Buffalo International Film Festival is honored to have the following individuals (listed alphabetically) on our
Board of Advisors
Howard Beckerman is an animator, writer, entrepreneur, and educator who has worked in all facets of animation for more than thirty years. He has drawn Mickey Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Popeye, Winky-Dink and other animation stars for the prestigious studios Terrytoons and Paramount Famous Studios, has created TV animations for Sesame Street and national advertisers, and set up his own animation company. A journalist known for his incisive commentary and trademark sense of humor, he has written and published 500 articles in trade magazines. He is a popular animation teacher who has taught animation at Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York for almost thirty years. Beckerman is the author of an important animation textbook: Animation: The Whole Story
He lives in Flushing, New York.
Lauren Belfer grew up in Buffalo, New York, where she attended the Buffalo Seminary, the school on which she based the Macaulay School in her acclaimed debut novel, City of Light (The Dial Press; 1999). Since its publication, the book has earned praise from critics around the country. Ellen Feldman, reviewing it in The New York Times Book Review, called it "an ingenious first novel." Heller McAlpin, reviewing it in Newsday, remarked it "may well put Buffalo on the literary map the way William Kennedy’s Ironweed did for another upstate city, Albany." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, in a review in The New York Times, called it an "impressive…powerfully atmospheric book." Walter Kirn stated in Time that the plot guarantees "a straight-through, sleepless read;" and Jeff Simon, reviewing it in The Buffalo News, said "it is quite possibly the best book of any sort ever written about Buffalo…[Belfer’s] story is fascinating."
Making its paperback debut in October, 2000, City of Light became a national bestseller and bookstore favorite. Independent booksellers across the country chose it as the #1 pick on the November/December 2000 Book Sense 76 list, making it the first mass market paperback to top this list.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at Swarthmore College, Belfer worked primarily in the area of documentary filmmaking as a researcher, writer and associate producer, before entering the Master of Fine Arts program in fiction at Columbia University. She lives in New York City.
Izzy Bleckman is a multi-award-winning (including an Emmy) news and documentary cameraman. For many years he worked with Charles Kuralt on the famous CBS series: On the Road. As the staff news cameraman for CBS News (including 60 Minutes) for 25 years, Mr. Bleckman has worked with Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers, Mike Wallace, Eric Sevareid, Dan Rather and has traveled all over the world -- from the Amazon to Hudson's Bay -- filming the greatest figures in late 20th Century life including Richard Nixon, Vladamir Horowitz, Rudolph Nureyev, and more. He is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. Mr. Bleckman makes his home in Western New York.
Lawrence Block was born in Buffalo, New York in 1938. He attended Antioch College in Ohio then went to work in the mailroom of a New York publisher. His first story was published in 1957 and he has gone on to write more than thirty novels and countless stories and articles, not just under his own name but also as Paul Kavanagh. Indeed Lawrence Block has had several pseudonyms having learned his writer's art crafting erotic literature as Andrew Shaw, Sheldon Lord and Jill Emerson!
In 1994 Lawrence Block won the Mystery Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has also won Edgar, Shamus, and Maltese Falcon awards for his work.
During his prolific writing life Lawrence Block has created several popular yet quite distinct character series. His first popular novels featured Evan Tanner, a veteran of the Korean war who doesn't sleep due to shrapnel lodged in his brain. Then there are the 'Burglar' novels featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, a sophisticated New York bookstore owner not averse to a little breaking and entering on the side, with a lesbian sidekick who owns a pet grooming business.
In a darker mode Block's Matt Scudder novels feature a recovering alcoholic whose progress and change is charted over several novels, set in an urban landscape marked by dives, late night bars, clubs, lounges, taverns and gin joints. Private investigator Scudder patrols the decaying inner city and endeavours to keep in check his own inner devils. Other central characters include criminal lawyer Martin Ehrengraf who features in his short stories, a sex-mad teenager called Chip Harrison and a hit man named Keller.
