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2023 Juries

Narrative Grand Jury

Eliza Coupe

Eliza is most known for some really funny roles she played written by some very talented people on some successful shows airing on some big networks. Her career launched from a one woman show, “The Patriots,” that she wrote and performed at UCB/NY. “The Patriots” was later presented at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. She won the “Breakout Award” for that show. She has co-written a feature that she plans to star in and direct that is set in the Granite State. She hails from Plymouth, NH.


Julian Higgins
Writer, Director, Producer

Julian’s first feature God’s Country – a neo-Western thriller starring Thandiwe Newton – premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was picked up by IFC Films. His shorts have screened around the globe and won prizes including the gold medal Student Academy Award, two Student Emmy Awards and the grand prize of Ron Howard’s “Project Imagination” Contest. Julian holds a BFA in Film from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the AFI, and currently teaches directing at both.


Ted Hope
Producer, Executive

Ted was most recently the Co-Head of Movies at Amazon Studios for over five years, where he oversaw Manchester by the Sea, The Salesman, The Big Sick, and Cold War, amongst others. Prior to joining Amazon, he produced over 70 films as well as co-founding/co-running the production companies Good Machine, this is that, and Double Hope Films. His films have received numerous Academy Award nominations and a record three of them have won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

Documentary Grand Jury

Patrick Bresnan
Documentary Filmmaker

Using precise and illustrative cinematic images, Patrick and his partner Ivete Lucas make verité stories that counter the mythic concepts of America. Their short films have premiered at Cannes, Berlin, TIFF, Sundance and Locarno. Their first feature film Pahokee premiered in competition at Sundance and was released in the United States and France. Their second feature Naked Gardens premiered in competition at Tribeca and in the EU at IDFA, and won the 2022 NHFF Documentary Grand Jury Award.


Deirdre McCarrick
Publisher, MovieMaker Magazine

Deirdre is the owner and publisher of MovieMaker Magazine and, founded in 1993 and focused on the art and craft of movies and cinematic TV. She has helped dozens of independent filmmakers get their films made through MovieMaker Production Services, which helps moviemakers stretch their budgets further than they ever imagined possible. She has written for TheWrap, and, and is always working on a script to one day make a movie of her own.


Matt Renner
Documentary Producer, Executive

Matt is a multiple Emmy Award-winning documentary television and film producer. He is currently EVP of Programming for Smuggler Entertainment following a seven-year tour as VP of Production with National Geographic, where he helped launch their film banner. Matt executive produced Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, Emmy Award-winning LA 92, Academy Award and BAFTA-winning Free Solo, and Academy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning The Cave, among others.

Narrative Shorts Jury

Vanessa Beletic
Writer, Director

Vanessa’s first narrative short Catching Spirits won the 2022 NHFF Live Action Short Jury Award, making it Oscar eligible and is an official selection of 15 more Academy and BAFTA qualifying film festivals. She is one of eight filmmakers selected for AFI’s DWW+ program, where she filmed her second narrative short film EVIL, I. Haitian born and raised, she is also a mentor to several young female filmmakers of color as part of her advocacy for the advancement of black women’s voices in film and media.


Amy Greene
Producer, Stunt Coordinator/Performer

Amy is a producer and stunt guru whose recent projects include Academy Award winning Sound of Metal and Academy Award nominated Knives Out. Other films she’s been a part of have won awards at Sundance, Cannes, and the Independent Spirit Awards, including Leave No Trace, Chronic and Low Down. As a stunt performer, Amy’s had the pleasure of doubling Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Taissa Farmiga, Chloe Grace Moretz and more. As a stunt coordinator, her next upcoming film is The Holdovers.


Ana Leocha
Producer, Executive

Ana is a producer and development executive who has worked at Tango Entertainment since 2018. She was a co-producer on Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun, for which Paul Mescal received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, as well as Andrew Semans’ Resurrection, Sarah Adina Smith’s The Drop and Randall Park’s Shortcomings, among others. Ana works across film and television, where she is passionate about emerging filmmakers and new voices. She hails from Hampstead, NH.

Documentary Shorts Jury

Ivete Lucas
Documentary Filmmaker

Ivete is a Brazilian-Mexican-American filmmaker whose films have premiered at Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, Toronto and Sundance, and earned over 30 festival awards, including the Short Film Award at the Cannes Director’s Fortnight, the Pardino d’Oro at Locarno and a Cinema Eye Award. Her first feature Pahokee premiered at Sundance, played over 50 festivals, was distributed theatrically and broadcast on PBS. Her second feature Naked Gardens premiered at Tribeca and IDFA and is currently playing in select theaters.


Tim O’Donnell
Documentary Filmmaker

Tim is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Pixela Films, a commercial and documentary production company. His work has appeared on ESPN, NBC, PBS, Hulu and CNN Films. Tim’s film Not a War Story opened at #1 for all iTunes Documentaries and premiered at the Academy. His follow-up feature Life Without Basketball opened at DOC NYC and premiered on SundanceNow. Tim’s personal film The House We Lived In won the 2022 NHFF Best Documentary Award.


Susi Walsh
Co-Founder, Center for Independent Documentary

With the late Fred Simon, Susi is co-founder of the Center for Independent Documentary and remains the driving force behind the organization. A filmmaker in her own right, she is also a founding board member of the Massachusetts Production Coalition and has been recognized by Women In Film & Video with an “Image Award” and an “Imaginnaire Award” for her work with independent filmmakers. Susi holds a degree in Interrelated Media Design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

New Hampshire Jury

Jo Dery
Writer/Director, Film Studies Professor

Jo’s short films have screened at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. She has received the Helen Hill Award and has been awarded grants from the LEF Foundation, The Free History Project, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Vermont Arts Council. Jo earned a BFA in Film/Animation/Video from the Rhode Island School of Design, an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, and has completed residencies at MacDowell and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is currently an Associate Professor of Film Studies at Keene State College.


Ernesto Burden
Writer, Publisher

Ernesto is the publisher of Yankee New Hampshire Group publications, including New Hampshire Magazine, New Hampshire Business Review, New Hampshire Home, 603 Diversity and others. He has written and published two novels as well as short fiction and non-fiction. He has been a daily newspaper reporter, editor and web developer. Ernesto has overseen digital media innovation and operations for a number of publishing companies. He also performs as a solo acoustic musician several times a month.


Taylor Lee Nagel
Director, Producer

Taylor is a NH-born and Brooklyn-based independent director and producer, drawn to urgent and provocative stories of human dignity, defiance and struggle. She directs and produces narrative and documentary films that have covered a range of vital topics like immigration and the new American dream, abortion access and veterans’ mental health. Her work has screened at several festivals, including Tribeca Film Festival, Bentonville Film Festival, Berkshires International Film Festival, Inside Out Toronto, and last year her film, Waiting Period, was awarded the 2022 New Hampshire Short Film of the Year.

Screenplay Judge

John Pollono

John wrote, directed and starred in the independent feature Small Engine Repair, opposite Jon Bernthal, Shea Whigham and Ciara Bravo. The film, which premiered at SXSW, is the feature adaptation of John’s play of the same name which opened off-Broadway to massive critical acclaim. Small Engine Repair was selected as a New York Times Critic Pick and The Huffington Post selected it as one of the year’s 10 best plays. John was also named one of Variety’s “10 Screenwriters to Watch.”