2020 Festival Team

Jolanta Lion | Film Festival Director

After teaching Polish language, history of Polish Cinema, and scriptwriting at the renowned National Film School in Łódź and University of Łódź, Jolanta Lion came to Pittsburgh to teach Polish Language, Film and Culture at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition she created and taught courses on contemporary Polish Cinema and the Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and she founded a Polish Film Festival "Through Polish Eyes." She is currently the Assistant Director of the Humanities Center at CMU, the Founder & Director of the annual CMU International "Faces" Film Festival, and professor of the Film Festival Course, which she created. Among the festival’s recent centerpieces were appearances by the former First Lady of Poland, Danuta Walesa, Director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), and Director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing). Barry Paris, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Film Critic, wrote: "The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival is my annual favorite, due to the excellence of the choices by its director, Jolanta Lion, who deserves an Oscar in general." No Oscar yet. This year, as if mirroring this year's festival theme "Faces of Home," the audience will be greeted by Jolanta as she watches the film together with the audience from her Home in Pittsburgh.

Marina Cavalcanti | Director’s Assistant & Logistics Coordinator

Marina is currently a student at the Master of Entertainment Industry Management program at Carnegie Mellon University, pursuing a career as a producer in the film industry. Before starting her master's program, she has worked at another film festival as well as with the production of art exhibitions back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she is from. She loves films and joined the festival in order to be able to work with them and help make them accessible to the public. At the CMU IFF, she works as the Logistics Coordinator, helping plan all festival events in order to make the CMU IFF an amazing cinematic experience to everyone. She is very excited for this year’s festival, especially since the theme of home is something very close to her heart, being that this is the first time that she is living away from her home country.

John McAllister | Head of Development, Social Media Coordinator, & Crowdfunding Coordinator

John McAllister is currently studying Entertainment Industry Management at CMU. Before his studies in Pittsburgh, he worked as a high school English and Drama Teacher in Shiprock, NM. While working there, his proudest achievement was creating the Shiprock High School Drama program. He has a bachelor's degree in Scandinavian Studies and English Language from the University of Edinburgh. He joined the festival in order to understand film festival creation from a financial and creative perspective. As the Head of Development, he got to oversee many of the festival's fundraising opportunities. He was most excited about the theme of home because of its universal applicability and the exciting discussions that it’ll generate.

Brittany Zortman | Head of Programming & Event Coordinator

Brittany is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, studying two degrees in Communication Rhetoric and English Writing, along with a minor in Film Studies. She has fostered a love for film ever since she was young, inspired by the creativity and universality of the form. Serving as a programming intern at the 2020 CMU International Film Festival has given Brittany the opportunity to learn more about the film industry, and spread her passion for film to her community. She believes it is vitally important that cultures from all around the world are able to speak across oceans through film, and inspire positive dialogues amongst viewers. After graduation in April, Brittany hopes to explore whatever opportunity that may come her way, and looks forward to adopting a cat or dog. Her home right now is at my parent's home, in York Pennsylvania.

Esther Tan | Head of Marketing

Esther is currently studying in the Master of Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University. She loves watching films, talking about films, and promoting films to other people so that she can talk about films with them. At the CMU IFF, she is working as the Head of Marketing. Before coming to Pittsburgh, she had spent four years studying in the UK at Durham University and The University of Edinburgh. Growing up in China and living aboard for such a long time, Esther is very excited to talk about “Faces of Home” at this year’s festival. To her, home is where the heart is.

Cynthia Tam | Communications Coordinator

Cynthia is an administrator at Einhorn Media Group, a small multimedia design firm in the South Side. One of her main roles with the festival this year is to coordinate projects with the festival’s Design and Website committees and help ensure a visual consistency in its marketing and promotional materials. Cynthia is moved by great storytelling in all forms. She is particularly inspired by a story’s ability to expand your perspective and to amplify voices that are often unheard.

Olivia Bence | Lead Designer

Olivia is a senior at La Roche University, pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. With a love for story-telling, the film festival was the perfect opportunity to combine both passions to help create a unique experience. She was this year’s Design Committee Coordinator, and helped create a new visual identity for the festival itself, as well as this year’s theme image, Faces of Homel. When thinking of what home means, Olivia reflected on feelings of comfort, safety, and security, as well as her friends and family. She will graduate this spring, and hopes to be a User Experience Designer.

