offices at The Hamptons International Film Festival (2002-2003). In January of 2010, Tom was named one of Spring Board Media’s 20 under 40 in Film. Tom has directed short films for Bob Mould’s Carnival of Light and Sound Tour and was an inaugural member of the indieWIRE blogging community with his blog The Back Row Manifesto, which is now a standalone website. A graduate of the University of Michigan (’94), Hall resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two sons.

2015 Jury

Leslie Raymond, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival
Leslie Raymond has served as Ann Arbor Film Festival as Executive Director for the past two years. Prior to that, she was a teaching media artist for 14 years and founded a New Media Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio as an Assistant Professor of Art. Raymond has also promoted contemporary expanded cinema practice through special projects such as the Live Cinema Summit at Columbia College in Chicago in 2010. As an expanded cinema artist, she has performed as Potter-Belmar Labs for the Aurora Picture Show Media Archeology Festival (Houston TX), SUNY Brockport Visual Studies Workshop (Rochester NY), San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio TX), Sheldon Memorial Museum (Lincoln NE), Artpace (San Antonio TX), the McDonough Museum, (Youngstown OH), and many other venues.

Mark Covino, Filmmaker
Originally from Queens, New York, where he fell in love with film at an early age. By the time he was a student at Eastern Suffolk B.O.C.E.S., he was honing the skills he would need to make the leap from high school student to filmmaker. Soon after, Mark moved to Vermont to attend college, earning a BA in Cinema Studies and Film Production in 2006. While Mark was working towards his undergraduate degree, he became heavily active in the Vermont filmmaking community. He worked on several productions such as “Unless a Death Occurs: Hazing Examined” for PBS, “Rally-Nation” (a pilot optioned for ESPN 2), as well as the highly acclaimed Black Panther documentary, “What We Want, What We Believe.” In 2012, Mark’s first feature film, “A Band Called Death,” premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and subsequently won the Audience Award at South by Southwest 2013. The film was acquired by Drafthouse Films shortly thereafter and was released to rave reviews around the world. It currently has a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Michael Dunaway, Filmmaker
Produced and directed the New York Times Critics Pick 21 YEARS: RICHARD LINKLATER, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Zac Efron, Jack Black, and many others. He also produced and directed the PBS documentary THE MAN WHO ATE NEW ORLEANS. He is the Movies Editor of Paste Magazine (5 million monthly readers), the Creative Director of the Sarasota Film Festival (one of the ten largest in the US), and the host of The Work podcast. He is currently in post-production on his first scripted feature, 6 LOVE STORIES, starring Peter Bogdanovich, Carrie Preston, Alicia Witt, Matthew Lillard, Stephen Tobolowsky, and others.

Joel Potrykus, Filmmaker
The american writer/director resides in Grand Rapids, MI USA where he continues to work with his filmmaking band, Sob Noisse. BUZZARD (SXSW, 2014) is the final installment in his Animal Trilogy, following the 2012 feature film APE (winner of Best Emerging Director, Locarno Film Festival) and the 2010 Super 8 short COYOTE. Along with production, Potrykus teaches screenwriting at Grand Valley State University and writes for an annual film criticism publication

Filmography: Gordon (2007, short), Coyote (2010, short, Ape (2012, feature), Buzzard (2014, feature), The Alchemist’s Cookbook (2016, feature)

Jeff Meyers, Filmmaker
An Ann Arbor-based screenwriter, director, filmmaker and journalist. He has been a film critic at Detroit’s Metro Times since 2004 and penned nearly a thousand reviews, can be found on Rotten Tomatoes, and won the Excellence In Journalism: Criticism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists (2009, 2010, 2011). Jeff is also a founding member of the Detroit Film Critic’s Society and served as its president from 2011-2013. He is also a contributing writer at Moviemaker Magazine. Jeff’s latest short film, The Blood Of Love, has been an official selection of over 30 film festivals and has won several awards.

2014 Jury

Geoff Marslett, Filmmaker
A Texan who took a circuitous path to filmmaking, studying mathematics, philosophy, art, science, and languages at St. John’s College (1996) before returning home to pursue an MFA in filmmaking at UT (2001). In addition to making films, Geoff teaches in the RTF Department at The University of Texas at Austin.

He is probably best known for directing the two feature film, “MARS” (2010) and “Loves Her Gun” (2013), but he is also a producer on the award winning documentary “Yakona” (2014), director of a dozen short films including the classic “Monkey vs. Robot” (2000), and an actor in Josephine Decker’s festival hit “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” (2014).

