Meet The Experts


Originally from Mexico City, film journalist Carlos Aguilar has written for important outlets such as Indiewire, SydneysBuzz, Movie Maker Magazine, Creative Screenwriting, and Variety Latino. In 2014, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by the Sundance Institute and Indiewire. Whether interviewing internationally acclaimed filmmakers, covering screenplays, or reviewing the latest independent gem, his passion for film is always indelible.



Charles Agron is president of K STREET PICTURES, produces and acquires entertainment product for worldwide sales and distribution. His company recently released MONDAY AT 11:01 A.M., starring Lance Henriksen and Briana Evigan. MONDAY AT 11:01 AM is the first release for K Street Pictures and Agron’s second. His first film was the 2014 horror pic Dark House, directed by Victor Salva, starring Tobin Bell. Agron formed K Street in 2015 to “innovate the distribution process and be on the cutting edge as the paradigm changes.” K Street Pictures gives each release a unique distribution strategy and creates “a transparent relationship with producers to help maximize returns on their films.”



David Ariniello wrote and co-produced the feature film Arcadia Lost starring Nick Nolte and Haley Bennett, which premiered at the Oldenburg Film Festival in 2010. Winner of a 50th Annual Samuel Goldwyn Screenwriting Award, he also wrote and co-directed The Incident, a branded entertainment short for Lincoln motors and Vanity Fair. A member of the WGA, SAG, and IATSE, Ariniello holds a B.A. from Columbia University and PhD in English literature from the University of California at Irvine where wrote of the fraught relationship between the work of the body and the work of the mind in his dissertation on Joseph Conrad.



Steven Bernstein ASC, is an award winning writer, director,cinematographer and producer. He wrote the best selling textbook Film Production. Bernstein produced, wrote and directed the award-winning DECODING ANNIE PARKER starring Helen Hunt, Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul, and DOMINION (currently in post-production) starring John Malkovich, Rhys Ifans and Rodrigo Santoro. Past films as a cinematographer include LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE and MONSTER as well as another 60 major film projects. His TV series, ALTHEA AND ANGELA is currently in development, he has two other major script commissions and His screenplay WICKED CITY is being made into a major science fiction film that shoots next year. Bernstein also acts as a creative consultant to producers, writers and filmmakers.



Pau Brunet is co-founder of L.A.-based LA Panda Productions, and a producer with over 10 years of experience in development, distribution and international sales. He is executive producer of movies like Open Windows,10,000Km and upcoming films like People You May Know and Spanish-comedy Como la Espuma. He is currently producing some of the LA Panda’s movies in development such as The Last Date and Don’t Fuck Around with Love. His work, both in Spain and the U.S., focuses on analyzing the financing and distribution for narrative projects as well as a marketing advisor via the UK Media Agency Pau is also the editor of, the most respected box office tracking website in the Spanish market.



Canadian-born playwright and screenwriter, Aida Croal, received her BA from Stanford University and her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She won a Daytime Emmy while writing on her first TV show: ABC’s One Life to Live. She has since written for Syfy, (Sanctuary), Cartoon Network (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), AMC (TURN: Washington’s Spies), Netflix (Marvel’s Luke Cage), and a currently staffed on a soon-to-be announced drama for Cinemax.



Julia Fontana is an LA-based feature film and TV writer from Barcelona. She worked as a development executive and as a producer in Spain before winning a Fulbright scholarship that allowed her to move to the U.S. to pursue an MFA in writing and producing at UCLA. After graduating, she worked as an assistant at Participant Media and eventually left that job to pursue screenwriting full-time. A Sundance Institute fellow and a 2016 Fox Writers Intensive finalist, she is currently a staff writer on the second season of FOX’s Lucifer. She’s represented by Circle of Confusion.



