Meet the 2021 Film Festival Jury!
Sara was born and raised in Mexico. She moved to the United States to study film in 2005. Her career has taken her through television, film, and commercials, starting as a Production Assistant and working her way up to Production Supervisor, Producer, and Director. She directed her first film, Coyote Lake, in 2018 and looks forward to directing more films. While working on her career in film and TV Sara always maintained her interest in human rights and other social movements. This has included volunteering with different organizations. Most recently she volunteered to support immigrants at the border with Al Otro Lado, and minors separated at the border with The Young Center. She is currently developing a social media platform that focuses on Latinx experiences and the importance of seeing them as individuals and not a homogeneous monolith.
Distributor | Producer
Efuru Flowers began her career working for John Singleton’s New Deal Productions. This opportunity paved the way for a career collaborating with filmmakers and talent, and began a passion for production, sales and distribution. Efuru continues to build an extensive network of sales, distribution, financing, production and talent professionals throughout over 20 years of experience.
While working at Paramount Pictures in Feature Acquisitions, Efuru was inspired to found Flourishing Films, a sales, production, and distribution company focused on representing diverse content in the domestic and international marketplace. She is also a producer of content with projects currently in production including narrative feature A Rooster On The Fire Escape and documentary Zion Music.
Efuru is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); an Alum of the Producers Guild of America’s The Power of Diversity; Sundance Institute’s Financing Intensive; 2017 Sundance Official Selection and Alum for film Night Shift; a 2018 Berlinale Talents (Market Studio) Alum; and a member of Women In Film.
Sherry Hakimi is the Executive Director of genEquality, a nonprofit organization on a mission to activate people to achieve gender equality. genEquality leverages behavioral insights to develop and implement nudges everywhere, from corporate lobby spaces to high school hallways. Focusing on behaviors and beliefs, genEquality’s research-backed activations promote 10 ways everyone can effect gender equality by using community and cultural touch points, including public art installations, film, music, and literature. Past partners in genEquality’s initiatives have included Netflix, Lionsgate, Delirious Media, and more. In addition to her role at genEquality, in 2019 Sherry was appointed to serve as Commissioner for the NYC Commission on Gender Equity.
Sherry’s professional work has spanned the public, private, and nonprofit sectors on five continents. Sherry has worked with an array of companies, clients, and institutions, such as Reebok, Harvard Business School, Fidelity Investments, and the United Nations. For the last seven years, she has served as an independent advisor to various United Nations entities, with a particular focus on gender equality and foreign policy initiatives.
Outside of her gender equality work, Sherry is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations, National Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project, and co-chair of the annual Iranian Summit at Harvard. She holds a B.B.A. in Marketing and B.A. in International Development from University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an M.P.P. from Harvard Kennedy School.
Producer | Writer
Asha Dahya is a TEDx Speaker, author and producer with nearly two decades of experience both in front of, and behind the camera for major broadcast and digital networks including FOX, ABC, MSN, and MTV. In 2020 Asha released her first book titled Today’s Wonder Women: Everyday Superheroes Who Are Changing The World, where she interviewed 50 women and girls from around the world.
Asha is also the founder and editor- in-chief of GirlTalkHQ.Com: a daily female empowerment blog promoting women’s voices and stories. Asha is passionate about the intersections of female representation, reproductive justice, and religion.
Asha is Indian by ethnicity, born in the United Kingdom, raised in Australia, and has been based in Los Angeles since 2008 where she lives with her husband and two children. You can see more of her work at AshaDahya.com.Elizabeth Weitzman is the author of Renegade Women in Film & TV, which chronicles the remarkable hidden history of Hollywood pioneers onscreen and behind the scenes. She was also a film critic for the New York Daily News from 2000-2015, and currently covers movies for The Wrap. She has interviewed hundreds of actors and filmmakers, and written about entertainment for publications like the New York Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU, and is a longstanding member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Writer | Director
Lorena is an award-winning writer, director, and producer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a USC School of Cinematic Arts alum. She’s passionate about telling stories from marginalized perspectives that highlight cultural identity, the immigrant experience, and female strength (though she barely works out).
