Guest Biographies

APRIL 20-24, 2005


A Warm Welcome To Roger Ebert’s 7th Annual Film Festival Guests

The following are invited special guests for the festival. As always, their attendance is contingent on factors over which have little control, such as unforeseen changes in their work schedule. But we hope that most, if not all, will be with us – plus additional surprise last minute guests.

Jonathan Rosenbaum
Jonathan Rosenbaum is film critic for the Chicago Reader. His books include ESSENTIAL CINEMA: ON THE NECESSITY OF FILM CANONS (2003), MOVIE MUTATIONS: THE CHANGING FACE OF WORLD CINEPHILIA (coedited with Adrian Martin, 2003), ABBAS KIAROSTAMI (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, 1993), MOVIE WARS: HOW HOLLYWOOD AND THE MEDIA LIMIT WHAT FILMS WE CAN SEE (2000), DEAD MAN (2000), MOVIES AS POLITICS (1997), PLACING MOVIES: THE PRACTICE OF FILM CRITICISM (1995), THIS IS ORSON WELLES by Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich (edited, 1992), GREED (1991), MIDNIGHT MOVIES (with J. Hoberman, 1983), FILM: THE FRONT LINE 1983, and MOVING PLACES: A LIFE AT THE MOVIES (1980).

Joe Soares – coach in movie

Mark Zupan – wheelchair athlete in movie

Dana Adam Shapiro
Dana Adam Shapiro is a former senior editor at SPIN, and a contributor to THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE and other publications. His first novel, THE EVERY BOY, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in July. The movie is in development at Plan B. MURDERBALL is his first film.

Henry Alex Rubin – Co-Director
As a documentary filmmaker, Rubin made the award-winning “Who is Henry Jaglom?” (PBS, First Run Features, w/ Candice Bergen, Dennis Hopper) and “Freestyle” (w/ Mos Def, The Roots, J5), which was recently picked up by Palm Pictures after winning Best Documentary at the Woodstock and Urbanworld Film Festival. Additionally, he directed the second-unit on several films including COP LAND and GIRL INTERRUPTED. He is currently directing a mockumentary starring Winona Ryder.

Jeff Mandel – Producer
Jeff is a corporate tax attorney. Formerly, he was an Investment Banker in Lehman Brothers’ Global Technology group. He holds graduate Law (JD) and Business (MBA) degrees from Columbia University.

The Saddest Music in the World with short subject The Heart of the World

Guy Maddin, Director
Guy Maddin is an independent filmmaker who lives and works in Winnipeg, Canada. He has completed eight feature films since 1988, including Dracula – Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002), a filmed ballet which won an International Emmy for best performing arts program, and most recently The Brand upon the Brain (2005), a grand guignol silent which will premiere later this year. He has also made innumerable shorts, including the award winning oddity The Heart of the World (2000), and authored two books, From the Atelier Tovar and Cowards Bend the Knee. He was a recipient of the prestigious Telluride Medal for achievement in film in 1995. He is currently directing Isabella Rossellini in her centennial tribute to her late father Roberto.

After Dark, My Sweet
Jason Patric
Jason Patric’s feature film debut came in 1987 when he appeared in the comedy-thriller The Lost Boys. He then starred in the war drama The Beast. His performances in the erotic thriller After Dark My Sweet and the drama Rush earned Patric critical acclaim and led respected film critic David Denby to label him “the best young actor in American movies.”

Patric next starred in Geronimo: An American Legend and The Journey of August King. He has also starred in the drama Sleepers and in Your Friends and Neighbors, which was the first feature Patric produced for his production company, Fleece.

Patric starred to critical-acclaim in the drama Narc, which made its debut at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. He has completed filming The Alamo for The Disney Studios, due in April.

Patric is currently starring opposite Ashley Judd in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Music Box Theatre.

Anant Singh – Producer
Anant Singh (producer) is South Africa’s preeminent film producer, having produced fifty-eight films since 1984. He is responsible for many of the greatest anti-apartheid films ever made in South Africa, including “Place Of Weeping,” “Sarafina!” and “Cry, the Beloved Country.” Nelson Mandela called him “a producer I respect very much…a man of tremendous ability” when he granted him the film rights to his autobiography, “Long Walk To Freedom.” Singh is set to film “Long Walk to Freedom” next year with Morgan Freeman as Mandela and director Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth,” “The Four Feathers”).

Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, Singh began his film career at age 18 when he left his studies at the University of Durban-Westville to purchase a 16mm movie rental store. From there, he moved into video distribution, forming Videovision Enterprises (now Videovision Entertainment). He moved into film production in 1984 with Darrell Roodt’s acclaimed “Place of Weeping,” the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa.

A selection of his subsequent feature films includes: “Sarafina!” with Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba; “The Road to Mecca,” with Kathy Bates; “Father Hood,” with Patrick Swayze and Halle Berry; “Captives,” with Julia Ormond and Tim Roth; Tobe Hooper’s “The Mangler,” with Robert Englund and based on a Stephen King short story; “Cry, the Beloved Country,” from Alan Paton’s revered novel, with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris; “Paljas” (shot in Afrikaans, the first South African film Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language film); “Face,” with Robert Carlyle; “The Theory of Flight,” with Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter; “Bravo Two Zero,” with Sean Bean; “The Long Run,” with Armin Mueller-Stahl; Tsui Hark’s remake of “The Legend of Zu,” with Zhang Ziyi; “I Capture the Castle,” with Tara Fitzgerald and Henry Thomas. Upcoming is “Red Dust,” with Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, a drama centering on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Anant Singh has also been involved in the production of many important documentaries, including “Countdown to Freedom,” about the first free election in South Africa, and “Prisoners of Hope,” a reunion on Robben Island of 1250 of its former political prisoners led by Nelson Mandela.