Considering the nature and extent of his writing career very little of his work has been adapted for cinema yet. Burglar, directed by Hugh Wilson and starring Whoopie Goldberg as a female version of Bernie Rhodenbarr was apparently based on The Burglar in the Closet/ Eight Million Ways to Die, a Matt Scudder novel was filmed in 1986, directed by Hal Ashby. Hit Man and A Walk Among The Tombstones were optioned in 1998 but no sign of them so far.
David Buckley is a film producer, director and distributor who produced Independent American Films for many years before moving to China where he created an extraordinary distribution company for Chinese film called PRCFilm. Headquartered in Shanghai, Mr.Buckley's company is responsible for bringing scores of important Chinese films, including the work of Zhang Yimou and others, to the United States.
The Five Burton Sisters
The Five Burton Sisters Maria Burton (Director, Producer, Actor), Jennifer Burton (Producer), Ursula Burton (Director, Producer, Actor), Gabrielle C. Burton (Writer, Director, Producer, Actor), Charity Burton (Producer), plus Mom: Gabrielle B. Burton, Sr. (writer and co-producer) and Dad: Roger Burton (co-producer) are native Buffalonians who have produced, among other projects, Manna From Heaven, Temps, and Just Friends. Manna From Heaven was shot on location in Buffalo, NY.
David Courier was born in Western New York and grew up in the Batavia area. After a career as an actor on numerous television shows and in theater in New York City, he was grabbed up by Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival where he remains to this day as a Sundance Festival Programmer specializing in documentary films.
Tom Fontana has written and produced such ground breaking television series as St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life On The Street, and Oz, for which he has received, among others, three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three Writers’ Guild Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, the Cable Ace Award, the Humanitas Prize, a Special Edgar and the first prize at the Cinema Tout Ecran Festival in Geneva.
Fontana wrote the HBO film Strip Search, directed by Sidney Lumet, as well as contributed two pieces to the September 11th special America: A Tribute to Heroes. He was the executive producer of American Tragedy for CBS, Shot in the Heart for HBO Films, the independent film Jean and the documentary The Press Secretary for PBS.
Fontana has written articles for such periodicals as The New York Times, TV Guide and Esquire and has taught at Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers and the State University College at Buffalo, his alma mater, from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.
Fontana has had numerous plays produced in New York, where he lives, and at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival and McCarter Theatre Company. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Producers Guild of America, the Friars Club, the Players Club, the American Theatre Wing, and the Writers Guild of America, East, from which he received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for lifetime achievement.
Roberta Friedman - Experimental Film Maker, Producer, Optical Effects Supervisor (Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.] She has worked with George Lucas, Amos Poe, Michael Moore and many other top film makers. Ms. Friedman graduated from SUNY Buffalo under Professor Bruce Jackson, and currently teaches at Montclair State College. She lives in New York City.
A.R. Gurney Born in Buffalo, NY on November 1, 1930, Gurney attended Williams College, where he was influenced by the creative musicals of fellow student (two years his senior) Stephen Sondheim. Gurney credits his collaboration with Sondheim for teaching him how to write scenes.
After a stint in the Navy, Gurney attended Yale School of Drama and then taught Humanities at MIT. Although he began writing plays while at MIT, his success with The Dining Room allowed him to devote himself full time to play writing. Called by critic John Simon “one of America’s most prolific, diverse and unpredictable playwrights,” Gurney has written more than 30 plays, including Sylvia and the Cocktail Hour. Among his many honors, his Indian Blood recently won the 2007 Outer Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding Off-Broadway Play.” In 2008, his play "Buffalo Gal," about theater in his home town, played an extended run in New York City.
Ryan Harrington has worked as a Executive Producer, Co-producer, Managing Producer, and Production Coordinator on such diverse projects as the award-winning Jesus Camp (for A&E Indie Film) and the 2002 version of Magnificent Andersons as well as the television version of Shackleton (2002). He has just started his own production company.
