Florida Film Festival 2015 – Special Guest and Juries Announced

24th Annual Florida Film Festival (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) takes place April 10-19, 2015, in Maitland and Winter Park, Florida. Below is this year’s special guest and jury members.

  • Buy Tickets
  • Juried and audience awards will be announced at a ceremony and party on Saturday, April 18.
  • Tickets for the Awards Bash and Celebrity Events are on sale now at floridafilmfestival.com.

Special Guest:

An Evening with Bob Balaban
featuring a screening of the film Gosford Park

Sunday, April 12, 7:30–11PM at Enzian

  • Mr. Balaban will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening.
  • Among Bob Balaban’s crowning achievements is his work on the critically acclaimed Academy Award® winning film Gosford Park, which he produced. Balaban boasts an impressive roster of other directing/writing/producing credits. He directed the HBO film Bernard and Doris, which earned ten Emmy nominations, three Golden Globe nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, as well as Producers Guild and Directors Guild nominations.
  • He is perhaps most recognizable for his hilarious recurring role on Seinfeld as the head executive of NBC. Bob received an Emmy Award nomination for his role in HBO’s Recount, and has appeared in nearly fifty films, including The Monuments Men, MidnightCowboy, Catch 22, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Altered States, 2010, Absence of Malice, Prince of the City, Deconstructing Harry, Jakob the Liar, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, The Mexican, Ghost World, Gosford Park, A Mighty Wind, No Reservations, Dedication, Capote, Marie and Bruce, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Balaban is also the acclaimed author of the Scholastic best-selling children’s series McGrowl. The diary he kept during the filming of Close Encounters of the Third Kind has been published under the title Spielberg, Truffaut, and Me. A Chicago native, Balaban’s roots are in the entertainment world: his uncle was a long-time president and Chairman of the Board of Paramount and his grandfather headed production at MGM for many years. He now lives in Bridgehampton, NY.
  • GOSFORD PARK UK/USA/ITALY, 2001, 137 MIN, RATED R DIRECTED BY ROBERT ALTMAN Seven-time Oscar® nominee (including Best Picture, Director, and two Best Supporting Actress honors) and winner of the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay for Julian Fellowes (creator of TV’s Downton Abbey), GOSFORD PARK is a whodunit as only director Robert Altman could do it. Set in the 1930s, this brilliant, light murder-mystery features an extraordinary cast and one of Altman’s greatest ensembles ever: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Clive Owen, Bob Balaban, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ryan Phillippe, Jeremy Northam, Alan Bates, Richard E. Grant, and Derek Jacobi.
Narrative Features Competition Jury:

  • Richard Matson is a film distributor with nearly two decades of experience in independent film. He serves as President of the Los Angeles-based film distribution and distribution services company Matson Films, which, over the past 10 years, has theatrically released over 80 feature films, including Oscar® nominee The Square and Sundance winners The Return To Homs and Rich Hill. Richard is also a partner in Gathr Films, creator of Theatrical-on-Demand, which is changing the face of theatrical distribution. In 2002, Richard founded Transmission Films and has also served as Vice-President of Production and Distribution for Palisades Pictures, which produced and released Restaurant, Ten Benny, and The Party’s Over.
  • Jordana Meade manages global distribution, sales, and marketing for Starz Entertainment’s digital division, developing sell-in and sell-through strategies in support of acquisitions and original programming across worldwide platforms. She also works with executive teams to evaluate content for inherent artistic value and commercial viability. Prior to Starz Digital Media, Jordana developed marketing and advertising programs for Cinedigm; rolled-out theatrical and ancillary release strategies for Oscar® nominees The Invisible War, Chico & Rita, and Hell and Back Again; and helped launch digital campaigns for partners and key brands. Meade began her career in operations and sales at Sundance Film Festival, then advanced to film exhibition, serving on the Board of Directors for Women in Film and Television–Florida and directing 360-degree marketing and publicity campaigns for the Florida Film Festival and Enzian. Nothing excites Jordana more than the sum of a good story, a dark room, and a box of fresh, warm popcorn.
  • Marc Menchaca is an actor, writer, and director. He was recently seen in the dark drama She’s Lost Control, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Menchaca starred in the HBO miniseriesGeneration Kill and has worked on several television series, including Homeland, Sleepy Hollow, Togetherness, Law & Order: SVU,Inside Amy Schumer, Person of Interest, Treme, CSI, and Flash Forward. His feature film directorial debut and first narrative feature film as a writer, This Is Where We Live, premiered at SXSW and was an official selection at Florida Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival and International Film Festival.