Singh is the president of the Independent Producers’ Organisation, The National Film and Television Association and serves on the boards of Kagiso Media Limited, South African Tourism and the International Marketing Council Of South Africa. He also sits on the Board of Governors for Media and Entertainment of the World Economic Forum and is a board member of the Los Angeles-based “Artists For A New South Africa” and the Mandela 46664 Concert with Richard Branson, Dave Stewart and Jim Beach. He is also the only South African member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. President Thabo Mbeki recently appointed him to the board responsible for the organization of South Africa’s “Ten Years Of Freedom” celebrations.

Singh is a recipient of the Crystal Award of the World Economic Forum and the Lifetime Founder Member Award of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He has been conferred with honorary doctorates from the University of Durban-Westville and the University Of Port Elizabeth.

Darrell Roodt- Director
Darrell James Roodt (writer/director) has directed some of the most acclaimed films to come from his native South Africa, including “Place of Weeping,” “Sarafina!” and “Cry, the Beloved Country.”

After being turned down for Drama School at the University of the Witwatersrand, Roodt secured financing and the commitment of local actors and technicians to produce South Africa's first anti-apartheid feature film, “Place of Weeping” (1986). Produced by Anant Singh, the film premiered in New York to wide critical acclaim and was endorsed by the “Arts Against Apartheid” committee as a courageous indictment of the racial policies of the time. Roodt’s next two films, “City of Blood” and “A Tenth of a Second” were followed by “The Stick,” an anti-war film set and subsequently banned in South Africa for two years. The Stick enjoyed a successful run on the international festival circuit and opened the 1988 Montreal Film Festival. When finally released in South Africa it was nominated for six awards in the 1989 M-net Film Awards, including Best Film.

Roodt next directed the human drama “Jobman,” nominated in six categories in the annual M-net Film Awards, followed by the action thriller “To The Death.” “Sarafina!” (1992), based on Mbongeni Ngema's award-winning Broadway stage hit, and starring Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba, introduced Roodt to a wider international audience. Screened in Official Selection at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, the film was released in the U.S. by Disney, who commissioned him to direct the comedy “Father Hood,” starring Patrick Swayze and Halle Berry.

Roodt next adapted Alan Paton's classic novel “Cry, The Beloved Country” (1995) to the screen, with an illustrious cast that included James Earl Jones, Richard Harris and Charles Dutton. The script was adapted by Oscar nominee Ronald Harwood and scored by five-time Oscar-winner John Barry. Roodt’s subsequent films include “Dangerous Ground” (1997), with Ice Cube and Elizabeth Hurley; the thriller “Second Skin” (2000), with Natasha Henstridge and Peter Fonda, “Queens Messenger II” (2001), “Pavement” (2002), with Robert Patrick and Lauren Holly, “Sumuru” (2003) and upcoming, “Dracula 3000,” with Casper Van Dien and Coolio.

Leleti Khumalo- Actress
LELETI KHUMALO was born in 1970 at Kwa Mashu Township in the North of Durban. Growing up in the poverty of township life, she was initiated into a youth backyard dance group called Amajika mentored by Tu Nokwe. In 1985, she auditioned for Mbongeni Ngema’s upcoming new musical, which was to became the international blockbuster “Sarafina!” Ngema wrote the lead character of Sarafina for her.

Leleti enchanted audiences in South Africa and on Broadway, where she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress. “Sarafina!” stayed for two years on Broadway before embarking on a worldwide tour. In 1987 she received an NAACP Image Award for Best Stage Actress. In 1991, together with Whoopi Goldberg, Khumalo starred in Darrell James Roodt’s film version of “Sarafina!” which was distributed worldwide, and became the biggest film production to be released in the African continent. Again she was nominated for the film Image Award together with Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson.

In 1993, Khumalo released her first album, “Leleti and the Sarafina,” and co-starred in Ngema’s international hit musical “Magic at 4 AM” which was dedicated to the legend of Muhammed Ali. She then starred in Ngema’s musical “Mama” (1996), which toured Europe and Australia. In 1997, she also starred in Ngema’s “Sarafina 2.”

Khumalo moved into dramatic acting when she starred in the play “Koze Kuse,” written by Selo Make Kancube. She then played a role in Darrell James Roodt’s film “Cry, the Beloved Country” (1995) of Alan Paton’s novel, produced by Anant Singh and starring Richard Harris and James Earl Jones. She was also featured on the TV series “The African Skies,” and appeared in a number of TV commercials.

Leleti next had another success on stage with “The Zulu” (1999) written and directed by Mbongeni Ngema, about King Cetshwayo and the Battle of Isandlwane in the Anglo Zulu War. In 2000 she was awarded an acting diploma by the Mbongeni Ngema Academy of Performance Excellence. Khumalo next starred in 2003 at the musical extravaganza “Stimela Sase Zola” at the African Bank Market Theatre in Johannesburg in 2003.

