Festival Committee Members:
Joshua E. Young
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.
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Suzanne E. Patterson
Co-Founder - 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.
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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.
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Staff Coordinator and Guest Services
Uriah is the Television Production Coordinator for 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.
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Social Media Coordinator
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.
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Rujanee is an award-winning director and producer based in Chicago. She was academically trained as an artist, interior architect, and a teacher who later discovered her career path in film and video production shortly after she received her MFA from Northern Illinois University in 2005. When combining her multidisciplinary professional experience with her bold and dark fascination with life and death, her work communicates thought-provoking existentialism and symbolism with some degree of quirkiness, mostly influenced by the work of David Lynch, Fujio Fujiko’s animated TV series Doraemon, and Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles. Her directorial debut was a long-form architecture documentary, Man and His Erections, which was premiered at the Gene Siskel Film Center in January 2009 as part of “Stranger Than Fiction” documentary series. Since then, she has written and directed a collection of short and feature films, some of which were screened at festivals like Festival de Cannes and American Documentary Film Competition. In 2018, after the death of her beloved cat of 18 years, she decided to dedicate her life to focus on using creativity to promote self-reflection and enlightenment while also synergizing the creative community. Rujanee is currently a director/ producer at the DLMD Department at GSU, a founder of Shortcut 100 International Film Festival (shortcut100.org) and a community-driven streaming platform pixquid.com, an executive producer of Chicago Film News (chicagofilmnews.com), a director/ producer at Nebula Creatives L3C (nebulacreatives.com), and a fan of water.
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Pre-Screener & Judge Liaison
Daniel received his B.A. in Communications and M.F.A. in Independent Filmmaking and Digital Imaging from Governors State University. During his time at Governors State University, he worked on several productions in various roles in addition to being a Graduate Assistant while also working in the University’s Media Lab. Currently, he is a Television Director-Producer at Governors State University in the Department for Digital Learning and Media Design where he has worked on and directed numerous productions, including those for the American Psychological Association. Daniel has a passion for film, and is continuously looking to learn and expand his skillset in this artform that he so greatly admires and appreciates.
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Student Committee Members
Jazmine Grisby is a graduate from Governors State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Industry and Production. Grisby's experience comes from her work as a Production Assistant while at her university working in their media department, Digital Learning and Media Design. There she worked on several productions wearing many hats, such as director, video editor, actress, voice actress, camera operator, and graphic designer. She hopes to one day work with actress, producer, writer, and director, Issa Rae as a creative, camera operator, or editor for Issa’s production company HOORAE.
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Zhamarr Thompkins is a GSU graduate with a bachelor's in media studies. Zhamarr is currently working toward a M.F.A. in independent filmmaking at Governors State University. Not only is he a student at Governors State, but Zhamarr is also a production assistant and a part of the Digital Learning and Media Design Team. He has been hands on with several impressive projects including the well-received Beloved Community documentary and the Alligator Records anniversary show. Most notably, Zhamarr has been nominated for a Crystal Pillar Award for his work as the director of GSU's live sports broadcasting. Zhamarr enjoys film and is focused on growing as a filmmaker..
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Advisors to the Festival Committee
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.
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Alexis H. Sarkisian
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.
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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.
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