Sadyk Sher-Niyaz is a successful public figure, producer and director who followed his dream to attend film school in Moscow at the age of 38. He is the Chairman of the Union of Filmmakers of Kyrgyzstan, the founder of the Aitysh Public Fund, which includes Aitysh Film and the Kalemger Literary Club, and one of the founders of the Ak Ilbers Film Awards. In 2011 he established the International Film Festival 'Kyrgyzstan - Land of Short Films' which is held every December in the capital of Bishkek. In 2015, his directorial debut film 'Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains', was Kyrgyzstan's official Oscar submission and gained critical acclaim and wide audience appreciation. The awards season campaign launched a sold-out red carpet awards screening introduced by Sharon Stone, garnering awards buzz and reaching the rank of #12 out of 83 foreign films. The film was also featured at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Georges N. Chamchoum, Executive & Program Director
Georges Chamchoum is an Emmy and multiple award-winning Film Director and Producer, born in Niger West Africa of Lebanese origin. He was educated in France, Germany and Wales and entered the film industry in 1968 after graduating from the Conservatoire du Cinema Francais in Paris. Georges has directed and produced over 35 features in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Canada and the USA, with many screened at various International Film Festivals and Universities. He has also organized numerous film festivals since 1982, most notably as Jury Delegate for the Festival du Film Fantastique et de Science Fiction de Paris (France) and as the Executive and Program Director of the Monaco Charity Film Festival. Georges currently sits on the Boards of the Yakutsk International Film Festival (Yakutia, Sakha Republic), the Notre Dame University International Film Festival (Lebanon) and the Beirut International Women Film Festival (Lebanon). In addition, he is Co-founder of Film Festivals Cinergy, a union of film festivals around the world to promote and champion talent in film-making. Most recently, in 2017, he was named one of the 100 most influential Lebanese in the world, being honored in a special commemorative publication to mark the occasion, and in December 2018 he was the recipient of the South Korean Ministry of Culture 'Dari Award' on behalf of the Asian World Film Festival for Bridging the Culture of Korea with the USA. Georges has lived in Los Angeles for the past 30 years.
ASEL SHERNIYAZOVA, CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR
Asel Sherniyazova has an economic and business educational background and for two years studied in China (Shanghai Organization of Cooperation), representing Kyrgyzstan on the Cross-Cultural Exchange Program. Fluent in Chinese, Russian, English, and Kyrgyz, she is a Co-Founder of a Business Consultancy Company in China, Investment Corporation in the USA and a non-profit organization in Kyrgyzstan.
During 2014 Asel worked on the Oscar and Golden Globe campaigns for the multi-award-winning film Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains which was Kyrgyzstan's submission for Best Foreign Language Film. Now, as Managing Director of the Asian World Film Festival, each year she coordinates the programming of all films from the Asian region which have been submitted to the Academy and the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film.
Asel is an integral part of the Festival, managing the structure and strategic content as well as event sponsorship and all promotional activity. She is also instrumental in liaising between Consulates, Embassies and Ministries from the Asian Continent, ensuring that their countries' films and filmmakers receive a high degree of exposure during the Festival.
Brett Syson, Director of Operations
Brett Syson has had links with Asia for the past 20 years. From 1995-1998 he worked as the Team Leader for a World Bank/British Council Project in Kyrgyzstan. He was also the British Honorary Consul in Kyrgyzstan and was instrumental in organizing the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales to Bishkek in 1996. During 2001 Brett attended the New York Film Academy and since then has worked on the Management and Marketing Team for Odeon Cinemas in London and later became involved with the Kyrgyz Film Industry. He has been a Producer and Consultant on several award-winning Kyrgyz films, including two Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Language Film.
Lani Netter, Director of Development & Philanthropy
Lani Netter, born and raised in Malibu, CA, is a filmmaker and philanthropist, most known for Co-Producing The Shack for Lionsgate in 2016 with her husband, Producer Gil Netter. She has worked in Hollywood for many years alongside Gil, who has been twice Oscar-nominated for The Blind Side and Life of Pi. She is currently a member of the Los Angeles Region Red Cross Tiffany Circle, but her philanthropy work has in the past included serving on the board of Arrow Child and Family Ministries as well as the board of Alpha Ministries and Alpha Youth. Lani has been involved with the Asian World Film Festival since it's inception and she is passionate about the festival's philanthropic vision. As the Director of Development and Philanthropy, each year she presents The Courage to Dream Award in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Red Cross Tiffany Circle (Los Angeles) to a recipient of Asian descent in recognition of their accomplishments in both their careers and their philanthropic efforts.
