LESFF WAS CREATED BY Roxy Hunt, Shannon Walker, DAMON CARDASIS, and Tony Castle.
Roxy is a director and producer who Co-founded BFD Productions, the NY based production company, with partner and fellow fest director, Tony Castle. Most recently she directed the CNNgo Original Series Mostly Human with Laurie Segall, the Fullscreen Original Docu-series Present Tense: With Jillian Rose Reed , and produced the critically acclaimed political ad campaign, "James Franco Presents... The Most Interesting Woman in the World".
Shannon Walker is a writer, producer, and (sometimes) actor living in New York City. She is a two time Writer’s Guild Award nominee, co-executive producer of The Writer's Guild East Awards Show, and co-founder of The Lower East Side Film Festival.
Tony Castle is a producer based in New York City. He is a Co-Founder of BFD Productions, which has produced work for Vox, CNN, Discovery, Disney, Refinery 29, Fast Company, and The Guardian, among others. Castle produced the feature documentary The Entrepreneur that premiered at HotDocs. Recently he produced the Genus Kitchen Series In The Mix with Matt FX, The CNNgo Original Series Mostly Human with Laurie Segall, and is currently directing a new non-fiction series for Marvel.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
Damon Cardasis is a two time Writer’s Guild Award nominee and together with writer/director Rebecca Miller runs their production company Round Films. Cardasis produced Maggie's Plan (starring GRETA GERWIG, ETHAN HAWKE and JULIANNE MOORE), as well as the HBO documentary Arthur Miller: Writer.
He also made his directorial debut with the musical drama Saturday Church that premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
Nick Leavens is consultant, director, writer, and producer. He is the founder of INCISIVE LLC, a broad-based consulting practice specializing Ethical Institution Building for arts and social justice not-for-profits. Nick has worked at The Museum of Modern Art, Eyebeam, Atlantic Theater, Sheen Center, on projects with Anna Deavere Smith, Art Omi, North Star Fund, LES Film Festival, was the Founder and Artistic Director of |the claque| and Artistic Director of the New York Arab Comedy Festival. He's lectured at Ohio State University, The University of Sydney, The University of Melbourne, Cornell University, and Ithaca College. He is an active director, writer and producer, creating hundreds plays and more recently working in film. In film, his most recent work includes "Unicornland" a series exploring one woman's self discovery through New York's polyamorous scene. The series has seen international acclaim and has been screened in festivals in the US and internationally.
DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL EVENTS
Monica is the Owner & Creative Director of Rock Paper Sugar Events, a full service event company that specializes in creating engaging, imaginative, outside the box experiences for their clients. Throughout her career she has planned events for Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios and NBC as well as worked on numerous VIP programs for today’s biggest concert tours including Guns and Roses, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and New Kids On The Block. She's looking forward to helping audiences and filmmakers create some unforgettable moments at this year's festival!
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & FILMMAKER LIAISON
Kelly Rockwell is a comedian, writer, engineer, and co-founder of Secret Story Film and Video, a Brooklyn based production company. She comes at film with an eye for technology, as she needs to use her MIT engineering degree for something.
Josh is an actor, writer and improviser living in New York City. He is also a professional athlete ranked 11th in the world for this crazy sport called slacklining... seriously check out his website.
William Cusick is a writer, director and designer. His feature films include Pop Meets the Void and Welcome to Nowhere (Bullet Hole Road). Cusick has directed a variety of shorts, commercials and music videos, and has designed video projections for international productions of theater, music and dance. Cusick is on faculty at The New School in NYC.
BOX OFFICE MANAGER & PROGRAMMING COMMITTEE
Cheyenne Britt is a Studios Coordinator at a major network, helping recent graduates get their first foot into TV. Currently living in Brooklyn, Cheyenne attended Hofstra University in Long Island and received a B.S. degree in Television & Business. A Jersey native, she loves bagels, and pizza. And of course the Jersey Shore.
Kyle Ginzburg is a film director and writer based in New York City. Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, Kyle attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he received a B.F.A. in Film & Television Production in 2014. His most recent short film, Crop, has been accepted and featured by the National Film Festival for Talented Youth. He is currently working on future projects.
New York City born and bred, Tatiana is a producer and yogi. Growing up as a dancer, she later realized she had a hunger for what goes into making something happen. Studying Theatre Management at Syracuse University, she’s recently transitioned from performer to producer. She enjoys all things adventurous and quirky. As she works on current projects, she balances out her days on set as a yoga instructor.
Siri Betts-Sonstegard is a Design Researcher & Service Designer currently working on developing innovative cognitive tools for clinicians at IBM Watson Health. Before joining IBM, she worked as part of the Design Innovation Group (DIG) at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where she focused on understanding patient needs through human-centered design methods and approaches to develop new digital products and services. Part of her work is to translate complex information into compelling stories. Siri is honored to participate in the Lower East Side Film Festival, which is an innovative festival showcasing passionate storytellers.
Enjoying international recognition for her remarkable work as an editor, writer and film critic for many of the world’s most renowned publications, such as ELLE (Russia), Harper’s Bazaar (Russia), Interview (Russia), L’Officiel (Russia) and Vogue (Russia), among others, Ms. Prisyazhnaya has established herself as an expert in film, art, fashion and culture. Since relocating to New York, Ms. Prisyazhnaya has further cemented her elite standing within the film industry, regularly interviewing Hollywood’s most distinguished directors and actors for prestigious publications and broadcast networks.
Mia is an actor, writer, and comedian living in Los Angeles. On stage, she's performed Off-Broadway and in National Tours, as well as in comedy shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Magnet, and the PIT. Mia writes and produces sketch comedy videos, which you can check out right here! This past year, she collaborated with several members of the LESFF team to create a rap music video about Ruth Bader Ginsburg titled "The Notorious RBG," which you should definitely check out right here! You can also follow her on Instagram right here: @miaweinberger
DEVELOPMENT & special projects
Rachel is an actor, singer, development professional, and general hyphenate based in New York City. Career highlights include playing a goat, rapping about calculus, performing at the Del Close Marathon, and behind-the-scenes roles at New York Stage and Film (where she currently runs all Development and Communications), RKO, The Public Theater, and other non-profits in New York. For more information, click here!
VIDEO NINJA-COWBOY & TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Benjamin is a Director and Cinematographer of feature and short films, commercials, music videos, web series, and branded video content. With a technical mind, a human heart (as opposed to a frog heart... who writes these things?), and an explorative eye, he strives to tell great stories and create beautiful images.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS