ABBESSI AKHAMIE, born in Heidelberg, Germany, is a Nigerian-American writer/director currently based in the Washington D.C metro area. She received her MFA in Film from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and also holds a BA in Communications from George Mason University. Abbesi has travelled globally writing, directing, and producing stories from the African continent and its diaspora. She produced two African short films— Samedi Cinema and Facing North—that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 and 2018. In 2017 she wrote and directed her debut short film Still Water Runs Deep in Nigeria that also premiered at TIFF and won the Best Student Film award at the prestigious Aspen ShortsFest. She is a 2019 Berlinale Talent, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellow, and an NYSCA/NYFA Fellow in Film. Currently, she works as a Production Manager within the Film and Video Studies department at GMU. She also in post-production on a short documentary as part of the Creative Culture fellowship program with the Jacob Burn Film Center. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family.
ANGUS GIBSON was a founding member of Free Filmmakers, a film co-operative established in 1985 to create a relevant South African cinema. He produced and directed many documentary projects for European television – including the highly acclaimed Soweto, a history, 7 Up South Africa, the South African chapter of Granada Television’s flagship documentary series 14up, 21up and 28up all of which won awards in South Africa and Britain. 28up was nominated for a Bafta. He co-directed the authorized biography, Mandela, Son of Africa, Father of a nation, for Jonathan Demme’s production company. This was nominated for an Oscar and won the Amnesty International Media Spotlight award and the Pare Lorentz Award. He has co-created, produced and/or directed multiple award winning television drama’s Yizo Yizo, Zone 14, Isibaya, Isithembiso, Ayeye, Heartlines to name a few. He created 70 audio-visual installations for the Apartheid Museum which is the most visited museum in South Africa. He designed Telling the Truth? a permanent installation on South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission which was selected to represent South Africa at the Venice Biennale. His feature film Back of the moon won Best South African Feature at DIFF in 2019.
LAYLA SWART was born on February 29th 1988 in Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her undergraduate degree in the exclusive Film and Media Production stream at the University of Cape Town, and went on to complete her postgraduate degree in Film Practice and Theory in 2009. Layla has found success as a Film Producer and Editor in South Africa with her most recent attribute to the film industry – Knuckle City and Sew The Winter to My Skin selected to represent South Africa as the official SA entry into the 2020 and 2019 respectively, best foreign language feature film at the prestigious Academy Awards. Layla is an advocate for authentic South African cinema and is contributing significantly to the expansion of the industry in South Africa.
MYKEL PARISH AJAERE (Ph.D) is the founder of Pan-African film consortium, largest community of African cinema stakeholders and chairperson of the Pan-African Film Development Foundation. He is creator of the Nollywood Travel Film Festival, publisher of Everything Nollywood magazine (the only dedicated magazine to the Nigerian film industry), co-founder of the Pan-African Development Summit and Executive director of the Pan-African Arts, Culture and Tourism Institute Canada. He has consulted for several organizations, diplomatic missions, cultural agencies, governments and institutions in Africa. He has also consulted for the Africa International Film Festival, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Mashariki Africa film festival, Afro-chinese arts and folklore festival Egypt, Prince Ebrahim Future Africa Foundation Gambia, and many more. He has been on jury and panels for over 30 festivals in the world and currently sits on the executive board of Generations, a project by the government of Cameroon. He lives in Lagos Nigeria and runs a creative agency called iDeers Africa.
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OR LEE-TAL is an Israeli cinema editor, born in 1981 and raised in Jerusalem and lives and works in Tel Aviv-Yafo. Upon graduating from Tel Aviv University Film and Television faculty he edited a short film, Martha Must Fly which participated in Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation (2011). A year later edited two other short films Return which was screened in Cannes film festival Critics’ Week. His film Stitches won the Student Visionary Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. He has since presented in many other international festivals which includes his two feature films People that are not me (2016) and The Dive (2018)that were presented at the Locarno Film Festival. The Dive won the Best Film award at the Jerusalem Film Festival and was selected for the Toronto Film Festival and AFI Fest. In 2019, he returned to the Cannes Film Festival for the third time with the short film, Butterflies which was an official selection of the festival was selected for the Toronto Film Festival. In ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
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