Meet Our Jury 2022

Arash Azizi
Arash Azizi is a writer living in New York City. He is the author of the book, The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, the US and Iran’s Global Ambitions (Oneworld, 2020.) His writings on cinema, politics and history have also appeared in numerous outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is a regular at film festivals around the world and has covered every Cannes film festival since 2016. He has also written and produced movies which can be found on his IMDB profile. Into Schrodinger’s Box, a film he co-write and co-produced, is available to watch on Fandor via Amazon.

Tami Berenstein
Tami Berenstein is an award-winning international animation and documentary director, concept artist, animator, and illustrator. She serves as Head of the Screen-Based Arts Department at Bezalel Academy. She started working in Telad’s promo department while still a student in the academy after winning a promo competition in her first year. Since graduation, she has specialized in various aspects of her field, such as developing TV channels, conceptual branding, developing and directing animation series, computer games, and children’s books. Berenstein created TV series that aired on 85 channels around the world with millions of online views. Her non-commercial work has been featured in festivals worldwide, including the indie film “Drawing of the Inevitable.” In 2018 she completed an animation project at the “Israel Opera” with the “Revolution Orchestra.” In 2016 she founded and curated the international animation festival AniNation – Jerusalem, which attracts some 7,000 viewers annually. The successful festival is held at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and throughout Jerusalem, emphasizing adult animation and artist workshops, VR and animation installations. She was nominated for the “Ofir” prize (the Israeli Oscar equivalent) for a documentary screenplay award. She was the first woman named “Animix Festival Notable,” the highest award in the field of animation in Israel. She is the mother of Carmi and the life-partner of Shirley.

Cy Dodson
Cy is an Emmy-nominated Director and Editor located in Minneapolis. His most successful film Beneath the Ink (2018) hit on complex racial issues in his Ohio hometown. Beneath the Ink was Emmy Nominated, Academy qualifyied, and won jury and audience awards across the globe including Palm Springs Shortfest, BendFilm, DC Shorts, DocEdge, and Centre Film Festival. Cy was the recipient of the 2020 McKnight Fellowship for Media Arts and the 2021 Jerome Hill Fellowship for Film. Cy owns and operates Triumph Pictures, specializing in documentary-style branded content for corporate and non-profit clients.

Charles Dumas
Charles Dumas is a professor emeritus from the School of Theatre at Penn State. He was the premier Hendler Fellow for screenwriting at The American Film Institute. He is a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship awardee for his film SURFACING. He holds press credentials for the New York Film Festival.  He writes a weekly opinion column, Under the Baobab, for the Centre Daily Times. A professional actor, director and writer he has appeared in over 300 films, plays, and TV shows. He can be seen as a regular in the soon the be released, A CROWDED ROOM and ALL THE QUEENS MEN.

Mandy Fabian
Mandy has been writing and directing female-driven comedy for years, creating The Young Hillary Diaries, Lifetime’s first digital series, and Dropping the Soap, which won Jane Lynch an Emmy for Best Actress in a Short Form Original in 2017.  She’s a Sony Television Directing Program Fellowship winner, was named “Best New Filmmaker of the Year” by NewFilmmakers LA, and was one of six directors chosen to lead an all-female crew for the 2020 Women’s Weekend Film Challenge. She co-hosts the podcast Mandcave with Mandy Kaplan, and her latest screenplay, Late Bloomer, was chosen for the Meryl Streep/Oprah Winfrey Writers Lab. Mandy recently completed her feature directorial debut Jess Plus None, a modern day Big Chill set at an off-the-grid wedding in the woods and currently lives in LA with her husband Patrick Fabian, their daughters, Abbey and Delilah, and an impressive collection of reusable water bottles. For more info and original content, visit

Kate E Hinshaw
Kate E Hinshaw is tactile filmmaker and director of photography. Coming from an experimental background, she is interested in using the cinematic gaze to render visible the interiority of the feminine. Tactily, she works with 16mm and super 8mm film through bleaching, scratching, painting, and burning the emulsion in order to tell stories through color and texture.

Her films have screened at SXSW, Rooftop Films, New Orleans Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, and Indie Memphis. Her film Ten Leaves Dilated earned her the 2021 Southern Documentary Fund Filmmaker Award, won Best Experimental Film at Centre Film Festival and the Special Jury Award at IndieStreet Film Festival. Ten Leaves Dilated is currently streaming on Metrograph At Home.