Jackie Chou | Designer

Jackie received his Bachelor of Design from Carnegie Mellon University, where he was involved in the festival during his sophomore through senior years. He worked hand-in-hand with Cynthia, Jolanta, and the rest of the design team, creating posters, websites, and flyers to help brand and promote the festival. His favorite festival memory was getting Sunday brunch at Zenith with the design team. He hopes the festival continues to bring the CMU community together for years to come. Thanks for the fun memories!

Ximena Diaz-Rodriguez | Event Coordinator

Ximena is a Carnegie Mellon University alumni from the Master of Information Systems & Management graduate program. Originally from Mexico City, and with a Computer Engineering background, Ximena is also passionate about many art expressions such as playing piano, photography, and films, especially, documentaries. Five years ago, she found at CMU International Film Festival a paradise on earth and became one of its biggest fans and advocates. Additionally to her current work as Sr. Business Intelligence Consultant in Pharmacy Advanced Analytics at Highmark, Ximena contributes to CMU IFF as part of the programming committee and designs surveys for each screening to understand how the festival impacts our community in their understanding of other cultures and social issues. Ximena is a strong believer in films not only as art but as a tool to raise awareness and empathy for others. She has found at CMU IFF a new way to connect with other cultures through an extraordinary selection of films around the world, a Q&A open to the public, and catering to continue sharing comments and ideas. Each CMU IFF event shows us how other people live, thinks and feels, and allows us to discover at the end of each film, we're all the same just with a different "cover".

Maxine Graves | Programming Coordinator & Event Coordinator

Maxine is a Programming Intern who occasionally dabbles in marketing and finds it kind of weird to be writing about herself in the third person. She is a second-year at CMU majoring in Statistics and Hispanic Studies and minoring in Film and Media Studies. She has enjoyed having the opportunity to watch so many movies and feels lucky to get to talk about them with such a bright group of interns. This year’s theme has expanded her definition of what home can mean and has made her aware of the many, divergent ways this word can be interpreted on screen.

Delilah Gray | Head of Short Film Competition & Event Coordinator

Delilah is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Communications and Writing. She was originally a film major, so she was excited to get into working in film festivals. Delilah joined the IFF team as a Programming Intern, but later became the Head Coordinator of the Short Film Competition. She enjoys working on the SFC because she wants to help students and filmmakers show their hard work. When reflecting on this year’s theme, Faces of Home, she looks back on all of the places and states she called home, even for a brief amount of time. She likes how a home can constantly change for her. Delilah plans to finish her schooling at Pitt and then apply to graduate schools. Until then, she enjoys writing, traveling to new places, and gardening her constantly growing garden.

Nathan Jen | Lead Web Developer

Nathan is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Information Systems with minors in Business Administration and Human-Computer Interaction. He is also going to be pursuing a Master in Human-Computer Interaction after graduation. He is the Lead Web Developer and strives to create a website that pairs technical expertise with an intuitive and aesthetically pleasing design that users are able to understand and navigate. Nathan considers the house he grew up in in Los Angeles, California as “home,” and sees this internship as a great opportunity to expand and connect with the film community in Pittsburgh.

Shannon Ding | Web Developer

Shannon is a freshman studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a Web Developer Intern and has really enjoyed reading all about films and the festival through the webpages. Although she doesn’t have much exposure to filmmaking, she’s interested in lighting design for theater and live sound for shows and likes seeing the amazing technical design choices of films.

Gregory McCall | Web Developer

Gregory McCall is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a degree in Computer Science. He originally worked for a movie theatre, where he first discovered his love for film. Gregory’s passion for the film industry and Computer Science led him to his role as a Web Developer for the IFF team. He played a major role in the responsiveness of the website, in other words, how it looks across different screen types and sizes. When “home” comes to mind, Gregory thinks of his hometown back in Texas, where his family lives. While he misses his hometown and his family, he’s excited for the opportunities that stem from graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, and what this city has to offer.

Megan Penn | Youth Outreach Coordinator & Event Coordinator

Megan is a student receiving her Master’s in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University. She worked as a teacher for three years and now works as the youth outreach coordinator for the CMU international film festival with hopes of bridging the gap between learning and entertainment. When reflecting on the theme “faces of home” she thinks of her experience as a dual citizen and living in France and America. She also thinks of the children she has worked with and what home meant to them, as many were homeless or undocumented immigrants. Upon graduation, she hopes to apply her knowledge and passion to children’s programming.

