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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.

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.

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

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.

John Michael Reefer, NYC

John Michael Reefer’s career began in the theater.  As a Wardrobe  Supervisor at Tommy Brent’s “Theater by the Sea” in Manutuck, RI. .  Upon his return to New York he worked at the “Light Opera of  Manhattan” in the wardrobe department. His first opportunity to work  on a film came when he joined the wardrobe department of Woody  Allen’s “Purple Rose of Cairo”.  As a Costume Designer John Michael  worked with Spike Lee on what is now considered to be a modern classic, “She’s Gotta Have It”. He also designed the costumes for  Troma’s Black Horror classic “Def by Temptation”. While working on  “The Game”, written, directed and starring Curtis Browne. John Michael  went from Wardrobe Assistant to Associate Producer to eventually  Producer on the film.  The production ran into financial trouble. And  John Michael was able to help the production source funding to  complete the film.  

Following that success John Michael became the Executive Director of  the Public, Education and Government Access Channel (PEG) for the  Town of North Hempstead. There he produced nearly 20,000 hours of  content.  John Michael was then brought on Gooddale Productions as  President. There he oversaw the development of content for both film  and television.  

John Michael’s next opportunities came when he teamed up with a  series of writer / director’s to produce their films. Starting with Alrick  Brown. John Michael produced “Us: A Love Story” and was part of the  production team on “Kinyarwanda” shot on location in Kigali, Rwanda.  “Kinyarwanda” won the audience choice award when it premièred at  the Sundance Film Festival. John Michael produced “The Bicycle”,  written and directed by James Francis Richards. John Michael produced  “Don Juan of Galilee”, written and directed by Naaman Bishara. Shot on  location in Palestine. John Michael produced “The Rich and The  Ruthless”, now in it’s third season. Currently streaming on the Urban  Movie Channel (UMC). Written and directed by Victoria Rowell. Short  films produced by John Michael have been official selections at Film  Festivals around the world including, Tribeca, Sundance and Cannes. “The High Bridge”  starring Aubery Joseph of Cloak & Dagger currently in it’s second season on the FreeForm network. Written and  directed by Benedict Campbell and produced by John Michael is  currently making it’s way on the festival circuit.