2024 Festival Jury.

Meet the 2024 Film Festival Jury!

Documentary Feature.

Vjosa Çerkini

Journalist | Producer

Vjosa Çerkini is an award winning Kosovar investigative journalist, reporter, producer and documentary filmmaker. Main area of interest: Southeast Europe. Mostly working for Deutsche Welle’s programs for Europe, among other media and projects in Europe and U.S. Vjosa Çerkini started her career in 2015 in Germany where she joined the German television broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich. Since 2018, she has been working as a journalist at the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle and as a correspondent for Perspektiva.plus in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2020, she began working as an independent author for the German Press Agency in Hamburg. In 2020 she worked also at the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government in Berlin.

Cindy L. Abel

Filmmaker | Speaker | Writer

Filmmaker, speaker and writer Cindy L. Abel formed Atlantis Moon Productions to develop film-related projects that launch conversations and impact popular culture. 

Abel directed and produced the award-winning films SURVIVING THE SILENCE (2020), the story of two women in love who played a part in changing military policy and BREAKING THROUGH (2013) in which openly LGBTQ elected officials share stories of self-doubt and triumph over multiple barriers. Both are available on Apple TV+, Prime Video, PBS, YouTube TV. She co-produced STUCK IN GREECE (2023), which reveals the particular challenges of LGBTQ refugees trapped in Greece, currently screening at film festivals. She produced the internationally-acclaimed, American-Italian BULLIED TO DEATH (2016) and XAVIER (2017) that intertwine cinema, photography and performing arts.

Rosslyn Hyams

Journalist | Cinefile

Rosslyn Hyams is a journalist based in Paris, France. Her work has focussed on international news and features, especially on Asia. From 2010 to 2020, she produced a podcast “Cinefile” on Radio France Internationale.

She has been a film festival jury member many times, and is a member of the French foreign correspondents’ Annual Film Awards “Académie des Lumières” whose prize ceremony takes place in January.

Documentary Shorts.

Elizabeth Weitzman

Journalist | Speaker | Writer

Elizabeth Weitzman is an award-winning journalist and speaker, and the bestselling author of more than twenty books on a wide range of subjects. Her most recent is Renegade Women in Film & TV, which chronicles the remarkable hidden history of pop culture pioneers onscreen and behind the scenes. 

Weitzman has been a film critic for the New York Daily News, The Wrap, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and Interview.  She has interviewed hundreds of celebrities and filmmakers, and written for publications like the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, and the Observer.

Sharofat Arabova

Filmmaker | Teacher

Sharofat Arabova, Ph.D.,  is a filmmaker and film scholar from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, a member of the Filmmakers’ Union of Tajikistan and the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC). She graduated in Cultural Studies from Russian-Tajik (Slavic) University (2006) and in Film Direction from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune (2013). She is an alumna of the Busan Asian Film Academy  and Berlinale Talents.

Leena Alam

Actress | Activist

Leena Alam is an award-winning film, TV and theatre actress, human rights activist and Afghanistan’s most recognizable star. She started her acting career in 1998 with films such as In a Foreign Land, Loori, and others made by Afghan diaspora filmmakers in the US. Her debut in Afghanistan – the land of her birth (and much of her upbringing) – was in Barmak Akram’s 2008 Kabuli Kid. She went on to do Soil and Coral, Darya’s Message, Black Kite and many short films to help emerging film makers in Kabul and beyond. She is most widely known to have worked on film and TV that speak of child marriage,gender inequality, women’s rights and social conflicts. Her most renowned roles include The Killing of Farkhunda, a re-enactment of the killing of a young Afghan woman falsely accused of burning a copy of the Quran, and Shereen, the struggle of a powerful woman in a taboo- smashing feminist film and TV drama.

Youth Documentary.

Maya Shtangrud

Student | Filmmaker | Art enthusiast

Maya Shtangrud is responsible for reviewing and vetting films for the Voices for Change Film Collection and corresponding with filmmakers from all over the world. She is an alumna of the 2022 Girl’s Voices Now cohort during which she co-directed the film, The Bloody Truth: A Look Into Period Poverty. A high school student, Maya is also an avid advocate for the arts, working with organizations such as the ACLU, Arts for LA, and Create CA to provide equitable access within schools across LA.

Malicka Taffa

Student | Filmmaker

Malicka Taffa is a high school student in Los Angeles, California. She is an alumna of the 2021 Girls’ Voices Now cohort where she created the film Domino Effect. Her interest in social change grew from personal experience. After seeing how film provides opportunities for connection and how people paid attention to issues presented through that medium, film became a major inspiration. Malicka’s passion for seeing ideas turn into visuals drives her aspirations to be a director and make a big film in the future.

Jarra Jallow

Student | Cinephile

Jarra Jallow is a boarding student at the Webb School of California. She is passionate about the aerial arts, crocheting, and watching movies. One of her all time favorite movies is Waves.

After taking a class on media for social change, Jarra developed an interest in filmmaking as a means for amplifying women’s voices for justice. Passionate about black affinity and representation in the media industry and elsewhere – she represented her school at the National Student Diversity Conference in St. Louis (2023).

Jarra takes an active role in grass roots community-building work with children and adolescents. Her hobbies include knitting, thrifting and aerial dance. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Jarra enjoys critical media analysis.

Festival Sponsors.

Festival Partners.

2024 Girls Voices Now Summer Media Training Program applications are now open