MIC: Austin-Based Film Festivals Panel - March 21

Austin-Based Film Festivals Panel

When: Thursday, March 21, 2024 - 4:00-5:15 pm CT

This event is part of the Media Studies Colloquium presented by the department of Radio-Television-Film!

Please join us for a Q&A session where leaders of five different Austin-based film festivals discuss programming strategy and selection criteria, the nuances of operating community-based film festivals, and tips for filmmakers and students wanting to get involved in the festival world. Panelists include Neha Aziz (Artistic Director, Austin Asian American Film Festival), Alka Bhanot (Co-Founder, Indie Meme), David Finkel (Director, Austin Jewish Film Festival), Todd Hogan (President, aGLIFF), and Gabriel Ornelas (Executive Director, Cine Las Americas).

To RSVP, please fill out the form & we will send out the Zoom link and room location information day-of. 

Speaker Biographies 

Neha Aziz (Artistic Director, Austin Asian American Film Festival)

Neha Aziz is a Pakistani-born writer, filmmaker, festival programmer, and podcaster living in Austin, TX. She associate produced Come & Take It (SXSW 2018) , a documentary short about the #CocksNotGlocks and Gun Free UT movements with acclaimed filmmakers PJ Raval and Ellen Spiro, which has gone on to win numerous accolades.

From 2017 - 2020, Neha worked at SXSW as a member of the Communications team. She currently works as the Artistic Director for Austin Asian American Film Festival, Film Programmer for rePRO and the Cleveland International Film Festival, in addition to being the Communications Manager for the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc).

In 2021, she was named an iHeartRadio NextUP fellow for their inaugural podcast program; her show, PARTITION (limited series) debuted in August 2022 and has been featured on Apple Podcasts, Forbes, NPR, The Austin Chronicle, The 19th News, The Austin American - Statesman, The RepresentASIAN Project, Asian Founded, and more.

In 2023, Neha was one of five recipients of the WAVE Grant from Wavelength Productions, a grant and one year mentorship given to first time female/non-binary directors of color. Her short, SO, THAT HAPPENED marked her directorial debut and will premiere in the Spring of 2024.

Alka Bhanot (Co-Founder, Indie Meme)

Alka Bhanot is the co-founder of Indie Meme a South Asian Cultural Arts Organization Headquartered in Austin as well as the Co-Founder and Festival Director of the Indie Meme Film Festival showcasing Iranian & South Asian Films. Her aim is to bring out the diversity within the South Asian community and give a platform to emerging new talent from one of the most populous parts of the world.

Having graduated with an Economics Major she did her post graduation in Mass Communications, and then worked in the Indian Television Industry as a Producer for 10 years before moving to Austin in 2002. Alka has worked on various Indie films in Austin as well as a locally produced animated series which aired on PBS in 2009. Alka & her Architect husband, Ranjit Gupta, have 2 teenage children and a 6 year old Puppy!

David Finkel (Director, Austin Jewish Film Festival)

David Finkel was born, grew up, and educated in Dublin, Ireland and is a citizen of Ireland, the UK, and the USA. David is the Director of the Austin (Texas) Jewish Film Festival (AJFF), a role he has held since 2015. AJFF began in 2002 with the vision of promoting cultural understanding and tolerance among the Greater Austin community, encouraging artistic development, and entertaining our audiences through the medium of Jewish film.

Prior to volunteering with AJFF, David’s career was in high tech business, where his roles spanned marketing, international business management, and technical and cross-cultural training.

David is also a professional photographer/videographer, and a tech consultant.  These skills have greatly helped David in shepherding AJFF through the challenges of the pandemic.

Having visited more than 60 countries and territories throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceana, David has traveled extensively for business and pleasure, circumnavigating the globe on several occasions. David has a Bachelors degree in Physics from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and a Masters of Science degree in Technology Management from Pepperdine University in California, focusing on the management of high tech resources and international business. 

Todd Hogan (President, aGLIFF)

Todd Hogan has worked in media marketing and ad sales for over two decades and has been a lifelong, active supporter of the nonprofit community. Todd has been an executive for top media companies including Clear Channel Communications, Entercom Communications, Border Media, Univision, and others – where he has a track record of success in creating unique, results-oriented marketing solutions for multiple radio and television brands and their clients. He combined his knowledge of general market media with his passion for Intercultural communication to become a leader in the vibrant Hispanic and multicultural marketing media markets. In addition to serving on the aGLIFF Board of Directors, he has served on the boards of Con Mi MADRE and Alliance for Women in Media, as well as participating on the Marketing Committee for the Greater Austin Chamber’s Education Leadership Council and acting as the current Chair of the Arts Committee for the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. He has been an active ally for dozens of other organizations during his career including Austin Partners in Education, Salvation Army of Austin, and Austin Child Guidance Center.