Chuck and Linda Jones
Linda Jones has been instrumental in the development of the animation art industry, which is fitting considering her lineage---she is the daughter of legendary animation director, Chuck Jones. “He began directing his first film, The Night Watchman, in 1937, the year I was born. I sincerely wish I had known he was going to be a celebrity: I would have taken notes,” quipped Linda Jones when asked about life with father. And reminiscing further she said, “Once upon a time, when I was very young, I lost a spelling bee because I misspelled the word "sentimental." It was the year my father had produced a Pepé le Pew film, the first Pepé le Pew film, "For Scentimental Reasons." Yes, I confidently inserted that special "c" which ties Pepé to love and romance. But, alas, I was betrayed in English class.”
Having introduced signed limited editions and Warner Bros. production cels to the fine art market in 1977, Jones established Linda Jones Enterprises, Inc. (LJE) which has become a leader in the publication and distribution of animation art throughout the world. She heads The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in California, and Chuck Jones Enterprises which makes original animation art by Mr. Jones available to galleries and collectors. Linda worked for many years with her father on the production of award-winning animation including the classic Dr. Seuss "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." Chuck Jones was the creator of the immortal Road Runner and Coyote series as well as one of the major contributors to the personality of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck during his decades as an animation director at Warner Brothers.
Lloyd Kaufman is many things: producer, director, screenwriter, editor, composer, actor, and, above all, a renegade fighting against the further conglomeration and homogenization of Hollywood. Kaufman is president and co-founder of Troma Entertainment, one of the last bastions of independent, low-budget exploitation films, the kind that bear titles such as Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986) and Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1989). Often graphically violent, gory, sophomoric, deliberately un-PC, and seemingly aimed at audiences comprised of certain kinds of teenaged boys, Troma films are also free-spirited and often filmed with their tongues lodged firmly in their cheeks.
Kaufman entered the film business after studying filmmaking. While in school, he started making low-budget films. He and long-time business partner Michael Herz launched Troma as a distribution company in the late '70s. It has since grown to include a production company, a merchandising outlet, and in the late '90s, a cable-television network. One of Kaufman's best-known and best-loved cult films isToxic Avenger(1986), the bloody and terribly violent chronicle of a Long Island nerd's revenge against the townsfolk who tormented him. As a director, Kaufman occasionally uses the names Sam Weill and Louis Su. In the late '90s, he recounted his experiences and offered advice for other young independent filmmakers in his book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned From the Toxic Avenger. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel was born on September 24, 1950 in Buffalo, New York. He received a B.A. in English and Physics from the University of Rochester in 1972, an M.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1974, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas in 1981. From 1979 to 1982 he worked as an editor for Commodity News Services in Leawood, Kansas. Since 1982 he has taught American literature, science fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Sue Hall and his daughter Emma. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) , and he lives and dies (lately, mostly dying) with the Kansas City Royals and the Buffalo Bills.
Kessel's first published short fiction appeared in 1978, and he has since become a frequent contributor to Asimov's Science Fiction and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as well as to many other magazines and anthologies. His stories have been reprinted in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan. He became well-known in 1982 with the novella Another Orphan (a fantasy based on Melville's Moby Dick), which received the 1982 Nebula Award, and was reprinted in 1989 as a Tor Double book. He later won the 1992 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for his short story "Buffalo" (also a winner of the Locus Award that year); he won a Paul Green Playwright's prize in 1994 for his play "Faustfeathers"; and his one-act play "A Clean Escape" was produced by the Allowance Theater in Raleigh in 1986. His novella "Stories for Men" shared the 2002 James Tiptree Jr. Award for sf dealing with gender issues with M. John Harrison's novel Light.