This year, in addition to her role in YESTERDAY, Khumalo will be featured in the film “Hotel Rwanda,” with Don Cheadle and Nick Nolte. She is also preparing to release a dance album.

The Phantom of the Opera
Alloy Orchestra

Alloy Orchestra is a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources. Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the US and abroad (The Telluride Film Festival, The Louvre, Lincoln Center, etc.), Alloy has emerged as possibly the best and best known silent film accompanists in the world.

An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable. Utilizing their famous "rack of junk" and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles. They can conjure up an entire symphony or a simple German bar band of the 20's. The group can make the audience think it is being contacted by radio signals from Mars or swept up in the Russian Revolution.

While their unusual instrumentation attracts attention, it is their unique sensitivity to the films themselves that makes Alloy performances so emotionally satisfying. Now in their 12th year, Alloy began their aural onslaught with their original score for Metropolis in 1991. For the each of the last 9 years, the group has composed a new score and premiered it at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival.

Mario Van Peebles (director/star)

Mario Van Peebles plays the role of his father, Melvin Van Peebles in his most recent work, "Baadasssss!" (2003). The film details his father's work on the independent founding film of blaxsploitation, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song."

Van Peebles has also starred as Malcom X in the film "Ali" (2001). His first feature film debut as a director was "New Jack City" (1991) and he acted in and directed the film "Posse" (1993).

Van Peebles will be appearing in the film "Carlito's Way: The Beginning," which is in post-production.

The Secret of Roan Inish
John Sayles – Writer / Director / Editor
SILVER CITY is John Sayles’ 15th feature film. His career began as a novelist and short story writer with the publication in 1975 of PRIDE OF THE BIMBOS, followed in 1977 by UNION DUES, a National Critics’ Circle and National Book Award nominee. A short story collection, THE ANARCHISTS’ CONVENTION appeared in 1979, when he began working as a screenwriter for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. Early screenwriting credits include PIRANHA, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, THE HOWLING and ALLIGATOR.

Using the money he earned writing ‘creature features’, he financed his first feature as writer/director/editor, THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN, a bittersweet look at a reunion of 60’s political activists. The film, with a production budget of only $40,000, gained a national theatrical release, won the L.A. Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay and helped launch the ‘American independent’ film movement. His second film, LIANNA, was one of the first American movies to deal with a lesbian relationship in a non-exploitative manner, and set several house records in theaters around the U.S.

His first studio movie, BABY IT’S YOU, was released by Paramount in 1983, and featured newcomers such as Rosanna Arquette, Vincent Spano, Matthew Modine and Robert Downey Jr. in a mid-60’s coming-of-age drama. Next was the very low-budget BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, an African-American sci-fi allegory starring Joe Morton as a black extra-terrestrial who crashes to earth in Harlem.

Running into financing difficulties, Sayles filled a three-year filmmaking hiatus by acting in a critically acclaimed theater production of THE GLASS MENAGERIE with Joanne Woodward and Karen Allen and directing three rock videos for Bruce Springsteen- BORN IN THE USA, I’M ON FIRE and GLORY DAYS. He also won a Writers’ Guild Award for best TV movie screenplay for UNNATURAL CAUSES, which dealt with the legacy of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war and starred John Ritter andAlfre Woodard.

He was then able to film MATEWAN and EIGHT MEN OUT, projects he had written several years earlier. MATEWAN is the story of a bloody 1920 West Virginia coal miners’ strike, and marked his first collaboration with actors Chris Cooper and Mary McDonnell, as well as with cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who received an Academy Award nomination for his photography. Sayles wrote a textbook about the screenplay and the experience of the production entitled THINKING IN PICTURES that is used in film courses to this day. EIGHT MEN OUT, the story of the 1919 Black Sox baseball scandal, was based on the book by Eliot Asinof and was one of the last movies released by Orion Pictures. It has become a perennial on television during playoff and World Series time.

The television movie SHANNON’S DEAL, written by Sayles, led to a highly-acclaimed but short-lived TV series of the same name in 1989-90 and starred actors such as Elizabeth Peña, Richard Edson and Miguel Ferrer who would later appear in his films. The teleplay won an ‘Edgar’ from the Mystery Writers Association.

CITY OF HOPE, appearing in 1990, was an urban epic filmed in a mere five weeks, one of the lowest-budget Cinemascope movies ever made, and featured appearances by actors he would work with again and again- Cooper, Morton, David Strathairn, Angela Bassett, Miriam Colon and Tom Wright among others. His third novel, LOS GUSANOS, a multi-generational tale set in Cuba and Miami’s Little Havana, was published in 1991, and since has been translated into several languages. Next was PASSION FISH, a film about the healing relationship between a home-care nurse coming out of rehab and a paraplegic former soap opera star. Alfre Woodard was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, Mary McDonnell for an Academy Award for Best Actress and Sayles received his first Academy nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH was based on the children’s book THE SECRET OF THE RON MOR SKERRY by Rosalie K. Fry and was the first of his movies filmed outside the U.S., working on the northwest coast of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. The story deals with the legend of a half-human, half-seal selkie and the fate of her descendants. Moving to the Mexico/Texas border, Sayles directed LONE STAR, a tale of race and history that proved to be his most commercially successful picture and garnered a second Academy nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

MEN WITH GUNS, a road movie set in a strife-torn Latin American country, was shot on a very low budget in three different states in Mexico, with dialogue principally in Spanish and several indigenous languages. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best foreign-language film. LIMBO, released in 1999, was a story of three damaged people (played by David Strathairn, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Vanessa Martínez) who find each other in the extremes of the Alaskan wilderness. It was invited to the Official Competition of the Cannes Film Festival and remains Sayles’ most controversial movie.

