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2022 SEEfest Team

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

A dedicated group of professionals ensuring the future of SEEfest.

Vera Mijojlić

Founder of SEEfest

Vera Mijojlić is a cultural producer who founded the South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) in Los Angeles in 2006. She has curated major film retrospectives for the UCLA Film Archive and Austin Film Society, and initiated a national tour of landmark short films with the Los Angeles FilmForum, with select films screening at the Pacific Film Archive, Harvard Film Archive, National Gallery of Art, and MoMA. In addition to the 2018 Women in Leadership Award from the City of West Hollywood, she has received multiple recognitions from the State of California, as well as the County and City of Los Angeles.

In demand as a creative adviser for independent filmmakers, she also dedicates her time as a guest-lecturer at universities, and produces scores of industry events, workshops, festival trailers, and conference panels. Vera began her career as a cultural reporter and film critic in Sarajevo, and received a degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade.

Jacob Segal

Investors Research Group

Jacob Segal, Principal of Investors Research Group (IRG) is an active investor/advisor to Southern California-based companies with sales in the $ 3- 20 million dollar range. His investment experience includes transactions with companies in the airport concessions business, financial service marketing, wire and cable manufacturing, radio programming distribution, medical devices and bakery equipment. Additionally, Mr. Segal participated in the acquisition, management, and disposition of over $250 million in real estate investments, including apartment buildings, shopping centers, and office buildings. Mr. Segal received his Bachelor’s in economics and statistics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Selma Selmanagić

S2 Components

Selma Selmanagić – Born in former Yugoslavia, Selma Selmanagić emigrated to the United States during the wars that ripped apart her country in the 1990s. Over the course of nearly twenty-five years in California, Selma has worked in the computer components industry and established her own company, S2 Components. For Selma, SEEFest is an outlet for marrying her passion for the culture of Southeast Europe with her desire to propagate that culture in her adopted country. Further, in bringing the region’s unique perspectives, storytelling traditions, and visual sensibilities to the greater Los Angeles community the films in SEEFest add to our region’s rich mix of cultures and contribute to its dialogue on our common humanity.

Robert S. Spich

UCLA Anderson (ret.)

Robert S. Spich is professor emeritus, Global Economics and Management at UCLA Anderson School of Management where he served as faculty director for the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).   The success of that program led to the launch of the Center for Global Management. Spich co-founded, in partnership with the USC CIBER, the Asia Society and the Urban Land Institute, the Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative. He has worked with the Brookings Institution, the Los Angeles Chamber and the Mayor’s Office to develop the Los Angeles Regional Export Council, as well as a consultant for companies that include Hughes Space and Communications, Northrop-Grumman, ENEL of Italy, CCMC of Chile, Amgen, Akzo-Nobel, Disney, Isabella Fiore, Sierra Systems and the Getty Conservation Institute. He had served in the Peace Corps in Chile and at the Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. He completed both his MBA and Ph.D. at the University of Washington, D.C.

Debra Fink

The Hollywood Reporter

Debra Fink is the Managing Director, Entertainment in the Advertising Department of The Hollywood Reporter. She previously served as executive director of independent film and talent, and international sales. Her strong industry and advertiser relationships stem from her many years as executive vice president of Screen International. Debra continues to be involved with many entertainment organizations and trade group such as BritWeek, and BAFTA, and international arthouse and independent film distributors, filmmakers, and film festivals. She holds a degree in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin.

Raoul Marinescu

Board of Directors

Raoul Marinescu, is the President of Digital Sales at Entertainment Studios. He previously served as Vice President, Revenue for Pluto TV. As a media sales executive, he works at the intersection of traditional and digital television. He received a degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California.

Hipolito Munoz

Board of Directors

Hipolito Munoz is the Co-Founder, with Jessica Just, of Creating Creators, school-based media training program for students in school districts across California. His diverse activities include: managing editor/publisher of the Latino Weekly Review, Latinos-At-Sundance, and Landscape-Latino online portals. He champions cross-cultural collaboration between the Latino community and multi-cultural organizations like SEEfest, as a way to develop a more integrated cultural community of diverse ethnic groups that exist in Southern California.

He is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach.

Program Advisors

The talented group responsible for the wonderful array of programming for each festival.

