An international jury comprised of artists, academics and critics shaping their respective mediums.
2019 Honorary Jury Member
As our honorary Jury Member, Erika will be responsible for
breaking any ties that arise from the votes of our 2019 Jury
Erika Kiss is the Founding Director of the UCHV Film Forum. She regularly teaches the theory and history of art cinema in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program in European Cultural Studies. She has studied history, literature and linguistics in Hungary (B.A., M.A.) and comparative literature at Harvard University (M.A., Ph.D.). She was a member of the Department of Medieval and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. She is a co-founder of Germany's first private English-language liberal arts college, the European College of Liberal Arts (ECLA) in Berlin, raised funds for it and served as its first CEO.
As ECLA's first dean of academic affairs, she developed a year-long interdisciplinary curriculum in intellectual history and the liberal arts and supervised its implementation. Kiss’s agenda as a researcher (but also as a teacher) is to uncover art – especially the relatively new art of cinema – as a site of critical thinking in order to reform the Trivium of liberal education for the age of electronic communication. Such liberal education in the intersection of the civic and the aesthetic art of rhetorical deliberation is constitutive of deliberative democracies. Kiss’s latest publications are "Beyond Native and Alien: Nietzsche, Literally" in Philosophy & Rhetoric and "Between Mimesis and Technē: Cinematic Image as a Site for Critical Thinking" in The Journal of Aesthetic Education.
Sitting Jury Members
Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce grew up outside of Lockport, NY and started writing as a young teenager. She published her first book in 1962 and has since written almost 60 novels as well as many short stories, essays, plays and poems. Joyce is now one of the world's preeminent writers and has been recognized by well over 100 awards and nominations including winning The National Book Award for her novel them (1970), becoming a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize six times and most recently, winning the 2019 Jerusalem Prize.
Joyce is the recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. Her national best sellers include We Were the Mulvaneys, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
She continues to be a prolific writer and teaches creative writing at Princeton University where she is the Roger S. Berlind '52 Professor Emerita.
Photo by Dustin Cohen
Charles G. Gross
We are sad to announce that Charles Gross passed away April 13th. You can read more about his incredible life and work here.
Charles Gros is a neuroscientist specializing in vision and the functions of the cerebral cortex and is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. He is the author of numerous academic papers, and the books Brain, Vision, Memory: Tales in the History of Neuroscience and A Hole in the Head: More Tales in the History of Neuroscience. Among his professional pursuits, he is also an avid photographer.
Charles is a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the American Psychological Association and in 2016 The Karl Spencer Lashley Award for Neuroscience from the American Philosophical Society.
Charles studied Biology and Psychology at Harvard College before accepting a Fulbright scholarship at Cambridge University. While studying Ethology, he wrote film and book reviews for local publications.
He went on to be a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and then back to Harvard where he joined the Department of Psychology in 1965. It was in 1970 that Charles began working at Princeton University.
Born and raised in Limassol, Cyprus, Myrsini Aristidou is an award-winning filmmaker based between Paris and Cyprus. She graduated with an MFA in Film Directing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2017, and holds a BFA in Film and History of Art from Pratt Institute in New York.
Her short films have screened in prestigious festivals around the world. Her latest short film Aria (2017) premiered at the 74. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia (LaBiennale), and continued to screen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. While her previous short film Semele (2015) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won multiple awards worldwide, including the Berlinale Short Film Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury.
In addition to filmmkaing, Myrsini is also the co-founder of Sagapo Children's Foundation, which aids in the education of children worldwide.
Kevin Wilson, Jr.
Kevin Wilson, Jr. is an Oscar Nominated and Student Academy Award Winning Filmmaker based in New York City. His first works as a filmmaker came shortly after directing a sold out play as an undergraduate student at North Carolina A&T State University. Since that time, his short films have screened at Film Festivals all over the world including the New York Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, and HollyShorts Film Festival where he won Best Director.
In 2017, he won the Gold Medal at the 44th Student Academy Awards for his short film, My Nephew Emmett, a 20-minute short film based on the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Months later, My Nephew Emmett was nominated for an Oscar for BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM at the 90th Academy Awards. My Nephew Emmett also won Wilson a Directors Guild of America Student Film Award and a BAFTA Student Film Award. Having just received an M.F.A. in Film Production from NYUs Tisch School of the Arts, he is in development for his debut feature film.
His short film My Nephew Emmett won the GRAND STUDENT award at the 2018 PRINDIE Film Festival.
Sélim Azzazi was born in Lyon France.
He's been working as a sound editor and sound designer since 2001 with directors such as Oliver Stone, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Volker Schlondorff or Michel Hazanavicius.
Having a keen interest in acting and directing he's been a member of the Jack Garfein Studio in Paris since 2005.
He wrote and directed Enemies within which was nominated for an Academy award in 2017 for best live action short film. It also won the GRAND PERFORMANCE award at the 2017 PRINDIE FIlm Festival for Hassam Ghancy.
He’s currently writing his first feature script.
Thomas A. Underwood
Thomas A. Underwood is Acting Associate Director of (and a Master Lecturer in) the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University. He has also taught for years in the Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.
