Festival Committee Members:

Joshua E. Young

Co-Chair, Co-Founder - Programming and Operations Manager



Joshua is a prolific Producer/Director holding an Associate of Arts with a Media Specialist Certificate from Rock Valley College, as well as, B.A. in Communications and M.F.A. in Independent Filmmaking and Digital Imaging from Governors State University. His film credits include Producer/Editor of sci-fi/thriller THROUGH DARKNESS (currently in postproduction), Producer/Editor of independent, short documentary SEARCHING FOR LADY DAY: A PORTRAIT IN STEEL (2017), Unit Production Manager of independent, horror feature RAYMOND DID IT (2011), and Producer/Writer/Director of short, action/comedy RUN (2010). During his education at GSU, Joshua climbed the production ranks of the full-service studio facility on campus from production assistant to Director/Executive Producer of the Department of Digital Learning. His television credits are extensive and include: National Endowment for the Humanities grant-funded production "Veterans Speak: War, Trauma, and the Humanities" (Producer/Director), "Respond to Violence: The Impact of Mental Health” (Production Manager/Director), “Reflections on Fatherhood with John W. Fountain” (Associate Producer/Editor), “Respond to Violence: Communities in Crisis” (Editor). He has also helped to develop courses in GSU’s Media Studies Program and taught studio-based television production.
Contact me at: jyoung4@govst.edu


Suzanne E. Patterson

Co-Chair, Co-Founder - Filmmaker and Audience Liaison



Suzanne's passion for film began at age 6 when she joined a film club for children in her hometown of Dumfries, Scotland. As a young Columbia College student, Suzanne attended film classes led by Sun-Times Film Critic Roger Ebert which cemented her close affinity with the art of motion pictures. She manages The Knowledge Exchange, a lifelong learning program at Governors State University’s School of Extended Learning where she leads a Cinema Studies course presenting on various film topics including Understanding Culture through Foreign Film, The Brontës in Film and The Power of Short Film. Suzanne also leads post film Q&As for various venues and organizations within the metropolitan Chicago area.
Contact me at: spatterson3@govst.edu


Alexis H. Sarkisian

Co-Founder - Public Relations Manager



Alexis is an Emmy award-winning documentarian and marketing communications management professional who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations. With experience as a radio television broadcast manager and global marketing executive, Alexis currently is an independent management and marketing consultant for corporate and nonprofit organizations. She also teaches leadership and communication at three local universities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also manages marketing and special events for Governors State University’s library.
Contact me at: asarkisian@govst.edu


Amanda Martinez

Graphic Design and Web Manager



Amanda is a Motion Graphic Designer who earned her B.F.A in Photography & Digital Imaging from Governors State University. Since graduating from GSU in 2013, she has been working for Governors State University as a Digital Design Specialist on an array of productions, as well as, various freelance gigs. Some of her film credits include Searching For Lady Day: A Portrait In Steel (2017), Lonely Souls (2017), #ShandaDidWHAT!? (2019), and The Hoods (2019: currently in production). Her television credits include National Endowment for the Humanities grant-funded production "Veterans Speak: War, Trauma, and the Humanities", "Respond to Violence: The Impact of Mental Health”, and “Respond to Violence: Communities in Crisis” just to name a few. Additionally, Amanda’s experience includes music videos, promotional videos, title sequences, live sports graphics, online learning programs, applications, websites, invitations, flyer/ posters, and event planning. Her skills span the entire gamut of television production. From motion graphics, VFX, 3D modeling and animation, to editing, sound design, live graphics operating, and set design, Amanda can make any project come to life.
Contact me at: aziaja@govst.edu


Karen A. Blackman

Business and Marketing Manager



Karen A. Blackman is the Manager of Enrollment and External Relations at Governors State University, in the College of Business. Her responsibilities include the recruitment of graduate students, multi-channel marketing, enhanced student engagement and communication collateral creator. She evaluates existing operations, identifies opportunities for improvement, and forecasts applicable trends while implementing new systems to streamline processes to enhance efficiency. Leverages well-honed interpersonal and leadership skills while working across multiple levels of an organization to ensure the realization of core objectives. She serves as a dedicated and innovative contributor who leads by example and sets the standard others strive to achieve. Karen has been a patron of the arts for several years, being introduced to the arts during one of her initial adventures while traveling. There she met many artists, including filmmakers, artisans and like-minded individuals who exposed her to their craft. Karen possess a Bachelor of Science in industrial Psychology and a Master Degree in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Contact me at: Kwilliams10@govst.edu


Kymbria Young

Fundraising & Community Liaison



Kymbria Young joined Governors State University as the Institutional Advancement Officer in March 2019. Her educational background includes a B.A. in English from Spelman College and an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Roosevelt University. Prior to joining Governors State’s team, Kymbria held positions at numerous Fortune 500 companies including JPMorgan Chase and PepsiCo. Additionally, she has international work experience in the nonprofit sector. Her key skills include aligning donors with opportunities to give based on their interests and passion, developing strategic partnerships and cultivating relationships with stakeholders. Traveling is one of Kymbria’s favorite activities. She has visited nearly 20 countries in three different continents and has a personal goal to visit the remaining continents in the next few years. Most of all, Kymbria enjoys spending quality time with her son, Alexander.
Contact me at: kyoung6@govst.edu



