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Festival Guests 2023

International Competition Jury

Terril Calder | Animation Director | Canada

One of the foremost Métis media artists practicing in Canada today, Terril Calder is a multi-disciplinary creator born in Fort Frances, Ontario, and currently living in Toronto. While her current practice is focused on stop-motion projects, which she writes, directs, crafts, and animates, Calder also has an extensive background in performance art, visual art, and media art. She is one of the founding members of the 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art, where she curated visual and performance art exhibitions, and her films have been screened at major festivals.

Leslie Ezeh | Associate Director at ASIFA-Hollywood | United States

Leslie Ezeh has been a staff member at ASIFA-Hollywood since 2017 and currently serves as its Associate Director. She is also the founder and President of Legends Animated, a 501c3 nonprofit animation company that provides collaborative opportunities to create independent animation that is both engaging and impactful. Leslie enjoys supporting the animation community through both organizations, as well as by participating as a judge at animation festivals and programs.

Theodore Ushev | Animation Director | Bulgaria, Canada

Born in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, Theodore Ushev first made a name for himself as a poster artist in his native country before settling in Montreal in 1999. There, Ushev worked in the multimedia industry and then found fruitful creative soil at the National Film Board of Canada, where he has made more than ten films to date, including Lipsett Diaries (2010), about the tortured life and art of the acclaimed experimental filmmaker, and the Academy Award®-nominated short Blind Vaysha (2016).

Doc and Dutch Competition Jury

Diane Obomsawin | Animation Director | Canada

Diane Obomsawin, alias Obom, is a Montreal-based bédéiste and animator. Her comic strips are published in French by L’Oie de Cravan, and in English by Drawn & Quarterly. She has directed several independent animated films along with seven auteur-driven works for the National Film Board of Canada. Her films have been screened at festivals in Quebec, the rest of Canada, and around the world, and have earned her prestigious awards including the Grand Prize for Independent Short Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2017.

Leyla Ali | Illustrator | Azerbaijan, The Netherlands

She was born and raised in Azerbaijan Baku, studied graphic design at the Azerbaijan State University of art, and got her second bachelor's degree from Hogeschool voor de kunst Utrecht as an illustrator. Since then, she has worked on various projects as a multidisciplinary artist. Over the last few years, she has been mainly focusing on illustration and visual design. Her hobbies now are tattooing characters on fake skin and learning how to create 3D characters in Blender. Whenever she has time she draws in one of her 100 sketchbooks that are laying around.

Fernando Galrito | Artistic Director of MONSTRA Lisbon Animated Film Festival | Portugal

Fernando Galrito was born in Samora Correia (Portugal) and took Cinema, Animation, Video, and Theatre Director courses. He graduated in Anthropology, has an MA in Culture, Communication, and New Technologies, and is currently working on his Ph.D. ‘Animation, from the screen to the stage to the Gallery’. In 2000 he founded and became the artistic director of the MONSTRA Lisbon Animated Film Festival. He has taught Animation and Artistic Interdisciplinary Projects at the Superior School of Design and Art ESAD.CR (Portugal) since 2000.

VR Jury

Jurgen Hagler | Director of the Ars Electronica Animation Festival | Austria

Dr. Juergen Hagler is an academic researcher and curator working at the interface of animation, game, and media art. He studied art education, experimental visual design and cultural studies at the University for Art and Design Linz, Austria. He is currently a Professor for Computer Animation and Media Studies and the head of studies of the bachelor’s and master’s programme Digital Arts at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Hagenberg Campus. Since 2014 he has been the co-head of the research group Playful Interactive Environments investigating new and natural forms of interaction and the use of playful mechanisms to encourage specific behavioral patterns.

Maarten Isaäk de Heer | VR Director | The Netherlands

Maarten Isaäk de Heer is a Berlin-based new media artist. He studied interdisciplinary art at Minerva Academy in Groningen. His awarded works range from installations of animated paintings, 360°, Fulldome, VR, lenticular print, and animated wildlife documentaries. In 2020 he started Menetekel Film – a production company with a focus on bad omens. Currently, he is reviving dead animals into virtual environments – an ongoing project that won the Filmfund Doclab Interactive Grant 2022.

Natasha Greenhalgh | Co-Founder and Creative Director of Nxt Museum | The Netherlands

Natasha Greenhalgh is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Amsterdam’s Nxt Museum, the home for new media art in the Netherlands, uniting her passion for art, technology, and sound. Driven by creating new realities, Natasha is obsessed with exploring and prototyping new creative tools, narratives, and collaborations. Having studied at Chelsea Art College, Natasha has training in Spatial Design – this drives her interest in how Nxt can most effectively use its dynamic space to communicate its obsession with the future, constantly looking for opportunity and innovation.


