Our Competition Judges
Eight-time Academy Award®-nominated, Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most successful and respected producers and executives in the film industry today.
Since 2012 she is The President of Lucasfilm after The Walt Disney Company acquired the company for $4.2 billion.
In 1981, she co-founded the phenomenally successful production company Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg and her husband Frank Marshall.
Her first film as a producer was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). A decade later, again with Steven Spielberg, she produced the Jurassic Park franchise. She also produced Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with George Lucas. With Amblin, she produced the Back to the Future trilogy. She has produced the films of such directors as Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemeckis, JJ Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan and Clint Eastwood.
Altogether, Kathleen Kennedy has further produced or executive produced more than 70 feature films, which have collectively garnered 120 Academy Award nominations and 25 wins. Her films have earned over $11 billion worldwide, including five of the fifty highest-grossing films in motion picture history.
Recently Kathleen Kennedy was the producer of the Star Wars films: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), which broke the record for the biggest domestic opening of all time that year, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the number one grossing movie in 2016, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), the highest grossing movie worldwide in 2017, as well as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). Kennedy is currently executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning The Mandalorian. She also serves as a producer on all of Lucasfilm’s live action titles in production, including Indiana Jones, Willow, Andor, Obi-Wan Kenobi and more.
Paul Schrader is known as one of the cinema’s most successful screenwriters. He is also a film critic and film director. He started his career as a film critic, before he began writing screenplays, hitting the jackpot when he sold his first screenplay, Yakuza, for then-record sum of $325,000, thus establishing his reputation as one of Hollywood's top screenwriters.
He first received widespread recognition through his screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976). He later continued his collaboration with Scorsese, writing or co-writing Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999). Paul Schrader has also directed 24 films, including Blue Collar (1978), Hardcore (1979), American Gigolo (1980), Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) and Affliction (1997).
His three most recent films have been described by Schrader as a loose trilogy: First Reformed (2017), The Card Counter (2021), and Master Gardener (2022).
He has written the screenplays for two 'Best Picture' Academy Award nominees (Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980), but would only receive his first Academy Award nomination for 'Best Screenplay' more than 40 years working in the business - he got nominated for First Reformed (2017).
Dan Jinks is an American film and television producer. In 2010, Jinks launched his own film and television production company, the Dan Jinks Company. In July 2011, he signed an overall deal with CBS Television Studios.
Previously, working with producing partner Bruce Cohen, Jinks produced Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn. The film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.
The pair won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2000 for producing American Beauty. The film won a total of five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Next film was Tim Burton's Big Fish, which was nominated as Best Picture for both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs.
In television, Jinks and Cohen executive produced the acclaimed ABC series Pushing Daisies, which won eight Emmy Awards.
In the summer of 2008, Jinks and Cohen produced A Timeless Call, a tribute to war veterans that Steven Spielberg directed for the Democratic National Convention.
Jinks produced Nothing to Lose, starring Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins for Touchstone Pictures, and executive produced The Bone Collector, with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie for Universal.
Wendy Finerman is an American film producer. She is best known for winning the Academy Award for Best Picture for Forrest Gump in 1994. Forrest Gump received critical acclaim for Zemeckis's direction, performances (particularly those of Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise), visual effects, music, and screenplay. The film was an enormous success at the box office; it became the top-grossing film in America released that year and earned over US $678.2 million worldwide.
Further Wendy Finerman won a BAFTA Award for Fairy Tale in 1998. She has also produced such popular films as The Fan starring Robert De Niro; Stepmom starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon; P.S. I Love You starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and The Devil Wears Prada starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. She is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and runs her own company, Wendy Finerman Productions.
GARY MICHAEL WALTERS - CEO of Bold Films
Bold Films is a production and finance company dedicated to providing an artistic haven for creative talent and to producing original, studio-quality films with worldwide commercial appeal. Gary oversees all aspects of Bold Films: production, finance, legal, creative, strategy and sales. Gary has produced or executive produced all of its movies. He is a producer of such iconic films as Drive, Nightcrawler and Whiplash! His recent production is Netflix’s film The Guilty with Jake Gyllenhaal.
MIKE MEDAVOY - CEO of Phoenix Pictures
Sample some of the best American films over the past forty years and there's a good chance Mike Medavoy played a role in the success of many of them. From agent to studio chief to producer, he has been involved with over 300 feature films, of which 17 have been nominated and 7 have won Best Picture Oscars®, as well as numerous international film festival awards. He is a producer of such iconic films as Shutter Island, Zodiac and Black Swan! For the latest he received an Academy Award Nomination. He’s produced for Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and many more...
