With his first two films, Parietal Guidance and A Ferguson Story, Chicago director Lonnie Edwards quickly earned a reputation for documenting and dramatizing lives in oppressed and marginalized communities. His work has won him numerous festival prizes, honors from the Gene Siskel Film Center, and a spot on Newcity magazine’s 2016 “Filmmakers of the Moment” list. His short music documentary Exodus: Sounds of the Great Migration screened at this year’s CIMMfest’s Spring Fling Thing and won awards for best experimental short film and best new director at the Pan African International Film Festival in Cannes.
At 25 Craig McNeil left a local band and a record-shop job in his native Dundee, Scotland, to pursue a career in the music business. He is now director of creative projects at the Beggars Group in London, which is home to independent labels XL, 4AD, Matador, Young Turks, and Rough Trade. Craig has run TV campaigns for Adele, Bon Iver, the Decemberists, Cat Power, the White Stripes, and Radiohead, and he has produced and directed videos and documentaries featuring Daughter, Glass Animals, the Pixies, and more Beggars acts.
A lover of nonfiction in its many forms, Julie Englander is a journalist and documentary filmmaker in Chicago. She is currently producing and directing the vérité doc Home Again (working title), which tells the story of kids who’ve grown up overseas in missionary families and struggle to adjust upon coming “home” to the United States. She has worked with Kartemquin Films, Chicago PBS affiliate WTTW, and ABC News; led a course on developing documentary projects for Chicago Filmmakers; and written for the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, and In These Times.
Anuradha Rana’s award-winning documentaries, shot and screened around the world, focus on themes of representation, identity, and varied perspectives in a global environment. She is in production on Language of Opportunity, which explores the role English plays in the hopes and dreams of a new generation of Indians, and Superdogs (working title), about the relationship between sled dogs and mushers training for the annual CopperDog 150 race in Michigan. Anuradha leads the documentary program at DePaul Unversity’s School of Cinematic Arts and coordinates the Diverse Voices in Docs fellowship organized by Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago.
Andy Salmen co-founded SolCo Entertainment, a Chicago media company specializing in financing, producing, marketing, and distributing feature and episodic motion-picture properties. He is a founding partner in the Grind House Company, a genre-based production and distribution entity, and a co-founder of Pixovi, which manages, protects, and delivers digital assets using blockchain technology to give content creators the tools to securely control distribution and monetization of their intellectual property. Andy previously served as head of marketing and PR for the Solstice Film Festival in St. Paul.
Jonathan Bross is an experienced film producer and financier and a principal at Chicago’s Periscope Post & Audio, which provides film and television post-production services. He started his career with accounting giant Arthur Andersen and was a vice president at investment firm Hilco Capital before moving into entertainment with indie production company Velvet Steamroller. Jonathan’s production credits include the hip hop documentary There’s a God on the Mic, cult gorefest 2001 Maniacs, and the upcoming thriller Doorman starring Katie Holmes and Jean Reno. He recently launched Argonaut Entertainment Partners, which provides debt financing to entertainment projects.
Rick Rios is a Chicago-based filmmaker who has been writing and directing his own short films for 20 years while working his way up from grip to director of photography on other projects ranging from commercials to features. He taught film for 13 years at Columbia College Chicago and directed and shot commercials, corporate campaigns, and web video for more than a decade as a partner in production house Subliminal Pictures. He also makes music videos, and he can score with either foot in soccer.
Actress, singer, and songwriter Lisa Zane has enjoyed a 30-year career in the performing arts, starting out at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in David Mamet’s adaptation of The Cherry Orchard. She is best known for her extensive television and film work, including featured roles in L.A. Law, ER, Profit, the Curtis Hanson thriller Bad Influence, and the cult favorite Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She has released two CDs and performed her mix of rock, jazz, and global folk traditions around the world. Lisa lives in Chicago, where she plays regularly with her band, Flapunco.
Kate Barutha is the arts engagement manager at the University of Chicago. Among myriad roles, she oversees jazz and experimental-music programming at the Logan Center and coordinates exhibitions, performances, and artists’ residencies there. She has produced a wide range of multidisciplinary initiatives in Chicago and beyond, focusing on building partnerships among community agencies, cultural institutions, and local artists. A cello, flute, and bass player, Kate is a member of newly formed Chicago synth-pop band Skip Trace and has performed and recorded with experimental musician Adam Lempel and Baltimore synth-pop darlings Future Islands, among others.
Melissa Chapman is the owner of Groove Garden, an all-woman company specializing in music supervision and licensing for film, advertising, and other media. She has worked on major campaigns for Target, Hershey, Kohl’s, JC Penney, and more and on films such as Listen Up Philip, Donald Cried, Sundance favorite Beach Rats, and Chicago’s own Signature Move. Melissa aspires to one day write a book on concert etiquette entitled We’re All Here to Enjoy the Show, So Shut the F*ck Up. It’s a work in progress.
Rhythm Scholar is a music producer, remixer, and DJ from Chicago. Along with official remixes for Atlantic Records and Nettwerk Music Group, he produced music for the 2015 hip hop documentary Hustlers Convention, which screened at CIMMfest No. 8. His eclectic remixes encompass music from the 1960s to today, infusing tracks by the Beatles, Madonna, Barry White, the Weeknd, Katy Perry, and many others with funk, disco, and phat beats.