Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of its most significant cinematic figures. Her feature debut Wadjda, the first film shot in the Kingdom, launched out at the 2012 Venice International Film Festival to wide critical acclaim and continues to generate momentum from enthusiastic audiences and numerous international awards. Al Mansour studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Sydney. The success of her short films, and her groundbreaking 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows, influenced a new wave of Saudi filmmakers and made the issue of opening cinemas in the Kingdom front-page news. Inside Saudi Arabia her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on taboo issues and for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women. The international success of Wadjda lead Variety to name Al Mansour as one of the “10 Directors to Watch” in 2013 and brought a new excitement and focus to films coming from the Arab region.
Amat Escalante (Mexico)
Born in 1979, is a self-taught filmmaker from the city of Guanajuato in Mexico. He began his work in cinema at the age of fifteen. After making two short films, he wrote and directed Sangre, his first feature length film. Sangre became part of the Official Selection Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 where it was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize chosen by International Film Critics. His second feature film, Los bastardos, also premiered at Cannes in 2008 in the Official Selection Un Certain Regard and went on to receive recognition at many prestigious international film festivals. Heli is Escalante’s third feature length film, and was part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Competition in 2013 where he received the award for Best Director.
Alexej German Jr. (Russia)
Born in Moscow in 1976. He moved to St. Petersburg where he finished school and entered the department of theatre history of the St. Petersburg State Theatre Art Academy. A third-year student, German Jr. left the Academy to enter the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, the class of popular Russian directors - Sergej Solovëv and Valerij Rubincik. He shot three short films: Znamya (Banner) in 1998, Bolshoje osenneje pole (Big Autumn Field) in 1999, and Durachki (Fools) in 2001 that gained international and Russian film festivals awards. German Jr. debuted in full-feature cinematography with his film Posledniy poezd (The Last Train). It was first screened in Venice in 2003 where it received a special mention of the “Future Lion” jury. It gained the “Golden Alexander” award in Saloniki for the best film and the FIPRESCI prize; it received the International Amnesty organization prize at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. The Russian Academy of Cinematography “Nika” called the director “Discovery of the year.” His second film Garpastum participated in the official competition of Venice International Film Festival 2005. In 2008, his third feature Bumazhnyy soldat (Paper Soldier) had its premiere in Venice and was awarded with Silver Lion for the Best Director and the Osella for the Best Cinematography.
Geoffrey Gilmore (USA)
Geoffrey Gilmore joined Tribeca Enterprises in 2009 as Chief Creative Officer. He is responsible for Tribeca’s global content strategy and leads creative development initiatives and expansion of the brand. He helped develop Tribeca’s distribution platform, Tribeca Film, and supervises the Tribeca Film Festival. Gilmore also joined the Board of Directors of Tribeca Enterprises. He came to Tribeca from the Sundance Institute where he served as the Director of the Sundance Film Festival. He was responsible for film selection and the overall direction of programming from 1990 through 2009. In addition, Gilmore was a consultant for the Sundance Channel and also served as consultant to the Sundance Cinemas. He directed the Sundance Institute’s Annual Independent Producers Conference for 18 years and worked with the Institute on numerous international and national projects and symposia. For 14 years, he served as head of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s programming. Gilmore has also taught a course in the UCLA Department of Film and Television on independent production and has also lectured in Paris, Germany, Japan and China. He served on the Board of the Independent Feature Project/West and the Advisory Board of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and he has served on the Council for the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Rockefeller Foundation and other organizations and committees. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and did his post-graduate work at UCLA.
Ariane Labed (France/Greece)
Actor of French nationality who was born in Athens. She spent her childhood in Greece and Germany, where she began an intense study of classical dance. She moved to France in her teenage years and her interest shifted to the world of theater. In fact she studied the Practice and Theory of Art at the University of Provence Aix-Marseille. With the Greek director Argyro Chioti and the Mexican actor Naima Carbajal she set up, in that period, the Vasistas Theater Company, with which she has performed chiefly at the National Theatre in Athens. And it was in Athens that she met the director Athina Rachel Tsangari, who offered her her first cinematic role in the film Attenberg. For this experience on the big screen Labed won the Coppa Volpi at the 67th International Venice Film Festival, along with other awards for the best performance at various festivals. Since then she has continued to collaborate with the Vasistas company and with Athina Rachel Tsangari (The Capsule), but she has also worked with Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps), Guy Maddin (Spiritismes), Fabienne Godet (Une place sur la terre), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight) and Jasmila Zbanic.
Maria Sole Tognazzi (Italia)
She began her filmmaking activity as an assistant and then an assistant director. At the same time she started to direct a number of backstage films and video clips (for Sergio Cammariere, Carmen Consoli, Neffa and Paola Turci). She was assistant director on many movies for about ten years. With C’ero anch’io (1999) she won a Golden Globe for the Best Short. Her first feature-length film, Passato prossimo (Past Perfect, 2002), was nominated for the David di Donatello Awards and won a Silver Ribbon and a Golden Globe for Best New Director. With L’uomo che ama (2008), whose cast included Pierfrancesco Favino, Monica Bellucci and Ksenia Rappoport, she opened the International Rome Film Festival in 2008. Ritratto di mio padre (2010), with which she preinaugurated the Rome Film Festival in 2010, was nominated for the David di Donatello and won a Silver Ribbon in the film documentaries section. Her most recent movie, Viaggio sola (2013), with Margherita Buy and Stefano Accorsi, was released in 2013. Written in collaboration with Ivan Cotroneo and Francesca Marciano, it was produced by Bianca Film and is distributed by Teodora Film. Nominated for five David di Donatello awards and six Silver Ribbons, it won the David di Donatello and the Golden Ciak 2013 for the Best Leading Actress (Margherita Buy) and the Silver Ribbon 2013 for the Best Comedy Film.