The year 2001 saw SUNSHINE STATE, boasting a stellar cast led by Edie Falco and Angela Bassett. The film takes place during a festival week in a Florida coastal town about to be inundated by corporate tourism. In 2003 CASA DE LOS BABYS told the story of a group of American women waiting to adopt children in a South American country. CASA featured Academy Award winners Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Steenbergen and Rita Moreno.

Throughout his career Sayles has continued to function as a screenwriter for hire, working with a “who’s-who” of American and international directors and writing over fifty scripts. He received the John D. MacArthur Award, given to 20 Americans each year for their innovative work in diverse fields. He is also recipient of the Eugene V. Debs Award, the John Steinbeck Award and the John Cassavettes Award. He has acted in dozens of films, written songs for his own features, and served as executive producer on Alejandro Springall’s SANTITOS and Sundance Best Picture winner GIRLFIGHT, written and directed by Karyn Kusama.

SILVER CITY marks his fourth collaboration with both actor Chris Cooper and Director of Photography Haskell Wexler.

Sayles was recently honored with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Writer’s Guild of America. He is currently at work on HONEYDRIPPER, a film set in the southern U.

Maggie Renzi – Producer
One of American film’s veteran women producers, Maggie Renzi has one of the filmmaking partnership as distinct, acclaimed, and proven as Ismail Merchant and James longest, most respected track records in the industry. The producing half of a Ivory, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the Coen Bros., Elizabeth Avellan and Robert Rodriguez, Renzi began her personal and creative relationship with John Sayles in the early 1970s, when they met as students at Williams College.
Renzi, who was a child actress with the Williamstown Summer Theater festival through her early twenties, acted in John Sayles’ directorial debut, Return of the Secaucus Seven, for which she also served as unit production manager and assistant editor. One of the first commercially successful American films that can be considered a true independent feature, Return of the Secaucus Seven became an art house and campus hit, winning the Los Angeles Film Critics’ award for Best Screenplay, and launching Sayles and Renzi’s filmmaking careers.

Since Secaucus Seven, Renzi has acted in several of Sayles' films including Lianna, Brother From Another Planet, and Matewan. More important, Renzi has produced all the films in the John Sayles canon with the exception of Baby It's You, Eight Men Out, and Casa de los Babys. These twelve titles include the Academy Award?-nominated Matewan, Passion Fish, and Lone Star. In the mid-eighties, Renzi also produced three Sayles-directed music videos for Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA, I'm on Fire, and Glory Days, for which they won an American Video Award.

“Many people have misconceptions about the role of producers, or think their sole responsibility is raising money,” says Renzi, a tireless advocate of fairer practices in the entertainment industry. “What I think I’m really good at is maintaining the culture of the films we create. By that I mean, it’s one thing to say to an agent, ‘All the actors will be working for SAG minimum,’ but another to continually reinforce that attitude of equality—that idea of ‘most favored nations for everybody’—on the set, day-in and day-out.”

Renzi served as a producer of Karyn Kusama's Girlfight, which was released in 2000 and screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Film, and in the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Prix de la Jeunesse.

More recently, she produced Sayles' Sunshine State, which was shot in Florida in the Spring of 2001. It was during that time, hearing the testimony of Floridians who had been turned away at the polls during the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, that Sayles and Renzi decided to embark upon their latest offering, the politically-charged Silver City.

One of the things Renzi is most proud of is the concord of voices that can be heard across the body of her and Sayles’ work. “Unlike most mainstream Hollywood movies, our films represent a multi-colored, multi-ethnic version of America. Perhaps no other American filmmaking team has as many women protagonists and people of color in their films,” says Renzi, who insists that the best part of her and Sayles’ decades-long filmmaking adventure has been the opportunity to work on location.

“Our films allow us to seldom be tourists and often be travelers,” says Renzi, whose films have taken her to Ireland (The Secret of Roan Inish), Mexico (Lone Star, Men With Guns), and Alaska (Limbo), among other places.

Shane Curruth – Director / Writer
Shane Carruth was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As the son of an Air Force sergeant, he grew up all over the US. Shane graduated college with a degree in mathematics, went to work, and promptly quit all of his first three engineering positions. Enamored with stories since childhood, he set out to learn everything he could about filmmaking with the end result being his first feature film "Primer".

Map of the Human Heart
Vincent Ward – (Director/Screenwriter)

Vincent Ward was trained as an artist and made a pair of highly regarded short films ("A State of Siege" and "In Spring One Plants Alone") before his first feature-length film, the lyrical yet lonely "Vigil," was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. His next film, "The Navigator," took four years to make and won six AFI awards.

"Map of the Human Heart" (1993), a surreal romance set in World War II, remains Ward's most critically acclaimed film to date.

