Film Festival Alliance is pleased to announce the addition of six new board members for 2024. Get to know our new board members below, and check out our complete list of 2024 board members here.
2024 New Board Members:
Serge Bakalian, Executive Director, Arab Film and Media Institute | Arab Film Festival
Serge is a non-profit leader, science advisor, filmmaker and the founder of the Arab Film and Media Institute (AFMI), serving as its Executive Director. The California-based AFMI is a unique ecosystem to find, nurture, connect and develop Arab film and media projects, and home to the Arab Film Festival, the largest and oldest festival of its kind in North America.
He also works as a science advisor for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Serge caught the artist bug in 2007 and moved to San Francisco to develop and produce film and theatre projects, the latter dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Serge holds degrees in Chemistry and International Relations.
Sarah Escalante, Executive Director, New Orleans Film Society
Sarah Escalante joined the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) team in July 2022 as Executive Director. Prior to NOFS, Sarah worked with the Michigan Theater Foundation as their Director of Programming and Communications and the Festival Director of the Cinetopia Film Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and ran the gamut of festival roles at genre to regional and major festivals across the U.S.
Originally from California, Sarah was an academic lawyer until her lifelong love of film and movie theaters led her to the impactful conversations and experiences found working within the film festival and art house communities.
Timothy Gordon, Executive Director, LightReel Film Festival
Film Critic, Association President, Cinema Historian, Radio Host & Producer, Film Festival and Award Show Founder, Brand Creator, and lover of ALL things film, Tim Gordon remains a cinematic force. Gordon has turned his passion for film into his life’s work, seeking to educate future generations and alter the perspective of African-Americans on screen as well as in the executive suites of Hollywood.
NK Gutiérrez, Midwest Film Festival
From HBO Latino to The Oprah Winfrey Show, classically trained dancer, vocalist, actor and filmmaker Nicole Kristine Gutiérrez has excelled in nearly every facet of entertainment. Most recently booking recurring roles in Showtime’s The Chi, NBC’s Chicago Fire and her 4th run of the hit show, La Gringa, at the 2022 Puerto Rican International Theater Festival in San Juan.
Gutiérrez made her filmmaking debut with the short film, The Last New Year, in which she wrote, produced and starred. Latina Magazine called it "A hilarious and relatable story of sexual liberation, self-care and empowerment, with women of color at the center." NK is in the business of consciously creating equitable and just community through the lens of heart centered living. She puts her BA in Psychology, Mental Health First Aid and Consent certifications to use as an Intimacy Coordinator on film & TV sets as well as teaching mindful employee care practices in the corporate and nonprofit space. Gutiérrez currently serves as the Operational Director of Midwest Film Festival, co-chair of the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Head of Programming for the XL Festival and Lead of the Film Club at Soho House Chicago.
Crickett Rumley, Director of Film Festivals, New York Film Academy
Crickett Rumley received her MFA in Film at Columbia University and is the founder and senior director of the Film Festival Department at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. With diversity, equity, and inclusion at the center of her work, she develops educational programs for a diverse, international student body. She has guided filmmakers to official selections at esteemed festivals ranging from Sundance to Bronzelens and to nomination and shortlisting for the BAFTA Student Film Awards, the Student Academy Awards, and the College Television Awards.
A regular at the Tallgrass Film Festival, Crickett served first as a juror and now is their Panels Director. She also judges the Forum on Life, Culture, and Society’s International Short Film Competition and hosted the Winter Film Awards International Film Festival’s Education Day on the NYFA campus in New York, where she collaborated with her colleagues on workshops about Social Media for Creatives and How to Craft the Low Budget Screen Story. She is a member of the Film Festival Alliance.
Jamie Webb, Together Films
Since volunteering at the Sundance London Film Festival in 2014, I have built a career working for a number of FFA member festivals all over the US. Small roles at Ann Arbor, Tribeca, and Hell's Half Mile, led to larger seasonal roles at Sundance, Full Frame, and Cucalorus, and finally as a year-round Festival Manager at Milwaukee Film.
I spent an additional two years in the exhibition sector as General Manager at the Coolidge Corner Theatre and currently am the Film Sales Manager at Together Films, handling all non-theatrical screenings for all of our titles with a large emphasis on festival runs for our sales titles (In Camera, TISH, Your Fat Friend, and more). Additionally, I participated in the inaugural FFA Leadership Lab in 2020 and served on the programming team for the first FilmEx virtual conference.