Shawn Austin is a writer/producer and President of Big Boss Creative, Inc. in Burbank, California. He develops, writes, and produces original content for film and television. Hailing from our nation’s capital, Shawn moved out to Los Angeles over 20 years ago to pursue his lifelong dream: to make movies. In 2006, he launched Big Boss Creative, Inc., a boutique movie advertising agency, and developed it into a vibrant marketing firm providing award winning creative advertising, trailers, and commercials for studio clients. From there, Shawn shifted his company into the business of creating original content, including his latest production, Princess Of The Row. Shawn enjoys high-adventures and trail running ultra-marathons in the California mountains. He and his wife of 28 years have raised 3 incredible children who, unbeknownst to them, often serve as great source material for his screenwriting.
Genevieve is an inclusion and diversity champion, creative director, social entrepreneur and Australia's foremost globally innovative, inclusive filmmaker. She has a portfolio career which spans the film industry, not-for-profit sector and advertising. She's an award-winning writer/director, with work showcased at various Oscar qualifying film festivals and the United Nations. She is the first person in Australian history to hire people with intellectual disability on professional film sets as crew, and created an inclusive employment model which is now being adopted at top Australian productions companies so more people with disability can be employed in the film industry. She is co-founder of Bus Stop Films – and over a period of five years, wrote and developed the Bus Stop Films’ Accessible Film Studies Curriculum which provides film studies education to people with disability. She started Mongolia’s first inclusive filmmaking program in partnership with the Arts Council of Monogolia in 2018 and has produced over 24 inclusive films with over 300 people with intellectual disability.
Alyssa Cypher, MPA is a radical mental health activist and community organizer. She currently serves as Executive Director of Inside Our Minds, an organization that works to elevate the voices of people with lived experience of mental illness, madness, and other similar experiences and identities. Through Inside Our Minds she helps to bring subsidized, community-based radical mental health programming to the Pittsburgh area - educational workshops, mutual aid spaces, and platforms for artistic expression. Overall, Alyssa’s work focuses on centering inclusive and social justice-driven perspectives on mental health, prioritizing the voices of people with lived experience as educators and experts, and envisioning a mental health system that values autonomy and self-determination over coercion and control.
Kyle Anne Grendys
Kyle Anne Grendys is many things: a little sister, a world traveler, a dog mom, a musical fanatic, a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s film program, oh … and, she has a disability. She was born with an incredibly rare genetic disorder called Fraser Syndrome. The day she was born the doctors told her parents she wouldn’t survive the night. 26 years later, she is still proving them wrong. She likes to say that she sees the world through a view you can’t see from two eyes. She’s seen the very worst the world has to offer, but without seeing the bad, she would never recognize the good. She has dedicated her life to making films about everything good.
Kyle will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Fraser Syndrome & Me on Thursday, September 5, 2019.
Nicole Ver Kuilen
Nicole Ver Kuilen lost her left leg below the knee to cancer at age 10 and has made it her life’s goal to expand access to prosthetic technology for all amputees. She has completed a 1,500 mile triathlon down the west coast to raise awareness for amputee rights, lobbied members of Congress in Washington, DC, and summitted Ecuador’s 19,347 ft. Volcan Cotopaxi with the Range of Motion Project. Her documentary film 1500 Miles is touring the country and has been honored by five international film festivals, including a “Best Documentary” award. Nicole is the founder of the nonprofit Forrest Stump, which advocates for fair, adequate rights for amputees and their access to the prostheses they need to meet and exceed their mobility goals.
Nicole will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of the Shorts Program on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.
Peter Miller collaborated with Ken Rosenberg as co-producer and writer of Bedlam, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and will air on PBS in 2020. He has directed and produced documentaries that have screened in cinemas and on television throughout the world, including A.K.A. Doc Pomus, Jews and Baseball: An American Love, Sacco and Vanzetti, Projections of America, a Class Apart (now being adapted as a feature film by Eva Longoria), Sosua, Refugee Kids, The Internationale (Oscar short list), and Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices (winner of three Emmys) which aired this spring on PBS American Masters. With his daughter Nora, Peter recently completed Egg Cream, a short film about the beloved chocolate soda drink. He has also been a producer on numerous PBS series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, including The War, Jazz, and the Peabody Award-winning Frank Lloyd Wright. He is currently completing Do No Harm, a series about Palliative Care, and starting work on Marcella, about the legendary food writer, Marcella Hazan.
Peter will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Bedlam on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.
In 1992, Dr. Jim Withers dressed as a homeless person and joined a formerly homeless man to visit the street dwellers of Pittsburgh, making "house calls" at night. This initiative led to his program, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net (OSN) that brings medical care and social services directly to the unsheltered homeless. It also serves as a pioneering “classroom” for students of various disciplines to learn the principles of reality-based care. In 2005, Dr. Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (with current partners in North America, South and Central America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets. In 2009, Dr. Withers created the new non-profit Street Medicine Institute to promote the global practice of street medicine. Jim was a 2015 CNN Top Ten Hero of the Year. He is currently on the teaching faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Jim will join audiences for a Q&A following the screening of Princess of the Row on Saturday, September 7, 2019.