Underwood is the recipient of many awards for teaching, including the Arthur G.B. Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Boston University’s “highest teaching honor.” For his teaching at Harvard College, he earned more than a dozen citations from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. He has also been awarded the Harvard University Extension School’s James E. Conway Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing. Underwood, whose profile appears in Contemporary Authors, is author of Allen Tate: Orphan of the South (Princeton University Press) and is coeditor of Blacks at Harvard: A Documentary History of African-American Experience at Harvard and Radcliffe and of The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays After I’ll Take My Stand. He makes extensive use of film in all of his courses, one of which includes a unit devoted to the writing of film reviews.
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, and three collections of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles.
His other works include a book of nonfiction, The Book of My Lives; The Making of Zombie Wars, a novel; journalism, screenplays, and content for the Netflix original show Sense8.
Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004. Hemon has taught at Northwestern University and New York University and is currently part of the creative Writing Faculty at Princeton University.
Pavel Brenner is a film director based in Los Angeles who was born and raised in Russia.
After working in advertising as a graphic designer and later art-director he started a film program at Art Center College of Design in California as a cinematographer and director.
After graduating Pavel directed a critically acclaimed music video Acid Rain for an American electronic artist Lorn and later another music video for a French electronic artist Brodinski, called Split. The project for Yumi Zouma also brought Pavel to a new field - producing.
In 2016, Aleksandra graduated from the Toronto Talent Lab at the International Film Festival in Toronto after already studying Direction at the University of Silesia in Katowice and psychology at the University of Wroclaw.
Her most recent short feature The Best Fireworks Ever was premiered at 56th Semaine de La Critique in Cannes where the film was awarded with the Canal+ award and a Golden Rail award. The film is the realization of the winning scenario in the competition for contemporary adaptations of the film Blind Chance by Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Aleksandra is also the author of documents First Time and Czech Swan. The latter is a Polish-Czech co-production that, in a funny and light way, tells a story about pensioners who decide to fulfill their dream and dance Swan Lake. The film was sold to television in the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia and Croatia.
Aleksandra's filmThe Best Fireworks Ever won both the GOLDEN CUP and GRAND PERFORMANCE (of an ensemble) awards at the 2018 PRINDIE Film Festival.
Born in Paris in 1993 of Swiss and US nationalities, Zoel's first passion was music, which resulted in a fulfilling collaboration with Tony Tran and the genesis of the duet band Ugly Kids in 2010. This led to subsequent collaboration with another artist from Velvey, Julie Hugo of Solange La Frange, as well as regional artists (Montreal Jazz Festival, Babelec, etc.)
This creative experience, in its unimpeded growth, and guided by his formal studies at ECAL, became manifested in video, clip, and then short filmmaking which became an indisputable and transforming passion.
In 2016, he joined force with Christophe M Saber, fellow director, to found Apollo Projects with its unique contribution to the 7th Art.
His short film Bonobo won GRAND DIRECTOR at the 2018 PRINDIE Film Festival.
Cameron Beyl is an award-winning director and writer whose work has been featured in film festivals, museums, and online media outlets like The Huffington Post, Vice Creators Project, and Slate.
His ongoing video essay project, The Directors Series has also established him as a prominent voice in the world of online film scholarship, earning a citation by Indiewire as a "significant contribution" to the discipline as well as a spot on Sight & Sound's 2017 "Best Of" List for the medium.
Since graduating from Emerson College in 2008, Cameron has gone on to build a diverse body of work that includes microbudget features, original shorts, music videos, and commissioned corporate content. He is currently in post-production on an architecture documentary while also prepping a new theatrical feature for production.
Elsa María Jakobsdóttir
Initially a photographer, Christian Monnier eventually moved towards narrative film. He directed about ten short films in France, Spain, the United States and Canada, as well as his first full-length film Le Chien, notably selected in official competition at the 29th Moscow International Film Festival. the Festival des Films du Monde de Montréal and Hof International Film Festival 2007.
His short film Jenna received the GOLDEN CUP award at the 2017 PRINDIE film fest.
Icelandic director and screenwriter Elsa María Jakobsdóttir is a graduate from the National Film School of Denmark in 2017. She is the first Icelandic woman to be accepted to the Danish prestigious director’s program and has an extensive background as a culture journalist at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV.
Her first narrative short film Megaphone (2013) was nominated as Best Nordic Short at Nordisk Panorama in 2014. In 2017 Elsa was selected for the European Film Promotions program “Future Frames: Ten New Filmmakers to Follow" at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Her film Atelier won the 2018 Edda award of the Icelandic Film and tv Academy for Best Short Film and numerous other awards including best Icelandic short film at the Reykjavík International Film Festival in 2017. Atelier was also chosen for the Nuits en Or tour run by the César Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma of France.
In 2018 Atelier received a Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Aspen Shortsfest and was viewed over 200.000 times in the first week of it going online.
Atelier was also the 2018 PRINDIE Film Festival Audience Choice WInner.
Elsa is currently based in Copenhagen and developing her first feature-length film.