Ross Katz is an American film producer, screenwriter and director. Ross is a two time Academy Award Nominee, nominated for Academy Awards for producing Todd Field's In the Bedroom (2001), and Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003). Katz has had three films in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. He won the best screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America and Best Director from the Director’s Guild of America - both for his 2009 Kevin Bacon film “Taking Chance” (HBO films). He currently runs the production company Sui Generis Pictures.
Michael London is an American film producer and a partner, with Janice Williams, in Groundswell Productions. He has produced over 20 films including Sideways, The Visitor, Win Win, Smart People and Trumbo. Earlier on, before Groundswell was formed, his production company Michael London Productions treated to a Paramount first look deal before 2006. Even before that, he was a producer at USA Films/Focus Features. The film Sideways was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2005. On the heels of the Academy nomination, London won "Producer of the Year" in 2006 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. In 2013, Groundswell was scheduled to produce Mona for the studio New Regency, based on the novel of the same name by Swedish author Dan T. Sehlberg. He has a first look TV deal with Fox 21 in 2013. London will be the executive producer of the upcoming HBO adaptation of the novel A Visit From the Goon Squad.
EMILIE GEORGES - Co-Founder & CEO, Paradise City - Paris
Prior to starting her new venture Paradise City with producer Naima Abed, Georges founded Memento Distribution and Production in 2003 which expanded into Memento International & La Cinefacture (production) in 2004. Georges has been devoted to promoting, producing and supporting high-profile, director-driven independent films such as Laurent Cantet’s THE CLASS (Golden Palm, Cannes 2008); Asghar Farhadi’s A SEPARATION (2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film), THE SALESMAN (2015 Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language), Joachim Trier’s LOUDER THAN BOMBS (2013) and THELMA (2017), Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer’s STILL ALICE( 2016); Josh & Benny Safdie’s GOOD TIME (2017). Several directors she repped are now working on the Marvel franchise – Jon Watts, Destin Daniel Cretton or Cate Shortland!
Georges currently runs Memento International alongside her production companies at Paradise City (including ex-La Cinefacture). Her credits include US indie genre films such as Jeremy Saulnier’s BLUE RUIN and Jim Mickle’s COLD IN JULY & WE ARE WHAT WE ARE Sundance winners World dramatic CIRCLES (2014) by Srdan Golubovich & CONTRACORRIENTE (Audience, 2010) by Javier Fuentes Leon; as well as Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar winner feature film CALL ME BY YOUR NAME for which she received an Oscar nomination.
Siena Oberman is the founder of Artemis Pictures, a filmmaker driven female run production company. She was named in Forbes 30 Under 30 2022, Variety Top 10 Producers to Watch in 2021, and Diversity in Cannes Top 10 Female Filmmakers to Watch in 2019. She focuses on stylistically bold independent films and female driven stories. She's had feature films in TIFF, Berlinale, Tribeca, Telluride, and Venice. Her films have been acquired by companies such as A24, IFC, Screen Media, Universal, Lionsgate, Hulu, and eOne. Before Artemis, Siena was a Development Executive at Yale Productions. Prior to producing, Siena went to USC and studied Business and Cinema.
Head of Story Development for WME
Head of Story Development for Hollywood's Top Talent and Literary Agency WME (William Morris/Endeavor)
Born, bred, and buttered in DC, Adam Novak majored in screenwriting at USC’s School of Cinema-Television where he sold his senior thesis script Conversations with a Cannibal before starting his career at the venerable William Morris Agency (now WME) as the exclusive script reader for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Willis.
As Head of the William Morris/Endeavor (WME) Story Department for more than 25 years, Novak championed The Blair Witch Project, Promising Young Woman, Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Truman Show, and Waterworld.
Novak has also published a series of novels about the movie business: The Non-Pro (Salvo Press/2008), Take Fountain (Rare Bird Books/2015), Freaks of the Industry (Rare Bird Books/2017), and Rat Park (Red Giant Books/2022). Novak recently celebrated his 33rd year at the WME agency.
Susan Soon He Stanton - producer and writer on HBO's Succession - Emmy Award Winner
Susan is a playwright, television writer, and screenwriter based between New York and London. Susan is a producer/writer on HBO’s Succession, for which she has won an Emmy, a WGA and Peabody Award. Upcoming television work includes HBO/Sister Picture’s THE BABY, Amazon’s Modern Love, Amazon/Annapurna’s Dead Ringers, Hulu/Element Pictures/BBC’s Conversation with Friends adapted from the novel by Sally Rooney, as well as several projects in development. She has worked on projects for Amazon, Annapurna, Netflix, and Pixar, among others.