Kessel did not start publishing novels until 1985, as co-author of Freedom Beach with James Patrick Kelly His later works include the novels Good News From Outer Space (1989)--a finalist for the Nebula Award that year--and Corrupting Dr. Nice (1997), plus the collections Meeting in Infinity (1992)--which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and was named a notable book of 1992 by the New York Times Book Review--and The Pure Product (1997).
Nancy Kress is the author of twenty-three books: three fantasy novels, eleven SF novels, two thrillers, three collections of short stories, one YA novel, and three books on writing fiction. She is perhaps best known for the "Sleepless" trilogy that began with BEGGARS IN SPAIN. The novel was based on a Nebula- and Hugo-winning novella of the same name; the series then continued with BEGGARS AND CHOOSERS and BEGGARS RIDE. The trilogy explores questions of genetic engineering, social structure, and what society’s "haves" owe its "have-nots." Kress's most recent books are CROSSFIRE and CRUCIBLE (Tor), and CHARACTERS, EMOTION, AND VIEWPOINT, from Writers Digest Books.
Kress's short fiction has appeared in all the usual places. She has won three Nebulas: in 1985 for "Out Of All Them Bright Stars," in 1991 for the novella version of "Beggars In Spain" (which also won a Hugo), and in 1998 for "The Flowers of Aulit Prison." She also won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for her novel PROBABILITY SPACE. Her work has been translated into Swedish, Greek, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Croatian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Japanese, and Russian. She was the bi-monthly "Fiction" columnist for Writer's Digest magazine. She lives in Rochester, NY.
An image from Naval Compression: Prelude by Janis Lipzin
Janis Crystal Lipzin was raised in Kenmore, NY. Her father, Marvin Lipzin, ran Filmart, Buffalo's largest camera shop for 30 years. She is currently an associate professor in the Film department at The San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been presented internationally, including screenings, photo exhibitions, and installations at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, and P.S.1, all in New York; Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; Institute for Contemporary Art, London; and the M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco. Lipzin directs the annual San Francisco International 8mm Film Festival, Small Windows. Her many awards include three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her work is in the collections of C. Richard and Pamela Kramlich, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and the di Rosa Foundation in Napa, CA. Lipzin is active as a curator and writer and was formerly the Director of the Film/Photo Program at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH.
The Boston Globe named Ric Meyers “America’s foremost expert on the Asian action film” while Rim Films called him “one of the men most responsible for the acceptance of Hong Kong movies in America.” He has inspired, consulted for, and/or appeared on episodes of A&E’s Biography; The Discovery Channel’s Incredibly Strange Film Show, Bravo Profiles, and Starz Encore's original documentary The Art of Action: Martial Arts in the Movies.
Meyers is the author of both the first major book on Asian action cinema, Martial Arts Movies: From Bruce Lee to the Ninja, as well as the latest, Great Martial Arts Movies: From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan & More. His other non-fiction includes books on science-fiction, animation, and For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films, which was adapted into a British TV miniseries. His film articles have appeared in such magazines as Inside Kung-Fu, Asian Cult Cinema, DirecTV the Guide, Total Movie, Vibe, Millimeter, and Starlog,
He has supplied audio commentaries for more than two dozen DVDs, including Kung Fu Hustle, Once Upon a Time in China, Drunken Master, and Dragon Inn as well as consulted for such producers as CBS, ABC, Celestial Pictures, Emperor Movie Group, Miramax, and DreamWorks. He hosts annual film fests across the country, appeared as a guest lecturer at Brigham Young University and City College of New York, and has been invited to speak at seminars throughout the world.
Jimmy Picker, Animator, Academy Award: Best Animated Short 1983. A graduate of New York University's School of the Arts, Mr. Picker has made numerous stop-motion clay animations. He has taught at Parson's School of Design, The New School, and The School of Visual Arts. He lives in Brooklyn with a refrigerator full of clay stop-motion figures.