Mariana Guerreiro Ferreira | Artist in residence

Mariana Ferreira is a Portuguese multi-disciplinary creative based in Lisbon, currently working as a freelance animator and graphic designer. Her interest in animation grew when she was doing her BA in design. Her project Lessons in the Kitchen started while in Erasmus in Belgium, where she took her first animation class. After that, she did a MA in Animation in Barcelona, where she directed and animated her first stop-motion short film for the final project, Pobre Antonio. Mariana Guerreiro Ferreira’s residency is supported by the European Festivals Fund for Emerging Artists – EFFEA, co-funded by the European Union.

Tomm Moore | Co-founder and Creative Director of Cartoon Saloon

Over Cartoon Saloon’s history, Tomm has worked as Director, Art Director, Storyboarder, Animator and Illustrator across a range of the studio's projects. Tomm has directed 3 universally successful feature films. All three were nominated for Best Animated Feature at the ACADEMY AWARD® The Secret of Kells in 2010 and the spiritual follow-up, Song of the Sea in 2015.His latest feature film “Wolfwalkers” which he co-directed with Ross Stewart received several prominent critics' awards including LAFCA Award and NYFCC Award as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a Bafta and wins in several categories including Best Director and Best Independent Feature at the 2021 Annie Awards.

Veronica Martiradonna | Tattoo artist

Veronica Martiradonna (19/06/1997) is an Italian animation director and tattoo artist. Her first film ''Underwater Love'' has been selected and awarded at several festivals such as Kaboom, Annecy, or ITFS. She is currently working on her short film SUPERSILLY which is produced by Sacrebleu (France) and co-produced by ARTE.

Jürgen Haas | Animation Luzern

Jürgen Haas studied art education and graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. In 1989, he co-founded the Studio Film Bilder, at the time mainly focusing on directing music clips and magazine features. In 1999, he moved into the field of museums and trade fairs, designing communication solutions at the interface of media and space, but he continued to produce magazine features for TV until 2020. He taught at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, and since 2005 at the Lucerne School of Art and Design. He has been the head of the BA Animation course since 2014.

Chris Robinson | Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF)

Chris Robinson is an author with over 13 published books, the screenwriter of the Award-winning animated short ‘Lipsett Diaries’ (2010), and the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). He was the 2020 recipient of the award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies by Animafest Zagreb. In 2022, he received the Prix Rene Jodoin for his contributions to Canadian animation and has been called “one of the stylistically most original and most provocative experts in the history of animation.

Mina Lee | Assistant Producer & Content Manager at E.D. FILMS

Mina Lee is the Assistant Producer & Content Manager at E.D. FILMS, a multidisciplinary animation studio in Canada. Having specialized in film analysis around audience design in close relation to artist practices, she supports the studio’s productions and develops their distribution strategies. Several films achieved recognition from international festivals through Mina’s distribution campaigns including Annecy Int’l Film Festival and Chicago Int’l Children Film Festival. Mina is involved in the film festival scene also through various activities including award jury. She holds an M.A. in Communication with research focused on digital content in films and its sociological viewer reception.

Joseph Wallace | BAFTA Cyrmu nominated director

Joseph Wallace is a BAFTA Cyrmu nominated director, writer and producer. His work has won awards, received Vimeo Staff Picks and was screened at festivals around the world. His acclaimed music video for Sparks led Wallace to create sequences for Edgar Wright’s doc feature The Sparks Brothers which premiered at Sundance, and Wallace’s segments were described as ‘dark wonders’ by Guardian’s Mark Kermode. Wallace’s new short Salvation Has No Name premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2022, was long-listed for a BIFA and a BAFTA and won the Grand Prix plus Best Director at Animage, Brazil in 2022.

Somto Ajuluchukwu | Director, Producer & Entertainment Executive

Somto Ajuluchukwu is an award-winning yet emerging Animation Film Director / Producer & Entertainment Executive, and founder of Vortex Studios, an animation and comic book company. He started his career as a filmmaker in 2014 and has since directed and produced multiple short films and animated music videos for Afrobeat stars (REMA, WIZKID) and International acts (BRENT FAIYAZ and WALSHY FIRE - Major Lazer). In late 2017, he launched C3 Africa (Creative Content Conference) Nigeria’s first content market serving as a meeting point for international companies discovering and buying Nigerian content. In 2021 he won his first animation film award at the NAICCON Film Festival.

Chris Garbutt | Cartoonist, Illustrator, Director, Writer and Producer

Chris Garbutt works in the animation industry for TV, features, and commercials, enjoying various roles from creating, show-running, executive producing, writing, directing, and art directing, to storyboarding, character design, and background design. Alongside fellow collaborator, Rikke Asbjoern, he was the Co-Creator, Executive Producer, Show-Runner, and Art Director of the hit Netflix/Nickelodeon animated series, ‘Pinky Malinky.’ Together the two have just finished producing ‘We Lost Our Human,’ a brand new epic interactive special for Netflix. Chris has a passion for comics and storytelling. He loves creating new worlds and characters that often emerge as silly doodles on post-it notes. He also works extensively in the world of illustration, and his scribbles have adorned a variety of media across advertising, online, apps, books, comics, and food packaging.

