Our judges will determine award winners in each of our categories. The winning films will be announced at the awards ceremony on Saturday at 9:00pm at the Lyric Oxford. Winners will receive THE SPIRIT OF THE HOKA AWARD, a beautiful statuette created by renowned sculptor Bill Beckwith in the likeness of the Chickasaw Princess Hoka in 1835.
Claudia Puig has been a film critic at USA Today since 2001. She became the lead film critic in 2006 and since then has also served as a judge at film festivals around the world, moderator for Screen Actors Guild panels, presenter at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s annual awards ceremony and is a regular contributor for National Public Radio’s Film Week. She has discussed the socio-cultural impact of films on NBC News, CNN and MSNBC. In 2009 she won the Press Award from the Publicists Guild. Claudia began her journalism career in 1986 at the Los Angeles Times covering city government, crime and courts. She was part of the team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 1991 L.A. Riots. In 1990 she began covering the entertainment industry, until her departure in 1997. She began her tenure at USA Today in October, 1997 covering the film industry as a reporter for the Life section. Claudia lives in Glendale, California, is fluent in Spanish and speaks Italian and French. She has a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA, studied English literature at Cambridge University, and earned an M.A. in Communications from University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.
Adam Hohenberg is an independent film producer. After graduating Sarah Lawrence College, he worked for experimental filmmaker, Ernie Gehr. He was a producer of Gehr's “Side/Walk/Shuttle,” which film critic J. Hoberman called one of the ten best films of the 1990's. He was also a associate producer on Ira Sachs' “Forty Shades of Blue,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2005 and was executive producer of Ira Sachs' “Keep The Lights On,” which was nominated for 4 Independent Spirit Awards in 2012.
Heidi Jo Markel moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90’s and was exposed to the world of filmmaking. After a few indie acting roles, she leapt at the opportunity to get behind the camera, discovering her true passion: production. After years of flying solo, she launched Eclectic Pictures with the mantra "to be diverse in slate while combining the commercial and artistic aspects of filmmaking.” Eclectic has produced such films as “The Death and Life of Bobby Z,” “My Mom’s New Boyfriend,” “As Good As Dead,” “Solitary Man,” and “Trust,” “Playing for Keeps,” “Lovelace: the True Story of Linda Boreman,” and “Olympus has Fallen.” In 2013, she executive produced James Franco’s adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.”
Don Lewis loves film. Having written for Film Threat for over 10 years, he is also a documentary filmmaker in his own right. His feature Worst in Show played OFF 2011, and he recently co-produced “Holy Ghost People.” Don holds a Masters Degree in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State and resides in Northern California with his wife, daughter and dog named Igby.
Lee Caplin produced the $125 million Sony Pictures release Ali, starring Will Smith. His company, Picture Entertainment, is the feature film production entity for the works of William Faulkner, including the 2013 release of “As I Lay Dying,” directed by James Franco. PMC, the media company he co-founded, owns the magazine Variety.
Kim Voynar has been a film critic for Movie City News, "Hollywood's Homepage," for five years. Prior to that, she was Managing Editor and film critic for Cinematical/AOL. She is currently transitioning into filmmaking with her first short film, "Bunker," which she wrote and directed. She and her husband, Mike Hodge, share their home with six kids, two dogs and two cats, and are partners in Catawampus! Productions, LLC, an independent film production company.
SHORTS (NARRATIVE and DOCUMENTARY)
Jon Gann is the Executive Director of CINE, a 56-year old organization that honors the best in film, TV and digital media with the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. He is also the founder of DC Shorts, a non-profit organization championing short filmmaking, and the creator of the DC Shorts Film Festival; now planning its 11th year, the event has become one of the country’s premier short film showcases. Published in 2012, his book, Behind the Screens: Programmers Reveal How Film Festivals Really Work examines how 16 programmers and organizers curate, collect, watch and select films for their festivals. The frank insights reveal the inner-workings of an industry that is often misunderstood. Through Reel Plan, Jon consults with filmmakers on the festival circuit. His “festival tips” blog is read by hundreds of filmmakers every week, and through his work, has bridged the communication gap between competing film festivals, so all can share film information, sponsor strategies and filmmaker data. As a filmmaker, Jon’s notable past projects include: “Cyberslut,” the first gay-themed short film to screen at over 50 festivals and broadcasts worldwide; “Signs,” a national 48 Hour Film Project award winner, and “Offline,” a modern dating parable. Jon has presented at over 100 universities, film organizations and film festivals worldwide, and has spoken at the International Film Festival Summit and TEDxWDC.