Ward moved away from the lower budgets and art-house atmosphere of his earlier works: the Hollywood-friendly "What Dreams May Come," starring Robin Williams, appeared in 1998.

"River Queen," set in 19th-century New Zealand and starring Samantha Morton and Kiefer Sutherland, is in post-production.

Jason Scott Lee (star)
Jason Scott Lee has acted in nearly two dozen films since 1987's "Born in East L.A."

He has appeared in such films as "Back to the Future II," "The Jungle Book" and "Soldier." He also took on the role of acclaimed martial artist Bruce Lee in the biography picture film "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story."

In Vincent Ward's 1993 "Map of the Human Heart," Lee stars in the role of an Eskimo native named Avik.

Lee's most recent work is in the upcoming "Only the Brave," which tells the story of Asian-Americans who fought with the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II.

Me and You and Everybody We Know
Miranda July, Writer / Director / Actress
Me and You and Everyone We Know (IFC Films / FilmFour) is Miranda July's feature-length film debut which made its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The film shared the Special Jury Prize Dramatic - Originality of Vision this year.

The screenplay was work-shopped at the Sundance Screenwriting and Filmmaking labs in 2003, and in 2004. July was the American recipient of the Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker's Award.

July works in many different mediums including film, audio, performance and writing. Her short films (Haysha Royko, The Amateurist, Nest of Tens, Getting Stronger Every Day) have been screened internationally at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Nest of Tens was shown in the 2002 Whitney Biennial for which July was also commissioned to produce a sound installation titled The Drifters. Miranda was again invited to participate in the 2004 Whitney Biennial with her participatory website,, created with support from the Creative Capital foundation and in collaboration with artist Harrell Fletcher.

July's multi-media performances (Love Diamond, The Swan Tool, and How I Learned to Draw) have been presented at venues such as the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and The Kitchen in New York. July's stories can be read in The Paris Review and The Harvard Review and she was recently nominated for a National Magazine Award for her non-fiction.

Her radio performances can be heard regularly on NPR's The Next Big Thing. She made her feature film acting debut in Alison Maclean's Jesus' Son and directed a music video for the band Sleater Kinney.

Jonathan Sehring
Jonathan Sehring holds the position of President, IFC Entertainment. He is responsible for production, acquisition, distribution (IFC Productions, IFC Films and InDigEnt), and recently has added exhibition to his responsibilities through the opening of The IFC Center. Since its creation in 1997, IFC Entertainment has been a leader in the Independent Film Industry, producing and distributing unique, exceptional product. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (distribution), the Academy Award-winning Boys Don’t Cry (production) foreign language hits Y Tu Mama Tambien (distribution) and Monsoon Wedding (production), and doc smash’s Touching the Void (distribution), Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (distribution), and Fahrenheit 9/11(distribution) are among the notable IFC projects. 2005 IFC Films releases include The Ballad of Jack and Rose (production and distribution), and Dana Brown’s Dust to Glory (distribution) and 2005 Sundance award winners Brothers (distribution) and Me and You and Everyone You Know (production and distribution). IFC Productions has recently wrapped Michael Showalter’s The Baxter, starring Michelle Williams, Elizabeth Banks and Justin Theroux and is currently in production on American Gun starring Marcia Gay Harden, Donald Sutherland and Forest Whitaker.

Jonathan has served as Executive Producer for numerous productions, including the award winning films Boys Don’t Cry, Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight, John Sayles’ Men With Guns, Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, Errol Morris’ Mr. Death, Stephen Soderbergh’s Gray’s Anatomy, Gary Winick’s Tadpole and Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity. He also served as Executive Producer on original programming produced for IFC Network including: John Favreau’s “Dinner for Five,” Isaac Julien’s “Baaadassss Cinema,” Albert Maysle’s “With The Filmmaker,” Adam Simon’s “The American Nightmare” and Errol Morris’ “First Person.”

Prior to the creation of IFC Entertainment, Jonathan oversaw all programming and production activities for Bravo Networks, where he was responsible for creating and launching several award-winning shows and series, including Bravo’s Emmy-nominated series “Inside the Actors Studio,” the network’s CableAce Award-winning series “The South Bank Show,” The Independent Film Channel’s CableAce Award-winning profile of Sam Fuller, “The Typewriter, The Rifle and The Movie Camera.”

Prior to joining Bravo, Jonathan was Director of Programming for Janus Films, Inc., where he worked in various positions in both distribution and production.

Uma da Cunha
Uma da Cunha studied English Literature in Delhi University (where she taught the same subject for a year) and later at Richmond University, Virginia. She then trained in advertising copy-writing in London and on her return to India, worked in advertising agencies in the creative department for over ten years. All along, her interest in films and the film society movement was a driving force. In 1974, she quit advertising to join the Directorate of Film Festivals, Government of India and worked there for three years, where she learnt at first hand the scope and functioning of organizing international film events. While her preoccupation has been with Indian cinema in general, her focus has been India’s art-house and regional cinema. In the late 70s, da Cunha branched out on her own to pursue her interest in the area of film.

Since the early 90s, Uma da Cunha has been working out of Mumbai city in India in the area of offering professional help in film and media. da Cunha’s primary interests have now specialised into three areas. One: serving as a Casting Director mainly for films being made in English, mostly by directors who live outside of India. Two: programming of Indian cinema in film festivals that are held in India and abroad. Three: Academic and journalistic writing on the subject of Indian cinema.

