Best of the Fest

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The Best of the Fest closing night awards program showcases the films voted on by the audience as being the best narrative, documentary, animation, comedy, Pennsylvania film, and student film, as well as our jurors' selections for best narrative, documentary, and animation.

Schmooze with local and visiting filmmakers in attendance!

2019 Jurors

Ellen Doherty is Executive in Charge of Production for Fred Rogers Productions, overseeing creation of television and digital content for the company's existing PBS KIDS series—Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Peg + Cat and Odd Squad—as well as developing new properties including the award-winning series Through the Woods. An Emmy Award-winning producer with a passion for children's media, Ellen was previously executive producer and story editor on the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase. She began her career on the award-winning series Reading Rainbow. Ellen will award the $1,000 prize for Best Animated Film.

Iris Samson is a local filmmaker and TV producer, working primarily for WQED-TV. A three-time Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award winner, Iris has also won eight Golden Quill Awards, the Robert Vann Award for Best TV Documentary and two Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Awards for Best Documentary. She produced a two-volume set of 18 local survivor's stories for the Holocaust Center and is currently the Associate Producer on a national PBS production chronicling the history of Jews who fled to Shanghai during World War II. Iris is the former assistant editor of The Jewish Chronicle. Iris will award the $1,000 prize for Best Documentary Film.

Kevin M. Smith is the Director of Undergraduate Studies - Broadcasting and Senior Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. A multi-award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and producer, Kevin has written for and worked with Academy Award nominated actors, directors, and producers for the past 15 years. His feature film catalogue includes Pride (starring Terrance Howard, produced by Lionsgate Films), Flip—The Flip Wilson Story, One Heartbeat, All-Star Mom, Bump & Running, My Brother's Keeper, Joe Louis vs The World, among many others. Kevin will award the $1,000 prize for Best Narrative Film.

View Past Winners