Rick Ambros, Director of Industry Relations
Rick Ambros is an executive producer, consultant and past studio executive with an emphasis
on international and local language film, television and digital production, co-production, business development and financing across Asia, Europe and North America. He has been focusing his attention on the rapidly growing media and entertainment industries in Asia, particularly China and India. Rick served as COO of Justin Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment, a JV with China’s Seven Stars Entertainment. As a Consultant in India he has worked with Fox, Sony, Star TV, and Ivanhoe Pictures. Rick served as Advisor to German media funds and private investors providing production financing for Universal, Warner Bros. and Paramount. He started his career as an executive and producer at ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany and as an international marketing & distribution executive at Disney. Rick is a frequent Industry speaker, moderator and guest lecturer on emerging international markets, film financing and co-production.
TAKHEE HAN, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL SPONSORSHIP AND MARKETING
Takhee Han is a twenty-year veteran in film production and distribution in the US and Korea. He has produced the feature films 89 Human Market, Mayumi, Vanished, 3 Ninjas Parts 1-3 and Galgamesh. He has also distributed the critically and commercially acclaimed films Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf, Chunking Express, Swordsman and The Tai-Chi Master in Korea. He graduated from The Graduate School of Arts: Chung-Ang University with a degree in arts management and is currently a member of The Korean Society of Producers and Filmmakers of Korea.
Kathleen I-Ying Lee, Digital Marketing Director
Kathleen started out as a Research Assistant for the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan as well as working for Taiwan's leading television station, Sanlih Television. With a Masters degree in New Media Management from Syracuse University, she has run various digital marketing campaigns for a number of different companies and has spent her entertainment career in film marketing and acquisitions while serving as a coordinator at a leading film sales company, VMI Worldwide. Kathleen has also functioned as a communication liaison point with producers from China and has been instrumental in bridging China and the US in various aspects of cultural and business relations.
Charles Choe, Sponsorship Outreach
Mr. Charles Choe is a Principal at Elite EB5 Solutions (EES), an immigration investment consulting company, and CEO for Each Home Property Insiders, LLC a real estate investment company. Mr. Choe brings his wealth of connections and knowledge in international distribution and marketing to both the Asian World Film Festival and his companies to help process manage, consult, and connect clients to the right partners for their projects. Additionally, Mr. Choe has over 10 years of experience in an executive role with Overseas Korean Trades Association (OKTA) that has over 20,000 people in membership and has worked at one of the largest financial institutions in South Korea.
Aibek Kyshtobaev, Director of International Investments and Relations
Aibek Kyshtobaev is a successful businessman, investor and public figure who in 2010 established the international business holding InterA Group, uniting companies in countries such as China, Kyrgyzstan and the United States.He is fluent in four languages and achieved a distinguished international education within finance and international relations.Between 2008 and 2010 Aibek worked as the main coordinator for the Asian Region at the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation and at the same time was also public adviser to the leader of the parliamentary faction of one of the main political parties in Kyrgyzstan.Since 2015, Aibek has been actively involved in the promotion of Asian cinema in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Film Festival and is directly responsible for issues relating to international development and cooperation, as well as attracting business investment.
Chyngyz Sher, Overseas Business Relationship Director
Chyngyz is Chairman/Founder of International Li Bai Foundation and Eurasian Silk Road Invest Group. He has a vast experience working on numerous investment consulting projects in China, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Russia, Turkey. His scope includes work on sustainable development in the fields of alternative energy, agriculture, fintech, product marking, pharmaceutical, and mining. He also promotes cultural exchange between China and Central Asia countries through his Li Bai Foundation, and he co-sponsored and organized many events, including Silk Road Exhibitions, Festivals, and numerous Conferences and Forums. He received special appreciation from the organizers of 2019 Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Office of the President of Kyrgyzstan, awards from the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Investments, as well as an honorary award from the Chamber of Commerce. He also holds an MBA from Tsinghua-MIT Global Program and affiliate to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
Sam Lahoud, Middle East and Arabian Peninsula relations
Sam Lahoud is the founding Chair of Beirut Film Society, and an independent Filmmaker, Producer and Scriptwriter at Berytus Production & AV Nation - Lebanon. Senior Lecturer in Film and Media at Notre Dame University-Louaize. Founder, Director of Beirut International Women Film Festival; of NDU International Film Festival; and Beirut International Children and Family Film Festival. Founder and Program Director of the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada. Founder and Artistic Director of the Armenian Film Festival in Beirut. Short Film Programmer at Rabat International Author Film Festival – Morocco. Board Member at the Silk Road Film Festival - Dublin, Ireland. Middle East representative at the Asian World Film Festival - Los Angeles. Member of the Lebanese National Film Committee at the Ministry of Culture. Founding member of the Emile Chahine Foundation for Cinema Culture, and of Film Festivals Cinergy, jury member in national and international film festivals and competitions.
