2017 JURY



Khalili is the co-director of “Olive,” the first feature film to be shot entirely with a smartphone and the film’s original score was nominated for an Oscar.  The film inspired a new generation of filmmakers to embrace the smartphone as the first choice of filmmaking equipment.  Hooman is currently a morning show radio personality in the San Francisco Bay Area on Alice Radio 97.3 FM. In 2006, Hooman’s voice entertained a new segment of the population as he participated in the Pixar animated movie “Cars”. In 2008 Hooman created the #1 most view nonpartisan video to get the youth of America to vote in the presidential election. The video received 5.1 million views on YouTube and ended up in the museum of Radio and Television in NYC.

Milena Mikael-Debass is a New York-based producer with a background in broadcast television, video production and digital video strategy. From producing for Al Jazeera’s The Stream to VICE News, she is passionate about the constantly evolving landscape of web video. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Politics from the University of Virginia and a graduate degree in Global Communication at the George Washington University. In her spare time, Milena pursues her love of photography.

Innovator, filmmaker, technologist and digital distribution thought leader, Nick Soares has forged a path to democratizing film distribution through Distribber.com, the leading pioneer in worldwide digital distribution of filmed content. Nick Soares is CEO of GoDigital, Inc., the parent company of Distribber.com, the leading pioneer in worldwide digital distribution services of filmed content. The company helps filmmakers control their films’ releases while retaining 100% of their rights and revenue while also providing encoding and distribution service counsel. Under Nick’s leadership, Distribber provides encoding, distribution services and counsel to filmmakers and is respected as an industry leader and trusted by Award winning filmmakers, major Hollywood studios and independent filmmakers from around the world to support the release of filmed entertainment across platforms like Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon among others.

Marquise is the Founder and Principal of Openbox. As a business designer and developer for more than two decades, he grounds the Openbox vision in strategic planning from the fields of investing, product development, and technology. Marquise also works in creative leadership, teaching with the KaosPilots in Denmark and South Africa to help students learn by doing.

An active supporter of the arts, Marquise has collaborated with director Petter Ringbom on three short films and one feature-length movie, Shield and Spear (2014), about the rise of creative expression in post-apartheid South Africa. Marquise acts as a board member for the Lowline Underground Park, Center for Healthcare Innovation and board advisor for the Andrew Goodman Foundation and MoCADA, and he is a mentor to Geeks Without Bounds and the Girls & Boys Club. He is also a supporter of the Joyce Theater, Makeshift Magazine and MCA Denver for their ability to inspire exploration and empower creative cultures. Marquise is passionate about the power of design, and has a boundless curiosity for life. You can find him riding his bike through the streets of Manhattan, doing his part to build a greener urban future.


An Emmy® award-winning filmmaker entering his fourth decade with work spanning the globe, Larry Engel has worked on more than 250 documentary projects for television and cable. He is an associate professor at American University’s Film and Media Arts division in the School of Communication, an associate director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, and filmmaker-in-residence at the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

In pursuit of environmental, wildlife and adventure stories, Engel has flown into hurricanes, been chased by tornadoes, and dropped into ice caves. He’s fled wildfires, gotten lost in jungles, and spent three years traveling the globe to come face to face with a lot of mummies.

A three-part series that he directed and shot, “The Human Spark” hosted by Alan Alda premiered on PBS nationally and recently won a prestigious AAAS-Kavli Science Journalism Award for In-Depth Journalism. He currently producing a long-form documentary called “Harvest Home: A Refuge for Wounded Warriors” that focuses on need for housing to help veterans who suffer from TBI and PTSD transition back into society.

Susan Cartsonis is a Hollywood film producer whose focus is making movies that women want to see—and that men like too. The Hollywood Reporter named Susan Cartsonis one of the top five grossing producers of the year for her box office record-breaking film, WHAT WOMEN WANT (Paramount), and WHERE THE HEART IS (20th Century Fox) starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. Most recently, she produced the teen “Beauty and the Beast” feature film BEASTLY (CBS Films), starring Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris and the tween hit, AQUAMARINE (20th Century Fox), starring Emma Roberts. She exec-produced NO RESERVATIONS (Warner Brothers), starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhardt.

Cartsonis was an executive at Twentieth Century Fox for nearly a decade and rose from script reader to Senior Vice President of Production before leaving to build two successful film companies, the first for a leading television show creator and the second, her own company, Storefront Pictures. While an executive at Fox, a sampling of the films she developed and supervised include NELL (Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson), THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS, FOR THE BOYS (Bette Midler), DYING YOUNG (Julia Roberts), and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.