Meet the Jury

You are here

The Film Festival Jury brings their talent and expertise as screenwriters, writers, producers, directors, and editors—as well as a passion for study abroad. The jury is comprised of accomplished IES Abroad alumni and film studies-related faculty from our Centers.

The jury will select the top student films for public voting on the basis of capturing the spirit of study abroad, production quality, entertainment, and originality.

philip baites headshot
IES Abroad Rabat Alum, 2017-18
2018 Film Festival Winner
Kate Domaille headshot
Film Educator
IES Abroad London Faculty - Film Studies
Willard headshot
Writer, Director & Producer
IES Abroad Paris Alum, 1965-66
patrick jager headshot
Multi-Discipline Media Executive
IES Abroad Vienna Alum, 1988-89
Mary Kirby headshot
Art Director, Film Buyer, Graphic Designer, and Developer of US Public Library Media Collections
IES Abroad Vienna Alum, 1968
Franz Leithold headshot
Writer, Director & Editor
IES Abroad Freiburg Faculty - Film Studies
Leland L'Hote headshot
Program Dean for Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Quito, & Santiago
IES Abroad Chicago
Regge Life headshot
Producer/Director
Former IES Abroad Board Member
Germana Ruscio headshot
Filmmaker, Photographer & Director of Photography
IES Abroad Rome Faculty – Film Studies
Naomi Seekings headshot
Director, Producer & Editor
IES Abroad London Faculty - Film Studies
Courtney Spence headshot
Social Entreprenuer & Global Storyteller
Founder of Students of the World & CEO of CSpence Group

We all carry video cameras in our pockets and can string together selfies, but the best films tell a story. Creating a real film like these makes the IES Abroad adventure even more enriching and something to remember years later.

Willard Huyck | Director & Producer | IES Abroad Paris Alumnus, 1965-66
Philip Baites headshot

Philip Baites

IES Abroad Rabat Alumnus, 2017-2018
2018 Film Festival Winner

Philip is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he earned a bachelor's degree in International Business and French with a minor in Arabic. Philip spent an academic year living and studying in Rabat that culminated with the release of an original song “Tangier to Casablanca” about his Moroccan journey.

When shooting and producing the film, Philip wanted to capture the deeper sentiments of study abroad and the relationships that had the most impact on him. Featuring a train ride, Chefchaouen (the 'Blue City'), Rabat, the Sahara Desert, cameos by two sweet neighbor girls, his Arabic professor, and Philip’s precious host mother, Doha, as the central character, 'Tangier to Casablanca' is a story of pain, joy, longing, and journeys intertwining.

Currently Philip is working back in Nashville, Tennessee while also pursuing more overseas opportunities. Additionally Philip is finishing up a seven-song album to be released in the coming months. Philip plans to continue to express himself through travel, music, and film for the rest of his life.

headshot of kate domaille

Kate Domaille

Film Educator
IES Abroad London Faculty - Film Studies

Kate Domaille has been a professor of film studies at IES Abroad London since 2012. She teaches three courses: two in British cinema, one with an emphasis on the role and effects of film censorship in Britain. Most recently she has developed and now teaches a course on Visiting Europe in Cinema. In this course the students look at issues around economics of European cinema, the importance of film festivals, questions of language, subtitling and dubbing, and the cultural exchange value of European cinema.

In other work, Kate has worked with the BFI Film Academy Programme. This program gives young filmmakers opportunities to work with expert input from established filmmakers in the production of a short film. Students work in teams from original script to finished film, developing craft skills and knowledge of industry practice along the way. Read Kate's Meet the Jury Feature to get to know more about her.

Willard Huyck headshot

Willard Huyck

Writer, Director & Producer
IES Abroad Paris Alumnus, 1965-66

Willard Huyck is a motion picture screenwriter and director whose film credits include American Graffiti, Lucky Lady, French Postcards, Best Defense, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Radioland Murders. He also worked on the screenplays for the first Star Wars and the first Mission Impossible.

Huyck (along with George Lucas and Gloria Katz) received the NY Film Critics Circle and the National Association of Film Critics Best Screenplay awards for American Graffiti. He was nominated for the Best Screenplay Academy Award for the same film, which was recently designated as one of the Best One Hundred American Films by the American Film Institute.

Huyck received his Bachelor's degree in Cinema from the University of Southern California. His junior year was spent in Paris studying at the Institute of European Studies (now IES Abroad). French Postcards was inspired by that experience. He is a former member of the Foreign Film Selection committee of the Academy Awards and is a current member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also chairs the Writers Guild Screen Credits Committee. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, film collaborator Gloria Katz. Read Willard's Meet the Jury feature.

patrick jager headshot

Patrick Jager

Multi-Discipline Media Executive
IES Abroad Vienna, 1988-89

CEO of CORE Innovation Group Patrick is an award-winning, multi-discipline media executive - having held leadership and creative positions in broadcast, cable, and digital media outlets. A dynamic leader for an ever-changing business climate, Jager has dedicated his life to the art of storytelling, with an emphasis in activating powerful ideas through content.