Uriah Berryhill

Staff Coordinator and Guest Services



Uriah is a TV, Producer/Director in Digital Learning and Media Design at Governors State University. Uriah received an Associate’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism at Lincoln College, B.A. in Communications, and M.F.A in Independent Filmmaking and Digital Imaging from Governors State University. During his time at GSU he worked as a production assistant on a number of productions. He works on most of the commercial work for the university, and teaches production courses for the Media Studies Program. He also mentors student workers in the Digital Learning and Media Design department. Uriah has a passion for film, and admires the art behind creating independent films.
Contact me at: uberryhill@govst.edu


Jake Abels

Social Media Coordinator



Jake graduated from Governors State University (GSU) in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies. Aside from managing the social media accounts for the Chicago Southland International Film Festival, Jake is in charge of creating the virtual festival website for this year’s film festival. He has also worked on numerous projects in GSU’s Department of Digital Learning and Media Design, a full-service production studio. Credits on productions notably include the live broadcast of the Men’s Leadership Summit 2019, Respond to Violence: Talking about Trauma, and most recently GSU’s Virtual Convocation 2020. Jake has also helped produce the student-run news program, This Week at GSU, and worked in various production roles on numerous live sports broadcasts for GSU’s Athletic Department. Jake hopes to build a career in videography and work for environmental-based organizations such as National Geographic.
Contact me at: jabels@govst.edu


Student Committee Members


Alex Pavloski



Alex is an honors student at Governors State University pursuing a BFA in Independent Film and Digital Imaging and a minor in Human Communications. At GSU she has worked as a production assistant in the Department for Digital Learning and Media Design and has been involved in numerous productions. Some of her credits include "Crowns Speakers' Corner", "Veterans Speak: War, Trauma, and the Humanities", and various promotional videos for GSU. She has also worked as an intern on GSU's Sports Broadcasting team, done public relations work for Sta' Phochused Production INC., and is currently a student ambassador for ORCAtv, GSU's campus life channel. Alex has written, produced, and directed several short films, one of which was an official selection of the All American High School Film Festival in 2017. Her passion for filmmaking continues on and after graduating she plans to pursue a career in the arts.
Contact me at: apavloski2@student.govst.edu


Megan Smith



Megan received her B.A. in Digital Video Production at Ball State University. Currently, Megan is pursuing her M.F.A. at Governors State University in Independent Filmmaking and Digital Imaging. At GSU, Megan works as a Production Assistant in the Department for Digital Learning and Media Design. As a production assistant, she has been involved with numerous productions. Some production credits include numerous promotional videos for Global Brigades/Study Abroad and GSU as well as various roles in American Psychological Association productions. She has written, directed, and edited her own short films. In the future, Megan hopes to continue her passion in film and build her skills.

Contact me at: msmith39@student.govst.edu  


Advisors to the Festival Committee


Daniel Nearing



Daniel is a Professor of Independent Film and Digital Imaging at Governors State University, where he is a three-time winner of faculty excellence awards. His work as a writer-director includes CHICAGO HEIGHTS and HOGTOWN. Nearing is a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, served as the inaugural Filmmaker in Residence for the City of Chicago, and was named Chicagoan of the Year for Film by the Chicago Tribune in 2016-17. He continues to enjoy teaching at GSU while undertaking his current production of SISTER CARRIE, a black and white period love story set in Chicago, Montreal and Paris.
Contact me at: dnearing@govst.edu


Sanghoon Lee



A native of South Korea, Sanghoon Lee moved to the U.S. to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he pursued his MFA in Filmmaking. He has been working as a director, producer, and cinematographer in Chicago’s independent film community ever since. Sanghoon has completed several award-winning dramatic features including SECOND MOON (producer), CHICAGO HEIGHTS (producer/cinematographer) and HOGTOWN (producer/cinematographer). His credits also include feature documentaries EDIT (producer), TODAY WE SAW THE FACE OF GOD (producer), and BREAKFAST AT INA'S (producer/cinematographer). Most recently, Sanghoon acted as cinematographer for two short films, FUGUE and THE BIRDER, both in post-production. His feature length directorial debut, BANANA SEASON is in its festival circuit. Sanghoon is an associate professor in Independent Film and Digital Imaging program at Governors State University where he has been teaching film since 2006.
Contact me at: SLee@govst.edu


Lana Rogachevskaya

Executive Director, Center for Performing Arts at GSU



Lana is a Ukrainian-born arts professional and an educator with a passion for cultural community-building. Over her 18-year career, Lana has advanced cultural diplomacy with the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra, implemented media plans for Lincoln Center, nurtured artists at the Tanglewood Music Center, and cultivated regional cultural hubs at Brooklyn College, NYC, and now as Executive Director of the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University. At the helm of a multi-disciplinary presenter with 200+ annual events, Lana is passionate about arts access. The signature series at GSU includes a vibrant Arts in Education program, serving 20,000 youth, and a Made in Chicago series that cultivates first-time attendance for members of underserved populations.
Contact me at: srogachevskaya@govst.edu