Meet the 2017 IPDF Experts


Originally from Mexico City, film journalist Carlos Aguilar (Moderator) 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.



Andrew Ahn (Group Intro) is a filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His feature film SPA NIGHT premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. The film also won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards. Ahn participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Film Independent Directing Lab for the film. Ahn is an alum of Film Independent’s Project Involve. He graduated from Brown University and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).



After completing her studies in political science and history, Anna Maria Aslanoglu (One-on-One Meetings) worked as AD in various short and feature-length films, and as PM for foreign documentary productions in Turkey. She’s among the founders of istos publishing & film that was founded in 2012. She’s the producer of TUESDAY, the short film directed by Ziya Demirel (pr. Official Competition, Cannes FF 2015), and the associate producer of INNOCENCE OF MEMORIES, directed by Grant Gee (pr. Venice Days 2015). She’s the producer of THE GULF by Emre Yeksan (in post-production), ZUHAL by Nazli Elif Durlu (financing), IDLE MOMENTS by Cem Öztüfekçi (financing) and ELA AND HILMI by Ziya Demirel (development). Istos film is a member of the EAVE Network.



As the creative director for Alamo Drafthouse’s upcoming DTLA multiplex, Bret Berg (New Reality in Distribution) produces and hosts Alamo’s pop-up screening events in town. Also, through his service to the American Genre Film Archive (Alamo’s non-profit sister organization), Berg works with indie theaters across the country to introduce new audiences to genre film classics. A lifelong Angeleno, Bret is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University’s film production program, was previously the Programming Director for Cinefamily, and held a decade-long weekly DJ post at L.A. public radio station KXLU 88.9fm.



Morse Bicknell (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Actor) is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. Some of his favorite film and television experiences include CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS,MANHATTAN, FRANK, Preacher, ODD THOMAS, Longmire, MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS, and Breaking Bad.



Maria Raquel Bozzi (Jury) is the Senior Director of Film Education & International Initiatives at Film Independent. Bozzi is currently leading Global Media Makers -the program is a partnership between the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Film Independent, serving media makers from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, UAE and Morocco. Her personal filmography includes the short, INSTRUCTIONS FOR CRYING; the documentary, PALENQUE: UN CANTO AND THE COLOMBIA WE NEVER LEFT. Bozzi has also worked as associate producer for public television documentaries, and writer of educational films for Glencoe/McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin publishing companies. Bozzi taught film and video production in colleges and universities including UCLA, Loyola Marymount University and the University of California, Irvine. Bozzi holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from UCLA.



A member of the Producers Guild of America, AMPAS, Visual Effects Society and a producer on the upcoming feature film CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Casey Cannon (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Producer) started her film career with such diverse companies as George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic and James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment – producing for such luminaries as Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Mariah Carey and Prince’s touring presentation “Billboards” featuring the Joffrey Ballet. After producing the Award Winning TERMINATOR 2 Special Edition Director’s Cut, she founded Banned from the Ranch Entertainment, one of the industry’s premiere digital visual effects ‘boutiques’, producing work for TITANIC, MILK, TWISTER, JERRY MAGUIRE, MEN IN BLACK, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, VANILLA SKY and many others.



Giulia Caruso (Group Intro) is an LA-based Italian producer and founding member of Nonetheless Productions. She won a Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award for Andrew Ahn’s debut feature, SPA NIGHT. The latest feature she produced, COLUMBUS, stars John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson and Parker Posey. It premiered at Sundance and Rotterdam 2017, and it’s opening in theaters on August 4th. Caruso produced content for clients such as Focus Features, MTV, GoPro – including Ian Samuels’ Sundance short film, MYRNA THE MONSTER, and Rhys Ernst’s GLAAD-awarded docuseries We’ve Been Around. Caruso is an alum of Sundance’s Creative Producing Summit, Film Independent’s Project Involve and the Berlinale Talent Campus. She holds an MFA in Film Directing from Calarts.