As a veteran television and media producer, he has created programming for a vast array of outlets including MTV, AMC, VH1, A&E, Travel Channel, USA Network, HGTV, Bravo, Food Network, GSN, Science Channel, SyFy, Nickelodeon, PBS, Animal Planet, Discovery, and Reelz Channel, and most recently overseeing programming and creative strategy for NBCUniversal’s Bluprint SVOD. He has put his unique mark on such award-winning series such as “Behind the Music” and “Biography,” and led the development and production team behind lifestyle juggernaut “Fixer Upper.”

Prior to entering the production realm, Jager was focused on business development and public relations in entertainment, health care and cause-related marketing. In 2000, Jager was appointed Managing Director of Special Projects/Events for the Democratic National Convention’s Host Committee, where he developed and oversaw all LA-sponsored events leading up to and during the Convention.

Jager is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Producer’s Guild of America, and serves as advisor to several non-profit and academic organizations, including the University of Colorado’s College of Arts and Media, Colorado Public Television, the United Way, and Urban Peak. He lives in Denver with his husband, son, and two dogs.

Mary Kirby headshot

Mary Kirby

Art Director, Film Buyer, Graphic Designer, and Developer of US Public Library Media Collections
IES Abroad Vienna Alumna, 1968

Mary Kirby, a native Chicagoan, has enjoyed a long career in the theater and movie distribution business beginning as a film buyer for Brotman Theatres and ultimately as Assistant Marketing Director and Associate Film Buyer for Plitt Movie Theaters which was at the time the largest privately owned movie theatre chain in America.

Mary has experience serving on the jury for the Chicago International Film Festival Documentary Division. Mary continued her lifelong study of the history of cinema through 10 years of study with the University of Chicago Film Studies taught by the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, Roger Ebert.

Mary was the Executive Director of the non-profit, Library Media Project, which established the first independent educational documentary media collections in many U.S. public libraries. The project was originally funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in order to assist librarians in their education media collection development. As of 2008, the Library Media Project collections are in over 2,800 libraries that served more than 280 million people across America.

Mary has a bachelor's degree from Cabrini University in Literature, and she did her graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Communication Arts.

Franz Leithold

Franz Leithold

Writer, Director & Editor
IES Abroad Freiburg Faculty - Film Studies

Dr. Franz Leithold earned a Ph.D. in Slavic and German Studies from the University of Freiburg. He is currently the Media and Computer Center Director at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg library, where since 1996 he has taught seminars and lectures on German film and literature.

He pursued a degree in Library Science in Cologne from 1989-1990. Current research areas include film history, film theory, aesthetics of film, and film production. Dr. Leithold has also produced several TV features. His publications include: Studien zu A.P. Cechovs Drama "Die Moeve” (1989), 193 p. and several articles on Russian literature, which were published in Harenbergs Lexikon der Weltliteratur. Autoren –Werke – Begriffe. 5 volumes (1989).

In addition to this he has also produced his own films, including stage direction, camera, editing, and screenplay writing. He has also received several awards and prizes, including: Lehrpreis des Landes Baden-Württemberg (2001), Intermedia-Globe in Gold – Worldmediafestival inHamburg (2002), and Förderpreis beim Medienpreis der Universität Freiburg für Uni-TV (2005). Read Franz's Meet the Jury feature.

Lee L'Hote headshot

Leland L'Hote

Program Dean for Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Quito, and Santiago
IES Abroad Chicago

Leland L’Hote has been a Program Dean for IES Abroad since 2010 and currently supervises the IES Abroad Centers in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Santiago, and Quito. He holds a master's degree and docrate degree in Hispanic Studies from the University of Kentucky and previously served on the faculties at Longwood University and Iowa State University, where he primarily taught courses on Hispanic Cinema and Spanish Cultural Studies. 

Lee has published and given numerous presentations on contemporary Spanish film, including the works of directors Agustí Villaronga and Pedro Almodóvar, as well as the representation of immigrant minorities in Spanish documentary cinema. Lee founded Iowa State University’s European Film Festival, and he includes among his favorite film courses he has taught: “Cuban Cinema Since the Revolution,” “Spanish Cinema of the Franco Era,” and “Almodóvar as Auteur.” Read Lee's Meet the Jury feature.

Reggie Life headshot

Regge Life

Producer/Director
Former IES Abroad Board Member

Regge Life's ethnographic documentaries on Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean have won him international praise. His documentaries are part of the permanent collections at more than 800 schools and libraries.