Gabriel Ornelas (Executive Director, Cine Las Americas)

Gabriel Ornelas is Executive Director of Cine Las Américas, a multicultural organization based in Austin, Texas, USA. Celebrating 26 years, Cine Las Américas, offers theatrical screenings of films made by and/or Latinos or indigenous peoples of the Americas. Films from Spain and Portugal are also included, enhancing a truly Pan-American cinematic experience. The organization schedules film screenings throughout the year and produces the Las Américas International Film Festival, (May 15-19, 2024).

Gabriel's experience focuses on managing cultural arts programs and events, venue coordination, and supporting the performing arts. His work has included managing a statewide film program with the Texas Film Commission, producing municipal events, and managing events with academic institutions. He resides in Austin, TX and grew up in the border city of El Paso, TX, USA.


Spring 2024 MIC Speakers

Feb 16. - Austin Animation Panel

Guests include Carrye Glazar (Executive Producer, Austin Community College Television), Brad Graeber (CEO, Powerhouse Animation Studios), Austin Harper (Supervising Producer, Rooster Teeth), Evan Narcisse (Senior Writer, Brass Lion Entertainment), and Craig Staggs (CEO, Minnow Mountain).
4:00 - 5:15 pm CT

Feb 20. - Scot Cru

Independent International Television & Media Consultant
12:30–1:45 pm CT

March 21 - Austin-Based Film Festivals Panel

Guests include Neha Aziz (Artistic Director, Austin Asian American Film Festival), Alka Bhanot (Co-Founder, Indie Meme), David Finkel (Director, Austin Jewish Film Festival), Todd Hogan (President, aGLIFF), and Gabriel Ornelas (Executive Director, Cine Las Americas).
4:00–5:15 pm CT

Apr. 1 - Patrick Schumacker

EP and Co-Showrunner of Abbott Elementary, Delicious Non Sequitur Productions and WB Television
5–6:15 pm CT

Apr. 9 - Amanda Harrell

Former EVP, Business and Legal Affairs, Alternative and Specials, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
12:30–1:45 pm CT

Apr. 23 - Lee Solomon

Partner, Apollo Global Management LLC
12:30–1:45 pm CT

Fall 2023 MIC Speakers

Aug. 28 - Launching Your Career Panel

Guests include Ben Harizman (Executive Assistant to the CEO, OBB Media), Zachary Smith (Line Producer's Assistant, 20th Television), Hemrani Vyas (Assistant Manager of Programming, TCM), and Rachel Wang (Associate Producer, Up Entertainment).
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Sept. 11 - Launching Your Career, Screenwriter & Agent

Guests: Davia Carter (Tulsa King), Jim Ehrich (literary agent, Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston) & Cindy McCreery (RTF Interim Chair, Honey Girls)
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Sept. 18 - Brent Weinstein

Chief Development Officer, Candle Media
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Sept. 25 - Gail MacKinnon

Senior Executive Vice President, Global Policy & Government Affairs, Motion Picture Association
5:00-6:15pm CT

Oct. 2 - Dr. Thomas Schatz

Professor Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Oct. 9 - Business of Music Panel

Guests include Wofford Denius (Attorney, Eisner, LLP), Jonathan Eshak (Co-President, Mick Music), Margaret Galton (Promoter, C3 Presents), Dan Goscombe (Managing Director, Cal Financial Group), and Kevin Shivers (Partner, WME).
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Oct. 16 - Amanda Barclay

Director, Comedy Series, Netflix
5:00-6:15pm CT

Oct. 23 - Christopher Casanova

Vice President, Film & Television, Black Bear Pictures
5:00-6:15pm CT

Oct 25 - Emerald Fennell

Writer, Director, Actress and Author
Promising Young Woman, Saltburn
6:00-7:15pm CT

Oct. 30 - Pastor Alvarado III

Executive Producer and Creative Director, Riverside Entertainment
5:00-6:15pm CT

Nov. 6 - Lucy Huang

Senior Production Executive, Amazon Studios
5:00-6:15pm CT

Nov. 9 - Bob Berney

CEO, Picturehouse
9:30-10:45am CT

Nov. 13 - Entertainment Law Panel

PJ Shapiro & Greg Slewett (lawyers and partners, Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole)
5:00–6:15 pm CT

Nov. 27 - David Tran

VP, Distribution Strategy and Analysis, Lionsgate
5:00-6:15pm CT

Dec. 4 - Austin Entertainment Industry

Guests include Alfred Gomez (Director, Programming & Development, Blind Nil), Jennifer Hutchins (Producer), Laura Kincaid (Director of Operations, ATX TV), Attia Rasul (Content Hub Editor, Atmosphere TV), and Vince Robinette (Controller, Amazon Studios and 20th Century Fox/Disney).
5:00–6:15 pm CT