Paul Robeson: Here I Stand. Written by Lou Potter
Lou Potter is the remarkable Emmy-nominated writer of some of the finest modern documentaries on African American history. These include Partners of the Heart for American Experience, Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (Emmy nomination), The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk, Solomon Northup's Odyssey, and Grambling's White Tiger. A frequent collaborator with the late producer St. Claire Bourne, Mr. Potter has also worked with Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Gordon Parks, Wesley Snipes, LeVar Burton and Harry Belafonte. He lives in New York City.
Anne and Milton Rogovin. Photo by Harvey Wang
Throughout his accomplished photographic career, Milton Rogovin's work has appeared in greater than 160 journals, magazines and other publications. Rogovin has participated in more than 30 group shows and 60 solo exhibitions, and has had eight books published on his photography. Additionally, a one hour documentary film was made about his life and photography.
Rogovin's photographs are in the permanent collections of over two dozen prominent museums around the world, including the Biblotheque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Center For Creative Photography at the University of Arizona-Tucson and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
In 1999, the Library of Congress acquired 1,130 of Rogovin's master prints, his negatives, contact sheets, and published works as part of the Library's collection. The irony was not lost on Rogovin that the very government that persecuted him in the 1950's now celebrated his defiant work as a champion of the poor and working class half a century later. Rogovin was the first photographer in thirty years selected for this honor, ensuring that his legacy will be preserved for generations to come.
David Shire was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Esther Miriam and Buffalo society band leader and piano teacher Irving Daniel Shire. He met his long-time theater collaborator lyricist/director Richard Maltby, Jr. at Yale University, where they wrote two musicals, Cyrano and Grand Tour, which were produced by the Yale Dramatic Association.
Shire began scoring for television in the 1960s and made the leap to scoring feature films in the early 1970s. For Francis Ford Coppola he scored The Conversation, perhaps his best known score, in 1974. He has since been known for creating fresh and effective scores for a wide variety of genres, including All the President's Men, The Hindenburg, Farewell My Lovely, 2010, Return to Oz, and Zodiac. He won an Oscar in 1980 for Best Song for his and Norman Gimble's title song for Norma Rae, "It Goes Like It Goes". Shire's television scores have earned five Emmy nominations.
As a pit pianist, Shire played for the original productions of both The Fantastiks and Funny Girl, eventually serving as Barbra Streisand’s accompanist for several years and over a period of several years she recorded five of his songs. Shire's individual songs have been recorded by Barbra Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Maureen McGovern, Johnny Mathis, Billy Preston, Jennifer Warnes, John Pizzarelli and Pearl Bailey, among many others.
He has conducted many orchestras, including The London Symphony Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The San Francisco Opera Orchestra, The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (2007) Irish Film Orchestra, and the Munich Symphony. He serves on the council of the Dramatists Guild of America and is a Trustee of the Rockland Conservatory of Music and the Palisades (New York) Library.
Fran Striker, Sr.
Fran Striker, Jr. is the son of legendary Fran Striker, creator of The Lone Ranger, one of the greatest and enduring Western Heroes of the 20th Century, and The Green Hornet as well as a major delineator of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. Striker was born in Buffalo, NY where he attended Lafayette High School and the University of Buffalo. It was while working at radio station WEBR in 1932, that he created The Lone Ranger.
Striker wrote 60,000 words a week every week - the equivalent of the Bible every three months. The cumulative birth pangs of the 10,000 different characters he has spawned shattered four typewriters.
His 156 Lone Ranger scripts a year, plus 365 Lone Ranger cartoon strips, plus twelve Lone Ranger novels, plus editing the movie versions, plus his tremendous correspondence, account for two thirds of his output. He also wrote 104 Green Hornet scripts and fifty-two Ned Jordan, Secret Agent scripts a year for WXYZ. His working day was fourteen hours and he was paid $10,000 a year, or around a third of a cent a word.
Mr. Striker spent much of his life in Auburn, NY with his family and died tragically in a car crash in 1962.