Save the Date!
September 13-18, 2016

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Guest of Honor

  • Jon Bowermaster

    Six time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council and award winning writer and filmmaker. Seeing the world from the seat of a sea kayak has given Bowermaster a one‐of a kind look at both the health of the planet’s oceans and the lives of the people around the globe who depend on them.

  • Orquesta de Cateura

    As the protagonists in the opening film at DREFF 2015, Landfill Harmonic, the Cateura Orchestra is comprised of adolescents and children from the Bañado community located around the Cateura garbage dump in Asunción, Paraguay. Handmade and ingenious musical instruments are created from the trash in this garbage dump, fashioned from recycled materials.

  • Louie Psihoyos

    Academy Award-winning director, is the Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), and is widely regarded as one of the world’s most prominent still photographers. He has circled the globe dozens of times for National Geographic and has shot hundreds of covers for other magazines including Fortune Magazine, Smithsonian, and Discover. His work has also been seen on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Television, and the History Channel. His imagination, wit, and iconic imagery have helped illustrate a wide array of complex subjects and is carried over to his filmmaking.

  • Bobbi Hunter

    Joined Greenpeace in 1973; served as board member and first treasurer, organized the first Greenpeace office and sustained fundraising projects until 1980. Married to Bob Hunter, first president of Greenpeace, she was the first woman to save a whale by putting her body between a harpoon and a whale.

  • Emily Hunter

    Is an independent filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. Born into the environmental movement, her father was the first president of Greenpeace, the late Robert Hunter. For nearly a decade Emily has documented from the frontlines of environmental battles, from the high seas of Antarctica with the notorious group Sea Shepherd to UN climate summits. She has directed and produced four TV-documentaries on MTV Canada and TVO on social change issues. She is a world-renowned speaker, including a recent talk on TEDx and a character in the upcoming film How to Change the World (2015) by Jerry Rothwel, which is also a part of the DREFF program this year. Activism 2.0 is an adaptation of her book The Next Eco-Warriors, published in 2011.

Special Guests

cannitoAlessandra Cannito

Alessandra is a graduate of Ryerson University School of Media’s Radio and Television Arts Program, where she specialized in audio production and media business management.

Alessandra takes great pride in all her charity events, including the Easter Seals Foundation, Breast Cancer Foundation, Voices 2012 benefiting MusiCounts, and Habitat for Humanity.

When she’s not performing, Alessandra enjoys engaging audiences to new businesses as a social media manager with multiple startups. She also enjoys coordinating events and has had involvement in the Canadian Walk of Fame, the Canadian Screen Awards, and Crossmedia Banff.”

Andrew Nisker

Andrew Nisker is a filmmaker, author, activist, and teacher. He graduated from York University’s film school and then signed a first-look deal with Broadway Video. He also wrote, directed, and produced several documentary shorts. Nisker returned to Canada and became a director for lifestyle and documentary television for networks including CBC, CTV, Chum Television, and others, and began producing and directing full-length documentary films. Nisker is also an interactive entertainment producer and has been a class instructor at OCAD University in Toronto. He is also the founder of the film distributor Take Action Films and a board member for Planet In Focus Film Festival.

alstonAngela Alston

Angela Alston manages audience engagement for The Wisdom to Survive. She and her sister Gwendolyn Alston plan and implement outreach strategies through their company MocaMedia. Films they’ve represented include A Sea Change: Imagine a World without Fish, Women in the Dirt, and Awake: The Life of Yogananda. Angela is based in Dallas, Texas, Gwen in Madrid, Spain, with New York City as their hometown and hub. They share a passion for contemporary issues that affect our everyday lives and those of future generations. They’ve been working together since 2007.

Angela Sun

Award-winning television host/journalist Angela Sun’s passion for storytelling and love for the oceans led to the creation of this ambitious project. A Bay Area Native, she is a graduate of UCLA and also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Angela has conducted field research on the Great Barrier Reef while at UNSW, focusing on the study of reef sharks. A certified EcoDiver, she surveyed the coral reefs of the Andaman Sea as part of the Malibu Reef Check internship program. She serves on the board or advisors for Ocean Defender Hawaii. She has produced for MTV News, ProSeiben Network, and Current TV.


