Announcing the 2021 SXSW Film Festival Juries for Narrative and Documentary Feature Competitions, Shorts Programs and More

March 3, 2021 Hailey Hess

The SXSW Film Festival is excited to announce the esteemed jurors for this year’s Narrative and Documentary Feature competitions, Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, our new Brightcove Illumination Award, Shorts Programs, Music Videos, Poster Design, Title Design and Virtual Cinema competitions.

Jury winners will be announced at on Friday, March 19. The 2021 SXSW Film Festival Awards and presented by Brightcove.

Narrative Feature Competition

Amanda N’Duka, Deadline reporter and co-host of Deadline’s New Hollywood podcast, which champions people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented voices.

Jake Coyle is a film writer and critic for the Associated Press. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Joanna Robinson is a Senior Writer for Vanity Fair covering film and television and hosts several podcasts including Little Gold Men. She lives in Northern California.

Documentary Feature Competition

Jacqueline Coley is the Awards Editor for Rotten Tomatoes, where she also co-hosts the Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong podcast.

Sean Fennessey is Head of Content for The Ringer and host of The Big Picture podcast, an interview show about filmmaking and the movie industry.

Steven Zeitchik is a staff writer at the Washington Post, where he covers the entertainment industry, and a longtime chronicler of documentaries and nonfiction storytelling.

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

Former Austin American-Statesman film critic Joe Gross has been writing about culture, popular and unpopular, since 1997. He has covered every SXSW since 2000.

Ann Hornaday is chief film critic at the Washington Post. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2008 and is the author of Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies.

Stephen Saito writes about film at The Moveable Fest and has proudly covered SXSW since his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brightcove Illumination Award

Clayton Davis is Variety‘s Film Awards Editor. He’s covered awards, film, and television for more than 15 years. He’s the founder and president of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, and a member of Critics Choice, AAFCA, and NYFCO.

Kate Erbland is the NYC–based Deputy Editor of IndieWire, where she writes and edits daily for the site. She has two cats, obviously.

Inkoo Kang is a critic at the Hollywood Reporter, where she writes about film and television.

Narrative Shorts Jury

Janicza Bravo is based in Los Angeles. She writes and directs but mostly directs. Her work in film has screened at festivals. Her work in television has played on cable and streaming. She hopes to one day go back to the theatre. And also make more visits to the beach. She drives a car she won in a sweepstakes.

Karen Han is a staff writer at Slate, whose work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair, among others.

Ina Pira is a Senior Curator at Vimeo with over eight years of programming experience at festivals such as the Hamptons International Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, and the Sarasota Film Festival.

Documentary Shorts Jury

Opal H. Bennett has been a curator since 2014 when she joined the Programming team at Montclair Film Festival as Shorts Programmer. She is on the programming teams for Aspen ShortsFest, Athena Film Festival and DOC NYC, and is a Programming Consultant for The March on Washington Film Festival.

Omid Fatemi is a Los Angeles based Producer/Director who currently operates as the Head of Content for the studio EVEN/ODD.

Sheila Nevins is currently serving as an Executive Producer at MTV Networks and is the former president of HBO Documentary Films and Family Programming for HBO.

Midnight Shorts Jury

Award-winning film and television producer Jason Blum is CEO/founder of Blumhouse, the company regarded as the driving force in the horror renaissance that has amassed over $4.8 billion in global box office.

Arbi Pedrossian is a development exec at 20th Digital Studio and oversees the Bite Size genre shorts programs.

Kristy Puchko is a New York-based film critic whose work has appeared on Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Vulture, Mel Magazine, IGN, and Pajiba.

Animated Shorts Jury

Bryan Dimas is an Associate Producer at Warner Bros. Animation, and the Co-Director of LatinX Animation.

Chris Prynoski is the president and owner of Titmouse. His animation career began in New York with his work on MTV shows such as Beavis and Butt-head, Daria and his Emmy nominated creation MTV Downtown. He wears many hats, including Executive Producing, Show Running and Directing.

Taylor K. Shaw is the Founder & CEO of BWA Studios, the first and only animation studio consciously hiring Black women and nonbinary animators of color.