Charmaine Qiu | Designer

Charmaine is a Sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, pursuing a degree in Design and minoring in Human Computer Interaction. She enjoys watching films from all over the world, and joining IFF’s design team allowed her to utilize her design skills while being part of a community that she loves. Charmaine is drawn to the visuals of things and takes pleasure when creating meaningful and relatable designs. When thinking of the meaning of home, she refers to the people and artifacts that reminds her of important moments in her life.

Grace Ruble | Programming Coordinator, Event Coordinator, & Filmmaker

Grace is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a double major in Theatre Arts and Film and Media Studies. Though she spends much of her time directing and acting in films and plays, Grace joined the CMU IFF as a Programming Intern to learn more about the business side of the entertainment industry. She is very excited for the opportunity the festival provides to bring films starting global conversations to Pittsburgh. After she graduates next year, Grace hopes to find her place in the creative process by working on a film set or at a theatre.

Leah Stauber | Programming Coordinator, Event Coordinator, & Writer

Leah is a master’s student in professional writing at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating with a B.A. in English from Davidson College, she was inspired to pursue her passion for the film industry. She really appreciated learning about entertainment writing while creating copy for the festival materials. Outside of the film festival, she enjoys acting and fiction writing. Her current home is in Pittsburgh, PA.

Cory Stillman | Event Coordinator

Cory Stillman is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, where he majors in Film and Media Studies. He is also pursuing a minor in Creative Writing, as well as certificates in Global Studies and Children’s Literature. After attending the 2019 Telluride Film Festival, Cory developed a fascination for film festivals, and decided to get involved with one right here in Pittsburgh! While he has loved engaging with so many excellent international films, he has especially enjoyed discovering so many different communities throughout Pittsburgh as a result of his involvement with the festival.

Mirra Yu | Event Coordinator

Mirra is a senior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Although she's been interested in film and cinema since high school, she especially loves that it's so different from the things she studies in her engineering courses. Mirra joined the CMU IFF team because she wanted to be involved in a hands-on project relating to film and thought that the theme of this year's festival was incredibly relevant in today's society. Her favorite thing about the Film Festival is that the films tackle a wide range of issues, such as environmental crises and political unrest, while still highlighting what home is to people all around the world.

Festival Advisors

Jay Einhorn | Creative Director of Einhorn Media Group

Jay Einhorn, a CMU alumnus, founded Einhorn Media Group (EMG) over 25 years ago and has since built up a firm that pulls in clients as diverse as BP Oil and US Steel. EMG is a Pittsburgh-based agency with strong roots in graphic design that has evolved to provide specialized services in corporate identity, print design, motion graphics, and web design. Jay leads the aesthetic direction and concept development of each and every project at EMG. He and his staff have partnered with the festival since its inception and have provided professional guidance in the creation of the festival’s identity and promotional materials, which set the language for the visual ‘face’ of each festival.

Roger Rouse | Festival Advisor & Writer

Roger Rouse retired last year after spending four decades teaching cultural anthropology and global studies at Pitt and other universities. He is currently a Faculty Associate of the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and remains based in the city.

David Shumway | Humanities Center Director

David Shumway is the Director of the Humanities Center at CMU and founder of the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival. He is also a Professor of English and Literary and Cultural Studies at CMU. His special interests in American culture include film, popular music, and late nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction. He is the author of Michel Foucault, Creating American Civilization: A Genealogy of American Literature as an Academic Discipline, Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis, John Sayles, and Rock Star: The Making of Cultural Icons from Elvis to Springsteen. He is currently completing a study of narrative realism in contemporary American culture.

Shernell Smith | Festival Advisor & Course Coordinator

M. Shernell Smith is the Executive Director of CMU’s Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion. She has been a sustaining presence with the film festival over the past 4 years with support of various project initiatives including the development and facilitation of the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival’s Weekend Course. The course has provided an outlet for the students to engage in culturally enriching intergroup dialogue through film analysis and critical reflection.

Nevena Staresinic | Community Outreach Consultant & Owner of Moderna Relocation

Nevena Staresinic runs Moderna Relocation LLC from Pittsburgh and is trusted by leading corporations, universities and startups to welcome and retain their employees to the region. She offers city and neighborhood orientations, settling-in and real estate service. She is on the board of the Greater Pittsburgh Relocation Council and is an ambassador for InterNations. Nevena hosts networking events for newcomers and the international community. She is involved with leading city initiatives such as ImaginePittsburgh.com, Vibrant, Global and Visit Pittsburgh to help make southwestern Pennsylvania a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.

Not Pictured

Rachel Lee | Designer

Melanie Resnick | Event Coordinator

Sanika Sahasrabuddhe | Short Film Competition Coordinator