2017 Festival Team

Jolanta Lion

Jolanta Lion // Film Festival Director

After teaching Polish language, history of Polish Cinema, and scriptwriting at the renowned National Film School in Lodz and University of Lodz, Jolanta Lion came to Pittsburgh to teach Polish Language, Film and Culture at the University of Pittsburgh. Jolanta is currently the Assistant Director of the Humanities Center at CMU, Founder & Director of the annual CMU International “Faces” Film Festival, and professor of the Film Festival Course, which she created. The festival’s recent centerpieces, made possible through Jolanta’s efforts, included 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. Her favorite quote about equality is by her favorite filmmaker Kieslowski: ”We understand the concept of equality, that we all want to be equal. But I think this is absolutely not true. I don’t think anybody really wants to be equal. Everybody wants to be more equal.” Lets examine it by watching this year’s films about (In)Equality. Jolanta’s favorite film this year is Spoor by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland.

Peter Geyer

Peter Geyer // Asisstant to the Director & Logistics Coordinator

Peter Geyer is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Business and Film. He is from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania (Taylor Swift’s hometown). All his life, he’s loved film; every step in a film’s creation interests him. So when he saw the opportunity to intern with the CMU IFF, he could not turn it down. In his position as Head Student Coordinator, his creativity and professional skills are consistently challenged. Being exposed to all the unique films made him feel more love towards the art of filmmaking. And while thinking about this year’s theme, he has seen film play an even greater role in the discussion of inequality in today’s world. He finds himself thinking about and discussing film every day, which is good because he hopes to combine his love of film with his studies of business as a career. Peter’s favorite film this festival is Life and Nothing More.

Emily Nees

Emily Nees // Asisstant to the Director & Logistics Coordinator

Emily Nees is from Louisville, Ohio and she received her Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Akron, double-majoring in Marketing Management and Integrated Marketing Communications. She is currently a first year graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University in the Master of Entertainment Industry Management (MEIM) Program. This is her first year participating in the film festival and she holds the position of Logistics Coordinator and Assistant to the Festival Director, Jolanta Lion. Though her concentration is in music management, the film festival has allowed her to gain more experience in entertainment business and she hopes to transfer these skills over to the music industry specifically, as she grows her career. Emily’s favorite film this season is BPM.

Cynthia Tam

Cynthia Tam // Asisstant to the Director & 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 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. In her spare time, you can probably find her biking, drinking tea, or (re)watching Sean Baker films. Cynthia’s favorite selections from this year’s season are BPM and The Departure.

Karena Zhang

Karena Zhang // Asisstant to the Director & Marketing Coordinator

Karena is an undergraduate Business and Chinese Studies student at Carnegie Mellon. This is her second year with the IFF, and she is working as an Assistant Director for the Faces of Inequality Festival. Karena has a passion for connecting people and moving messages, and she encourages the strong exchanging of ideas both within the Carnegie Mellon community and beyond. In her leisure, Karena enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, and reading great books. Her favorite festival film is Bombshell.

Delena Obermaier

Delena Obermaier // Head of Programming, Writer, & Event Coordinator

Delena Obermaier is a senior Film Studies and History student at the University of Pittsburgh. Originally from Chicago, she has a passion in particular for horror film and body genres, focusing her writing and research on representations of gender and race within such films. As Head of Programming, she enjoys experiencing points of view that are often under or misrepresented in mainstream theaters. Delena hopes to have a career as a film festival programmer or director and her first year with the CMUIFF has only intensified that dream. Her favorite film of the season is For Ahkeem.

John Apostolides

John Apostolides // Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of Clash

John works at CMU in the Department of Psychology. He is joining for his second year as a Programming Coordinator. John has been interested in theater and international culture throughout his life. He is inspired by how our differences are only opportunities to learn, and how we gain from learning each other’s experience. He decided to be a Programmer to watch and share interesting, meaningful films. And, to confuse the computer scientists in the room. John’s favorite film this year is Beauty and the Dogs, for how vividly it brings the audience to experience their story.

Jackie Chou

Jackie Chou // Designer &Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of The Doctor From India

Jackie Chou is a second-year student in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University studying communications and environments design. He helped design some of the materials for this year’s festival, including the posters, banners, program booklet, tickets, and passes. He is originally from Cupertino, CA, and he loves Saul Bass’ work in film title sequence design. His current favorite typeface is Graphik (used in this booklet and designed by a CMU Design alum!). His favorite film in this year’s festival is Bombshell.

Keval Gala

Keval Gala // Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of The Doctor From India & Mali Blues

Keval is the kid who’s famous (read: infamous) for asking all the questions in class. Graduating in May, he’s got a wide array of interests (language, vegan cooking, sustainable development, biking, hiking, photography, you name it) but he lacks a direction in life. That’s why he decided to double major (Civil Engineering and Public Policy) and double minor (French and Global Engineering). When he’s not rereading Harry Potter or having a word named after him – “to keval” is to strike up a conversation with a stranger – he’s probably learning romantic Hindi/Urdu words through song translations. He was first involved with the International Film Festival two years ago and now, after a month-long Engineering for Developing Communities summer program in Ethiopia and a semester studying abroad in Paris, he’s making his triumphant return. His favorite films this year are Mali Blues and The Doctor from India.