David Harris is VP of Development at Gunpowder & Sky, a global studio dedicated to creating and distributing video content independent of form, genre or platform.  Launched in January of 2016, the studio has a slate of digital and theatrical features in development, as well as short form series including DRAWN & RECORDED, an animated music documentary produced by T Bone Burnett as part of Spotify’s first video slate. Prior to Gunpowder & Sky, David was the VP of Development at MTV(other) where he produced Craig Brewer’s $5 Cover, the Supervideo series of celebrity music videos and the 2014 reboot of the animated series Liquid Television.



Our Lady J is currently a writer on the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning show Transparent. As a singer/songwriter, she released her first studio album “Picture Of A Man” to critical acclaim in 2013. As a pianist, she has collaborated with the likes of Sia, Lady Gaga, Scissor Sisters, and Broadway stars including Chita Rivera, Christine Ebersole, and Justin Vivian Bond. Our Lady J holds the honor of being the first open trans woman to perform at Carnegie Hall and has been featured on Out Magazine’s “Out 100,” and the Huffington Post’s list of “transgender icons”.



Maikiko James manages office operations and general public programming for Women In Film. She came to WIF in 2014 after six years with Active Voice, a national organization tackling social issues through the creative use of film, where she coordinated on multiple social engagement campaigns including those of Food Inc., Welcome to Shelbyville, Gideon’s Army, Kids for Cash, among others. She acted as a Special Project Advisor on WIF supported documentary Seeking Asian Female, and co-producer of its sister web project, Maikiko is also an actor, improviser, and writer, and holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.



Rebecca Katz is the Manager of the Creative Producing Initiative in the Feature Film Program at the Sundance Institute. For 3 years, she worked in the programming department for the Sundance Film Festival in addition to producing the 2014 festival trailer, managing Sundance ShortsLabs, and running the Film Office at Sundance Next Fest. She has produced documentaries with Shine Global Inc. in New York City, independent web series, and short films including UNORTHODOX, which premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2013. She received her BA from Tufts University and MFA from the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.



As Director of Creative Initiatives for technology leader Bittorrent, Missy Laney is leading collaboration with the creator community to build impactful, sustainable products and features as part of the Bundle platform. Her commitment to leading empowerment and experimentation for filmmakers was honed over 4 years as Sundance Institute’s Manager of their Artist Services Program, overseeing the first-ever creative funding initiative with Kickstarter and managing digital and direct-to-fan distribution efforts on behalf of the organization’s esteemed alumni.



Kathleen McInnis specializes in unique business development for world cinema filmmakers. Under the banner of her film publicity and festival strategies consulting company, See-Through Films, LLC, McInnis and her team represent world cinema narrative, documentary and short films at festivals worldwide such as Sundance, Berlin, Karlovy Vary, and Toronto. McInnis is also a shorts programmer at both Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs (Canada). Based in Los Angeles, McInnis has previously been the Festival Director at Palm Springs ShortFest, Festival Director at Slamdance Film Festival, and Lead Programmer & Director of Industry Programming at Seattle International Film Festival.



Benoni Tagoe is a business development strategist for new media companies and a producer whose content has received 20+ million views collectively. His breakout series The Bizz Plan profiles minority entrepreneurs as they give insight into their business mindset, has been featured in Black Enterprise. Most recently, Benoni has been producing podcasts with narrative storytelling formats that have been featured in Forbes and Advertising Age.



Matthew Takata is the Manager for the Feature Film Program’s international work at Sundance Institute. His focus is on international outreach and selection for the Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs in Utah, FFP’s labs in India, Turkey, Jordan and Japan, and the annual Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award. Previously, Matthew worked at GK Films on projects including The Departed, Blood Diamond, and The Town, following a stint at Key Creatives and International Creative Management . Matthew attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a native of the San Francisco bay area.



Kelly Thomas is a producer and co-founder of Extraordinary Renditions. Most recently, she produced Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night, which premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Kelly began her film career with Mockingbird Pictures and has worked with acclaimed directors Rodrigo Garcia, Phedon Papamichael, Robin Swicord, and Brad Silberling. Previously, Kelly was the Producer in Residence for Film Independent’s Artist Development programs and in that capacity managed and curated labs for writers, directors, producers, and documentary filmmakers. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School where she is adjunct faculty.