Rikke Asbjoern | Creator, Writer, Director

Rikke Asbjoern has been passionate about cartoons and drawing since an early age, so in 1997 she became one of the youngest students to start at the Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, and, after graduating in 1999, she moved to London to start drawing cartoons for a living. Since then, she has worked on many different commercials, music videos, short films, and feature films, in various roles such as animator, supervising animator, animation director, storyboard artist, and co-director. Alongside fellow collaborator, Chris Garbutt, she was the Co-Creator, Executive Producer, Show-Runner, and Voice Director of the hit Netflix/Nickelodeon animated series, ‘Pinky Malinky.’ Together the two have just finished producing ‘We Lost Our Human,’ a brand new epic interactive special for Netflix.

Bruce Alcock | Creative Director

A Director and Creative Director for over three decades, Bruce Alcock’s award-winning films, television series, interactive projects, and hundreds of international commercials have earned him accolades worldwide. His varied work includes films, a preschool music series, a PBS hybrid narrative drawing app, and an NFB interactive project. Alcock co-founded three animation studios: Cuppa Coffee (Toronto), Tricky Pictures (Chicago), and Global Mechanic (Vancouver). Working in a mix of all physical and digital techniques, Alcock is above all an experimental artist. He loves to mix commercial and artistic streams of production, combining professional rigor and creative abandon to make truly original work.

Daniella Gallegos | Content Acquisition Director at Tribes Media & Editor-in-Chief of GLITCH

Currently based in Barcelona, Daniella has over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of art and technology, designing content and experiences for animation, music, and digital culture festivals, as well as live entertainment events. She currently serves as Content Acquisition Director at Tribes Media, a Latin-Dutch startup specializing in the development of niche streaming platforms, and Editor-in-Chief of GLITCH, the first subscription-based streaming platform entirely focused on animation for non-children audiences, but also including podcasts and audiobooks related to the genre.

Ansgar Maßmann | Creative director

Ansgar Maßmann started his career as a freelancer in illustration, drawing, and animation in 2013. In 2017 he started his own animation studio, where he still works as a director. His collaboration with Toon Boom Software began in 2018, producing instructional content for the company. Since 2021 he has been developing the Toon Boom network of studios and schools in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and the Nordics, helping studios and schools to utilize Toon Boom Animations tools in their Animation Pipelines in their educational curriculum.

Feliciana Délcia Guia | Manager, Entrepreneur, and Social Activist

Feliciana Délcia Guia – or, by her stage name, Meduza MC – is a manager, entrepreneur, and social activist born in Angola with a degree in Economics / Business Management, with an extension in Banking Consulting. She began writing poetry and lyrics when aged 12, and at age 16 she began a career as an MC, freelancer, and rapper, being known nationally and internationally. She recently participated in the film ‘Nayola’, recorded by Praça Filmes Portugal, giving voice to one of the main characters, Yara.

Maral Mohammadian | Producer National Film Board of Canada’s Animation & Interactive Studio

Maral Mohammadian is a producer at the renowned National Film Board of Canada’s Animation & Interactive Studio. She has produced over 30 award-receiving shorts, such as The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer by Randall Okita and Deyzangeroo by Ehsan Gharib. Maral has helped to develop some of Canada’s top rising talents through the NFB’s flagship apprentice program, Hothouse. In addition to films, she produces distinctive interactive projects such as Paloma Dawkins’ acclaimed VR work Museum of Symmetry.

Phil Lafrance | Co-founder of Jam Filled Entertainment and a Creative Director for Jam Filled Originals

Phil is one of the co-founders of Jam Filled Entertainment and a Creative Director for Jam Filled Originals. Phil spent the first part of his career designing and making animated video games. He then made the leap to television animation and never looked back. He continues to work as a Character Designer, Storyboard Artist, Show Creator, Director, Executive Producer, and Show Runner. Having already sold two series and helped develop two others to get on the air, Phil continues to create new IP for an ever-evolving market.

José Miguel Ribeiro | Director, Illustrator, Teacher

José Miguel Ribeiro (1966, Amadora, Portugal) is a director, illustrator, teacher, and father. In 1992, he graduated from the Art University of Lisbon (ESBAL) with a degree in Plastic arts – Painting. In 2000, with his 25-minute film “The Suspect``, he received the Cartoon D'Or, and two years later, he funded in collaboration with Ana Carina the production film company “Praça Filmes”. Over the last few years, he directed the stop-motion TV series for children “Home things”, and the short films “Sunday Drive”, “Journey To Cape Verde”, and “Fragments.” In 2022, he finishes the production of the animated feature film “Nayola”, an international co-production between Portugal, Belgium, France, and Holland, with a screenplay by Virgílio Almeida based on the play “A Caixa Preta” by José Eduardo Agualusa and Mia Couto.