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Asian World Film Fest Asian World Film Fest

2016 Festival Jury



        Heather Rae has worked as a producer and executive for more than twenty years. She has been named one of Variety’s Ten Producers To Watch and produced Frozen River, for which she won the Paiget Producer Award.  Frozen River won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for two Academy Awards, won two Gotham Awards and was nominated for seven Spirit Awards, winning two. Rae also produced such films as The Dry Land starring America Ferrera whch premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Magic Valley starring Scott Glenn and Kyle Gallner, which premiered at Tribeca, and Sundance hit Ass Backwards, written by June Raphael and Casey Wilson (Bride Wars) who star alongside Alicia Silverstone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Brian Geraghty and Jon Cryer. Rae also produced festival darling I Believe in Unicorns from writer/director Leah Meyerhoff.  Rae produced Tallulah, written and directed by Orange is the New Black writer Sian Heder.  Tallulah premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix.  Rae recently wrapped on Olivia Milch’s Blacklist script, Dude, starring Lucy Hale, Austin Butler, Alex Wolff, and Alexandra Shipp.                       For Six years Rae ran the Native Program at the Sundance Institute.  She has sat on the Board of Trustees for the Sundance Institute and advised to such organizations as The Rockefeller Foundation, IFP, Film Independent, The Ford Foundation, The Tribeca Institute, and First Americans in the Arts.



        Raised in Nigeria and Pakistan, Iram Parveen Bilal is a Physics Olympian turned filmmaker. She just directed her 6th film, EXTINCTION, a dystopian near future where Donald Trump’s so-called ban on Muslim immigration is a reality. Her 2nd feature film, THE PHD MOVIE: STILL IN GRAD SCHOOL, was a feature adaptation of the 7 million+-followed PhD Comics. Her first feature, JOSH, a 2012 Women in Film awardee, enjoyed theatrical and ancillary distribution success in multiple territories. Her next feature project, FORBIDDEN STEPS, a film about Islamophobia and Dance, is a Film Independent writer/director lab project, scheduled for filming in Spring 2017 in Chicago. She is also developing her TV Series THE PIONEERS for World Productions, which showcases the mass migration from South Asia to the UK in the 1950s in response to Queen Elizabeth’s frantic call for labor from the commonwealth nations. Iram is a core committee member for iWe, a coalition looking to change female representation in Hollywood and is a co-chair on the Asian American Writer’s Committee at the Writer’s Guild of America. She also sits on the board of the community service organization, the Caltech Y. Bilal is the initiator of the Pakistani Oscar committee and is the founder of Pakistan’s first professional screenwriting lab (QALAMBAAZ), about to initiate its third round of selections.


        Platinum producer, engineer. and musician Dwayne Cornelius aka DCat has been in the music industry since age 15, giving him 35 years in the music business. He formed DCat Music Publishing in 1988 and began writing and performing with legendary artists like Natalie Cole, George Clinton, Snoop Dogg, The Womack Family, and worked with members of the Jackson family and Earth, Wind and Fire just to name a few. As a company, The DCat Music Network represents other platinum producers and musicians, and continues to offer solutions in music







     Director Uli Edel became well known for two Award winning gritty cult classics Christiane F. with David Bowie and Last Exit to Brooklyn with Jennifer Jason Leigh, on which he made his American debut. He has balanced working in America and in Germany, directing film and television in both countries including episodes of Twin Peaks, Homicide and Oz as well as award-winning mini-series like Mists of Avalon with Anjelica Huston and Joan Allen, Julius Caesar with Christopher Walken and Richard Harris and TV movies Purgatory with Sam Shepard, which in its time became the most successful cable movie in American television history. Uli has award nominations and wins for many of his other works, including Das Adlon – Eine Familiensaga, which became in Germany the highest rated mini-series in a decade and also won Best Mini-Series at the Shanghai Film Festival 2013. The movie The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli’s chronicle of the domestic terrorism that plagued Germany in the 1970’s, was Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language Film 2009. His recent mini Houdini, starring Adrian Brody garnered last year 7 Emmy Nominations (1 win) including Best Director.




       From Blockbusters to the primetime small screen, Hakeem Kae-Kazim has made his impact in the world of entertainment and has worked alongside many industry greats.  This talented actor gained international notoriety for his wonderful portrayal of George Rutugunda in the Oscar nominated film Hotel Rwanda, which led to leading roles in the TNT movie Librarian 2. Enjoying playing feisty and exciting characters, Hakeem’s list of impressive credits includes Pirates of the Caribbean III, Lost, Cane with Jimmy Smits, Law & Order: SVU with Mariska Hargitay, The Triangle with Sam Neill, The Librarian with Gabrielle Anwar, X-Men Origins: Wolverine with Hugh Jackman, The 4th Kind alongside Milla Jovovich and Darfur with Billy Zane. Hakeem is often recognized for his recurring role as Colonel Dubaku, through which he wowed audiences with his stunning performance in 24’s’ Season 7, and in the prequel movie Redemption. Hakeem both produced and starred in Black November with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, as well as the award winning film Man on Ground and Last Flight to Abuja. Hakeem is well loved for his TV work, which recently has included many primetime shows including Human Target, Criminal Minds, NAVY NCIS, Law and Order, Cobert Affairs, Strike Back and Gotham. He also stars as Mr Scott in Michael Bay’s exciting series Black Sails, which was commissioned for a third series.