Brad Forder

Brad is currently a Programmer for the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. He has worked as the director of photography for various documentary projects- including the upcoming film Painted City -and has served as a videographer for local production companies and universities, as well as at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  He holds a BA in Asian Studies from Furman Univeristy and an MA in International Journalism from Cardiff University.

vickCharlotte Vick

Charlotte Vick works with noted oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle, and her Deep Search Foundation and directs RVLL Ocean Endeavors providing communications, technology, resource management, and economic development expertise.  Living most of her adult life on islands, Charlotte has a passion for finding ways to improve life in and around coastal communities.

Charlotte graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and did additional studies at the University of Hawaii in ocean sciences.  Her career has included government service at the state, national, and international levels as well as extensive work in marketing and communications for business, industry and non-profit organizations.

ferstadChristoph Ferstad

Christoph is a cinematographer and producer who previously worked under producer Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal) as associate producer on two sci-fi/fantasy projects. Christoph has a background in photography, specializing in storytelling and portraiture.

Colin Ruggiero

Colin Ruggiero is an independent filmmaker and photographer in Missoula, Montana. He received his M.F.A. in Documentary Filmmaking from Montana State University in 2005 and has since produced a variety of award-winning independent films and shorts for both broadcast and independent release,  and shot for National Geographic, Discovery, and the BBC, among many others. His love of the ocean led to his underwater cinematography work for clients such as the Bahamas National Trust, The Mexican Board of Tourism, and National Geographic Wild. He is currently a filmmaking instructor at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and the Director of Photography and workshop instructor for the Ocean Media Institute.

Cosima Dannoritzer

Cosima Dannoritzer is a documentary filmmaker specializing in history and ecology. She has worked for broadcasters such as the BBC, Arte, Deutsche Welle, and Televisión Española. Her documentary about the history of planned obsolescence, The Light Bulb Conspiracy, was sold to more than 30 territories and won 12 international festival awards.

guggenheimDavid Guggenheim

Dr. David E. Guggenheim is a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, submarine pilot, ocean explorer, and educator. He is president and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, Ocean Doctor. Guggenheim directs Cuba Conservancy, and is in his 15th year leading research and conservation efforts in Cuba focused on coral reefs and sea turtles, a joint effort with the University of Havana.

Guggenheim holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University in Virginia, a Master’s in Aquatic and Population Biology from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master’s in Regional Science and Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Denis Delestrac

Denis Delestrac is one of Europe’s most bankable non-fiction directors. His films unstitch the hidden mechanics of our society. His exposure of controversial issues has sparked public debate and influenced political decision-making, positioning him as one of the most influential investigative filmmakers of this decade. His master-classes have been imparted in festivals and universities across Europe, Latin America, the U.S., and Africa. Delestrac resides in Barcelona.

fernandezEladio Fernandez

Eladio Fernández is a Dominican conservation photographer, a naturalist, author and publisher. He has one of the richest image banks on Caribbean flora, fauna, and natural landscapes. His work extends beyond natural subjects and also explores social and cultural subjects from the Caribbean.

Eladio’s images have been portrayed in magazines, such as the “Wildlife As Canon Sees It” ad campaign for National Geographic.

Among his publications are: Hispaniola, A Photographic Journey Through Island Biogeography, Orchids of Dominican Republic and Haiti, and Parques Nacionales de la Republica Dominicana.

romeroGabriel Romero

Gabriel Romero has over 15 years of visual communications experience with an emphasis in photography and film. He has a David Lynch MA in film from Maharishi University of Management, where he has spent the last six years teaching media and communication courses.

He is directing and producing The Broken Cycle, a 30-minute documentary film that illustrates healthy soil as a fundamental element of life on earth, and the vital role that it plays in global climate change, as seen through the eyes of family farmers, scientists, and environmental activists.  He is also the cinematographer for The Last Man Standing (working title). Gabriel has a big passion for filmmaking and a great love for sustainability and he strives to live and work with conscientious choices that create balance in his every day environment.

capizziGaetano Capizzi

Gaetano Capizzi graduated with a degree in Critique and History of Cinema, and works in the cinema field as critic and organizer of cultural events and film festivals. He promoted the “Indipendent Italian Cinema” through his film reviews, books, and cinematographic essays and directed the “Cinema Indipendente Italiano Film Festival” in Berlin. He is a founding member of AIACE-CIC (Centro Italiano Cortometraggio – Italian Short Film Centre) and is the Director of Cinemambiente, the first Environmental Film Festival in Italy, which he founded in 1998. Capizzi is the President and founder of Green Film Network (GFN), the network of major environmental film festivals.