Philip W. Chung (New Reality in Distribution) oversees the creative content for YOMYOMF, STAR TREK BEYOND director Justin Lin’s digital company. He has worked in film, TV, theater and digital, and was the co-founder of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an Asian American theater company. Chung most recently wrote/produced HELP, Google’s first live-action 360-degree project, and co-wrote/produced HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES, a feature which opened in China at #1. Chung also oversaw projects for Disney Channel, Legendary, IFC and others. He is currently producing the Knight Rider reboot, and projects for Warner Brothers, Comcast/NBC Universal, Ovation TV, and others.



Fenia Cossovitsa (Jury) is an acclaimed film producer with many years of experience in the development, shooting and post-production of feature films, documentaries, TV programs and other audiovisual projects with a background of over 20 Greek and international feature films and documentaries in her resumé, working with such internationally acclaimed filmmakers as Peter Bogdanovic, Jonathan Nossiter and Tony Gatlif. Recent works and awards: Fipresci Award at Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2015 for the film, BLIND SUN, a feature film by Joyce A. Nashawati, VOIR DU PAYS, a feature film by Delphine and Muriel Coulin, Festival de Cannes 2016 – Official Selection – Un Certain Regard – Best Screenplay Award. Audience awards at Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2016 for the feature films I STILL HIDE TO SMOKE by Rayhana, and THE OTHER ME by Sotiris Tsafoulias. Her latest co-production, DJAM by Tony Gatlif, premiered in Festival de Cannes 2017.



Hussain Currimbhoy (Jury) joined the Sundance programming team in 2014, specializing in feature length documentary films and VR. He was previously the Director of Programming for the Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK and has worked in international fiction and documentary programming for some of Australia’s most highly-regarded film events, including the Adelaide and Melbourne film festivals. After graduation from the Victorian College of Art in 2002, Hussain founded a touring short film festival and began curating film programs for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. He has a B.A. in film from Curtin University and has written and directed 8 short films, many of which have played at film festivals around the world. Born in Canada, he has spent time living and working in Australia, Japan, The Netherlands, and the UK. Hussain is based in Los Angeles.



Nazli Elif Durlu (Screenplay Feedback), born in Ankara, Turkey, studied Film and Television in the Netherlands and got her master’s degree from University of Utrecht. She has written and directed three short films [TRUST ME (2009), LATER(2012), THE HORSE AND THE NIGHTINGALE (2013)] that were screened at international film festivals such as Uppsala, Hamptons and Sao Paolo. In 2010, she worked as one of the screenwriters of the omnibus called, DO NOT FORGET ME ISTANBUL, in which Hany Abu-Assad shot the screenplay she wrote. Since then she has been working as a screenwriter for TV series and feature films for productions of Turkey and of the Netherlands. Currently, she’s working on her debut feature, ZUHAL, and is part of the Global Media Makers 2017 fellows of Film Independent.



Pavlina Hatoupis (Jury) splits her time between producing independent features and episodic content. Her recent film credits include PHOENIX FORGOTTEN, BURN YOUR MAPS, WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD, THE PYRAMID, MANIAC, KABOOM , LITTLE BIRDS, FLY AWAY, PERFECTION, NEW GUY, 3…2…1…FRANKIE GO BOOM, NIGHT OF THE LIVING FRED and SASSY PANTS. Her TV/episodic credits include The Last Tycoon (Amazon); Tyrant (FX); The Spoils of Babylon (IFC); The Untitled Lena Waithe Project (Showtime) and Outcast (Cinemax) to name a few. She has also worked in multiple countries outside of the US including Turkey, Israel, Morocco and Hungary.



Hailing from the UK, Simon Kassianides’ (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Actor) breakout role came in playing opposite Daniel Craig in the hit Sony feature QUANTUM OF SOLACE as well as playing opposite Woody Harrelson on London’s West End Stage. After Kassianides’ success in the UK he made the leap to the US, becoming a recurring actor on the hit ABC show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and now CBS’ hit Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.  Kassianides is currently starring in between Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl for the Warner Bros feature film UNFORGETTABLE, in theaters worldwide.