Her plays have been produced internationally and regionally across the United States. In film, she is a co-writer for the award-winning feature film Brooklyn Love Stories. She received a Feature Film Development Grant and Screenwriting Award from the Sloan Foundation.
She has taught playwriting at UT Austin’s MFA Program, SUNY Purchase, New York University, Yale University, as well as various other institutions regionally and internationally.
Erik Bork - Producer and Writer on HBO's Band of Brothers - Two Times Emmy Award Winner & Two Times Golden Globe Award Winner
Erik is a Two-Times Emmy Award-winning & Two Times Golden Globe Award-winning screenwriter, producer, script consultant, and blogger best known for his work on the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon. He got his start in Hollywood as an assistant to Tom Hanks, who gave him the opportunity to help write and produce From the Earth to the Moon, after reading some sitcom spec scripts he had written. Bork has sold series pitches and written pilots at NBC and FOX worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies including Universal Studios, HBO, TNT, and Playtone.
He also teaches screenwriting for UCLA Extension, National University and The Writers Store, and offers one-on-one consulting to writers. His multi-category Amazon best-selling book THE IDEA: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage, or Fiction was released in 2018. For more info check his webpage https://www.flyingwrestler.com.
Ron Leshem - Executive Producer on HBO’s Euphoria - Emmy Award Nominee & Academy Award Nominee
Ron Leshem is a writer, Emmy-nominated producer, TV executive, and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. He is best known for serving as executive producer on HBO's Euphoria and for the film Beaufort, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
He co-created and co-wrote the original version of Euphoria (2012) which HBO’s Euphoria (2019) is based on. In 2018, he joined the American production of HBO’s Euphoria as an executive producer.
He co-created and wrote the television series No Man's Land (Hulu), Valley of Tears, Euphoria, The Gordin Cell, and the film Incitement, in addition to his career as a television executive.
As head of programming and content for Keshet TV, he commissioned and oversaw the development and production of some of the most popular and successful Israeli TV series, including Prisoners Of War (the Israeli original version of Homeland), the A-word, Traffic Light, and Arab Labor.
He is also a bestselling author. He won Israel's top literary award, the Sapir Prize for Literature, and has been published in 22 languages.
Jamie Lee - Producer and Writer on Ted Lasso - Two Times Emmy Award Winner
Jamie Lee is a stand-up comedian, actor and two-time Emmy award winning television writer/producer. She starred as Ali Reissen, the female lead in the Judd Apatow-produced HBO series CRASHING, opposite Pete Holmes and wrote/starred in “The Viewing Party” episode, which was directed by Judd Apatow and honored by the New York Times in their piece on The Best TV Episodes of 2019.
In December 2016, Lee released her debut book Weddiculous (Harper Collins), which was adapted by Netflix and ITV as a series titled THE WEDDING COACH, hosted and Executive Produced by Jamie and premiered on April 7th, 2021.
Jamie is currently an Executive Producer on the mega-hit Apple TV+ series TED LASSO and has won an Emmy (2x), Peabody, WGA (2x), PGA & Critics Choice Award for her work on the series. Most recently, Jamie served as a Co-Executive Producer on KILLING IT (Peacock) created by BROOKLYN NINE-NINE duo Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici and starring Craig Robinson.
Hartley Gorenstein, P.G.A. - Producer on The Boys - Emmy Award Nominee
Hartley Gorenstein is a renowned producer whose films and TV series have achieved both critical and popular success. He has worked on multiple high-profile film and television projects.
His credits include the Best Picture nominated feature Room (starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay) and Emmy Award Nominee The Boys (created by Eric Kripke and Gorenstein produced alongside Seth Rogen, Neal Moritz, and Evan Goldberg). The Boys has been nominated for 6 Primetime Emmys along with multiple guild awards.
Other producing credits include the highly anticipated film Polar, The Grizzlies, Goon: Last of the Enforcers and Pompeii.
For television, Gorenstein produced three seasons of the popular series Man Seeking Woman for FX, as well as the pilot for the breakout hit series The Bold Type. He also produced What We Do in the Shadows, a half-hour comedy series for FX based on Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s popular mockumentary horror film. The series is executive produced by Clement and Waititi, along with Scott Rudin, Paul Simms, Garrett Basch and Eli Bush.
Olivier Sultan - Literary Agent at leading entertainment agency CAA
Olivier Sultan is a Theater Literary Agent at the leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Olivier represents both established and emerging writers, directors, composers, and designers including Emmy Award Winners and Academy Award Winners. His clients include:
Stephen Daldry - Two Times Emmy Award Winner for The Crown and Three Times Academy Award Nominee