Roberta Munroe is an author, producer, writer/director, and head of her Los Angeles based film consulting company. After 5 years programming shorts at Sundance (2002-2006), Roberta wrote How Not To Make a Short Film: Secrets From a Sundance Programmer (Hyperion 2009). She has worked on over 50 short and feature films as the producer, story consultant or consulting producer. Titles include: “Suicide Canaries,” “The Procession,” “The High Level Bridge,” “Debutante Hunters,” “The Thing,” and “My Night with Andrew Cunanan.” She is currently in pre-production on “Irene & Marie,” and for three years, Roberta has partnered with the South Carolina Film Commission, annually producing 6 short films for them, including the indie feature “Warrior Road” in Charleston, SC. You can find Roberta at www.robertamunroe.com, hanging in Echo Park Los Angeles with her two rescue dogs Marcello & Rita, or sitting at a local old school bar sipping single malt scotch.
Mark Rabinowitz is the currently Account Director at Platform Media Group, a full-service publicity and marketing firm in Los Angeles. He is the co-founder of indieWIRE.com and has been active in the film world as producer, journalist, festival staff, and consultant since 1995. He has attended over 150 film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, Dubai, and finally, Oxford! He is also currently serving as co-producer on Darren Dean's adaptation of Will Eisner's landmark graphic novel A Contract with God and on the Jon Cryer and Richard Schenkman-penned Cosmodrome. He has written for CNN.com, Variety, Screen International, Alternative Press, Time Out New York, Filmmaker Magazine, among others. A political junkie at heart, Mark staffed Tom Harkin's 1992 presidential campaign in NH, ME, and MI, as well as the 1988 & 1992 Democratic National Conventions. He really likes cheese and worships at the Shrine of Swine. Praise the Lard.
ANIMATION-EXPERIMENTAL-MISSISSIPPI MUSIC VIDEO
Kent Osborne, a writer and storyboard artist from Los Angeles, has received multiple Emmy nominations for his work on shows like "SpongeBob Squarepants", "Phineas and Ferb", "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" and "Adventure Time". He is also the creator of the web-series "Cat Agent". He has also appeared in such indie fare as “How to Cheat” (OFF 2012), “The Pipe” (OFF 2008), and “Hannah Takes the Stairs.”
Ian Hierons is Co-Founder and CEO of Score Revolution, a technology-driven online platform connecting film music rights holders with licensing opportunities worldwide. The company represents film music catalogs from leading film music rights holder, composers and producers including Studiocanal, Lionsgate and Contantin Film. Prior to Score Revolution, Ian was the Senior Vice President for Acquisitions of Milan Records, one of the premiere soundtrack record labels in the world. For more than ten years, he produced and distributed soundtrack albums for numerous commercially successful and critically acclaimed films including “March of the Penguins,” “Pan's Labyrinth,” “Mulholland Drive,” “The Queen,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “City of God.”
Eric Snider is a freelance film critic and journalist whose work mostly appears on “the Internet” at such sites as Film.com, Twitch, Pajiba, Movies.com, and his own site, EricDSnider.com. He is also the co-host of the podcast Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider. Eric has a B.A. in journalism and lives in beautiful Portland, Ore.
MISSISSIPPI FILMS (NARRATIVE and DOCUMENTARY)
Richard Speight, Jr. starred in the award-winning HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers,” the CBS series “The Agency,” and the TNT mini-series “Into the West,” and has had recurring roles on “Justified,” “Supernatural,” “Look for Showtime,” and the CBS cult hit “Jericho.” Behind the camera, he co-produced, co-directed, and starred in the indie flick “North Beach,” and co-wrote and starred in “Open Water 2” for Lions Gate Films. Richard's first solo writing and directing effort, the award winning short film "America 101," made its World Premiere at last year’s OFF; it has since screened at 27 festivals across the US, UK, and Canada. At this year’s festival, he appears in the narrative short “The Sidekick.”
Jack Barbera is a Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Mississippi, where he taught film courses for over 30 years. The syllabus for his “Introduction to Film” course was published in Film Studies (N.Y., 1987). His only attempt at filmmaking, the 9-minute “The Janitor,” was screened at the Silver Images Film Festival (Chicago, 1997). Barbera has lectured on film at several scholarly conferences and published in scholarly journals.
Kelley Baker has been making personal short films since the birth of his first child in 1992. In addition to his own films he was the sound designer on six of Gus Van Sant's feature films including, “My Own Private Idaho,” “Good Will Hunting,” and “Finding Forrester,” and Todd Haynes’s film, “Far From Heaven.” Calling himself “the Angry Filmmaker,” he writes and directs all of his films and self-distributes them. He then travels the country showing his fiercely independent work at art house theaters, media art centers and at universities and colleges. Against all odds, Kelley is currently finishing up a feature length documentary, “Dangerous: Kay Boyle,” a personal project he has passionately pursued for over 25 years, and maintaining his website, angryfilmmaker.com.