Rada Šešić

Guest Programmer, Narrative Documentaries

Rada Šešić works as a festival programmer, film lecturer, and film director. Born in former Yugoslavia, she lives in The Netherlands. She is the Head of the Documentary Competition of the Sarajevo Film Festival, competition committee member at IDFA, program advisor of IFF Rotterdam, a participant in the project selection for the Hubert Bals Fund and DOHA fund. She is a lecturer at the Amsterdam Master of Film program, mentor at various documentary workshops in Europe and Asia, as well as Artistic Director of Eastern Neighbours FF in The Hague that started in 2009. 11 years ago Rada established Docu Rough Cut Boutique which she co-chairs. Additionally, she leads the Last Stop Trieste platform for projects in the final cut stage. As a director, she made several documentaries and dance films in Yugoslavia and in The Netherlands (Room without a view, 1997, IDFA a.o., Soske, 2001, MoMA a.o. , In whitest solitude, 2002 – IFFR a.o. On the way to school.). As a critic, she wrote articles for many film magazines, Dox, Sineast, Croatian Film Annual, Dutch Skrien, and UK Variety as well as for the Encyclopedia of the Documentary film (Routledge), Animation world magazine (issue3.7.1998), The Cinema of the Balkans, (book by Dina Iordanova), participated in the books on Mani Kaul and Girish Kasaravalli…

Chantal Chauzy

Program Advisor

Chantal Chauzy served for 10 years as Vice President of Acquisitions and Homevideo at Strand Releasing, one of the leading independent film distributors in the U.S. She is now VP of Sales and Acquisitions for All Rights Entertainment. She holds an M.A. in film studies and a B.A. in English from the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Darko Lungulov

Program Advisor

Darko Lungulov directed his debut feature Here & There, winner of the Tribeca award for Best NY Narrative, while he was living in New York and directing documentaries for Spiral Pictures/Ross and teaching production courses at Long Island University. He was the Board President of BelDocs, Belgrade International Documentary Film Festival. At present, he is the President of the Serbian Film Directors Association. Currently, Darko is developing two feature films and finishing a documentary.

Margit Kleinman

Program Advisor

Margit Kleinman studied French and German linguistics and literature in Wuerzburg and Paris and holds an MA from the University of Tuebingen/Germany. From 1987 to 2012, she was the program director at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. In May of 2012, she assumed the directorship at Villa Aurora, an artist residency, and the Foundation for American-European Relations in Pacific Palisades. She oversaw major upgrades of the Villa Aurora, which is now part of the dual arts institution, Villa Aurora-Thomas Mann House. Since early 2020, she has taken on an advisory role for arts projects that she has championed over the years, including SEEfest.

Virgil Adumitroaie

Programmer At-Large

Virgil Adumitroaie is a Data Scientist at JPL, where he develops outer planetary environment models and radiation monitoring software for the Juno Mission. During his career, he has been involved in turbulent combustion modeling, data dimension reduction, neural networks, signaling pathways and scientific software development, as well as optimization methods and uncertainty analysis applied to decision problems. He also teaches at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.

Lauren Brown

Associate Programmer

Lauren Brown is one of the founding members of Lumiere Cinema and has over 20 years of theatrical film management.  She is a graduate of Cal State LA with a BA in Pan African Studies and is also a paralegal.

Stefania Magidson

Chair, Romanian Program

Stefania Magidson is the Chair of the Romanian Program at SEEfest and the founder and president of Blue Heron Foundation, one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Romanian diaspora. She is a dedicated supporter of the UCLA Graduate School of Education, the Oakwood School (LA), the Everychild Foundation (LA), SEEfest (LA) and the Making Waves Romanian Film Festival (NY). She is the co-producer of the film Omega Rose, and author of the book of essays, Searching for the White Magician.

Denny Dugally

Feature Films

Denny Dugally started as PA in the Art Department and worked her way up to Production Designer, working on many feature films, commercials, music videos and hundreds of hours of Primetime Television and streaming. She received an Emmy for Art Direction for the pilot of NYPD Blue and was nominated for the pilot of Arrested Development. Most recently she finished designing the feature film, The Secret, for director Andy Tennant and the 3rd season of the Netflix hit series The Kominsky Method with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.

Tara Karajica

Shorts Program

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in Indiewire, Screen International, Variety, Little White Lies, and Film New Europe, among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, Close-Up and Eurimages. She is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. In February 2018, she launched Fade to Her, a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently also a programmer for live-action shorts at PÖFF Shorts. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator, and jury member.

Philip Wright

Associate Programmer, Short Fiction

Philip Wright is a fourth-year film student at NYU Tisch. He has worked and interned in a variety of types of film institutions: from Vertigo Entertainment, known for It and Lego franchises, to The Film-Makers’ Cooperative, a New York-based film archive housing thousands of seminal avant-garde 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film prints. He is currently completing his senior thesis film and the final semester of his undergraduate film degree.

Imad Ftouni

Programmer-at-Large

Imad Ftouni worked in IT in Silicon Valley for 13 years. He then switched to studying film production, improv acting, and sketch writing. He worked in various capacities on several film productions including You Kill Me, an independent feature starring Ben Kingsley, Bonds on Bonds, an ESPN TV show on Barry Bonds, and Unflinching Triumph. He was also a literary associate for the Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco.

Michael Pardy

Associate Programmer, Docs

Michael Pardy was an actor in New York City for over twenty years. He had a second career at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), most notably working on the Arts & Humanities Initiative of the OSF Project on Death in America. Subsequently, he was the founding COO of the OSF spinoff, Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. As well, he is an avid collector of Outsider Art and Mexican Retablos. Post-covid, he looks forward to resuming his acting career.