Programming of Indian films in film festivals
Uma da Cunha is the India representative of the Toronto International Film Festival (since mid 1990s), the Locarno International Film Festival (since 2000). In addition she helps the New York Film Festival with their India-related Indian focus – such as their Tributes to Ritwik Ghatak and Shabana Azmi. In 1994, da Cunha curated Toronto’s tribute to new Indian cinema called “India-Now!”, and in 2002, she curated Locarno’s “Indian Summer”, which presented a 30-film over-view of Indian cinema. In recent years da Cunha has been assisting festivals held abroad that are devoted entirely to Indian cinema such as the River to River Indian Film Festival Festival started in 2001 in Florence held every December, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) headed by Christina Marouda and launched in 2002, and in April 2004, the Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival held in Stuttgart, and Dubai International Film Festival which was inaugurated in December 2004. da Cunha is helping Richard Pena of the Lincoln Center, New York, to put together a ten-film tribute to India’s formidable film star, Amitabh Bachchan, to be held mid-April 2005.

India’s international presence – “Film India Worldwide”
Over the past five years, Uma da Cunha has been increasingly concerned with Indian cinema’s international presence and growth. With this objective she has been programming a section called “Film India Worldwide” in India’s festivals (Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai) which screens films that have an international connection. The films da Cunha selects can be made by Indians settled or working abroad or films where Indian professionals (actors, screen-writers, technicians) play a major part or films that have an India connection made by a director of any nationality other than Indian (examples: Sturla Gunnarsson’s “Such a Long Journey” and Jane Campion’s “Holy Smoke”). This section has been popular in India and its films have found modest releases in a box-office taken over by Bollywood films.

Working as a Casting Director
Uma da Cunha is a leading casting director in India. Her interest in casting began in mid-70s when British producers/directors such as Euan Lloyd (“Sea Wolves”) BBC television “Mountbatten - The Last Viceroy”, the James Bond film “Octopussy”, shot in India, approached her for the casting of Indian actors.

Over the past years, da Cunha has been an increasingly busy casting director, her notable assignments being with leading directors such as Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”, “Kamasutra”), Deepa Mehta (“Earth” and “Water”, the latter film shelved three years ago and revived again mid-2004, Jane Campion (“Holy Smoke”), Aamir Khan (the British extras in “Lagaan”) and Dev Benegal (“English August”), among others. She has worked with leading Indian directors such as Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal and Buddhadeb Dasgupta. She recently cast for the BBC award-winning radio production of “The Suitable Boy” directed by John Dryden. Her most recent casting has been for NBC’s projected sit-com “Nevermind Nirvana”.

Writing on Cinema
Uma da Cunha is a film journalist, writer and researcher. She edited the first complete biography on Satyajit Ray called “Montage – Monograph on Satyajit Ray” published in 1967 in her maiden name, Uma Krupanidhi. Since 1975 she has been writing the chapter on Indian cinema for the respected UK annual called “The International Film Guide”. She has written several publications on Indian cinema for the Directorate of Film Festivals. When the festival of India toured the USA, da Cunha edited the book “The New Generation” as a compendium to the Museum of Modern Art’s presentation of new Indian cinema. Last year she wrote the chapter on Silent Cinema for the Italian publishing house, Einadu, and this year has submitted her chapter on ten of India’s finest directors as selected by Einadu. da Cunha covers film festivals as a free-lancer for leading publications in India. Incidentally, she enjoys subtitling films, selectively chosen, from Indian languages into English.

Currently, da Cunha edits a magazine called Film India Worldwide, a film quarterly that gives topical news on what is happening in Indian cinema particularly in the way it connects with international film making.

Gerson da Cunha
In the theatre and radio since taking a B.Sc degree in Bombay, has worked in film and television more recently. Writes on cinema and theatre including film festival reviewing from Cannes and Toronto for India’s leading daily in English “Bombay Times,” the national newsweekly, “Outlook,” and the top English language eveninger, “Mid-day.” He contributes regularly to “Film India Worldwide, a periodic newsletter.

Knows the Bollywood scene and its top people well. Can speak on Indian cinema in its national and world contexts.

Was recently, co-presenter with Rolf Harris of a four-part presentation of India for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; acted in a four-part Italo-American mini-series, “The Maharaja’s Daughter;” played a featured role in “Electric Moon” for BBC’s Channel Four, written by Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy; was in Ivory-Merchant’s “Cotton Mary;” played in a radio version of “A Suitable Boy” directed by John Dryden over BBC; acted with Sharukh Khan in Santosh Sivan’s “Asoka” (as Asoka’s father). Most recently performed in Deepa Mehta’s “Water” shortly to be released.

In 2000, HarperCollins published his first collection of poems, “So Far.”

Began as a journalist in the Press Trust of India-Reuters and worked 25 years in marketing and advertising in Unilever, the last 10 years as head of Lintas, the group’s advertising agency. Was 10 years in the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) in Latin America and New York.

Has worked many years as advisor in communications and marketing in various government agencies and in civic / urban activism in Bombay.