Grant Baldwin

Is a director, cinematographer, editor, and composer based in Vancouver, Canada. He has an eye for creative cinematography and a varied background working with sports films, narratives, and documentaries. Grant directed the documentary The Clean Bin Project (2010) which won 10 festival awards and Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (2014) which garnered him the award for Emerging Canadian Filmmaker at HotDocs.

papabeisGina Papabeis

Gina Papabeis is the Co-Producer of Racing Extinction, the highly anticipated follow-up film from OPS, the Academy Award-winning team behind The Cove. Gina began working with the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) during the release of The Cove, managing the day-to-day operations of the organization and coordinating the outreach campaign for the film. Before OPS, Gina worked as a Projects Manager on the grassroots promotion of a dozen independent films at Red Hills Releasing, LLC, including 500 Days of Summer. She is a graduate of Florida State University’s Film School.

Guy Reid

Is an award-winning director, speaker, and photographer specializing in eastern philosophy, ecology, and sustainable development. He has a masters degree in leadership in sustainable development from London’s Forum for the Future, and has also studied at SOAS in London with a focus on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and the relationship between worldview and ecology.

Jakob Kneser

Grew up in Munich and Bonn. After graduating in philosophy, history, and religious sciences, Jakob Kneser has been working as editor at a music TV channel based in Cologne, Germany, before making a name for himself as a director and author. Since 2002 he has made numerous reports, features, and documentaries for arts and science television programs such as ARD, ZDF, 3Sat, and ARTE. Since his film End of a Legend in 2006 he has been working closely with a&o buero film production, becoming partner of the company in 2010. Jakob Kneser lives with his family in Bonn.

Jeff Spitz

Is an Emmy Award-winner who creates original documentaries and social impact campaigns. His credits as a director and social impact producer include: The Return of Navajo Boy, From the Bottom Up, The Roosevelt Experiment, and America’s Libraries Change Lives. Jeff’s new documentary, Food Patriots, is a funny personal film about raising backyard chickens, battling antibiotic resistant superbugs, and changing the way Americans think about food. A California native and graduate of UCLA, Jeff holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago and is an Associate Professor of documentary film at Columbia College Chicago. Along with his wife Jennifer, he is the co-founder of Groundswell Educational Films, a non-profit organization that creates documentary films and social impact campaigns.

spitzJennifer Amdur Spitz

Jennifer Amdur Spitz, Co-Producer of Food Patriots, is a businesswoman whose entrepreneurial spirit and social conscience frequently intersect. She founded Amdur Spitz & Associates (ASA) in 1992, a strategic communications and media firm. Jennifer has a passion for storytelling, and uses media to help her clients influence change. In 2000, Jennifer and her filmmaker husband Jeff Spitz co-founded Groundswell Educational Films to make artistic documentary films that cross cultures and stimulate transformative dialogue and events. Groundswell Films have contributed to federal legislation and policy changes, and a billion dollar environmental settlement among other impacts.

rustemeyerJenny Rustemeyer

Jenny is a Leo Award-winning film producer and passionate zero-waster whose documentaries have appeared on Superchannel, The Knowledge Network, and MSNBC. Her latest film, Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story has won 9 festival awards. She has spoken around the world on the topic of waste reduction and food waste. When she’s not in front of or behind the camera, Jen can be found bicycling, recycling, and making things from scratch.

hallJillian Anne Hall

Jillian works as a producer at Arcos Films, a documentary production company dedicated to creating content about important social issues and distributing it in innovative ways. She also teaches film workshops in underserved local elementary and middle schools through the Austin Film Society’s after school program. She enjoys collaborating on engaging documentary projects such as Yakona.

Karim Mella

Born in Santo Domingo, developed a passion for the mountains at the age of 13 and decided that he would someday climb the highest in the world. Thirty years later, he became the first Dominican to reach the summit of Mount Everest. After that feat, Mella shared his experiences with secondary school students around the country through his Siempre Más Foundation, which functions under the slogan “My goal is the top.” In 2007, the US government awarded Mella a Bronze Medal for commendable service and exceptional courage in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Laura Kissel

Is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker whose work explores contemporary social, cultural, and political landscapes. She was named the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Media Arts Fellow for 2007-2008 and has received numerous fellowships and grants for her work, including a Fulbright Award, a MacDowell Fellowship, funding from the South Carolina Humanities Council, and the Fledgling Fund. Recently completed short documentaries include tan mian hua and Window Cleaning in Shanghai, which premiered at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2011 and were included in The Flaherty’s touring festival City Symphonies in 2011- 2012.