Oscar Torres – Writer/producer of Innocent Voices (Voces Inocentes) a film that went out to win over 70 National and International Awards including Mexico’s official submission to the 77th Academy Awards and the Berlin Film Festival Best Picture Award. Writer/producer of “En Tus Manos” an anti-violence short-film that won the 2010 Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Spirit Quest Film Festival among many others. Some of his latest work are the films Bravetown released in theaters in May, 2015, starring Josh Duhamel, Laura Dern, Maria Bello and Lucas Till; and Pulling Strings starring Mexican leading man Jaime Camil produced by Pantelion Films which became one of the top three most successful Mexican film releases of 2013 in the U.S. and Mexico. In the same year, Oscar was a Creative and Script Consultant on the runaway hit Instructions Not Included starring Eugenio Derbez, which became the most successful Spanish Speaking film of all time grossing over $44 Million in the U.S. alone. To date, its worldwide revenue exceeds the $100 million mark. Now on DVD are Viento en Contra starring Mexican leading lady Barbara Mori, and Sundance’s Official Entry Mancora. In 2015, along with business partners William Levy and Jeff Goldberg, Oscar launched the Latin DNA Company Mango Tree Films now developing several projects including Te Adoro (I Love You) currently in pre-production in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.



Athina Rachel Tsangari is considered to be amongst the principal instigators of the New Greek Wave. The 2002 Village Voice Critics Poll listed her debut, THE SLOW BUSINESS OF GOING (2001), as one of the year’s “best first films” and it resides in MoMA’s permanent film collection. While a graduate student and later a lecturer at UT-Austin, she co-founded and was the artistic director of the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival (1997-2007). ATTENBERG (2010), premiered in main competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Coppa Volpi Award for Best Actress (Ariane Labed). It was Greece’s official submission to the 2012 Academy Awards®, and was distributed in 30 territories worldwide. She founded Haos Film, a filmmakers collective & post-production studio in Athens. Among her credits as a producer are three films directed by Yorgos Lanthimos — KINETTA (2005), DOGTOOTH as an associate producer (2009) and ALPS (2011). She was also a co-producer on Richard Linklater’s BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013), wherein she also appeared as an actress. Her short THE CAPSULE (2012), was commissioned by the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art. It premiered at dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, followed by screenings at the Locarno, Toronto, Sundance and 40+ film festivals. CHEVALIER (2015), premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. It won the Best Film prize in competition at the BFI-London Film Festival 2015.  It had its North American premiere at the Toronto IFF, followed by the New York Film Festival and AFI to critical acclaim. She was the 2015 Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Filmmaker in Residence where she began development on her next film, WHITE KNUCKLES. She is currently a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies fellow at Harvard University. She has served as an advisor at the Sundance Institute Directors Lab in Utah and abroad.



Joanna Varikos is director of acquisitions for Participant Media’s television network, Pivot. She is responsible for overseeing strategy of acquired content for Pivot. Varikos has over 15 years experience in the entertainment industry. Prior to joining Pivot, Varikos held a managerial position at IFC, where she worked for six years in scheduling and helped facilitate the network’s transition to being fully ad supported and Nielsen rated. Varikos started her career in television production, working on shows for various networks including VH1. She is also a published film journalist whose work has been featured in numerous online and print publications.



Emmy Award-winning television director Greg Yaitanes has directed over 100 hours of television’s top shows including Lost, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy. His Emmy came in 2008 as a result of his work on House, M.D., one of the most popular shows worldwide. Most recently, Greg was the showrunner and director on Cinemax’s newest series, Quarry, airing in fall of 2016, and the executive producer of Emmy-winning Banshee, which has just completed airing its fourth and final season. Currently, Greg is showrunning the Discovery Channel’s newest title, Manifesto, recounting the true story of the Unabomber from the FBI’s perspective.