2020 Jury



Bill Sebastian is a director, actor, writer and editor. He directed the award-winning romantic drama/comedy, QWERTY, which was produced in Lake County, ran at the Siskel Center in Chicago and won a series of festival awards, including at the Nashville Film Festival. His science-fiction short film, Planet was a finalist at NASA’s Cine-space film competition.

His award winning feature Midlothia premiered at the Lake County Film Festival in 2007, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.

He lives in Los Angeles, where he works extensively as an editor, and has directed for National Geographic, Yahoo, Roku, NatGeo Wild, and Investigation Discovery.

Melanie Addington

Melanie Addington has worked with the Oxford Film Festival since 2006 in various capacities and became Executive Director in August 2015. She also directs, writes, and produces films and serves on the Mississippi Film Alliance as President. She co-founded OxFilm, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s program to lend equipment to Oxford filmmakers.

Rob Jarosinski is the co-owner and podcast / vlog host for the film website Alternate Ending. Since starting the site over 5 years ago, Alternate Ending has compiled nearly five thousand film reviews, two hundred podcast episodes and countless videos.

Originally born in Chicago, IL, his family relocated to Denver, CO at a young age, where Rob developed his love of movies. He made several student shorts and a feature film, before returning to Illinois to attend film school at Northwestern University. Despite switching to a Communications major and pursuing a career in financial services, his passion for all things film never faded.

He lives in Madison, WI with his wife and podcast co-host Carrie, daughters Abbi and Alice, and dog Lucy.


MARK CHRISTOPHER COVINO is a director, producer and editor whose work includes “Unless A Death Occurs: Hazing Examined” for PBS, as well as the highly-acclaimed Black Panther documentary, “What We Want, What We Believe.”

In 2012, Mark’s first feature film, “A Band Called Death,” premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and subsequently won the Audience Award at South by Southwest in 2013. The film was acquired by Drafthouse Films shortly thereafter and was released to rave reviews around the world. It has a 94% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In 2016, the band and film title earned a place in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

His award-winning documentary, “The Crest,” was released by Gravitas Ventures in 2019. It tells the story of two Irish-American cousins who meet for the first time in Ireland to surf the waters of their ancestors.

Mark also produced the feature length Sci-Fi film “Axcellerator,” starring Sean Young (“Blade Runner”), Sam Jones (“Flash Gordon”) and John James (“Dynasty”).

Often mistaken for the ginger screenwriter/actor of the same name, Mike White began publishing the film fanzine Cashiers du Cinemart in 1994 and has been a contributor to publications such as CinemaScope, Paracinema, Detroit’s Metro Times, and Detour-Mag.com.

He’s served on juries at the Slamdance, Cinekink, MicroCineFest, Blue Water, and Kansas City film festivals. Additionally, he’s been featured in the documentaries David Goodis: To a Pulp and The People Vs. George Lucas before producing Survival of the Film Freaks.

In 2010, BearManor Media published Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. Mike has been the host of The Projection Booth podcast since 2011.

Richard Propes is the founder/publisher of TheIndependentCritic.com, a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association, and his reviews are carried on Rotten Tomatoes.

Richard has produced two short films, “Edmund Evans is a Rapist” and ” “World Through a Window,” and is the author of “The Hallelujah Life.”

Based in Indianapolis, he has produced numerous charitable events including an IndyFringe show, a comedy DVD, poetry readings, a compilation CD, concerts, and special events. He’s an acclaimed activist who has been recognized with a number of awards including the Sagamore of the Wabash, Order of Kentucky Colonels, Prevent Child Abuse America’s highest honor the Donna J. Stone Award, Indiana Minority Business Magazine’s Champions of Diversity Award, and just this year received the Jefferson Award.

Heartland International Film Festival presents the Richard D. Propes Social Impact Award annually in his honor to both a narrative feature and documentary feature. Last year’s recipient of the documentary feature award was Academy Award-nominated “For Sama.”

Short Films


Michael Glover Smith is a Chicago-based writer/director best known for the award-winning feature films MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (2017) and RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO (2018). He is a recipient of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Star Filmmaker award in 2017 and made Newcity’s Film 50 list in 2020 for being one of “50 individuals who shape Chicago’s film scene.”