Julia MacNelly

Associate Programmer

Julia MacNelly’s first foray into Southeastern Europe was in 2010, and she hasn’t been able to stay away since. She spent a college semester in Serbia, conducted research in Kosovo, and taught English on a Fulbright scholarship in Bulgaria. Traveling throughout the region has shown her true warmth and hospitality, and she hopes that SEEfest’s marvelous programming encourages viewers to explore these countries for themselves. Julia was proud to be a part of SEEfest’s 2016 Film Accelerator program with a documentary she filmed in Serbia about Europe’s refugee crisis. She currently works in affordable housing development in Richmond, VA.

Christian Rodriguez

Associate Programmer

Christian Rodriguez is a Post-Production major, with a minor in World Literature and will be graduating from Cal State Long Beach Spring 22. He is Avid Certified and loves editing narrative films. Currently working on improving his VFX skills.

Valentina Michelotti

Associate Programmer

Valentina Michelotti is a language education specialist and film lover. She has lived in the Republic of Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia, where she worked in and around language-learning classrooms and developed a particular love for Caucasian linguistics, Central Asian cuisine, and the vastness of the steppe. Currently based in New York City, she has also spent time in Turkey and Albania, and hopes to see more movies from and make it to more places on SEEFest’s film map someday.

Santiago Martínez Navarro

Program Trainee

Santiago Martínez Navarro is a student, passionate about cinema. He aspires to dedicate himself to directing and writing film scripts.

SEEfest Staff

Artistic Director
Vera Mijojlić

Honorary Chair
Irina Maleeva

Program Advisors
Chantal Chauzy, Darko Lungulov, Margit Kleinman

Chair, Romanian Film Program
Stefania Magidson

Programmers
Denny Dugally, Feature Films
Michael Pardy, Narrative Documentaries
Tara Karajica, Shorts Program
Imad Ftouni, Programmer-at-Large
Virgil Adumitroaie,Programmer-at-Large

Associate Programmers
Julia Macnelly, Christian Rodriguez, Philip Wright, Valentina Michelotti

Program Trainee: Santiago Martinez Navarro 

Art Director
Elyas Beria, elyas.com

MC
Zana Marjanović

Director of Digital Marketing
Denise Wakeman, denisewakeman.com

Festival Coordinator
Gabrielle Adrien

Web Master
Michael Levy

Digital Content Manager
Tamara Gavrić

Virtual Festival Team
Damir Hrnjez, Michael Levy, Tamara Gavrić, Gabrielle Adrien, Ivana Strajin, Denise Wakeman

Festival Manager
Viola Calia

Community Outreach
Lika Balenovich

Youth Program
Hipolito Muñoz, Jessica Just

Opening & Closing Visual Content
Coldea Productions

Photographers
Aaron Perez
Khalid Farquharson
Tshombe Sampson

Educational Initiative
Aida Vidan, Adnan Džumhur

Writers Group Facilitators
Amanda Andrei,Ivana Strajin 

Table Read Coordinator
Thea Mercouffer

Podcast Team
Milan Živković, Ivana Strajin, Dayan Živković, Mina Cvjetinović 

Interns
Jelena Puškić, Sooah Cho Cho, Christian Rodriguez, Santiago Martinez Navarro, Miriam Ibragimbekov

Trailer & Video Editors
Harvey Carrasco
Christian Rodriguez

Team of Supporters
Alice Bardan, Giannina Toaxen, Arevik Sargsyan, Daniel Wyland, Emir Kapetanović, John Concannon, Ken and Grace Aaron, Liana Grancea, Sabra Chili, Svetlana Kasalović, Tudor Munteanu, Amy Tofte, Viktorija Lejko-Laćan, Tsiako Abesadze, Luis Orellana,Lauren Brown.

Advisory Board
Aaron Perez, Photographer, Los Angeles
Amila Oručević, DOJ Accredited Representative, Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service 

Andrea Capachietti, Humanitarian Aid Consultant and Lecturer, Los Angeles
Carol Contes, Attorney, Los Angeles
Christine La Monte, Producer, Los Angeles
Dunja Klemenc, Producer, Studio Maj, Ljubljana
Elyas Beria, Designer, Seattle
Gail Kligman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UCLA

Isabella Anikst, UCLA Extension
Jelena Erceg, Architect, Los Angeles
Ken Aaron, Social Uplift Foundation, Los Angeles
Lelei Lelaulu,Earth Council Alliance 

Liana Grancea, Executive Director, UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies
Mustafa Kapidžić, Kult B Publishing, Sarajevo
Nenad Dukić, Film Critic, Belgrade
Peter Gross, Tech Executive and Corporate Advisor, Santa Monica
Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia Program Director at PEN America
Stefania Magidson, Blue Heron Foundation, Los Angeles
Thomas Blount, Architect and Arts Patron, Miami
Toni Bell, Impact Strategist, Los Angeles
Tshombe Sampson, Attorney, Los Angeles