CHRIS KRIESA, INDUSTRY RELATIONS
Raised in the Midwest and after finishing a MA in Parapsychology, Chris worked in sales training a few years, then went into entertainment. For 35 years he has been acting, teaching and writing. With well over 150 credits, he has performed with some of the greats like - Alec Baldwin, Kathy Baker, James Garner, Tom Hanks, Jack Lemon, Elisabeth Shue and Billy Bob Thornton, under the hand of such artful directors as John Avildsen, Jon Avnet, Doug Campbell, Bruce Caulk, Georges Chamchoum, Don Chaffey, the Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Jan Eliasberg, Russ Friedenberg, Philip Kaufman, Carl Reiner, Lewis Teague, Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Zemeckis. His other interests include travel, filmmaking and Eastern philosophy. He has made several short comedic/travel films, having taken him to more than 55 countries.
RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN, DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS LIAISON, UK & EU
Richard started his career in offshore oil exploration in the Norwegian Arctic, and after gaining his MBA directed product development teams in both Germany and Florida. He later became Business Development Director for Tyco’s $600m Electronic Security Division, working extensively with Asian strategic partners.Following a Masters at Harvard Richard consulted in the commercial real estate and renewable energy sectors, as well as undertaking fundraising work for California non-profits. Richard later founded the United World Colleges Alumni Network in Southern California with over 300 members, along with its FilmMakers Group.Richard served as Commercial Director for AWFF in 2015 & 2016, bringing major international sponsors to the festival. Richard is now our Director of Business Liaison for the UK & EU based in London.
Grace Elizabeth Hwang, Executive Advisor to Industry Relations
Grace Elizabeth Hwang has been an avid supporter and advocate for the arts, film and theatre throughout her lifetime. In LA, she worked with the Center Theatre Group and the Los Angeles Theatre Center. She was also involved with the Asian American community working in business development and banking. After living in NYC for fifteen years, her love for theatre and film grew. She is currently working on a TV pilot and two screenplays to develop and produce. Grace is thrilled to be involved with AWFF because there is no time like the present to promote diversity and inclusion in our world today.
Una Wang, China relations/ Director of Sponsorship Outreach
Una Wang is the Chairman/Founder of MoRedii and Director of Development (Relations with China) for AWFF. She is an expert in combining markets in both China and the US, as well as helping US brands to enter the Chinese market, connecting Chinese organizations with US resources. By majoring in cross-culture e-commerce, Una built up numerous connections with investors from China and helps businesses with a wide variety of communications needs. At the beginning of her career, she worked as a journalist for several professional media economy companies in China. She received her degree in International Marketing Management in Singapore, after which she worked at SSMC, the largest local semiconductor fabrication company in Singapore, for four years. This experience provided Una with the ability to offer insightful opinions and recommendations regarding the development of AWFF. Her vast experience has enabled her to become conversant in businesses targeting both Chinese and English speakers and her targeted marketing strategies and unparalleled promoting skills have helped AWFF to conquer the Chinese market and build healthy relationships with important Chinese stakeholders. In addition, as a result of Una's considerable efforts, AWFF has attracted extensive Chinese media online impressions over the past few months.
Eileen Chen, China Relations/ Event Director
Eileen Chen and her Novartizan Team has been devoted to entertainment industries for years and tirelessly brings eastern and western cultures together. In 2018, the Nova team was the exclusive partner with Iqiyi in producing the most popular program, Rap of China. The team is also working with MCN channels to create innovative contents both in China NZ the US. In addition, the team has introduced famous production talents to China for film/TV/entertainment collaboration. Eileen is proud to serve as the Event Director for Asian World Film Festival 2018!
Anson Chen, China Relations/Talent liaison
Anson Chen’s love of acting was born serendipitously when a talent scoutdiscovered the Taiwanese youth and landed him is first modeling jobs. There, exploring the nuances of different characters, he developed a love for acting that would transform the course of his life.