Music Video Jury

Hugo Burnham, Founder and Drummer, Gang of Four. Manager, A&R Person, Publisher. Frequent ‘90s SXSW Panelist. Teacher, Dad, Pragmatic Socialist, Opinionated Bastard. Great shoes.

Michael Kauffman is Director of Clio Music and Clio Cannabis at Clio, the premier awards competition for creativity. Prior marketer with YouTube, Google, RightsFlow, UMG.

Kristian Mercado is a Puerto Rican filmmaker, winner of the 2019 SXSW Music Video Jury Award. Directing for Hannibal Buress, Bad Bunny, Billie Eilish + more.

Texas Shorts Jury

Oscar- and Emmy-nominated producer Sarah Green is known for working with such auteur writers/directors as Jeff Nichols, Terrence Malick, Ramin Bahrani, Julie Taymor, Karyn Kusama, and John Sayles.

Paula Mejía is a Senior Editor at Texas Monthly. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, NPR Music, the New York Times, and others.

Monique Walton produces fiction and nonfiction features and shorts that have premiered at Cannes, Sundance and SXSW. Her latest feature Bull (dir. Annie Silverstein) received three Independent Spirit Award nominations. She is based in Austin.

Texas High School Shorts Jury

Laura Kincaid is the Director of Operations for ATX Television Festival, founder of Austin.Women.Film., and was previously with the Texas Film Commission.

Hans-Martin Liebing is a writer, director and producer. He runs a production company in the UK and teaches at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Cooper Raiff is a 23-year-old filmmaker/actor from Dallas, TX. His debut feature Shithouse won the SXSW 2020 Grand Jury Prize.

Episodic Pilot Competition Jury

Jessica Derschowitz is the Digital Features Director at Entertainment Weekly, where she edits stories across all of EW’s entertainment and pop culture verticals.

Yassir Lester is a comedian, writer, and actor from Marietta, GA. He has written for Girls on HBO, BlackAF on Netflix, and currently writes and stars on Black Monday on Showtime, voices “Yangzi” on FOX’s Duncanville, and writes for Kenan on NBC.

Ben Wasserstein is Vice President, HBO Programming, responsible for helping develop and supervise production of comedy series, including Avenue 5, Barry and Los Espookys.

Excellence in Poster Design Jury

Damon Nelson leads user experience design for Adobe’s flagship design apps: Illustrator and InDesign. He’s been designing things in print, digital and physical form since 1998.

Born and raised in Malaysia, Yen Tan is an award-winning filmmaker and graphic designer based in Austin.

Erica Williams is a freelance illustrator known for their intricate illustrations of fantastic flora and fauna. You can find her work at:

Excellence in Title Design Jury

As the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Alma Mater, Brian Mah has helmed a wide variety of award winning design and commercial projects. These include film titles for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Lego Movie franchise as well as a design and directorial work for corporate clients.

Brian Merrell is a Sr. Experience Designer on the Adobe After Effects team. He started his career as a freelance motion designer at Nike in 2006, and continued working as an After Effects artist for over a decade at design studios across Portland and Seattle.

Director Erin Sarofsky started Sarofsky in 2009. Since then her group of talented makers have been creating work for leaders in both advertising and entertainment.

Virtual Cinema Competition Jury

Myriam Achard has more than 20 years of experience in public relations and press relations. She has been Chief, New Media Partnerships & PR at the PHI Centre since it opened in 2012, and is Director of Communications for the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art.

Jesse Damiani is a curator at Nxt Museum and covers art, media, and emerging technologies on Forbes.

Liz Rosenthal is Curator of Venice Biennale’s Film Festival’s Competition programme Venice VR and Executive Producer of immersive content accelerator financing programme, CreativeXR, and Founder of trail-blazing company Power to the Pixel.

Join Us for SXSW Online 2021

Register for SXSW Online, a digital experience from March 16-20, 2021. As part of our 2021 offerings, SXSW Online will feature conference keynotes and sessions, film screenings, music showcases, networking, and exhibitions. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the latest SX news.

Don’t forget to check out the 2021 Film Festival Lineup and explore our film program details.

$149 SXSW Online Passes Nearly Sold Out

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