After serving as an NEA Creative Artist Fellow in Japan, he went on to produce an award-winning trilogy of films, Struggle and Success: The African-American Experience in Japan, Doubles: Japan and America's Intercultural Children, and After America...After Japan. Recent work includes Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story, and the recently completed, Cocktail Party, adapted from the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel of the same title. Cocktail Party details the complicated and often tragic relationship between the U.S. military stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and the local residents.

Regge is Senior Distinguished Director-In-Residence in the Department Of Visual & Media Arts at Emerson College and has been awarded a Fulbright Journalist Fellowship, three CINE Golden Eagles, and nominated for three Emmys. He also helped launch a new study abroad program for Emerson College called Global Pathways Cape Town. Learn more about Regge by reading his Meet the Jury Feature.

Germana Ruscio headshot

Germana Ruscio

Filmmaker, Photographer & Director of Photography
IES Abroad Rome Faculty – Film Studies

Germana Ruscio is a filmmaker, photographer and director of photography.

2010 was her first introduction to the world of cinema, when she won a contest that gave her the opportunity to be a young jury member in the Roma Film Festival’s Young Jury section.

In 2014 she graduated in DAMS - Cinema, Art, Music, and Entertainment from Università degli Studi di Roma Tre, with a graduation experimental thesis about the history of Music Videos.

In 2015 she received her Master’s degree in Cinematography from Shot Academy.

At the same time, she started working as a filmmaker and photographer for several companies, including Luce Cinecittà, and has started working at film festivals such as Festival de Cannes, Venice Film Festival, and Berlin Film Festival.

In 2016 she received a scholarship from Regione Lazio to attend a Filmmaking program in New York City at New York Film Academy, where she learned all aspects of film production.

In 2018 she founded a new Cultural Association #LaPoesiaSalveràIlMondo: its intent is to teach youngest generations how to communicate through poetry and visual language.

Namoi Seekings headshot

Naomi Seekings

Director, Producer & Editor
IES Abroad London Faculty - Film Studies

Naomi Seekings has worked in theatre, film, and TV. In 1993, she was invited to join the groundbreaking theatre and film company The Grassmarket Project as Associate Director. For the last 25 years, she has been involved in the production of multi-award winning plays, film research and script writing, and the making of short documentaries.

During this time, Professor Seekings also worked with other production companies on BAFTA-nominated and BAFTA-winning short films. Independent work comprises installation films commissioned by museums and promos that feature the innovative projects done by arts centres and institutes. She continues to design and deliver film and video production courses to those in the private and public sector. Professor Seekings has been teaching film at IES Abroad London since 2010. Read Naomi's Meet the Jury feature.

Courtney Spence headshot

Courtney Spence

Social Entreprenuer & Global Storyteller
Founder of Students of the World & CEO of CSpence Group

Courtney Spence is a creative social entrepreneur and global storyteller. She is the founder and CEO of CSpence Group, a creative agency sought out for its expertise in purposeful, inclusive purpose, culture and brand strategies, with a particular focus on millennials, women and diverse audiences. Her clients include a broad range of companies and organizations, including the American Institute of Architects, Procter and Gamble, the Nature Conservancy, the Clinton Global Initiative, Pivot TV, The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, Duke University, Aurora Health Care, Louisiana Calling, an innovative education and workforce development organization.

Courtney is also the founder of Students of the World, a non-profit she launched in 2001 when she was a student at Duke University. Students of the World empowers and amplifies diverse and emerging millennial creatives, providing them with the skills, opportunities and distribution channels to tell stories of social good and justice. Through production experiences that have taken her from Cuba, Uganda and Cambodia to Haiti, Kosovo, Israel and the West Bank, Courtney has deepened her understanding of and expertise in inclusive storytelling and partnerships that enable companies to amplify their social impact and innovation.

Courtney was recognized by the International Youth Foundation with a Youth Action Net Fellowship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the executive producer of a United Nations-endorsed feature-length documentary, The Children’s War, that captured the story of survivors of the civil war in Uganda. Courtney is also a leader in The Promiseland Project, an empathy-based communications campaign that aims to bridge the cultural divide in America. She is the co-founder of Kenzie Academy, a tech apprenticeship and coding school in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also an advisory board member for Maverick Next, an initiative organizing the next generation of strategic philanthropists who aim to end extreme global poverty in our lifetime. She is also an advisory board member for Fringe Diplomacy, an initiative that has taken her on exploratory exchanges with investors, tech and social entrepreneurs to Myanmar and Cuba. She is currently producing a feature film as a partner in Test One Two Pictures.

Courtney’s thoughts on the transformative power of multimedia storytelling were featured at TEDxPeachtree talk, and she has shared a stage with President Bill Clinton and Paul Farmer. Currently living in San Francisco, Courtney is most frequently found on the road. From Milwaukee, Baton Rouge to Havana and Caen, Courtney brings creative leadership and design to companies and communities in need of 21st century solutions.

student's sunglasses reflecting another student holding a camera
Join the Study Abroad Film Festival