Her work has been selected for competition at Outfest, LALIFF, Inside Out, Out On Film, Official Latino Film Festival, and the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival. Mucho Más Media is producing her most recent pilot presentation, to which Mark Duplass has contributed starting funds.
If you think any of the above information helps her claim to a status of humanity please notify U.S. immigration’s human branch – she’s still struggling to have them recognize her as one.
Elizabeth Weitzman is the author of Renegade Women in Film & TV, which chronicles the remarkable hidden history of Hollywood pioneers onscreen and behind the scenes. She was also a film critic for the New York Daily News from 2000-2015, and currently covers movies for The Wrap. She has interviewed hundreds of actors and filmmakers, and written about entertainment for publications like the New York Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU, and is a longstanding member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Elizabeth is the author of Renegade Women in Film & TV, which chronicles the remarkable hidden history of Hollywood pioneers onscreen and behind the scenes. She was also a film critic for the New York Daily News from 2000-2015, and currently covers movies for The Wrap. She has interviewed hundreds of actors and filmmakers, and written about entertainment for publications like the New York Times, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU, and is a longstanding member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Viktoria I.V. King
Viktoria is a multi-ethnic, award-winning, British-American Director, Writer and Producer. She was a finalist for the 2019 ABC Directors Showcase. Her films have been selected in over 50 international film festivals with over 20 awards, being singled out as Best Director. Her most recent selections have been a semi-finalist for the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival (Academy Award Qualifying, BAFTA Award Qualifying, Canadian Screen Award Qualifying), Asian American International Film Festival, Newfilmmakers NY Film Festival, Official Latino Film Festival, Oregon Documentary Film Festival, and Canberra Short Film Festival, among many others.
Her most recent film, Freeze Your Brain, that was commissioned by Visible Poetry Project, promoted by Motion Poems, has now been accepted into two of the largest poetry film festivals in the world, Zebra Poetry Film Festival & the 9th International Video Poetry Film Festival. Her latest short documentary, Black Lives MATTER, was a Daily Short Pick on Film Shortage and her work as a screenwriter is featured on The Blacklist.
Viktoria is a Featured Director in Film Fatales, Alliance of Women Directors, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Latinx Directors, Chicana Director’s Initiative, and many others.
Founder | Executive Director
Artist, organizer, and educator, Vera Zambonelli is a Hawaii-based independent filmmaker and researcher, who explores concepts of socially engaged art and cultural strategy, approaches and processes that lead to the creation of art that influences social, and cultural change in support of social justice. Vera is the founder and executive director of Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking. For the last 10 years, Vera has been advocating for gender justice in filmmaking through an intersectional approach. In 2017, Vera launched the production of REEL WĀHINE OF HAWAIʻI, a short doc film series that redresses gender inequity in the film industry by documenting the real-life stories of Hawai‘i women filmmakers. She directed two of the 12 films, featuring producer and HIFF founder Jeannette Paulson Hereniko and animator Laura Margulies. Vera and series Co-Producer Shirley Thompson are currently in pre-production for Season 3 thanks to a National Endowment for the Arts award.
Vera has been teaching courses on Women and the Media, Women in Film, and Women, Ideas and Society at the University of Hawaiʻi Academy for Creative Media West Oʻahu and Women’s Studies Department at UH Mānoa. Vera serves on the Indie Media Arts West’s leadership committee to connect representatives from media arts organizations in the Western region of the United States, and she is part of the Creative Resurgence Collective of Hawai’i-based creatives, artists, advocates, and arts administrators dedicated to imagining and cultivating abundant Hawai’i futures.
Vera holds a M.A. in Japanese Studies from Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice, a M.A. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa.
Keianna Johnson is an alumna of Girls’ Voices Now, the Women’s Voices Now filmmaking and activism program, which she completed in 2018. Her film, Everywhere We Go, explores mental health through the eyes of two teenagers and how it affects their everyday lives. Keianna is passionate about film and destigmatizing mental health in communities of color. She often combines these passions to create short forms of content about mental health that she posts around the internet.