SXSW Film 2017 Announces Juries for the Narrative and Documentary Feature Competitions, Shorts Programs and Special Awards

SXSW Film 2016 - Paramount Theater

SXSW Film Festival is pleased to announce the distinguished jurors for this year’s Narrative and Documentary Feature competitions, Narrative and Documentary Shorts, Music Video, Louis Black Lone Star Award, Poster Design, Title Design and VR programs.

2017 Narrative Feature Competition Jury:

Seth Lyon Abramovitch is a senior features writer at The Hollywood Reporter, where he has penned cover profiles on stars like Ellen Page and Elizabeth Banks and chronicled the exploitation of little people in entertainment.

Scott Mantz is the resident Film Critic and Emmy-nominated Film Segment Producer for “Access Hollywood" and a frequent moderator of Q&A sessions with filmmakers and acting talent.

Dana Stevens is the movie critic at Slate and a co-host of the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast. She lives in New York.

2017 Documentary Feature Competition Jury:

Eugene Hernandez is the Deputy Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York and Co-Publisher of the award-winning Film Comment magazine.

Ann Hornaday is chief film critic at the Washington Post.

Eric Hynes writes about nonfiction cinema for Film Comment and other publications, and is Associate Curator of Film at the Museum of the Moving Image.

2017 Narrative Shorts Program Jury:

Originally from France, Camille Bertrand has worked with the San Francisco Film Society, Cinetic Media and WildBunch before joining Bleecker Street as their Manager of Acquisitions.

David Ninh is the Senior Communications Specialist at Kickstarter where he works with filmmakers and artists on fundraising and amplifying their arts & culture projects.

Valentina Valentini is an LA-based journalist covering entertainment, travel, food and culture writing for Vanity Fair, Variety, Mashable, BBC Travel, Thrillist and more. Follow her @tiniv

2017 Documentary Shorts Program Jury:

Opal H Bennett currently programs shorts for DOCNYC and Nantucket Film Festival, and feature docs for Tribeca. She's also a programming consultant for The March on Washington Film Festival.

Sam Morrill is the Director of Curation at Vimeo where he leads the company's full-time curation team, which is responsible for Vimeo Staff Picks.

Meg Smaker (official job title: “Badass-Extraordinaire ”) has won numerous awards for her films, including Best Short Documentary at SXSW and a Student Academy Award.

2017 Animated Shorts Jury:

Don Hertzfeldt is a liar whose films include Raging Bull and Fantasia.

Kirsten Lepore is an LA-based director and animator whose films have taken top awards at the Emmys, Annies, SXSW, Slamdance, and many other international festivals.

Wiley Wiggins is an actor (Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, Computer Chess), animation student, co-founder and board member of the Juegos Rancheros game art nonprofit in Austin Texas.

2017 Midnight Shorts Jury:

Kristen Bell has worked for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas since 2004 and has served as the Festival Director for Fantastic Fest since 2008.

In between producing films, Peter Kuplowsky's appetite for genre and outsider cinema is fed curating FANTASTIC FEST's short film sidebars and TIFF's MIDNIGHT MADNESS programme.

Landon Zakheim co-founded The Overlook Film Festival, and programs shorts for Sundance, LA Film Festival and Philadelphia Film Festival, where he also programs features.

2017 Music Videos Jury:

Marc Fort is the digital media strategist at the Texas Music Office. He’s also worked as staff music critic for the Austin American-Statesman.

Daniel Kwan is one half of the directing duo known as DANIELS. Together, they've directed several award-winning music videos and commercials, as well as their first feature film, Swiss Army Man, which won the Best Director award at Sundance. Alone, Daniel Kwan has done nothing of value.

PJ Raval is an award-winning filmmaker whose credits include the feature documentary BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (SXSW 2013), as well as the highly charged CHRISTEENE video collection (SXSW 2010 -2014).

2017 Texas Shorts Jury:

As the Senior Production Consultant at the Texas Film Commission, Lindsey Ashley works to promote Texas as a destination for film, television, and commercial productions.

Lars Nilsen is the lead programmer at Austin Film Society delivering a popular year-round exhibition program consisting of (often idiosyncratic) repertory series, contemporary docs and narratives, and special events. He has been a film programmer in Austin in varying capacities since 2001.

After producing several award winning short films, Andrew Lee co-founded Ralph Smyth Entertainment producing features, documentaries, and series. His documentary DEALT is premiering at SXSW 2017.

2017 Texas High School Shorts Jury:

Emily Hagins has written and directed five features, including: PATHOGEN, MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE, GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS, and the Netflix Original Film Coin Heist.

Crafting all manner of film, Bob Ray spins yarns of and from the Austin underground to the delight and confusion of audiences and critics alike.

Bart Weiss teaches film/video at UT Arlington, is founder/director of DallasVideoFest, and produces “Frame of Mind” on KERA TV.

Louis Black Lone Star Award Jury:

Meredith Borders is the Editorial Director of the Alamo Drafthouse, Birth.Movies.Death. and Fantastic Fest. She also contributes to the pop culture blog Forever Young Adult.

Justin Chang is a film critic for the Los Angeles Times. He currently serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics.

Victor Diaz is film reporter and critic for Spectrum News. He's covered the Texas film scene for Austin's 24-hour local TV news channels since 2003

Poster Design Jury:

Becky Cloonanis a critically acclaimed illustrator and cartoonist, currently working for DC Comics, Marvel, Image and Mondo.

Tim League is the Founder/CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. His passion for film and commitment to cinema has ensured Alamo’s 20th anniversary this year.

Kevin Tong is a freelance illustrator living and working in Austin, TX. He is known for his screen printed posters (

Title Design Jury

Dan Brown is an Emmy award winning filmmaker and the co-owner of the production and design company Curiosity Shoppe.

A leading creative visionary, Kimberly Cooper co-founded Prologue Immersive in 2015 and has developed immersive storytelling content and a VR/AR software content creation and destination platform called Spatialand.

Marc Ferrino, Design Director at GSD&M in Austin Texas. He spends his days solving his clients brand needs and writing songs in the city he loves.

Virtual Reality Jury:

Gary Hustwit is ​​a documentary filmmaker and the Creative Director of Scenic, a digital content studio based in Brooklyn focusing on non-fiction VR.

Alex Schwartz is the CEO/Janitor of Owlchemy Labs, creators of the triple-platform VR launch title ‘Job Simulator’ and 'Rick and Morty VR.'

Kim Voynar is Chief Imaginator of WonderTek Labs, a virtual reality content and events consulting firm. In her pre-VR life, she was a film critic for over a decade for Movie City News and Cinematical.

Find out the winners of the Grand Jury Prizes and others at the SXSW Film Awards - Tuesday, March 14 at 8PM in the Paramount Theatre!

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By Neha Aziz