AFF JUDGES

Meet our judges!

These stellar film industry professionals put their skills and opinions together to select year after year of outstanding independent films.

Les Blank (1935 - 2013)    Raise a glass to Les Blank.  We were thrilled when Les Blank agreed to head the judging panel for our very first Albany FilmFest in 2011 (thanks forever for the lead, Emilie Raguso). The late, legendary Academy Award-winning independent filmmaker is best known for a series of documentary films including “Burden of Dreams,” “Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers,” and “In Heaven There Will Be Beer.” Raise a glass to Les — he will be missed.

Les Blank (1935 - 2013)

Raise a glass to Les Blank. We were thrilled when Les Blank agreed to head the judging panel for our very first Albany FilmFest in 2011 (thanks forever for the lead, Emilie Raguso). The late, legendary Academy Award-winning independent filmmaker is best known for a series of documentary films including “Burden of Dreams,” “Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers,” and “In Heaven There Will Be Beer.” Raise a glass to Les — he will be missed.

GeeFwee Boedoe    2019 Judge!  The Academy Award-nominated animator (“Let’s Pollute,” an AFF favorite) has worked for Disney and Pixar on films including “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” Currently, he is working on two other shorts “Peace Is for Sissies” and “Try Ignorance” that together with “Let’s Pollute” will create a unified trio.

GeeFwee Boedoe

2019 Judge! The Academy Award-nominated animator (“Let’s Pollute,” an AFF favorite) has worked for Disney and Pixar on films including “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” Currently, he is working on two other shorts “Peace Is for Sissies” and “Try Ignorance” that together with “Let’s Pollute” will create a unified trio.

Rick Tejada-Flores    2019 Judge!  Multiple award-winning East Bay filmmaker, whose documentaries on cultural history and minority issues have been shown nationally. His film “The Fight in the Fields” was the first film to cover the full arc of Cesar Chavez’s life.

Rick Tejada-Flores

2019 Judge! Multiple award-winning East Bay filmmaker, whose documentaries on cultural history and minority issues have been shown nationally. His film “The Fight in the Fields” was the first film to cover the full arc of Cesar Chavez’s life.

Laura Weiss    2019 Judge!  An award-winning film and digital editor and Albany native, Laura got her start working on features on the Sony Pictures Culver City lot. In over a decade in Hollywood, she has edited studio and independent features both comic and tragic, shorts, documentaries, visual effects, commercials, and TV series.

Laura Weiss

2019 Judge! An award-winning film and digital editor and Albany native, Laura got her start working on features on the Sony Pictures Culver City lot. In over a decade in Hollywood, she has edited studio and independent features both comic and tragic, shorts, documentaries, visual effects, commercials, and TV series.

Stephanie Watanabe    2019 Judge!  A seasoned writer, producer and entrepreneur, Stephanie worked at Creative Artists Agency and on the Disney lot in Los Angeles. She has produced indie music videos, short films and documentaries, and has an extensive background in digital marketing for creatives. She currently runs a consulting agency, and is co-founder of California 88, a wine bar concept with its flagship opening in Brooklyn in 2018.

Stephanie Watanabe

2019 Judge! A seasoned writer, producer and entrepreneur, Stephanie worked at Creative Artists Agency and on the Disney lot in Los Angeles. She has produced indie music videos, short films and documentaries, and has an extensive background in digital marketing for creatives. She currently runs a consulting agency, and is co-founder of California 88, a wine bar concept with its flagship opening in Brooklyn in 2018.

Waylon Bacon    2019 Judge!  Writer and director of numerous gruesome and funny short films, such as 2010's "Help Wanted" and 2015's "The Ride." An Albany High School grad, he is currently drawing the weekly webcomic "Frownland" and thinks you should drop over to his website and say hi:  www.waylonbacon.com

Waylon Bacon

2019 Judge! Writer and director of numerous gruesome and funny short films, such as 2010's "Help Wanted" and 2015's "The Ride." An Albany High School grad, he is currently drawing the weekly webcomic "Frownland" and thinks you should drop over to his website and say hi: www.waylonbacon.com

Gina Leibrecht   This Bay Area editor, producer, and director is perhaps best known for her collaboration with Les Blank on their documentary “All In This Tea,” which had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007. She is currently working on a documentary about Les Blank.