Rider Strong, Actor/Director/Writer
He is an actor and director, known for Boy Meets World (1993), Cabin Fever(2002) and The Dungeon Master (2011). He has been married to Alexandra Barreto since October 20, 2013. They have one child.

Joey Kern, Actor/Director
Studied at New York University where he earned a BFA in Drama. He then went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. His professional acting career began on stage with various companies including the Atlantic Theater Company, New Group Theater and Theatre for a New Audience, where he played the title role of “Troilus” in William Shakespeare‘s “Troilus and Cressida”.

He then made his feature film debut in the indie flick The Virgin (1999), followed by a guest appearance in the HBO television series Sex and the City (1998). Next, he played a college boy in the feature film Super Troopers (2001), then landed small roles in three more indie films: Love the Hard Way (2001) starring Adrien Brody, XX/XY (2002) and Garmento (2002). His career took off when he landed lead roles in two films given wide release: Grind (2003) and Cabin Fever (2002). Kern has also appeared on ABC’s Wonderland (2000). Joey Kern attended Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival in 2012 with his film Alter Egos where he starred as super hero C-Thru.

W.A.W. Parker, Filmmaker
Adam grew up in Montana and studied film at Harvard University with Robb Moss, Alfred Guzzetti, and Ross McElwee. Adam worked in the editorial department of “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” (directed by 2013 HHM Jury member Damien Chazelle), “Maria My Love” (directed by 2013 HHM Jury member Jasmine McGlade), “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism” (directed by Gerald Peary), and the web series “Turbo Dates” (directed by Jocelyn Stamat, Terry Rossio, Paul Hernandez, and Bill Marsilii). Currently, Adam lives in Los Angeles and is the assistant to Jocelyn Stamat (Turbo Dates) and Terry Rossio (Aladdin, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean).

Adam also sings with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, can be heard singing backup on the title track of Weezer’s next album, and volunteers for the Opera League of Los Angeles.

2013 Jury

Adam Schartoff, Founder/Host of Filmwax
Founded Filmwax, a Brooklyn-based film series that shows independent films throughout locations in NYC. Filmwax Radio, hosted by Adam, consists of “Filmwax Interviews with sundry folks from the indie film scene in Brooklyn, NY and beyond. With Filmwax Radio, each 30-minute episode includes an interview with a personality from the indie film scene.”

Adam also contributes to blogs tribecafilm.com, pov.org, hammertonail.com and his own blogwax (blog.filmwax.com). As his bio on Filmwax Radio says, “Most importantly, Adam is Dad to Jacob.”

Jasmine McGlade, Filmmaker
In 2011, Jasmine wrote and directed her first feature film, “Maria My Love,” which screened at HHM 2011 as our opening night film. “Maria My Love” stars Independent Spirit Award nominee Judy Marte (“Raising Victor Vargas) and Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Karen Black (“Five Easy Pieces”).

After growing up in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and England, Jasmine went to Harvard University (graduated in 2007) where she produced the feature-length musical “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” which premiered at Tribeca in 2009, won the Special Jury Prize at the Torino Film Festival, was nominated for a Gotham Award, and was released in theaters the next year. The Village Voice, Film Comment, Time Out New York, and The Boston Phoneix named it one of the ten best films of the year and one of the best thirty by The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Damien Chazelle, Filmmaker
Damien Chazelle wrote and directed his first feature, “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” at Harvard University, the film which Jasmine produced while also attending school there. “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, was released in theaters in 2010, and was named one of the best films of the year by many publications.

Chazelle appeared in the 2010 Black List for his screenplay “The Claim” and in 2012 with his script “Whiplash.” His short film, also titled “Whiplash,” won the Short Film Jury Prize for U.S. Fiction at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He also wrote the screenplay for “The Last Exorcism Part II” Currently, he is developing the feature-length version of “Whiplash” with producers Jason Reitman and Jason Blum.

Adam Busch, Actor
Adam Busch is known best, perhaps, for his role in the ’90s hit show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as Warren Meers, part of “The Trio” in Season 6, and for his role for the new show “Men at Work” as Neal, one of the four feature characters. Film festival goers may recognize him from one of the lead roles in the short film “The Dungeon Master,” which screened in 2011 at HHM and was written and directed by brothers Rider Strong and Shiloh Strong.

Adam also sings in a folk rock band called Common Rotation. The members include Eric Kufs (singer/guitarist), Adam (harmonica, vocals) and Jordan Katz (trumpet, banjo, bass). The band plays all around Los Angeles, New York, and the UK. The band’s latest album “Keep an Open Gallery” was released Fall 2011.