Hakeem’s latest films Half of a Yellow Sun and A Chance of Rain, were recently released and he starred as The Prophet in NBC’s Dominion. Now this much loved actor is set to star as Samson, in the much awaited new miniseries Roots.



       Born in Jordan, raised in Ohio, Amin Matalqa is a writer/director whose feature films include: Sundance-winning Jordanian Oscar entry, Captain Abu Raed; Walt Disney Studios’ soccer drama, The United; the romantic comedy, Strangely In Love based on Dostoevsky’s White Nights; and the upcoming romantic adventure, The Rendezvous, starring Stana Katic (Castle).  Amin lives in Los Angeles and has an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute.  Next up: his book of short stories: Heroes & Idiots.







        A Londoner by birth, David was sent to the USA as an infant during WWII which resulted in a childhood stammer and later became the inspiration for his film The King’s Speech which won the Best Picture Oscar for 2010 and for which David was awarded the gold statue for Best Original Screenplay, two BAFTA’s, and numerous other gongs. His stage version has toured England, played the West End, been produced so far in seven foreign languages, and is now headed for Broadway. He has over twenty credits to his name including: Tucker, The Man and His Dream directed by Francis Coppola and has been nominated for Writing Achievement by the WGA three times (winning for Onassis, The Richest Man In The World). David has lectured in Milan, Rome, A.F.I. Los Angeles, Sundance, Dreamago Institute in Switzerland, Laboratorio Novas Historias in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and AnimFX in Wellington, New Zealand. He divides his time between Santa Monica, Ketchum, Idaho and a cabin in the Urawera Mountains of New Zealand.






       Maria Shantanova was born in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, USSR. She is a Russian model, actress and individual entrepreneur. Her artistic career began accidentally, she was scouted by talent agent in one Beijing’s restaurants and was offered to try the fashion industry, it was a sharp turn in her life and career. Maria signed her first modeling contract with Nestle (Beijing) and became the face of the coffee Nescafe Gold (2007-2009 yr) in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. After such a stellar debut she was noticed by the Hong Kong branch of the international Elite Model Management. In 2008, Maria signed a contract with Elite Hong Kong. In 2011, Maria signed a contract with one of the leading modeling agencies in Singapore – Diva Model Management.She was watched attentively by public and mass media back home, So in 2012, the famous Russian film director, artist – Production Solbon Lygdenov and the company “MonUla Films” who offered Maria to try herself on one of the leading roles in the youth drama. She decided to take courses in acting, Teachers from “East Siberian State Institute of Culture” taught her range of acting skills. In 2014, famous online magazine dedicated to anthropology of man and his role in history and culture, published an article-ranking of the most beautiful famous women of the Republic of Buryatia, where she was on the top 1. In the same year, various Russian media publishers have made article-rating of the most beautiful representatives of different people in Russia, in which Maria was declared as the most beautiful woman as representative of Buryatia.



        Carlo has written music for over a hundred projects, ranging from theatrical features to documentaries and television series. His ability to blend modern sonorities with the melodic traditions of Italian film music has been a passport for working alongside many established directors, such as Patricia Riggen, Eugenio Derbez, Jonathan Hensleigh, Robert Markowitz, Ricky Tognazzi, Carlos Saura-Medrano, Clive Donner, Sergev Bodrov, Ivan Passer, Joseph Sargent, Roger Young, Uli Edel, Sergio Sanchez Suarez, Robert Allan Ackermann, Carlo Carlei, Maurizio Nichetti and others.






Ying Ye is the Managing Director of Easternlight Films, a specialty arm of Arclight Films showcasing Asian cinema, with the largest film library of any non-Asian- based indie film label. Films sold under the Easternlight banner include the worldwide blockbuster FORBIDDEN KINGDOM starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li; 14 BLADES starring Donnie Yen; legendary auteur Chen Kaige’s SACRIFICE; and BAIT 3D, which has grossed nearly $30 million in China alone.

Ying Ye has been instrumental in the acquisition and foreign sales of some of the largest films produced in Asia including SPL; THREE KINGDOMS (Starring Andy Lau, Maggie Q); FUTURE X-COPS (Starring Andy Lau, Fan Bing Bing); LOST BLADESMAN (Starring Donnie Yan, Jiang Wen); and THE FOUR trilogy (directed by Gordon Chan). Ying Ye is also intrinsically involved in producing and executive producing with one of her latest roles being producer of THE NEST a big budget action adventure film starring Li Bing Bing and Kellan Lutz, and she is executive producer on Arclight Films’ blockbuster HOTEL MUMBAI with Dev Patel and Armie Hammer distributed by the Weinstein company in North America. Prior to that, Ying Ye was a producer on OUTCAST starting Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen and executive producer on RECLAIM starring John Cusack and Australian mega-hit PAPER PLANES starring Sam Worthington.