Ki Jin Kim (One-on-One Meetings) is a Los Angeles-based Korean filmmaker and founding member of Nonetheless Productions. Kim’s recent producing work includes the features COLUMBUS, which premiered at Sundance 2017, and the Sundance and Independent Spirit Awards winner, SPA NIGHT, as well as award-winning shorts, DEER FLOWER and MYRNA THE MONSTER. Kim won an Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for SPA NIGHT, and is a Sundance Creative Producing Summit and IFFR Rotterdam Lab fellow. He received a Panavision New Filmmaker Grant and The EFILM | Company 3 Feature Film Grant. He moved from his native Korea to Los Angeles to attend the Film Directing Program at California Institute of the Arts.



Caroline von Kuhn (Jury) is Director of Artist Development at the San Francisco Film Society, which spans artist grants, fellowships, residencies and fiscal sponsorship. She most recently was a co-Founder of the Points North Institute, which produces the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF). She comes from the Tribeca Film Festival, running their Industry department after four years of Publicity and producing Industry Panels for Doha Film Institute (Qatar). von Kuhn has worked extensively in Film Publicity at Tribeca, Apparition and Film Society of Lincoln Center. She programmed the launch Seed&Spark with the team behind her first film, LIKE THE WATER (Director/EP). von Kuhn’s most recent producing work is Ian Olds’ BURN COUNTRY (formerly titled THE FIXER, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival). von Kuhn was a 2016 IFP Cannes Producers Network Fellow. She received her BA in Financial Economics from University of Virginia and an MFA from University of Manchester (UK).



Missy Laney (New Reality in Distribution) has worked in independent film as a producer, festival programmer, and marketing and distribution strategist.An advocate for artist sustainability, champion of diverse storytellers, and a supporter of advancing technology for the film market, Laney guided over 125 digital film releases with projects from Laura Poitras, Paul Thomas Anderson, Shane Carruth, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Penny Lane, Tiffany Shlain, among others.Laney previously worked at the Sundance Institute growing their #ArtistServices Initiative, a program that focused on how technology is changing the way audiences interact with films, and at BitTorrent Inc leading their film strategy where she launched The Discovery Fund, BitTorrent’s first ever artist granting initiative.



Alysa Nahmias (New Reality in Distribution) recently produced the Sundance Jury Award-winning film, UNREST, directed by Jennifer Brea. Her debut feature documentary, UNFINISHED SPACES (2011, co-directed with Benjamin Murray), was broadcast on PBS, won an Independent Spirit Award and numerous festival prizes. Her producing credits include: SHIELD AND SPEAR directed by Petter Ringbom (2014), AFTERNOON OF A FAUN: TANAQUIL LE CLERCQ directed by Nancy Buirski with creative advisor Martin Scorsese (2013), and the scripted feature NO LIGHT and NO LAND ANYWHERE by director Amber Sealey with executive producer Miranda July. She is currently directing a documentary about artist Jesse Krimes (



Raised in Australia as the son of Greek immigrants, Costas Mandylor (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Actor) first caught the attention of the American public and press in 1991, when People Magazine christened him one of the year’s “50 most beautiful people” in the world, and cited his contribution to crime saga Mobsters. Mandylor soon began to specialize in ethnic roles that took full advantage of his Mediterranean extraction, and that spanned a wide array of genres — from biopic THE DOORS (1991), to farce SOAPDISH (1991) to psychological thriller THE PLEDGE (2001). On the small screen, Mandylor had a regular role on the small-town drama Picket Fences (1992-1996), and on the family drama 7th Heaven (2004-2006). His popularity increased in the late 2000s when he played a forensic specialist in chapters three and four of the SAW series of slasher films.



DGA Production Manager Stephen Marinaccio (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, UPM) has a background in development, production, post, and marketing. He was accepted as a member of the Director’s Guild of America as a Unit Production Manager (UPM) in 2008 for work such as GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS under James Cameron, and was hired by Steve McEveety as VP of Production & Post of Mpower Pictures in 2007. Recent work includes VP of Production at Paramount Television, UPM on Marco Polo for Netflix, and CLIFFS OF FREEDOM. Marinaccio created/writes for, and since 2005 has been passionate about his charity, Hollywood with Class.