Chen made his debut on Taiwan Channel V’s “Power Sunday” show before graduating with a degree in Philosophy from Fu Jen University in Taiwan, and after acting in several popular Chinese and Taiwanese music videos for artists such as Na Ying, Yisa Yu, Bryan Chen, Yao Yao, Angel Chen, and Peter Pan (Pan Yuwen) Chen moved to the United States to pursue an acting degree in a joint program with the Los Angeles Film School.
Chen is also working on his own EP with Emmy-Award winning composer Nathan Wang. Chen’s idols are Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks as well as Taiwanese director Ang Lee, and he finds is inspiration in films such as “La La Land” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In his free time, he enjoys reading and writing scripts. He is currently working on a script about the fun and crazy adventures of a delivery boy. Chen has starred in “Finding the Other Half” (2019), as well as “The Temptation of Plastic Surgery” (2018), “Mr. Charming” (2014), “Sweet Sweet Bodyguard” (2012), “Concerto,” and “Love One Second” (2012).
MIYUKI SOHARA, Japan Relations Executive
Miyuki Sohara has been a TV host, reporter and radio DJ in Japan and the United States for over 20 years. She is also a film and TV actress and has appeared in many films and television programs in Los Angeles. In addition Miyuki has produced and directed numerous films, plays and dance showcases and is a member of the LA Press Club Organization.Her directorial debut was the feature documentary film Hannari (2006) which was screened at the International Film Festival, United Nations and her second film Orizuru (2015), promoting world peace, was screened bythe United Nations at their International Peace Day event. Both films were subsequently selected to screen at several Film Festivals focusing on Culture and Education.Miyuki is currently the CEO of Sakura Production USA which provides news resources in Japan and the USA including coverage of the Academy Awards. She is also the Ambassador of the City of Miyakonojo and Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan and a member of SAG, AFTRA, Women In Media and the Japan-America Society.
Bermet Askarbekova, Central Asia Relations
Bermet Askarbekova has worked in broadcasting as a correspondent, anchorwoman, producer, screen- writer and news editor in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. From 2009-2011 she headed PR and press-service department for the Eurasian Media Forum International Foundation in Almaty, Kazakhstan before becoming Programme (Content)- Director until 2018 at the EMF Foundation.
As the person with responsibility for defining main topics for all panel discussions and key messages for the international conferences every year, she has worked with high profile politicians, business leaders, news- makers from all around the world, who became a keynote speakers at the Forums.
She managed a network of stringers across the Middle East and Europe, providing content about EMF mission to several world-known international media. She was the author of all opening video-intros and commercial-videos for the Eurasian Media Forum Conferences and several investment Forums in Kazakhstan. Bermet, thanks to her work at the EMF, played a significant role in the “country branding” development of Kazakhstan and has received many of official “thank-you” letters for her professionalism in covering issues of paramount importance
Maxim Yurov, Russia Relations
Maxim’s responsibilities include the organization and supervision of film and music festivals, concerts and theatrical shows, including celebrity interviews, photo shoots, radio and TV coverage and dissemination of information to the media. In addition, Maxim has undertaken a number of sociological research studies aimed at analyzing and developing specific strategies and recommendations for event management and promotion.
Igor Kokarev, Russia Relations
Scholar and Expert on Soviet and American Film Industry, political and civic activist, he published in Russia 16 books on sociology of cinema and grassroots democracy and social capital in times of Perestroika.
Ph.D., Professor, writer, film critic and sociologist, was one of the participants who started the “Revolution” at the Filmmakers Union if the USSR at the end of the 1980’s. He headed the famous American/Soviet Film Initiative, influenced the Moscow International Film Festival towards being more open, initialed the HBO movie “STALIN”, starring Robert Duvall, hosted the National educational TV talk Show “What is New Hollywood”, launched the first Business School in Russia for Producers followed by his textbook “Film as a Business”.
In 1998 he was asked by Nikita Mikhalkov to set up and edit the weekly trade paper of the Filmmakers Union “SK-News”, where he successfully worked till 2001.
For many years Igor was teaching in VGIK (State Institute of Cinematography) Moscow, at the world known liberal State University High School of Economics, Moscow, and at Chapman University, Orange County, Los Angeles.
Being expelled from Putin’s Russia as a “foreign agent” (since his NGO “Citizen Foundation” was sponsored by the US AID and other West funds), he recently wrote the book “Confession of a “Foreign Agent” which was highly acclaimed by Richard Pipes as a deep insight of the transformation happened in the Soviet Union and Russia for the last half century.