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FESTIVAL 2021 JURORS

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.

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.  Rob won an Audience Award for his Comedy Web Series ADULTHOOD at the 2019 Astoria Film Festival.

Tom Bessoir, NYC

Born in New York City, Tom Bessoir attended The Bronx High School of Science and studied electrical engineering and mathematics at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. While at The Cooper Union, he studied filmmaking with Robert Breer, Joshua Pines, and Sandy Moore.  Tom Bessoir’s experimental films often use mathematics to explore perception and the structure of film.  In the arts, Tom Bessoir is best known for Microfilm (1979), Digits of Pi (2019), and his photography documenting downtown NYC, including the punk rock scene at BCBGs. Tom's film Digits of Pi was a finalist for Best Experimental Short at the 2020 Astoria Film Festival.

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.

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.

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. Diego's film Sin Escape was a finalist for Best Quarantine Short, Best Actor, and Best Director at the 2020 Astoria Film Festival.

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.

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.

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, which won an Audience Award at the 2020 Astoria Film Festival. Her company is also developing several new projects

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.

Makeba Ross, NYC

Born and raised in Newburgh, New York, Makeba once dreamed of becoming a film and stage actress. She stumbled upon filmmaking in a media production class during her senior year of high school where she quickly fell in love with the cameras and editing process. At age 18 she abandoned acting and enrolled in film school at Brooklyn College. She graduated in May of 2017 with a Bachelors in Film Production and a Bachelors in Media Communications and now works as a documentary filmmaker for the United States District Courts in Manhattan, New York. Makeba's short drama film COUNTERVAIL won Grand Jury Prize at Astoria Film Festival 2019.

Ashley Lynne Stafford, NYC

Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, Ashley Lynne Stafford came to New York City by way of Transylvania University. No, there were not vampires there and no, she did not go to school in Pennsylvania or Romania. It's  liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky, where she studied piano and psychology. Ashley's film MYSELF won Best Dance Short at AFF2020.