VIVIAN WU, Jury President, Actress/Producer (USA/China)
Vivian Wu was born in Shanghai, China. She started acting aged 15 with the Shanghai Film Studio, and later attended Hawaii Pacific University. While in high school in Shanghai, she was discovered by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci and chosen to play second wife ‘Wen Hsiu’ in his Oscar-winning The Last Emperor (1987). The role won her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Italian Academy Awards and launched her English speaking acting career. In 1993 Vivian was cast by director Oliver Stone in Heaven & Earth and then by Wayne Wang in The Joy Luck Club. Since then she has been working constantly in films and television and is one of the most well-known and respected Chinese international movie stars.
Recent projects include Bille August’s In Harm’s Way in which she stars opposite Emile Hirsch and Yifei Liu, and Annie Yi’s comedy I Am the Queen, which has earned her rave reviews and a Best Supporting Actress award at the 2016 Chinese American Film Festival in Los Angeles. Vivian also stars in Cathy Yan’s feature film Dead Pigs which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize in the World Cinema category.
SILVIA BIZIO, co-director of the Taormina Film Festival (Italy)
Journalist, writer and producer Silvia Bizio writes about film for the daily newspaper “La Repubblica” and weekly magazines “F” and “D”. She is also a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association which runs the Golden Globes. Graduating from the University of Rome, she earned her Master’s Degree in Sociology and Mass Communication at UCLA. She has written several books including “Los Angeles Babilonia” and “Cinema Italian Style” a history of Italian Cinema at the Academy Awards and won the first award as best film correspondent by the American Publicist Union. She has been the Artistic Director of Cinema Italian Style, a series of contemporary Italian movies, from 2004 to 2010, and is now co-director of the Taormina Film Festival. Her first short movie as a producer, The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars, (2012) directed by Edoardo Ponti and starring Nastassja Kinski was shortlisted for the Academy Awards and was the Best Short winner at the Tribeca Film Festival.
KIMBERLY CHENG, Journalist/Reporter/Actress (USA)
Kimberly Cheng was born in the USA but her ethnic background includes Cambodian and Chinese. Her parents and siblings arrived in the USA as refugees after being forced to escape their homeland following years of torture and genocide under the Pol Pot regime. Without speaking a word of English and without any money, her family started a new life.
Kimberly graduated from the University of Southern California where she earned a double-degree in broadcast journalism and political science. After graduating she worked for a prominent residential and commercial real estate developer and later began work as an anchor, reporter and Red Carpet host at the ABC affiliate in Phoenix and the CBS affiliate in Palm Springs. She is now a reporter on KTLA 5 News.
Kimberly has also played an anchor on .the big screen, appearing in the films Peppermint, Shameless, and All American. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband.
JUSTIN CHON, Actor/Writer/Director (USA)
Justin Chon is an award-winning director, writer and actor. He was born and raised in Southern California and attended USC where he began his acting career. He has had starring roles in the films Seoul Searching, Revenge of the Green Dragon and 21 and Over and is known worldwide by film audiences for his role as Eric Yorkie in the Twilight Saga.
His breakthrough film Gook, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, won the Best of Next! Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He also won the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Justin is currently in partnership with MACRO to write and direct an untitled feature starting later this year.
ALEX DONG, Producer & Executive Producer (Hong Kong)
Alex Dong is the CEO of Sun Entertainment Culture Ltd., which has invested, produced and distributed over 100 films, totaling more than $1 billion USD at the box office. He is the producer and executive producer for over 40 films since 2013, including recent box-office successes and multi-award-winning films: “Paradox”($83m) and “Chasing the Dragon” ($93m).
ELEONORA GRANATA JENKINSON, Producer (Italy/USA)
Eleonora brings a global network of artistic and business alliances to her endeavors as a producer, film festival programmer, and international PR, marketing and distribution consultant. She has worked as Vice President and Head of the Film Co-productions and Acquisitions division at Turner Pictures and served as Senior Vice President at Pandora Films, where she was responsible for film productions and acquisitions. She began her career with RCS Films and Television in Italy, where she headed their worldwide acquisitions and productions from Los Angeles. She served for seven years as the U.S. representative and program advisor for the Venice Film Festival and was also the senior programmer of world dramatic features for the Miami International Film Festival. She currently runs her company Melograno Films and serves as the Director’s advisor for the Tallinn Black Night International Film Festival.
SAM LAHOUD, Founding Chair of Beirut Film Society (Lebanon)
Sam Lahoud is a screenwriter, director, producer, script consultant and lecturer in Film, Theatre and Media. He started his career in 1996, and has since written, directed and produced numerous works, many of which have received national and international recognition and awards. His first feature film Waynon (Void) was the Lebanese official submission for the 2016 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Sam is the Founding Director of the NDU International Film Festival and Beirut International Women Film Festival, the Founder and Program Director of the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada and the Founding Chair of the Beirut Film Society. He is also the Middle East representative for the Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles and has served as a jury member at various local and international film festivals.
DALMIRA TILEPBERGEN, Writer/Director (Kyrgyzstan)
Dalmira is a film director, screenwriter and poet with more than 20 years’ experience of working in film and literature. After completing a post graduate film course in Moscow she made numerous documentaries and short films in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. Her first feature film Under Heaven has been screened at many international film festivals and has won several awards and prizes. In 2015, at the Montreal World Film Festival, the film received a Special Jury mention for best feature film debut and at the Bengaluru International Film Festival, won the Grand-Prix as well as the NETPAC prize. At the New York International Film Festival the film won the Jury prize, whilst in Yakutsk (Russia) it won the award for Best Actor. Dalmira’s poems and stories have been translated into many languages and she is a member of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema), the Director’s Guild of Russia and Union of Filmmakers in Kyrgyzstan.