Subhash Ghai, Director

Born in 1945 in Nagpur, India, Subhash Ghai a graduate in Cinema from the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, started his career as a screen actor, then shifted to writing screenplay and got his first directorial break in film KALICHARAN (1976) which proved a big hit of its time and thereafter Subhash Ghai did not have to look back and went on making blockbusters with lot of acclaim from public and critics. He has been awarded with various laurels and titles including “showman” and “dream merchant ‘by various media establishments. The then President of India, Hon’ble Giani Zail Singh honored him with a national award for making “KARMA” an ant-terrorism motion picture in 1986. His latest films like PARDES and TAAL opened a wider audience’s world wide for Indian movies and featured in Hollywood top twenty at box-office for various weeks.

SUBHASH GHAI is one of the most renowned names among Indians and south Asians for his excellent record as an Indian film maker in mainstream cinema for the last 26 years.

Subhash Ghai has written and directed 15 motion pictures out of which 12 have been declared as the biggest blockbusters of its time. He started his production company in 1978 as a partnership concern to begin with, then formed a Private Limited company known as Mukta Arts Pvt. Ltd. in 1982 and produced many block busters under the company which is, till date, one of the leading production houses in film making in India. In the year 2000, Mukta Arts went for public investment and achieved an overwhelming response from the public and the capital market of India.

Now, SUBHASH GHAI is the chairman and managing director of MUKTA ARTS LTD. the first corporate film company in Mumbai film industry. Under this company, Subhash Ghai has set up many plans to institutionalize the Indian entertainment industry and take it to the global scenario by developing worldwide distribution, productions, technology, studios and institutes of international standard in the field of arts and sciences in films and television and other media arts.

As a filmmaker he introduced and reintroduced many fresh talents and groomed them into stardom. He is not only known as a great filmmaker in mainstream cinema but also a great teacher in the arts and sciences of filmmaking as commented by many top stars and technicians of today.

Widely traveled worldwide, Subhash Ghai has been on the board, committees, associations with various activities and missions in the field of social, economic or human welfare. He is a member of executive committee of Producers Guild of India and a member of United Producers forum. He has also been appointed as the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee of Trade body CII and also the member of FICCI and NASCOM and its alliances and has been invited to address at various forums and seminars including on corporate governance and other subjects relating to the growth of media and entertainment industry in India and worldwide.

“Our all efforts, thru our part of media and communication whatsoever, must focus on one mission...“ To bring this world closer with better understanding and welfare for mankind” …says SUBHASH GHAI with all his sincere intentions and efforts for better tomorrow.

Other guests:

Michael Wiese

Filmmaker/publisher Michael Wiese was born in Champaign, went to Uni High, and was a cub photographer for the News Gazette.

In San Francisco, he produced "Hardware Wars", a popular short film parody of 'Star Wars' and, "Dolphin", a PBS special on dolphin communication. In New York, he was a director of production for Showtime. Later, at Vestron, Wiese oversaw the production and/or acquisition of over 200 videos including programs from The Beach Boys, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Arnold Palmer and launched The National Geographic Video series.

Today, he oversees LA-based Michael Wiese Productions ( from his cottage in Cornwall England. The company has published over 70 filmmaking books that are used in over 600 film school courses worldwide with several written by Wiese.

He is now preparing his feature film debut, CHASING FIRE: Magic and Madness in Bali and editing a documentary he recently shot in Tibet.

Jean Firstenberg, Director and Chief Executive Officer, American Film Institute
Jean Picker Firstenberg is in her 25th year as Director and CEO of the American Film Institute. During her tenure leading AFI, the institute has matured, progressed and received increased recognition as one of America's greatest cultural and educational resources. In addition, AFI's role in advancing and preserving the art of the moving image has been acknowledged worldwide.

Firstenberg’s impact on AFI began in 1980, when the institute acquired an eight-acre campus in Los Angeles. Since then, she has led AFI through many other significant advancements, ranging from the AFI Conservatory being accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, to the opening of the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center—a state-of-the-art center for the moving image arts in Silver Spring, Maryland—to the growing success of AFI FEST (AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival), now in its 19th year. Under Firstenberg’s leadership, AFI has transitioned from being a grants-dependent organization to an entrepreneurial-focused not-for-profit of the 21st century, including television and video as major focal points. Reaching a national audience is a major AFI objective which has been achieved through AFI’s 100 Years . . . 100 Movies series including 100 Stars, 100 Laughs, 100 Thrills, 100 Passions, 100 Heroes & Villains and 100 Songs, all airing on CBS, as well as AFI’s LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TRIBUTE, which airs on USA, is acknowledged as the highest honor for a career in film. Meryl Streep was the 32nd recipient in 2004

Before AFI, Firstenberg spent four years at the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation in New York City. She also served as Director of Princeton University’s Publications Office. Firstenberg is a summa cum laude graduate of Boston University’s College of Communications. She was a trustee of Boston University for 12 years and, former Chair, Board of Advisors, of the George Foster Peabody Awards in Broadcasting at the University of Georgia. She was the recipient of the prestigious Women in Film Crystal Award and the respected Women of Vision Award from Women in Film and Video in Washington, DC. In 2002, she was appointed to the US Postal Service Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which recommends subjects to the Postmaster General for commemorative stamps.

