Alex Dew teaches digital filmmaking and film studies courses at Spokane Falls Community College. She is also a working creative producer and writer with several projects in development. Alex has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.F.A. in Film Production from the American Film Institute, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing - Nonfiction from Eastern Washington University. She worked in the film industry prior to beginning her teaching career. She has published writing on Salon.com, where her essay received the Best of 2020 designation.
juror for Northwest Features, Narrative Features
Angela Schwendiman is a senior lecturer and program director of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University. She also is the first African American woman to serve as an Assistant Dean for the university’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Previously, Schwendiman joined the EWU Film Studies faculty. Over the years, she has become a widely respected scholar and educator, helping students grapple with the multifaceted aspects of Black life, history and culture. Her classes have explored expressionism, family, cinema, the Black power movement, abolitionism and other deeply relevant topics.
juror for Northwest Features, Documentary Features
Champ Ensminger is an award winning filmmaker born in Chiang Mai, Thailand, raised in Spokane, and based in Seattle. Previously a staff editor at the creative agency World Famous, he currently works as a freelance commercial and narrative editor. His personal work has ranged from experimental, to documentary, to narrative driven music videos. His award-winning short documentary Yai Nin played at SpIFF 2020 shortly before COVID lockdown. He also serves on the inaugural Seattle Film Commission representing post-production, as well as a teaching artist for high school filmmaking workshops in south Seattle.
juror for Northwest Shorts, Narrative Shorts
Dan Webster is a former staff writer for The Spokesman-Review. In 1999, he cofounded the movie-review show Movies 101 for Spokane Public Radio, and since 2010 he has been both the show’s host and the station’s senior film critic.
juror for Documentary Shorts, Documentary Features
Devante Smith, a skilled creative in graphic design and film, graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2017. He kick-started his career while in his Junior year at EWU as an intern for the TV series Z Nation, swiftly advancing to Basecamp Production Assistant.
Since then, he has managed basecamps from HBO TV series to a million-dollar or more feature films. Learning from and meeting influential figures he admires in the industry such as Kellita Smith, Russell Hodgkinson, Katy M. O’Brian, Beau Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Noah Jupe, Keith David, and many more.
His on-set experiences shaped him into an exceptional production coordinator in Washington. When not on set, since 2017, Devante has been involved with Spokane Film Project, eventually becoming its President in 2023, and currently is part of Washington Filmworks' Leadership Council as a Co-Chair and a voting board member. Guided by industry leaders, Devante has become a prominent voice in his community and aims to be a producer/UPM for Washington. When not working, he enjoys refining his design style for his business Duo Design + Media, spending time with friends & family, and catching up on the latest anime series.
juror for Northwest Features, Narrative Features
Don Hamilton is a renaissance man who has wide interests and is expert in several areas. There are so many things that Don does well, it’s hard to define his strengths. But he is first and foremost a craftsman. His complete knowledge of the craft, and his artistry in the areas of photography/cinematography, is renowned. Don’s skill, imagination and attention to detail, gives each project, regardless of budget, professional polish.
juror for Narrative Shorts
James Pakootas is a modern-day story weaver. He is an award-winning vocalist, producer, and filmmaker who cultivates change in the world through the power of words. James comes from people whose future, present and past are expressed through art, song, and movement. As a vocalist who creates conscious hip hop and spoken word poetry, he carries on this tradition. James tells stories - stories that empower, stories that fascinate, and stories that speak truth to our existence. The core of his content speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, a deep understanding of trauma, and connection; the never-ending pathway back to ourselves and Our Ancestors. Whether performing with his artist collective, creating new bodies of work in music and film, or mentoring teams of multi-generational artists, James influences people to rise above their circumstances and chase dreams worth living.
juror for Animated Shorts, Northwest Shorts
Jen Derwingson-Peacock wrote and directed on all five seasons of Z Nation and spent many summers at zombie camp in Spokane. Other credits include Legacies, NCIS: New Orleans, and Black Summer on Netflix and Z Nation. She is currently developing an Action Drama, a Christmas Horror, feature and is attached to direct a horror feature described as The Descent meets The Thing.
The descendant of Chinese and German immigrants, she grew up in Northern California at the foot of Mt. Shasta, mythical home of Big Foot, aliens, the descendants of Atlantis and a panther who turns into Jesus Christ -- so it was probably inevitable that she either join a cult or start telling genre stories. Jen is also a student and teacher of Buddhist meditation. A fellow director calls her "A Buddhist who likes to blow shit up."
Jen began her creative career as a sketch comedy writer and theatre director while at Stanford and Oxford. She later co-directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the National Art Center in Bali, and worked as an Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre in London. Returning to California, she became the Artistic Director for the Freshly Squeezed Theatre Co. in San Francisco, producing and directing productions of several new plays.