Gina Leibrecht

This Bay Area editor, producer, and director is perhaps best known for her collaboration with Les Blank on their documentary “All In This Tea,” which had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007. She is currently working on a documentary about Les Blank.

Emmy Scharlatt    2019 Judge!  Emmy began her film career in Hollywood as an assistant editor, now an award winning director her recent film,  In The Image: Palestinian Women Capture The Occupation  is on the festival circuit. She is currently working on a new documentary, and a screenplay.

Emmy Scharlatt

2019 Judge! Emmy began her film career in Hollywood as an assistant editor, now an award winning director her recent film, In The Image: Palestinian Women Capture The Occupation is on the festival circuit. She is currently working on a new documentary, and a screenplay.

Ari Sigal   Award-winning director (“I Love You, Houseplant”), film editor, actress, voice actor, and web series co-creator. A co-founder of the video production company Fistfull of Cake, she is an Albany High grad.

Ari Sigal

Award-winning director (“I Love You, Houseplant”), film editor, actress, voice actor, and web series co-creator. A co-founder of the video production company Fistfull of Cake, she is an Albany High grad.

David Eisenmann    2019 Judge!  David Eisenmann, an Albany resident, is Technical Project Lead and Sr Producer at Google Spotlight Stories and former CG Supervisor at Pixar Animation Studios on the films  Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Toy Story 2 &3, A Bugs Life, Monsters University,  and  Piper . Eisenmann received an Emmy® for producing  Pearl,  which garnered a Peabody Futures of Media Award along with an Academy Award nomination. David produced the VR short  Son of Jaguar  and Google Spotlight Stories current production  Age of Sail,  directed by John Kahrs.

David Eisenmann

2019 Judge! David Eisenmann, an Albany resident, is Technical Project Lead and Sr Producer at Google Spotlight Stories and former CG Supervisor at Pixar Animation Studios on the films Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Toy Story 2 &3, A Bugs Life, Monsters University, and Piper. Eisenmann received an Emmy® for producing Pearl, which garnered a Peabody Futures of Media Award along with an Academy Award nomination. David produced the VR short Son of Jaguar and Google Spotlight Stories current production Age of Sail, directed by John Kahrs.

Aleixo Gonçalves   Born in Santiago, Chile, Aleixo Gonçalves is an experienced director, producer, camera operator and editor. Mr. Gonçalves boasts over twenty four years of experience. His first ten years worked in broadcasting television in Chile. Mr. Gonçalves has also worked in fiction, editing and post-producing the first season of The North Pole Show, a political comedy web series about three best friends born and raised in North Oakland, CA, who struggle to stay rooted as their neighborhood becomes a hostile environment. He is currently editing season 2 of the show.

Aleixo Gonçalves

Born in Santiago, Chile, Aleixo Gonçalves is an experienced director, producer, camera operator and editor. Mr. Gonçalves boasts over twenty four years of experience. His first ten years worked in broadcasting television in Chile. Mr. Gonçalves has also worked in fiction, editing and post-producing the first season of The North Pole Show, a political comedy web series about three best friends born and raised in North Oakland, CA, who struggle to stay rooted as their neighborhood becomes a hostile environment. He is currently editing season 2 of the show.

Marilyn Mulford   This award-winning documentary filmmaker has made numerous films about race, ethnic diversity, and art as a way to highlight political issues and preserve culture. Her fIlm “Archeology Of Memory: Villa Grimaldi,” was shown at the first Albany Film Festival.

Marilyn Mulford

This award-winning documentary filmmaker has made numerous films about race, ethnic diversity, and art as a way to highlight political issues and preserve culture. Her fIlm “Archeology Of Memory: Villa Grimaldi,” was shown at the first Albany Film Festival.