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.

 

Interested in our past festivals? Check them out here:

 2015  2016  2017  2018  2019  2020   2022

Meet the Jury

Giacomo Faenza Juror Headshot

Giacomo Faenza

  • Screenwriter & Director
  • IES Abroad Rome Faculty
Willard Huyck

Willard Huyck

  • Writer, Director & Producer
  • IES Abroad Paris Alum, 1965-66
Headshot of Patrick Jager

Patrick Jager

  • Multi-Discipline Media Executive
  • IES Abroad Vienna Alum, 1988-89
Headshot of Kiubon Kokko

Kiubon Kokko

  • IES Abroad Nantes Alum, 2019
  • 2020 Film Festival Winner
Headshot of Mary Kirby

Mary Kirby

  • Art Director, Film Buyer, and Developer of US Public Library Media Collections
Headshot of Franz Liethold

Franz Leithold

  • Writer, Director & Editor
  • IES Abroad Freiburg Faculty - Film Studies
Leland L'Hote headshot

Leland L'Hote

  • Program Dean for Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Quito, & Santiago
  • IES Abroad Chicago
Headshot of Regge Life

Regge Life

  • Producer/Director
  • Former IES Abroad Board Member
Headshot of Thamine Nayeem

Thamine Nayeem

  • IES Abroad Rabat Alum, 2018
  • 2016 Film Festival Finalist
  • Assistant Video Producer
Heashot of Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper

  • Radio Host & Film Critic for the Chicago Sun-Times
Headshot of Naomi Seekings

Naomi Seekings

  • Director, Producer & Editor
  • IES Abroad London Faculty - Film Studies
Headshot of Courtney Spence

Courtney Spence

  • 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
Giacomo Faenza Juror Headshot

Giacomo Faenza

Director & Screenwriter IES Abroad Rome Faculty – Film Studies

Giacomo Faenza is an Italian director and screenwriter. He works both for cinema and television. He has written and directed several films: the feature movie Le Piccole Idee, 2014; the short films La donna che adottò suo figlio, 2002 winner of the Audience Award at Montelanico International Film Festival 2003 and Gadget Men, 2007 for DWeb Fashion Fiction produced by Gruppo Espresso; Caro Parlamento, 2008, a documentary on the difficult job situation of young workers in Italy in comparison with the principles stated in the Italian Constitution; TV docu-fictions Illuminate on Nobel Prize Rita Levi Montalcini for Rai 3, 2018 and Buonasera Presidente on former Italian Presidents of Republic for Rai Storia, 2019. 

As a screenwriter he has written the feature movie Alla Luce del Sole, 2004 and the documentary Viaggio nell'animo dei figli della Shoah 2014. He published a mystery novel set in Rome in present and past times entitled Ciao ciao commissario, published by Mursia 2022.

Top of Page

Willard Huyck

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. Read Willard's Meet the Jury feature.

Top of Page

Headshot of Patrick Jager

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. Read our Meet the Jury Feature with Patrick.

Top of Page

Headshot of Kiubon Kokko

Kiubon Kokko

IES Abroad Nante Alumnus, 2019 2020 Film Festival Winner

Kiubon Kokko is a '21 Claremont McKenna College graduate and an IES Abroad Nantes alum. After quitting his first post grad job in Yosemite National Park, he returned to Europe for a four month adventure creating a documentary about how well strangers can connect during a car ride. In Greece, Kiubon received a Special Jury Prize at the Drama International Short Film Festival for his senior thesis documentary. In Ohio, Kiubon works on his wedding film company, Twelve Ten Films. Kiubon does not know where he will live in a couple of months, though thanks to his experience at IES Abroad Nantes, he knows he will find home wherever he goes.

Top of Page

Headshot of Mary Kirby

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.

Top of Page

Headshot of Franz Liethold

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.

Top of Page

Leland 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.

Top of Page

Headshot of Regge Life

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 JapanDoubles: 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.

Top of Page

Headshot of Thamine Nayeem

Thamine Nayeem

IES Abroad Rabat Alum, 2018 2016 Film Festival Finalist Assistant Video Producer at Council on Foreign Relations

Thamine Nayeem is a multimedia content creator who believes stories are a means of bridging different realities. She currently makes daily news videos at AJ+, a part of Al Jazeera, covering a range of stories – from the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border to the deadly wildfires in Greece. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Richmond with a B.A. in English Literature. Thamine was a finalist in the 2016 Study Abroad Film Festival for her video “I Choose Openness,” on the reconciliation of complex intersectional identities. She thinks her semester in Morocco was deeply transformative and hopes more low-income, first-gen college students will be able to benefit from studying abroad.

Top of Page

Heashot of Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper

Radio Host & Film Critic for the Chicago Sun-Times

Richard Roeper is a nationally syndicated columnist and film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and the author of nine books. He is the recipient of the National Headliner Award as the best columnist in the country, and he has garnered numerous other awards over the course of his career. Roeper has hosted radio shows on WLS-AM, WLS-FM, WLUP-FM and WGN-AM in Chicago.

For nine years, Roeper was the co-host of “At the Movies,” which eventually was titled, “Ebert & Roeper.” Roeper has hosted a number of movie-related shows on Starz, Reelz Channel and DISH. For much of the last decade, Roeper has been the film critic for “Windy City Live” on ABC-7 in Chicago.

In addition to some 20 appearances on “The Tonight Show,” Roeper has been a guest on “Oprah,” “Nightline,” “The Today Show,” “Top Chef,” “Entourage,” “Live with Regis and Kelly” and dozens of other shows.

Top of Page

Headshot of Naomi Seekings

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.

Top of Page

Headshot of Courtney Spence

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.

Top of Page