Doc Erickson
C.O. "Doc" Erickson, an executive producer, has over thirty years' experience as a producer and production manager on many of Hollywood's biggest films. He began his career at Paramount Pictures, serving as production manager on five Alfred Hitchcock films: "Rear Window," "To Catch A Thief," "The Trouble with Harry," "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo." He left Paramount to become John Huston's associate producer on "The Misfits," "Freud" and Reflections in a Golden Eye." He was production manager on Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "There Was A Crooked Man." He also spent three years supervising film production for Brut Productions and later became associated with Robert Evans on "Chinatown," "Players," "Urban Cowboy" and "Popeye." Other producer/production credits include "55 Days at Peking," "Blade Runner," "Nicholas and Alexandra," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Magic" and "The Lonely Guy."

Jim Emerson
Jim Emerson is a Seattle-based writer and film critic who has worked in nearly every part of the movie biz -- screenwriting, production, editing, marketing, exhibition, journalism and criticism. He is the co-creator and editor of, as well as a contributor to the newly launched He was the editor of the Microsoft Cinemania, a multimedia movie encyclopedia on CD-ROM and the web, and has been the editorial director of other film-related web projects such as and the now-defunct start-up, Emerson was movie critic for the Orange County Register (and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association), and has written for many other publications and web sites including the Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, MSN, Film Comment,, and Premiere. He is also the co-author (with his friend and sometime writing partner Julia Sweeney) of the play and screenplay Meas Big Apology and the film Its Pat: The Movie, and a creative consultant on Sweeneys current monologue, Letting Go of God, now playing in Los Angeles. He has been a film programmer for the famous Market Theater in Seattle, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Floating Film Festival. His own rarely-updated web site is Jeeems CinePad:

David Poland
David Poland is the author of the widely read daily entertainment industry column, "The Hot Button," which will soon celebrate its eighth anniversary on the Internet. He is also editor-in-chief and publisher of, a movie news site that has become a leader in 24/7 industry coverage, from The Academy Awards to festivals to studio intrigues and beyond.

Eric Pierson
Eric Pierson holds two degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned a BFA in Fine Arts in 1983 and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Communications Research in 1999. "The 1970s as Hollywood's Golden Economic Age: A Critical, Interpretative Analysis of the Blaxploitation Cinematic Movement" was the title of his doctoral dissertation. The study focused on the political, economic, and social climate that contributed to manufacturing and maintenance of Blaxploitation films.

Dr. Pierson joined the faculty of USD in the fall of 1999. His most recent article, “The Rhetoric of Hate on the Internet: Hateporn’s Challenge to Modern Media Ethics” was published in the The Journal of Mass Media Ethics. He is currently the Teaching Committee Chair for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies

John Cary

Mickey Cottrell, publicist

“Mickey allowed me to find a place in American Cinema and then rescued my film (‘The Quiet American’) from Harvey’s vault” --Phillip Noyce (2005)

Mickey Cottrell has become a specialist in filmmakers’ publicity, having represented such outstanding talents as Wim Wenders, Gus Van Sant, Percy Adlon, Bernard Rose, Tony Bill, Neil Jordan, Diane Keaton, Bruce Weber, Juzo Itami, Julien Temple, Agnieszka Holland, Bryan Singer, Vincent Ward, Michael Apted and Phillip Noyce.

Mickey Cottrell's publicity career began unintentionally when he called the local L.A. film critics to get their input on the programming needs of the local community as he embarked on transforming the classic Loyola Movie Palace into a revival house in 1981. The critics had never been asked this question by an exhibitor. One by one they invited Mickey to lunch to pour out their heart's cinema desires. The film buff venue quickly and surprisingly thrived and when it was sold a year and a half later, Mickey was hired by Landmark Theaters as their National Publicity Director, also providing input for their bookings and creating special events and mini-festivals. He also set up prize tie-ins with his fests, providing air and hotel for winners to Paris, London, Sydney and Rome. During this time, Michael Ventura of the L.A. Weekly wrote that Mickey's was "the finest film programming in Los Angeles."

Cottrell has opened over 100 films in Los Angeles, from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker to Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire to Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho to George Washington, which garnered its writer/director David Gordon Green a spot on a score of Top Ten Lists and four Spirit Award nods. In June of 2001. Bernard Rose’s Ivans xtc was the subject of an 8 page LA Weekly cover story and was nominated for four 2003 Spirit Awards.

With its debut at the 2003 Toronto Fest, Cottrell began the campaign for Neil Young’s Greendale, as National Publicity Coordinator for the theatrical release, a happy job that spanned a full 11 months, culminating with the July release of the DVD.

Mickey has helmed the Oscar campaigns of more than a dozen documentaries and foreign films into the nomination phase, with two, Broken Rainbow and Artie Shaw capturing Academy Awards. Cottrell also steered the PR of late master film composer Alex North, surrounding his Lifetime Achievement Oscar.

Mickey has served as a member of the selection committee for the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, for which he suggested the creation of the first US Critics Prize, which went into effect with the fest’s 2000 edition.

In the Summer of ‘99, in the curator's absence, Cottrell worked as acting Film Department Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. During this time, he was publicist and m.c. for the centenary retrospectives of Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor and Noel Coward

“…and you’re also good to hang with” --Philip Seymour Hoffman (2002)

“Thanks for making it so fun, Mickey!” --Neil Young (2004)