2014 PARTICIPANTS

Pippa Bianco

While studying photography at Yale University, Pippa Bianco fell in love with road movies and filmmaking. Her first film, JORNALERA, a Spanish-language short, won both the Howard R. Lamar Prize for Best Film and the Norman Pearson Prize for the Best American Studies Thesis at Yale.

Bianco studied film while simultaneously working on music videos and independent films in New York City. She worked on Braden King's film HERE and Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, HIGHER GROUND. She received her first professional writing credit on the in-development film, BLEED FOR THIS, which is being executive produced by Martin Scorsese will be directed by Ben Younger. Bianco is currently writing and producing at Beyoncé Knowles' production company, Parkwood Entertainment. She is working on two new feature-length screenplays, one of which she'll develop as a short film as a participant in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.


Tessa Blake

Tessa Blake is an award-winning writer/director working in film, television, and theater.

Her debut feature documentary, FIVE WIVES, THREE SECRETARIES AND ME, premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival, played at art houses across the country, and was part of the Outstanding Documentary series by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Blake's film PROJECT ALS, won the Media That Matters Award at The Human Rights Watch Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Nantucket Film Festival.

SUSAN, a documentary she co-directed with Emma Hewitt about women returning home from prison, premiered on PBS in an episode of MOYERS & COMPANY titled "Incarceration Nation." Her short film, LEAVE KEYS IN CAR, recently won Best Comedy at the Lady Filmmaker Festival and an Award of Merit at IndieFest.

Blake and her husband, Ian Williams, work together as a writing team for film and television and have had script deals with ABC, NBC, FOX and Warner Brothers.


Roja Gashtili

Roja Gashtili's began her film career working at Alex Gibney's Jigsaw Productions and and then as a coordinator on Charles Ferguson's Academy Award®-nominated documentary, NO END IN SIGHT. Additionally, she was an associate producer on MTV's EXILED and has also worked on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: IN THE 90s, and Morgan Spurlock's A DAY IN THE LIFE.

In 2013, Gashtili and her filmmaking partner, Julia Lerman were the recipients of a Tribeca All Access grant. Their work was recognized as a finalist for the SFFS/Hearst Screenwriting Grant and in 2010, they were selected as an Emerging Narrative at IFP Film Week. In 2011, the duo were chosen as artists-in-residence at the USF Verftet by the Norwegian Government. As a toddler, Gashtili participated in protests against the Iran-Contra affair. She recently relocated from New York City and is still looking for a good protest.


Devon Kirkpatrick

Devon Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from Skidmore College. She served as the Deputy Publisher of GO Magazine, reporting on arts, culture and nightlife in New York's queer community.

Upon completing her Master's degree at the New School, Devon embarked on a career in the TV world. She worked in the writer's room on NURSE JACKIE under creator and showrunner Liz Brixius. She also worked on LAW AND ORDER as well as the NBC sitcom NEXT CALLER. Kirkpatrick directed and produced a two-year documentary project for the Centerstone Foundation, a non-profit institution assisting individuals in the Indiana Department of Corrections living with addiction and mental illness. She also co-wrote her first feature script, OUT OF RANGE, a romantic comedy road trip story, which was selected as an Emerging Narrative for IFP Film Week in 2012 and in the No Borders category in 2013.

Kirkpatrick was an Associate Producer on the NBC pilot GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA. She currently works under Liz Brixius in creative development at Universal Television.


Alexis Korycinski

Alexis O. Korycinski is a Virginia native and a Syracuse University graduate who has been a storyteller since a young age.

While at Syracuse University, she studied and performed in London at the Globe Theatre. She was then selected for the inaugural Aaron "Sorkin Week" immersion program where she worked on STUDIO 60: ON THE SUNSET STRIP. After graduating, she assisted Tommy Schlamme on LIFE ON MARS. It was this experience which convinced her to pursue a career as a narrative director.

Korycinski's first directing project, DEFINING BEAUTY: MS. WHEELCHAIR AMERICA. DEFINING BEAUTY premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival in 2011 and garnered the Audience Award for Best Documentary. She has also produced documentaries for History, TLC, and Travel Channel.