In 2019 she founded Analog Cookbook, a film publication dedicated to promoting accessibility in celluloid filmmaking. Twice a year Analog Cookbook is released, sharing darkroom recipes, featuring artists working with analog film, photography, and video, and building a platform for celluloid enthusiasts all over the world.

Jim Jermanok
Jim Jermanok is an award-winning filmmaker, author and speaker based in NY. He is currently directing and producing a feature documentary about Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau featuring interviews by Ellen Burstyn, Woody Allen and Chris Rock. Jim is the author of BEYOND THE CRAFT: What You Need to Know to Make A Living Creatively, a current and insider’s guide to doing what one needs to do to make a living creatively! He wrote and produced the highly acclaimed romantic comedy, “Passionada,” which was released by Columbia Tri Star in over 150 countries. Jim’s film “Em”won the Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Criterion International Inspiration Award. His new web series “LIFEADVICE.TV” has drawn tremendous praise since going live globally in 2015.

Mr. Jermanok is a former ICM Agent who represented Arthur Miller, Shirley MacLaine, Ben Kingsley, Dudley Moore, Helen Hayes, Alan Arkin and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, among others.

Garineh Nazarian
Garineh Nazarian is the director of the New Releases department at FilmRise, a major indie distribution company based in NYC. Before joining FilmRise, she ran her own distribution company working with filmmakers from the Middle East predominantly presenting the cinema to the North American audiences, in order to channel between the Middle Eastern cinema and the North American moviegoers. She graduated from Columbia University in film studies in 2013 before entirely shifting to distribution and focusing on the marketing and the business of the cinema.

Prior to settling in the United States for her studies, she worked in film production for over a decade as producer and director on primary mainstream Iranian cinema and TV shows. Working in the spontaneous, impulsive and hyperrealist Iranian film industry taught her to become adaptable with the various streams of the film industry. Therefore, after moving to the US she gradually shifted to film studies, research, and the business of this exciting industry.

John Pendygraft
John Pendygraft is a multimedia journalist who has received national awards for feature writing, video, and still photography from the American Society of News Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Scripps Howard Foundation, National Headliner Awards, Pictures of the Year International, and the Emmys. His documentary chronicling how cuts to mental health funding led to rising violence in Florida’s state-funded mental hospitals was included in the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. In 2017-2018, Pendygraft spent a year as a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. His book, Lost Storytellers: The Information Apocalypse in the Modern Newsroom, was published by University Press of Florida in September 2022. Currently, Pendygraft is an assistant professor of visual journalism at Pennsylvania State University and is a Ph.D. candidate in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida.

Yoruba Richen
Yoruba Richen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been featured on multiple outlets, including Netflix, MSNBC, FX, HBO, The Atlantic and Field of Vision. Her most recent film The Rebellious Life of Mrs Rosa Parks premiered on Peacock and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award.  Other recent films include the Emmy-nominated How It Feels to Be Free and the Emmy and Peabody nominated The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show. Yoruba is the co-director of American Reckoning which aired on PBS’s  FRONTLINE this past February and The Killing of Breonna Taylor which won an NAACP Image Award.  She is also a past Guggenheim fellow and a recipient of the Chicken & Egg Breakthrough filmmaker’s award. Yoruba is the founding director of the Documentary Program at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Joan Stein Schimke
Joan Stein Schimke is an award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer. Joan has played collaborative and solo roles in television, documentary and narrative films. She strongly believes that the art of the moving image excels in capturing positive social activism to great effect. A member of the Directors Guild of America, Joan has directed for ‘Law and Order’ and has made numerous short films which have screened at over 100 film festivals worldwide. Her work includes the films ‘Saeed’; ‘One Day Crossing’ (Academy Award Nominee and Student Academy Award Gold Medal); and ‘Solidarity’. Joan has also worked on feature films in various production positions for directors Taylor Hackford, Eric Mendelsohn, Bette Gordon and Woody Allen, and was accepted to both the Hamptons Film Festival and Sundance Screenwriting Labs for her feature length screenplay ‘The Buried Life.’

While living in Budapest, Hungary in the early 1990’s war in the former Yugoslavia broke out. For the next two and half years while working full time she volunteered at a refugee camp on weekends. Her work at the refugee camp inspired her to quit her job as a consultant and apply to the MFA program in film at Columbia University to pursue her dream of sharing the stories of those who didn’t have the ability to do so. After her first semester, Joan travelled to Zagreb, Croatia during the war to create a short documentary about the Center for Women War Victims (CWWV) to raise awareness about the situation for women and to help raise funds for the Center. 

