FESTIVAL 2021 JURORS
John Michael Reefer, NYC
John Michael’s early experience working with director’s like David O. Russell, Spike Lee and Lloyd Kaufman have informed the kinds of stories he tells and how to tell them. John Michael produced Don Juan of Galilee written and directed by Naaman Bishara and recently worked with Shady Srour to bring Holy Air to the screen. A nuanced comedy set in Jerusalem, Holy Air screened as an official selection at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and was distributed in the U.S. by Samuel Goldwyn. John Michael produced The Rich & The Ruthless with Chris Askew, Yellow Fever written and directed by Kat Moon, and Kinyarwanda written and directed by Alrick Brown. Kinyrwanda won the audience choice award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He also produced The Bicycle written and directed by James Francis Richards. John Michael is developing a limited series for PBS about Xprize and developing a sketch comedy project for TV.
Diego Cowks, Bolivia
Uruguayan-born Film and Advertising Director and Actor, lover of Mate, Surfing, and Candombe. Diego grew up in a film studio as a child actor who was part of a casting production company. Diego started managing Castings and became an Assistant Director while still a teenager. He was trained as an Actor and Audiovisual Director in Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico, among others. His short films, including Sin Escape, have traveled the entire globe, obtaining laurels all over the world.
Mishi Castroverde, NYC
Originally from Memphis, TN, Mishi Castroverde is a Cuban-American choreographer based in New York City. Mishi began choreographing as an undergraduate at Columbia University and founded mishiDance upon graduating in 2010. Since founding mishiDance, Mishi has created seventeen new works and one dance film. Mishi has been recognized for her choreography by Pointe Magazine, The Young Choreographer’s Festival, Chen Dance Center’s newsteps Residency Program, and the Palm Desert International Choreography Competition. Mishi's Dance Film won an Audience Award at the 2019 Astoria Film Festival.
Geneva Peschka, NYC
Geneva Peschka is a Brooklyn-based, award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her groundbreaking film UNSPOKEN follows the journey of 14-year-old Emma Zurcher-Long as she challenges societal judgment surrounding autism. The film, which marked Geneva’s co-directing, creating and producing debut, screened at numerous festivals and venues across North America and was in consideration for the 2019 Academy Awards Short Documentary category. The film also premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2017, was featured at SXSW EDU, SLAMDANCE 2021, screened at numerous festivals and events and had a theatrical release at Maysles Documentary Cinema. 14 year old co-director Emma Zurcher-Long received the TASH ‘POSITIVE IMAGES IN THE MEDIA’ Award for UNSPOKEN and the film won the ZUKOR AWARD and AUDIENCE Award at Astoria Film Festival in 2019. Geneva's most recent project, WOMXN, is a 12-part collaborative short documentary series designed to amplify the voices of the extraordinary everyday womxn. Most recently, Geneva remotely directed the ADOBE | COMPLEX “When I See Myself” Collaborative Series (2021 Shorty Award Finalist) and the AUDIBLE | COMPLEX Campaign featuring Amanda Seales and Killer Mike discussing the release and importance of the Malcolm X Autobiography. Additionally, she remote directed the music video THIS JOY by The Resistance Revival Chorus for their debut album. Geneva's first feature documentary film is currently in development.
Carolynn Cecilia, NYC
Carolynn Cecilia is an award winning Writer/Director based in NYC. In 2015 she was hired by David Bowie and Sony Music to Write and Produce an Instagram based episodic interpreting the emotion of Bowie’s last studio album, BLACKSTAR. The film was heavily featured at SXSW the same year and won multiple awards on the festival circuit. Her 2020 film WOODFORD COUNTY has also taken home many awards, including Best Short Film, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, and more. Carolynn has also built a career as a respected Script Supervisor and Film Educator with The New York Film Academy and Robert Louis Stevenson Charter School. Carolynn was recently hired to write a female led espionage feature and continues to finalize the feature script of WOODFORD COUNTY.
Kay Affrunti, NJ
Kayla Affrunti has a BFA in Dance Performance from Montclair State University. The NYC native was introduced to filmmaking in college beginning in front of the camera as a performer. Soon Kayla was behind the Camera editing dance films for class, and eventually creating her own. Previous credits include "A Woman's Movement" which consisted of a documentary and dance film commisioned by NJ dance company Freespace- Artistic Dir. Donna Scro-Samori. Her Dance Film PROMNESIA won an Audience Award at the 2018 Astoria Film Festival and has often appeared as a FESTIVAL DIRECTOR's FAVORITE in highlight screenings for the festival.
Raphaël Halloran, NYC
Raphaël is a Swiss-American filmmaker who studied at Brooklyn College Film School and is interested in exploring and creating cinematic worlds that are poetic, raw, and that challenge conventional storytelling. With a background in environmental sciences and a former career as a digital creative director, he expanded his passion for filmmaking when he moved to NYC in 2016, where he has produced/directed/DP'd several short films including PIGEON, which won Best Drama Short and Best Actor at the 2020 Astoria Film Festival.
Chungee Hong, NYC
Chungee is a South Korean-American filmmaker whose short documentary film BECAUSE THEY WERE HURT won BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT at the 2020 Astoria Film Festival. He attended SUNY BUFFALO for FILM and has since worked as a producer/director/editor on several film projects.
Eric Feinstein, NY
Eric has over 20 years of cross-discipline management and product development within the entertainment/new media and systems solutions industries. He is the co-author of The Movie Uncyclopedia, which billion industry that we call the movies.. Eric is experienced in providing strategic technology direction and building state-of-the-art operations to support company growth and strategic direction.
Rob Alicea, NYC
Rob Alicea is a multi-award-winning Latinx screenwriter, director, producer, and actor.
At the age of 19, Alicea wrote and directed his first film, End of Our Day, based on the Howie Day song of the same name.Frustrated by a lack of acting roles, Alicea had his breakthrough with the independent pilot Adulthood (2017), which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. He often co-writes with Scarlett A. Camargo.
Marta Márquez, Spain
Founder/CEO of Chico & Punky Productions, Marta is a journalist who also studied Filmmaking at the NYFA inManhattan and Screenwriting at EICTV in Cuba. She developed her career as a freelance producer in New York, Mexico, and Spain, working on commercials, television shows, music videos, and independent films.
Márquez directed “Verano Perro” and “WTNY Bienvenida a Nueva York”, an award-winning short shot on 16mm film. Her company is also developing several new projects