Jen moved from theatre to film at USC where her thesis film, Roadside Assistance, played festivals around the world and earned numerous awards including the Student Emmy for Comedy. Her first on-screen feature credit was And Soon the Darkness, released in 2010. More recently, Jen directed the original experimental play EgoManiac: A Poetic Incantation, which enjoyed a completely sold out run at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Recent short films include the supernatural thriller The Yellow Wood, the erotic drama Leash, which played at the Cannes Short Film Corner, and Blessed, an award-winning action drama about a female Native American LAPD cop.
juror for Northwest Features, Northwest Shorts
Jessica Earle received her BFA from Eastern Washington University (2015), where she focused on digital media and sculpture, and went on to graduate from Alfred University (2017) with an MFA in Electronic and Integrated Art. She works with a variety of digital and electronic media, such as experimental film, video installation, sound, and digital print media. She works with generated, shot and found imagery to explore themes of landscape, identity, and mental health. Jessica works in iterations, reworking and re-exploring her work to unearth her true intentions, and to find new context within new installations. Outside of her fine arts practice she teaches at regional universities and works as a grip (and sometimes gaffer) on film and commercial productions.
juror for Animated Shorts, Narrative Shorts
Jiemei Lin is an artist born in Hangzhou, China, currently living and working in the Inland Northwest, Washington State. Lin works with both digital media and traditional media to create paintings, murals, and illustrations. Her works frequently take on themes of individual and cultural identity with a particular emphasis on design and color. Lin’s mission as Illustrator is to represent and communicate with all audiences from underrepresented groups in her own visual language. As a public artist, Lin has been designing and executing large-scale public murals in both the pacific and inland Northwest. These murals function like vignettes or moments of stories, inviting the viewer into the scene in order to imagine possible narratives. Lin has extensive experience in the fields of design, and illustration and has also exhibited her own paintings and prints.
juror for Animated Shorts
Megan Schuyler Kennedy is a nonfiction filmmaker and the Creative Director at Rogue Heart Media SPC, a B Corp Certified media and marketing company providing creative nonfiction video production and commercial photography services throughout the Pacific Northwest. Megan has over 20 years of video production experience, investing heart and mind into every project, from social marketing campaigns to complex human interest documentaries. She is dedicated to community stewardship and placemaking, and her commitment to projects that make a difference guides Rogue Heart in its growth. She has lived in Spokane since 2005, and proudly operates her studio in the North Monroe Business District.
juror for Documentary Shorts
Rachel Lee Goldenberg is a Los Angeles-based writer, director and Emmy award-winning producer. She began her career at a B movie studio directing VFX dragons and Christian musicals. Recently she directed the pilots of TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS for Hulu and MINX for HBOMax.
Her latest feature is UNPREGNANT, a roadtrip comedy about how it shouldn’t be so fucking hard to get an abortion. She’s directed eight other features, including a musical remake of VALLEY GIRL for MGM and A DEADLY ADOPTION, a meta Lifetime movie starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. Rachel spent 2013-14 as Funny or Die’s White House liaison, winning an Emmy for BETWEEN TWO FERNS WITH BARACK OBAMA. While there she also helmed the series LADY TIME. She’s directed episodes of a dozen shows, including EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE OKAY, DIVORCE, MAN SEEKING WOMAN, THE MINDY PROJECT; and the pilot for I’M SORRY.
Rachel studied filmmaking at Ithaca College. She has traveled extensively, and is passionate about nachos and her perfect one-eyed cat, Elizabeth.
juror for Narrative Shorts
Red S is a Community Care Program Manager and Language Specialist at Spectrum Center Spokane, an intersectional and queer non-profit organization that aims to create a safe, intersectional, intergenerational, 2SLGBTQIA+ community gathering space that celebrates a resilient, healthy community through social connectedness and support, arts and culture, access to resources, and leadership development.
juror for Narrative Shorts, Narrative Features
Stimson Snead is an award-winning director, illustrator, and ten-year veteran of the indie scene. With multiple stage musicals, short stories and comic strips also to his name. Most recently he has collaborated with Washington's own Northwest Package as director on the feature film TIM TRAVERS AND THE TIME TRAVELER'S PARADOX. Some describe him as an open-minded team leader who lends his signature style to projects with grace and good humor while still respecting the ethos that informs the source material. Although others have described him as a ticking time bomb of insanity and social anxiety, ready to go screaming off the deep end at any moment.
juror for Northwest Shorts
Wendy Levy’s creative work takes place at the intersection of storytelling, innovation and social justice. As the Executive Director of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, she is focused on facilitating collaboration, innovation, leadership and cultural impact in the media arts field, leading new national and international programs like HatchLabs, Arts2Work and The Innovation Studio. Arts2Work launched in January 2018 with the very first federally-registered National Apprenticeship Program in media arts and creative technologies, a new initiative representing the hope for the future of creative work in the US, and a pathway out of poverty for a new generation of diverse artists and storytellers. Previously, Wendy was a Senior Consultant at Sundance Institute, helping develop the Sundance/Skoll Stories of Change Program and the New Frontier Story Lab. Wendy also directed the MacArthur Foundation-funded Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, the first public media Innovation Lab in the US. She began her career in film as the Festival Director for the Film Arts Festival for Independent Cinema at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. Wendy is the recipient of the Princess Grace Statue Award for distinguished contribution to the media arts field.
juror for Documentary Shorts, Documentary Features