Jorge Valdés-Iga is a Mexican-American filmmaker and photographer. In 2008 Jorge was recognized by American Cinematographer magazine for his short film “Milia”, and shot the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys 2”. In 2009 Jorge was hired to direct the Japanese feature film "Hotel Chelsea", and in 2011 he was hired to co-direct the horror-comedy "You Can´t Kill Stephen King". "I Was There”, Jorge’s first film as a writer / director, is currently touring the festival circuit. In 2008, Jorge founded VALDESIGA, a creative agency and production company, where he writes, produces, directs and shoots advertising for luxury brands such as DIESEL, Lancôme, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, and Clarisonic. His work can be seen at www.valdesiga.com
Ed Talavera is an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer of narrative and documentary films. Talavera's work has aired on HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and theaters worldwide. His theatrical film credits include “Sue,” “Perfect Prey,” and “Bridget.” Feature documentaries include “One Water,” a global motion picture project about potable water. Talavera also serves as the coordinator of the film Master of Fine Arts program in the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media at the University of Miami and the director of the Greece study abroad production program.
From Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Jastaniah is an upcoming filmmaker inspired by the golden age of Hollywood cinema. He studied the work of Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, Sydney Lumet, and Brian De Palma while attending the University of Miami for his MFA in Motion Pictures. His credits include writing, producing, and directing in narrative storytelling. Mohammad has worked at Fusion TV before pursuing his Master’s and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Miami teaching film production.
Lydia Georgana is an award-winning director, casting director and actors’ coach. As a casting director, she has worked on various international productions, including Tassos Boulmetis’s “A Touch Of Spice” (casting for children), Benoit Jacquot’s “A Tout de Suite”, Vladan Nikolic’s “Bourek”, Yorgo Papavasileiou’s “Ein Sommer in Griechenland”, a ZDF production, and Steven Barron's series: “The Durrells,” an ITV production. She offers workshops about the preparation auditions casting, and since 2011 she has taught in drama schools.
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A 2015 graduate of the University of Miami’s film program, “With a Kiss I Die” marks James’ debut as an innovative film story teller who seeks to extend the boundaries of compelling screenwriting. Also, in 2016 he worked as script supervisor and collaborated with acclaimed director Yaniv Raz and Emmy-nominated Director of Photography, Gigi Malavesi, on “Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets,” which is expected to be screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, and is being considered as a television series by the networks.
Paige Stanco was born in Queens, New York and spent her childhood traveling between the East and West Coasts, pursuing her passion for the performing arts. She studied at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Young Actors’ Theatre Camp and the Acting Company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 2015 she worked with Jeremy White (Dir.) on a short, The Modern Age. Since then, Paige moved to Los Angeles, establishing an interest in all aspects of film production and is currently working as assistant camera and second camera operator in the upcoming feature, Sleep Away (working title).
Barbara "Duba" Leibell teaches screenwriting at the University of Miami. She has won numerous screenwriting awards and was recently featured in "The Muses of Bashevis Singer" on her collaboration with the Nobel laureate writer Isaac Singer.
Ronnie Khalil is an award-winning producer, writer and director, and was named one of the "100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40."
He co-directed and co-wrote the feature film, "You Can’t Kill Stephen King" and was a contributing writer and co-producer of the feature film, “From A to B,” which opened the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival and received theatrical distribution in the Middle East. Ronnie served as a guest panelist at the Dubai International Film Festival to discuss, “Comedy Across Cultures” and is part of the Miami Film Festival Shorts Jury. He also serves as President of Clownfish Productions, LLC.
With a Kiss I Die
Originally from Bogotá, Paola Cétares is a lawyer turned filmmaker, now earning her Master’s degree in Motion Pictures at the University of Miami. She has won numerous awards for her documentaries on social issues regarding healthcare and women’s studies, and was producer/director of the short film, “Pablo’s Choice,” as well as numerous other short films. Prior to filmmaking, Paola was a multi-media journalist at Telemundo51 and earned her Master’s in Business Administration.