Miriam Bale, Conference Co-Chair
Miriam Bale is the Artistic Director of the Indie Memphis Film Festival in Memphis, TN. She also writes film criticism for W magazine. She has written on film for the New York Times, The New Republic, Sight and Sound, Film Comment, Filmmaker, The Hollywood Reporter, and many other publications. She has organized film series at Anthology Film Archives, BAMCinématek, Maysles Documentary Center, Yerba Buena Arts Center, and Flaherty NYC. Bale was the founding director of the La Di Da Film Festival in New York. Before working in film, she organized education programs at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and was a music industry talent scout in London.
Michael Orange, Conference Co-Chair
Michael Orange is the founder of MATATU Nomadic Cinema in Oakland, CA, a cultural experience vehicle that mimics rural share taxis as a mode of publicly accessible transportation. The platform shuttles local communities and global diasporas from one art house experience to the next, engaging in public inquiry around the role of the African Diaspora in a contemporary urban American context. He is also a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellow, an Association of Performing Arts Professionals Leadership Fellow, an executive producer of NEPTUNE FROST, a sci-fi film directed by longtime collaborator Saul Williams, and co-producer of PolicyLink’s “We, the 100 Million Initiative,” a portrait of systemic inequity and economic insecurity in the United States.
Conference Track Heads
Cat Kim, Alliance for Action
Cat Kim is Associate Director at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY. While studying Film & TV Production at Tisch, she minored in East Asian Studies, and Entertainment and Media Industries and Technology, and later specializing in computer science. A Korean-American immigrant, she holds great appreciation for world cinema. When Cat is not enjoying a film, she is writing them, or about them.
Lex Sloan, Alliance for Action
Lex Sloan is proud to serve as the Executive Director at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, CA. She graduated with her MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University and a BA in Social Change Media from Western Washington University. Sloan has a passion for exhibition and distribution, she previously worked for Frameline Film Festival and the San Francisco Green Film Festival. She is also an accomplished filmmaker driven by social justice and equity. Her goal is to increase radical accessibility locally and nationally through the art house cinema landscape.
Allison Inman, Education
Allison is education and engagement director at the Belcourt Theatre, a nonprofit film center in Nashville, TN. She hosts in-theatre engagement events — filmmaker and academic Q&As, performances, seminars, film clubs, field trips — and takes the Belcourt’s Mobile Movie Theatre to schools, shelters, and community centers, finding cinephiles in every pocket of the city. Before the Belcourt, she worked in communications consulting and public media, first for Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver and then for ITVS, where she hosted documentary screening/engagement events in Denver, New Orleans and Nashville. She’s a producer on Saint Cloud Hill, a feature documentary chronicling the last days of a Nashville tent city, and serves on the board of the Southern Documentary Fund.
Shakira Refos, Education
Shakira is an educator from The Netherlands who recently joined the Education Department of the California Film Institute in San Rafael, CA by way of the Sarasota Film Festival and Sundance Institute. Her career has been dedicated to empowering young independent thinkers through the exploration of art history and creative expression. Shakira is currently most committed to creating liberatory spaces for black K-12 students. Prioritizing equitable praxis through engagements with film as well as demystifying the path for BIPOC students to becoming film fest administrators. You’ll often hear her shouting “WE NEED MORE BLACK PROGRAMMERS!!” from the rooftops of her current home and office in the Bay Area, CA. With a deep passion for storytelling Shakira attributes her drive for community, justice, and common sense from the cultures of her Mother and Father hailing from Suriname and Trinidad respectively.
Lela Meadow-Conner, Film Festival Alliance
Since 2017, Lela Meadow-Conner has served as the Executive Director of the Film Festival Alliance. Prior to that, she served as the Executive Director of the Tallgrass Film Festival for 15 years, and has consulted for several others. Before joining the film festival community, Lela spent several years working in various facets of the film industry, including feature film marketing, production and entertainment publicity. She has served on many film festival juries and is a frequent panelist on film festival and women in business related topics. Lela has amassed a deep understanding of the cultural significance that cinematic arts organizations bring to a community, and is passionate about arts advocacy. She is currently piloting her film series mamafilm, which reflects on the nature of nurturing through the power and accessibility of visual storytelling, in a 25 seat microcinema in Wichita, Kansas.
Bears Rebecca Fonté, Film Festival Alliance
Bears Rebecca Fonté is a transgender festival programmer, filmmaker, and journalist. They founded Other Worlds Film Festival in Austin, TX after two years as the Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival. They also program midnighters for SF Indiefest and consult on festivals around the country. Bears Rebecca serves on the board of the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF) in Austin and represents district 6 on the Austin Arts Commission. Their short film, ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE, was selected for 70 festivals and they were a producer on the Sundance Jury-Award Winning short THE PROCEDURE.