Documentary Competition Jury:

  • Udy Epstein, a distributor and producer of independent and specialized films, co-founded 7th Art Releasing, a company noted for releasing award-winning feature documentaries such as the Academy Award® winner The Long Way Home and many Academy Award® nominees, including The Farm: Angola USA, Speaking in Strings, Long Night’s Journey Into Day, and Balseros. 7th Art films nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject at the Academy Awards include The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo, Eyewitness: The Legacy of Death Camp Art, and Incident in New Bagdad. Making Up! won a student Academy Award. Epstein’s production credits include The Breast Cancer Diaries, The Art of Flight, Call it Democracy, Word Wars, and Wrestling Alligators (in production).
  • Eric Hynes is a New York-based film critic and reporter. His outlets have included The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Slate, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, the Times UK, Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Cinema Scope, and Indiewire among others. A longtime staff writer for the online film journal Reverse Shot, he also hosts the Reverse Shot Talkies video series. In 2013, he was the first writer-in-residence for Columbia, Missouri’s Rag Tag Cinema and the True/False Film Fest, for whom he authored a monograph about creative nonfiction movies from 1960s New York. He’s a graduate of Northwestern University’s creative writing program and NYU’s Cultural Reporting & Criticism Master’s program, and is a proud alumnus of the late, great Kim’s Video store in New York.
  • Paul Lazarus has an over-30-year award-winning career directing, producing, and writing film, theater, and television. He recently completed a feature documentary called SlingShot (winner of both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Best Documentary at FFF 2014) about Segway inventor Dean Kamen and his work to solve the world’s water crisis. Lazarus directed and produced the independent feature Seven Girlfriends and has directed many notable TV series, including Pretty Little Liars, The Middle, Ugly Betty, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, LA Law, Psych, and Melrose Place. In the early ‘90s, he served as the Artistic Director of the historic Pasadena Playhouse. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Lazarus apprenticed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England.

Narrative and Animated Shorts Competition Jury:

  • Clint Bowie is the director of programming for the New Orleans Film Society, the non-profit responsible for the annual New Orleans Film Festival (now in its 26th year). He previously worked with the Northwest Film Center and the Portland International Film Festival, and has served on juries at the Starz Denver Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, and the Independent Film Festival Boston.
  • Jason Leaf has over a decade of experience acquiring and theatrically releasing feature films in North America. Currently VP of Theatrical Sales at Amplify Releasing where he has released over 25 movies in the last 18 months, Jason has also released over a dozen features for his own company Avatar Films, and has overseen the marketing campaigns and edited trailers for over 25 films independently. He was formerly a theatrical programmer for Kino Lorber, where he released roughly 80 films theatrically in three years.
  • Asha Phelps has worked as a coordinator and general Girl Friday at IFC Center for the past three years assisting in all areas of theater operation including event programming, in-house and social media marketing, and film accounting. In conjunction with her duties at IFC Center, she also works annually with DOC NYC, now America’s largest documentary film festival, assisting primarily with sales tracking and box office operations. Every October, you will likely find her working the IFC Midnight booth at New York Comic Con helping to promote the latest in genre films from the distribution label’s catalog. She has a BA in Cinema Studies from NYU and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Now in its 24th year, the Florida Film Festival is an Oscar®-qualifying festival, premiering the best in current, independent, and international cinema. Through ten days of 170 films and first-class events, film lovers mingle with filmmakers and celebrities over hand-crafted cocktails and a delicious menu at Eden Bar and inside the theater.


Since 1992, Enzian (Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube) has been the proud host of the Florida Film Festival. As part of its mission to entertain, inspire, educate, and connect the community through film, Enzian presents innovative and original cinematic programming not just during the Festival, but all year long. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community-supported arts organization for which ticket revenue accounts for only 25% of its operating budget, Enzian owes its existence to the generosity of fans of film, food, and fun–like you.


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