Since finding documentary success, Alexis has been steadily transitioning toward narrative content development, with a variety of collaborative and independent projects. She is currently in post-production on BALLON, a short film about drug addiction set in the world of professional dance. She also spends her days developing content for Grandma's House Entertainment and writing television projects with her husband.


Jean Lee

Writer, director and cinematographer Jean Lee graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Lee, who is interested in using film as an advocacy tool, directed and shot WE DO NOT EXIST, an investigative documentary on Philadelphia's sex-trafficking industry. In 2010, she won the Jacob Javits Fellowship and began her graduate film studies at New York University Tisch School of Arts Asia located in Singapore.

She wrote and directed CAHAYA in October 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The film premiered at the DC Shorts Film Festival in and at the Berlinale International Film Festival. It also screened at the International Women's Film Festival in Seoul and the Kyoto International Children's Film Festival. In October 2013, Lee was accepted into the Sundance Institute's Screenwriter's Intensive as a writer/director for her script KIMCHI PRINCESS. She is currently developing her thesis film THE TORTOISE AND HIS TAIL.


Kantu Lentz

Kantu Lentz is a Peruvian filmmaker who is inclined to creating love stories that take place in alternate realities with magic realism elements.

She moved to New York where she attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. After three mind numbing winters in Brooklyn, she decided to move to Los Angeles and never wait for the G train again. In Los Angeles, she completed the Directing and Producing program at UCLA Extension.

In 2011, she co-wrote and produced the award winning short GRIEF, A COMEDY which told the story of a young woman who is forced to deal with loss and gain her independence through experiencing the five stages of grief.

She splits her time between writing and working for DIRTY ROBBER, an Oscar nominated production company based out of Silverlake, focusing on Film,TV, Commercials and Music Videos.

Her most recent short STRUCK BY HER which tells the story of a electric girl who can't touch anybody without turning them into a pile of ashes; is getting ready to make it's festival run.

Kantu is currently working on her second feature script, which will be shot in Peru.


Julia Lerman

Julia Lerman, along with her filmmaking partner Roja Gashtili, was a recipient of the 2013 Tribeca Film Institute All Access Grant. Previously, the duo were finalists for the San Francisco Film Society/Hearst Screenwriting Grant and selected for the Emerging Narrative Lab at IFP's Independent Film Week 2010. In the summer of 2011, they were artists-in-residence at the USF Verftet in Bergen, Norway.

Those three months spent living on a dock at the edge of the world led to one existential play set on the first night of the apocalypse, an affinity for 2am sunsets and a deep appreciation for the impact of landscape on the creative process.

Prior to working together, Julia worked on the Emmy award-winning television series THIS AMERICAN LIFE and TRUE LIFE on MTV. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.


Bola Ogun

While still a teenager, Bola Ogun was one of the four playwrights (out of hundreds of teens) chosen by Junior Players, a non-profit youth theater organization, to have her play, JUSTIN CASE produced at the Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas.

Ogun's early film and television career involved jobs on WALKING TALL 2, WALKING TALL 3 as well as PRISON BREAK and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

Since 2007, she has worked as a PA and as a non-union assistant director on, including TV shows such as TRUE BLOOD, HEROES, 90210 and HAWTHORNE and movies DARK KNIGHT RISES, GET SMART and BATTLESHIP.

Ogun hopes the feature she is currently developing will launch her career as an actress, writer and director.


Thoranna Sigurdardottir

Raised in Reykjavik, Iceland, Thoranna Sigurdardottir, wrote her philosophy thesis on Nietzsches's theories in GROUNDHOG DAY and studied visual anthropology at the University of Iceland. She worked as a PA and, after graduation, became a television commercial producer. She has worked on such films as TOMB RAIDER and for such notable directors as Zack Snyder and Wim Wenders.

In 2001, she moved to Los Angeles and produced her first feature film, ALL GOD'S CHILDREN CAN DANCE, an adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story. She is currently producing an environmental documentary with the Dalai Lama. In 2012, Thoranna worked as the Icelandic Unit Production Manager on Darren Aronofsky's NOAH.

Thoranna is currently developing her debut feature, MODI, which she plans to shoot in Iceland. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.


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