Vivian Hua, Development
Vivian Hua is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer who worked became Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, WA in October 2018. She first came to the organization as the Co-Founder of the national film and civil rights discussion series, The Seventh Art Stand, and then as the organization’s Design Lead, where she led rebranding efforts. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of the socially conscious arts publication, REDEFINE, since 2004, and much of her work unifies her interest in the metaphysical with her belief that art can positively transform the self and society. Her narrative short film, SEARCHING SKIES – which touches on the controversial topic of Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States – was released in 2017, after making festival rounds. She is currently writing her next film projects, as well as researching national efforts to preserve cultural space.
Emily Vito, Development
Emily Vito is the Assistant Director of Development at Film at Lincoln Center in New York, NY where she has overseen the daily operations of the Development department since 2017. Prior to joining Lincoln Center, Emily ran grassroots fundraising and communications for media literacy education in New York City. Emily has a B.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. She was born and raised in the Midwest, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
Miguel Rodriguez, Marketing
Miguel Rodriguez is the founder and Executive Director of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego, CA, an event dedicated to genre cinema, performance, and art. He is also a film curator and programmer for San Diego Latino Film Festival, The Film Geeks San Diego, Digital Gym Cinema, and the San Diego Comic-Con Museum. Miguel’s interest in populist film history and how that history both reflects and informs the culture it inhabits has led to a number of lectures and publications.
Reginald Desjardins, Operations
Reginald Desjardins is the Front-of-House Manager for the Coral Gables Art Cinema in Miami, Florida. He started his career with CGAC in 2014 as a concessionist and within a year was promoted to his current role. While at the CGAC he has created an inventory system, and manages the largest FOH staff in the cinema’s history. When he’s not helping maintain and provide a comfortable movie-going experience he is doing stand-up comedy around Miami.
George W. Myers, Operations
George W. Myers is the General Manager and Special Event Programmer at Amherst Cinema in Amherst, MA where he’s happily worked the last 10 years. In addition to working at the cinema he was one of the producers of the film Milford Graces Full Mantis. Outside of the cinema world he co-owns a “barcade”- a restaurant, arcade and bar and regularly DJ’s. This is his second year as an operations track head, he has been an active member of the Alliance for Action group and 2020 will be his ninth annual Convergence.
Celine Negrete, Operations
Celine Negrete studied film at San Francisco State University, and has worked in film exhibition for over 25 years, first as a projectionist in for AMC Kabuki Theaters in San Francisco, then in the Exhibition Department of Film Arts Foundation (SF), and currently as the General Manager of the Onyx Theatre in Nevada City, CA. Celine grew up in Los Angeles, and after spending 20 years in San Francisco moved to rural Northern California with her family. She is passionate about bringing stories through film to her community, and helped transition the Onyx from its days as a tiny single-screen 35mm house to the two-screen digital, state of the art, remodeled venue that it is today. When not watching films (for work and pleasure), she can be found drinking coffee.
Sarah-Tai Black, Programming
Sarah-Tai Black is a film programmer, arts curator, and writer living in Toronto. She works as a member of the festival programming teams at TIFF and Images Festival and is one of the Directors at The Royal Cinema where she programs a monthly series called Black Gold. Her writing has been published by numerous outlets, including The Globe and Mail, Cinema Scope, and MUBI Notebook, and she has spoken about arts culture, film, and moving image arts in their many forms as a guest of the National Gallery of Canada and The Walrus, as well as with platforms such as Huffington Post.
Cara Ogburn, Programming
Dr. Cara Ogburn is Education Director and Milwaukee Film Festival Director at Milwaukee Film in Milwaukee, WI, which hosts the Milwaukee Film Festival, a 15-day festival boasting annual attendance around 80,000 for over 300 films (broad-based programming of shorts and features), and operates the historic Oriental Theatre year-round. Cara started at Milwaukee Film seasonally in 2011, joined the year-round staff in 2013, and currently oversees education programs for youth, adult, and filmmaker audiences, as well as the festival’s film programming team.
Kyle Westphal, Programming
Kyle Westphal is a programmer and archivist based in Chicago, IL. Alongside Becca Hall and Julian Antos, he is a co-founder of Chicago Film Society, a non-profit organization devoted to the continued exhibition and preservation of analog film heritage. Chicago Film Society hosts weekly screenings in 35mm, 16mm, and 70mm, alongside an active collection and preservation program and assorted educational initiatives, including a projection workshop offered in concert with AMIA and the Film Foundation. Westphal also works at the Music Box Theatre as a Programming Associate, focusing on repertory programming and special events, including the monthly Silent Cinema showcase. He has previously worked as a projectionist at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum, the Little Theatre, the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, and Doc Films.