Born in Greece in 1977, Elina Psykou (Masterclass) studied filmmaking and sociology in Athens. She continued her studies in cultural history in Paris and participated in the 2007 Berlinale Talent Campus. Her first feature THE ETERNAL RETURN OF ANTONIS PARASKEVAS won the Works in Progress Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2012 and premiered at the Berlinale Forum in 2013. During that same year, trade publication Variety singled her out as one of the “10 European Directors to Watch”. Her second feature SON OF SOFIA was selected to participate in the 2013 Berlinale Residency program, as well as the 2014 Berlinale co-production market, won the Works in Progress Award at the Les Arcs EFF in 2015, premiered in competition at the Tribeca FF in 2017 and won the Best International Narrative Feature Award. Currently, Psykou is researching her first documentary TO LIVE AND DIE IN EUROPE supported by Creative Europe and EAVE, and is writing her third feature.



Tania Raymonde (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Actress) stars in Amazon’s highest rated original drama series Goliath opposite Billy Bob Thornton, Maria Bello and William Hurt for executive producer David E. Kelley. Well known for her break-out performance on the Emmy-winning ABC drama series Lost and the title role in The Jodi Arias Story for Sony / Lifetime (which debuted to 3.1 million viewers), her feature credits include TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D for Lionsgate (debuting #1 at the box office), BLUE LIKE JAZZ for Roadside Attractions and ELSEWHERE opposite Anna Kendrick. Her long list of recurring TV credits includes Michael Bay’s TNT series The Last Ship, NBC series Chicago Fire, CBS comedy Big Bang Theory, ABC drama Intelligence and the Starz drama Crash opposite Dennis Hopper.



Abigail Severance (Screenplay Feedback) is a filmmaker working in narrative and essay forms, crafting a body of work that comprises an ongoing excavation of nostalgia both as addiction and as inspiration. Her debut film, PUMP, won five best short awards in 1999. Since then, her work has screened in the U.S. and abroad, including Sundance, Los Angeles Film Festival, MOCA Los Angeles, Wexner Center for the Arts, RedCat, Ann Arbor, Curta Cinema (Rio de Janeiro), Studio Museum Harlem, Mix LBGT Experimental Festival (New York and Sao Paolo) and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, among many other galleries and venues. Severance has a BA from Hampshire College and an MFA in directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, where she was a Wasserman Fellow. She teaches directing and critical seminars in the CalArts MFA Film Directing Program and was Associate Dean of the School of Film/Video from 2012-2016. Her current projects include ACADIA, an essay film about homesickness in Nova Scotia, and THE SUMMER WE DROWNED, a narrative feature that has been a Film Independent Lab and Sundance Creative Producers Conference project.



Valerie Stadler (Screenplay Feedback) is currently the head of Production and Development for Fluency, a multi platform studio under NBCU Hispanic enterprises. Aimed at the emerging majority, Fluency is committed to celebrating new heroes and amplifying bold voices. With Fluency, Stadler has executive produced several films, most recently, FAT CAMP, which is set to make its world premiere at LAFF in 2017. Stadler started her career as a producer, co-founding Fat Chance Films where she developed the play, Prey for Rock & Roll, which was adapted into a feature film starring Drea de Matteo and Gina Gershon (Sundance 2003). She developed and co-produced CAVEDWELLER for Showtime starring Kyra Sedgwick and Aidan Quinn (2004 Spirit Awards nominee). Other past films include, LIFE OF A KING starring Cuba Gooding Jr, (LAFF 2013,) and SUNSET STORIES (SXSW 2011) which also marked her debut as a screenwriter. She produced and co-directed the feature documentary, FALLEN STAR: FINDING HOME, about the site specific installation piece by artist Do Ho Suh, which had its LA Premiere at MOCA in June 2016.