Stacey A. Davis is an award-winning filmmaker and an entertainment lawyer. She made her directorial debut in 2019 with her dramedy short CHERRY (starring Virginia Newcomb) and her short documentary PIE IN THE PUSS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF PIEING IN FILM. Collectively, the films screened at over 30 festivals, including DC Shorts, Edmonton International Film Festival, BendFilm and Cucalorus Festival.

Her debut film, THE SIBLING CODE (wrote/produced), screened at over a dozen film festivals, including Nantucket Film Festival and was directed by Roberta Marie Munroe. Davis recently completed A HAND TO HOLD, an animated short based on a poem written by Davis.
Davis’ most recent script, the political drama, THE PARTY, is in development with Vanishing Angle (THUNDER ROAD, GREENER GRASS). Her screwball comedy BURYING THE LEAD won Best Feature Screenplay at the 2017 Broad Humor Film Festival, and she has placed in the following competitions: Nicholl Fellowship; Page (Top 25 in Comedy) and Austin Film Festival. She has participated in Squaw Valley’s Screenwriting Conference, the Stowe Story Labs’ Narrative Lab as well as its Writer’s Retreat program.

She’s executive produced over a half-dozen films, including SWORD OF TRUST (SXSW, dir. Lynn Shelton; starring Marc Maron), LITTLE SISTER (SXSW, starring Addison Timlin, Ally Sheedy and Peter Hedges, and named by “The New Yorker” as the best film of 2016); 1985 (SXSW, starring Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis) and SOCIAL ANIMALS (starring Noel Wells, Samira Wiley and Josh Radnor). She has several other projects in development.

As an entertainment lawyer, she’s represented A24, Plan B Entertainment, Tadmor Entertainment, Erwin Brothers Entertainment and others on a variety of projects, including MINARI, DEATH OF DICK LONG, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, SUMMER ’03 and ONLY.

Davis serves as the immediate past-President of the Board of Directors for The Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema and sits on the board of Stowe Story Labs.

Sean Volk is a film festival programmer and arts administrator. He is the Development and Engagement Manager at the Fargo Theatre in Fargo, North Dakota. He serves as the Programming Coordinator for the Fargo Film Festival. Sean is an Associate Programmer at MountainFilm and an Associate Programmer at Large with the Woods Hole Film Festival. He completed his MA in Film Studies at Western University in London, Ontario; his work explored representations of monstrosity in the films of Guillermo del Toro.

Sean served as the Jury Chair for the Animation category at the Fargo Film Festival for two years. He managed the Introductions and Q&A’s for the Nashville Film Festival in addition to screening with the programming team. He worked as a screener for the Calgary International Film Festival, the Fargo Film Festival, and the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.


Jane Julian: After moving to Durango, CO and the only theatre in town played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the entire summer, I had to do something about that! So I formed the Durango Film Society which ultimately developed into the Durango Film Festival. I am the programming director at Port Townsend Film Fest in WA state and have since become a Programmer-at-Large for Woods Hole FF; Mountainfilm in Telluride; Doctober; DocLands and SIFF (Seattle).

Rebecca Fons is the Programming Director at FilmScene, Iowa City, IA’s premiere art house theater; serves as the Development and Programming Director for the historic Iowa Theater in her hometown of Winterset, IA; and as Director of Film at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest, IL. Rebecca was the Education Director for The Chicago International Film Festival for nearly a decade and is a co-founder of Destroy Your Art, a yearly art event in Chicago. Rebecca received a Masters Degree in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in Cinema and Comparative Literature Studies from the University of Iowa and is a member of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Community Council. She proudly serves as a member of the Screening Committees for SXSW and the True/False Film Festival. Rebecca is based in Chicago.

Robin Robinson is dedicated to independent film. She is the Programming Coordinator for SCAD Savannah Film Festival as well as a programmer for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Mountainfilm. Previously, she’s served as a Programming Coordinator for Mountainfilm and the Nashville Film Festival, where she managed the Screenwriting Competition and worked as a Senior Programmer. She has experience programming narrative, documentary, episodic, new director, and family films. In addition to her programming experience, she has served as a screener, reader, and judge for numerous film competitions and festivals. She received an M.F.A. in Film with a focus in screenwriting at the Watkins College of Film in 2018. Her works primarily focus on the exploration of identity and the pressure to conform to societal masks.