Manuel Villalona

Manuel Villalona was born and raised in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Since he was a young boy, he displayed a great interest in the arts. At the age of four, he was enrolled in the Cultural Center of Santiago where he became part of the Ballet Folklorico and a dramatic arts group for over 12 years. When he was 20-years-old, he moved to Santo Domingo to develop his career in advertising and film. Since then, he has been distinguished for his work as a producer and director.

guevaraMaribel Guevara

Maribel Guevara was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador where she studied Tourism and was a professional modern dancer. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005 when she joined the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital where she now serves as Program Associate. She has also helped start and organize other environmental film festivals throughout Europe and Latin America. Maribel is inspired by documentary filmmaking and believes that film can change the world. She joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 2 campaigns protecting the Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, inspired by the film, Sharkwater.

Marvin del Cid

Marvin del Cid was educated in Communication Sciences and has vast experience in visual and multimedia areas. Currently he is a multimedia editor for Grupo Diario Libre in the Dominican Republic. He has exhibited his photography on five occasions, in four one-man shows and one group show. He won several photography prizes in the Dominican Republic and abroad, including having received special mention in the Epifanio Lantigua Journalism Award in 2013 for his work on Dominican Treasures, and in 2014 in the category of Sustainable Tourism.

Máximo José Rodriguez

Outstanding director and photographer with extensive experience in the development of Dominican advertising. In 1980, he founded CINEACCIÓN, the production company that pioneered the application of new technology within the advertising industry and film production lines in the Dominican Republic. He developed relevant local as well as international advertising campaigns. He has won numerous awards for his work from specialized and art media outlets, including the Casandra and Soberano awards. In this edition of the DREFF, he is presenting several documentaries about the natural wealth of the Dominican Republic.

Michael Graziano

Founded small-r in 2014. Prior to small-r, Michael was a partner at Uji Films where he helped create original films and commissioned work for a number of clients including Al Jazeera, The Tribune Company, WIRED, and more. Recently, Michael directed the feature documentary Resistance (2014). Prior to Uji Michael was a PhD Candidate in film and media studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

maniMuthukumara Mani

Muthukumara Mani is a senior environmental economist in the Sustainable Development Department of the World Bank’s South Asia Region. He primarily works on climate change mitigation and adaptation issues in the region. Prior to joining the region, he led the World Bank’s work on assessing environmental implications of development policy reforms in the Environment Department of the World Bank. His work also has focused on country environmental assessments; natural resources management; environmental institutions and governance; climate change and adaptation; and trade and climate change issues. Prior to joining this position, he was an economist in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund.

Paul Lazarus

Has an over 30-year award-winning career directing, producing, and writing film, theater, and television. He recently completed a feature documentary, SlingShot, about Segway inventor Dean Kamen and his work to solve the world’s safe water crisis.

Lazarus directed and produced the independent feature, Seven Girlfriends, and has directed many notable TV series including “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Middle,” “Friends,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” among others. In the early 90s, he served as the Artistic Director of the historic Pasadena Playhouse. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Lazarus apprenticed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England.

peter-obrienPeter O’Brien

Environmental media consultant, and was the Executive Director of the Environmental Film Festival in Washington D.C. from 2008-2014. He is a board member of both the Environmental Film Festival, and of the Green Film Network.  He is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF), and has advised numerous other film festivals in the U.S. and internationally.  A native of Washington, D.C., O’Brien holds a B.A. in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard University, and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

stuartStuart Sender

Stuart Sender is an Academy Award nominated filmmaker, broadcast journalist, and screenwriter. His credits include producing and directing the Academy-Award nominated documentary Prisoner of Paradise, which also received a Directors Guild nomination and won the prestigious Grierson Award for best documentary on film. Stuart executive produced The Garden, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He began his career at CBS news, then worked as Senior Producer of the weekly PBS series South Africa Now, which won a Polk Award for excellence in journalism and a New York Emmy for best newsmagazine. He was Senior Producer of the documentary Mandela: Free At Last.

harleSuzanne Harle

Suzanne Harle is the Founder and Executive of Green Planet Films, a non-profit distributor of nature and environmental films. She conceived the idea of Green Planet Films while attending a wildlife film festival in 2002. She returned from the festival with a mission- to promote this genre of films -and founded Green Planet Films in 2003. By creating this organization, Suzanne puts to use her many years of experience and acquired skills as a media freelancer.

Suzanne is also the Associate Producer of the Emmy Award winning broadcast series Natural Heroes which can be seen on numerous Public Broadcast Stations in the USA.

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