Ioanna Stais (One-on-One Meetings, New Reality in Distribution Panelist) joined forces with the Greek production company, Heretic, in 2014 to launch Heretic Outreach, the first sales agent based in Southeastern Europe and designed to encourage innovative films and talented filmmakers from the region to reach out to the rest of the world. As manager of Heretic Outreach, she has internationally represented award-winning films such as GODLESS by Ralitza Petrova, BABAI by Visar Morina, and DEPTH TWO by Ognjen Glavonic. She has previously worked in the coordination of the accreditation department of the Festival de Cannes for two consecutive years. She joined Wide in 2012 as coordinator of the Eye on Films label, dedicated to the promotion of first-time directors, working on the circulation and distribution of the films as well as the coordination of various promotional activities.



Matthew Takata (One-on-One Meetings) 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 international labs and workshops in Greece, Cuba and Japan, and the annual Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Awards and Sundance/NHK Award. Previously, Takata worked in development at GK Films, following a stint at Key Creatives and International Creative Management. Takata attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a native of the San Francisco bay area.



Kelly Thomas (One-on-One Meetings) is a producer and co-founder of Extraordinary Renditions, a media development and production company. Most recently, Thomas produced Andrew Ahn’s SPA NIGHT that premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and received the John Cassavetes Award at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards. She has produced more than seven feature films and has worked with acclaimed directors Rodrigo Garcia, Phedon Papamichael, Robin Swicord, and Brad Silberling. Previously, Thomas was the Producer in Residence for Film Independent’s Artist Development programs where she managed labs for writers, directors, producers, and documentary filmmakers. Thomas also served as VP of JuntoBox Films’ Incubator Initiative. Prior to the film industry, Thomas taught college English courses and worked in the financial sector at Standard & Poors. She has a PhD in English from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Virginia.



Oscar Torres (Screenplay Feedback), is the writer/producer of INNOCENT VOICES, a film that went out to win over 70 National and International Awards including the Berlin IFF’s Best Picture Award. Some of his latest work are the films BRAVETOWN (2015), starring Josh Duhamel, Laura Dern, Maria Bello and Lucas Till; PULLING STRINGS starring Mexican leading man Jaime Camil produced by Pantelion Films 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 cume 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 I LOVE YOU currently in pre-production.



Jan Uddin (CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, Actor) has appeared in numerous television projects & feature films. Making his film debut in BOOGIE WOOGIE. Uddin garnered industry-wide attention with leading roles in both the 2010 apocalyptic feature SHANK and DAY OF THE FALCON alongside Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, and Riz Ahmed. Uddin’s television appearances include recurring roles in Cucumber, Injustice, and the long-running Eastenders. In addition to CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, he will next be seen opposite Gabriel Byrne & Harvey Keitel in the feature LIES WE TELL.



Alexis Varouxakis (1821 Studios) is a producer and film executive on award-winning films such as GOOD TIME with Robert Pattinson (in Competition 2017 Cannes Film Festival), RUN THE TIDE with Taylor Lautner, DARK HEARTS, OPA with Matthew Modine and PIMP with Keke Palmer and DMX. Alexis is the COO of 1821 Media Group, a film financing and film production company behind titles such as JANE GOT A GUN with Natalie Portman, Paul Weitz’ Golden Globe nominated GRANDMA (Sundance Film Festival 2015) and SWING VOTE’ with Kevin Costner. Alexis helped to launch and establish FreeSeas,inc. a NASDAQ listed shipping company, successfully leading it to reach a market capitalization of $150 million. Varouxakis holds a Master’s Degree (MA) in Arts Management and a Bachelor’s (BSc) in Economics from London’s City University.



Kim Yutani (Masterclass) focuses on both the programming of short films and US/World Cinema dramatic feature films for the Sundance Film Festival, and works on their Offscreen panels/conversations series. She is also a programmer for Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong. Starting her career as Artistic Director/Director of Programming at Outfest Los Angeles, one of the world’s leading LGBT cinema events, Yutani has been a reader for Creative Capital, and has sat on the short film nominating committee for Cinema Eye Honors. She has served on juries at the Toronto and Berlin International Film Festivals, and was an independent film critic/freelance journalist.