Shawn Gilson

Shawn Gilson // Filmmaker & Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of For Ahkeem & Spoor

Shawn has lived in Pennsylvania his whole life, originally from The Pocono Mountains and has now been a Pittsburgh transplant for the last three years. He has been making movies with friends since he was 12, and always knew he had wanted to work in the film/tv industry since he was a little kid. He holds an associate’s degree in Radio/TV from Northampton Community College and as of recently a Bachelors of Arts degree in Cinema Production from Point Park University, concentrating in film editing and production design. He also likes to write screenplays. Shawn hopes to begin a career in Atlanta, GA doing post production work, or somewhere warmer and hopefully one day have a screenplay produced. Shawn’s favorite film this season is Life and Nothing More.

Becky Groves

Becky Groves // Designer & Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of Spoor

Becky is a junior at Carnegie Mellon studying Mathematics and Fine Art. This is her first year with the festival, and as a member of the design team she gets to create images and promotional materials that reflect this year’s extremely important theme: inequality. She is passionate about many kinds of art - visual art, music, writing, storytelling - but particularly loves how it all comes together in great films. Her favorite film in the festival is Spoor. She loves animals and has been a vegetarian since she was 6 years old, so she hopes everyone who sees this film will be inspired by the passion it shows toward animals and nature.

Dillon Heverin

Dillon Heverin // Development Coordinator

Dillon Michael Heverin is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon studying Statistics. He has performed stand-up comedy for nearly eight years and intends on returning to performance after completing his studies. He’s been described by strangers as genius/beautiful. One time Elon Musk asked him to come to the SpaceX headquarters to help build a rocket, but unfortunately for Elon, Dillon couldn’t make it as he had promised Margot Robbie that he wouldn’t miss her wedding day. Dillon decided to join the CMU IFF to keep working in a field that he is passionate about. Dillon has loved film his whole life and in addition to working with the CMU IFF, he wishes to pursue an accelerated masters in entertainment. He hopes to someday produce, write, and direct his own films as a career. Dillon especially enjoys the film Risk in this year’s festival. He also thinks Jennifer Lawrence is overrated.

Meijie Hu

Meijie Hu // Designer & Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of Clash

Meijie is a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University studying Design and she is from Shenzhen, China. This is her first year with the festival. Her curiosity about independent film started with her friend back in high school who produces independent films that document the gentrification around campus. She loves independent films that address complex human nature and social events. She is a member of the design team in the festival and help create posters, postcards and other promotion materials. Her favorite films in the festival are Clash and Human Flow.

Jayne Juffe

Jayne Juffe // Programming Coordinator & Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of Beauty and the Dogs, Bombshell, & Spoor

Jayne is a second year Writing and Film student at the University of Pittsburgh, and this is her second year at the festival. The last time she was in the festival, she was a high school senior. She has loved film every since she was little and watched The Wizard of Oz relentlessly. As a programming coordinator, she has thought about every aspect of film and how to make more of an experience for the audience. She loves being able to access wonderful films from around the world and broaden her knowledge in cinema and (in)equality. Her favourite films this year are BPM and Spoor.

Ava Kling

Ava Kling // Filmmaker, Photographer, & Reception Designer

Ava is a sophomore in the School of Art in pursuit of a BFA with a double minor in Business and Design. She has wanted to attend Carnegie Mellon since she was a child to follow her family’s Alma Mater, and today she still finds the university to be a perfect fit for her interdisciplinary interests. Ava especially enjoys the support of the College of Fine Arts for experimental film and time-based media, which is a considerable part of her practice. She also works as the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry’s videographer, where she records lectures and other special events. These duties extend into the CMU International Film Festival, where she helps to document and promote the festival through video and a variety of other media. This is Ava’s first year with IFF, but she is looking forward to participating in the Festival for years to come.


Brandon La // Web Coordinator

Brandon La is a senior Computer Science and Economics student at the University of Pittsburgh. Hailing from Rochester, New York, he has deep interest in psychological thriller films and enjoys spending his free time singing and practicing photography. As the CMU IFF’s Webmaster, he maintains and publishes updates to the film festival’s website in cooperation with the Design Team. He is grateful for the opportunity to work with the many festival members and Jolanta Lion! His favorite film of the 2018 season is The Departure.

Veronica Leffler

Veronica Leffler // Social Media Manager & Event Coordinator - Head Coordinator of Bombshell & Mali Blues

Veronica Leffler is a recent Penn State grad, with a B.A. in Public Relations and minor specializations in English and French. A Pittsburgh native, she works as the marketing specialist for a law firm downtown, and as promotional model at various venues around the greater Pittsburgh area. Her enthusiasm for media history informs her love of film, and she enjoys sharing that passion as Social Media Manager on the Marketing Committee. Veronica’s favorite film from this year’s festival lineup is Bombshell.

Grace McCarthy

Grace McCarthy // Filmmaker & Reception Designer

Grace is a Directing major in the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. She has always had a passion for filmmaking. In her years at Carnegie Mellon she made the official music video for the song “Beans On Pizza” by Grouplove and multiple other short films, commercials and music videos. She won second place in the Carnegie Mellon Shot for Shot festival for one of her music videos. Grace does not only have experience directing but she has interned at Dona Belajac Casting, Chrystie Street Casting, Protozoa Pictures and McCorkle Casting. She has also been a production assistant and casting assistant on multiple independent short films. Grace also has a passion for photography and has experience doing promotional photography, commercial photography, and independent hires. Grace is in her last semester at CMU and she can’t wait to see what exciting opportunities are next for her. Her favorite film this season is For Ahkeem.

David Shumway

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. His next projects will concern realism across media in the U. S. during the 20th century, and an investigation of status as distinct from class in contemporary society.

Not Picured

Sheril Christopher // Development Coordinator

Shivani Goel // Marketing & Development Coordinator

Grace Huddleston // Designer & Event Coordinator