Joan is a Professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY where she teaches filmmaking and film history to undergraduate students.

Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
Jiayan “Jenny” Shi is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about stories that find shared humanity and compassion. Her debut documentary “Finding Yingying” (MTV Documentary Films) has won numerous awards including the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and a China Academy Award of Documentary Films, and was nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy award. Jenny’s work has appeared on Paramount +, MTV, BBC News, PBS NewsHour, and Insider, among others. Jenny is a Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs fellow, a Women at Sundance Adobe fellow, a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow, and a DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmaker.

Kyle Ann Stokes
Kyle Ann Stokes is the Co-Founder of IRIS focused on promoting women in film and the Co-Founder of The Writers Lab, filmmaker, mother, and community volunteer.

Student Jury

Catherine Boyle
Catherine Boyle is a first-year at Penn State University. She is in the Bellisario College of Communications with the intended major of Film Production. She is excited to explore the films and work on social media for the Centre Film Festival.

Lulu Douglas
Lulu Douglas is a first-year Journalism student at Penn State University. She is interested in digital and print journalism and also plans to minor in economics. She is excited to be a part of the Centre Film Festival’s student jury and planning committee. During the festival, she will also be conducting interviews and writing stories about both films and filmmakers. Aside from academics, Lulu enjoys playing guitar and cooking a variety of meals.

Anabelle Preciado Higgin
Anabelle Preciado Higgins is a first-year Film Production student at Penn State University. She aspires to learn everything she can about the film and entertainment industry; she hopes study abroad or get an internship next semester. Anabelle is honored to be on the jury for the Center Film Festival and can’t wait for everyone to see the amazing films this year.

Connor Maloney
Connor Maloney is a first-year Communications major at Penn State University. He is passionate about cinema and is excited to be a part of the Centre Film Festival.

Benjamin Kellogg, Delta High School, Junior
Ben is a junior at Delta High School, State College school district, who enjoys studying film, directing, and creating his own film projects. He is currently working on directing and editing the first year of Delta High’s weekly news broadcasts. He is an active volunteer for several community engagements including Vice- President of the PTSO, a Restorative Practice Mentor, and supporting educational events at elementary and middle schools in the district. Ben also enjoys backpacking and hiking, travel abroad, learning classical guitar and playing in a band. At home he practices embellishing his family’s Cuban recipes.

Miranda Marks, Delta High School, Senior
Miranda Marks is a senior at Delta High School interested in film and its connection to social justice and advocacy. Miranda interned at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, attends a weekly foreign film club, and has worked on two documentaries.

Demi Olorunnisola, State College High School
Demi Olorunnisola is a fourteen-year-old who lives in State College, Pennsylvania and attends State College Area High School. Demi is interested in documentaries; especially those focused on dynasties, presidential politics, science, world history, sports, and a variety of other topics. He also enjoys watching action films with interesting narratives. He loves reading in all of these areas and has a growing library of documentaries, films, and books.

Emely Peña
Emely Peña is an aspiring filmmaker and editor who admires the art that is film. She is a soon to be Penn State University graduate with a degree in Film Production. Although she does love every step of the process when it comes to creating a film she intends on starting her career as an editor. She was introduced to the world of visual art during her freshman year of high school and she’s been pursing that passion ever since.

Steph Scalamogna
Steph is a fourth year studying Film Production in the Bellisario College of Communications. She enjoys watching movies with her dog and creating movies with her friends. Steph is excited to help out with this year’s festival.

Benjamin Sidore
Benjamin Sidore is a junior at State College Area High School interested in animation, creative writing, and circus arts. He has performed on trapeze in two recent circus performances by Cirque Phoenix. He looks forward to working with the other jurors to identify the best student films.

Nadya Solometo
I am freshman at Penn State. Planning on majoring in digital and print journalism and minoring in political science.

Emily Stedina
Emily Stedina is a fourth-year student at Penn State University majoring in Film Production from Dunmore, PA. Around campus, Emily is involved in The Penn State Thespian Society, No Refund Theatre, the Performing Arts Council, as well as THON’s official livestream 46Live. She is a proud alumna of the Disney College Program and enjoys reading, dancing, and watching movies. 

Milan Varia
Milan is a first-year student at Penn State with an intended major in Journalism and a minor in Political Science. He is also a part of The Daily Collegian as a Lifestyle Candidate. Milan is very happy to participate in the Student Jury for the Centre Film Festival.