Paul Metchik – President
Paul Metchik is an attorney in San Luis Obispo, specializing in real estate and business transactions and tax planning. He loves film and has supported the performing arts in SLO County for many years, through his family’s involvement. Sons Aaron and Asher have performed in numerous plays, and his wife Robyn is the former drama teacher at Paulding and Mesa Middle Schools and Nipomo High School in south county. Paul has done everything from promoting the shows, to loading scenery, to buying pizza for the cast. Paul also recently experienced the ‘art of filmmaking’ as the Executive Producer of 10 YEARS LATER, an independent feature film, written and directed by Aaron, which was shot entirely on the Central Coast of California. This is Paul’s sixth year with the SLO International Film Festival and his sixth year as president of the Board.
Ahmad Amir – Vice-President
Ahmad Amir is a co-founding member and managing partner of Pacific Eye Surgeons, an eye care practice in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. Ahmad has always had a fondness for all genres of film. He particularly enjoys foreign movies and studied Italian Cinema during his undergraduate education at UCLA.
Brigetta Walsh – Treasurer
Brigetta Walsh earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from UNC Charlotte, and then ventured to San Luis Obispo from the east coast in 1997. She obtained an MBA from Cal Poly and worked in the Energy Industry in management and consulting. Active in local events including Mardi Gras, Brigetta had the pleasure of presenting Morgan Freeman the King Vidor Award at the 2006 SLOIFF! After relocating back to San Luis Obispo from Kauai in 2012, she picked up where she left off, volunteering at the SLOIFF event “ACCIDENTAL ICON: The Real Gidget Story” and was hooked. She was thrilled when approached by the Board to take over the Treasurer position. Brigetta lives in SLO with her husband and young daughter where she enjoys running, surfing, traveling, and all things film!
Susan Minker – Secretary
Susan hails from the east (born in Manhattan, raised in Queens) but has gradually and gratefully worked her way to California. After graduating from Brown as an English major she spent a year in India on a Fulbright and a year in Amsterdam teaching at an international school. She returned to New York and was assistant editor of Evergreen Review (Grove Press) until moving to Boston to attend medical school. After completing her training in diagnostic radiology she moved to Tucson where she was the only female partner in a 30-”man” group. She and (her now late) husband Allen moved to the Central Coast at the end of the last millennium. She has served on the county Health Commission and on the boards of the SLO Symphony and Hearst Cancer Resource Center, but says THIS (SLOIFF) is the BEST! She lives with her two standard poodles in Los Osos.
Denise Dudley – Board Member
After earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Denise Dudley worked as a field therapist, psychiatric hospital administrator and AIDS educator. Her focus on adult education led her to public speaking in the areas of mental health, assertiveness training, communication, self-esteem, leadership and managerial skills and women’s issues. She is the author of several books, including Every Woman’s Guide to Career Success, now in its fifth printing, and Simon and Shuster’s best-selling audio tape, entitled Making Relationships Last. In 1989, Denise formed a partnership with Jerry Brown and founded SkillPath Seminars that quickly grew to become the world’s largest public seminar company. In 1993, they decided to sell the company to Graceland University and Denise is still a board member of both organizations. She resides on the Central Coast with her two children and makes her living as a rancher, writer and business consultant. A long-time film devotee, she is delighted to be involved in the SLOIFF and share her passion for the arts and professional skills.
Bruce Ekmanian – Board Member
Bruce is a CPA in Pismo Beach, specializing in tax and accounting services for small businesses and individuals and is very active in many community organizations. Bruce joined the SLOIFF board in 2010. He is also, currently, the Treasurer for AmpSurf (Association of Amputee Surfers) and the Exchange Club of SLO. He is also a member of Strategic Alliance-Five Cities, a business networking group and a member of the Grover Beach Rotary Club. Growing up in Culver City, whose motto is “The Heart of Screenland,” Bruce remembers that the main back lot for MGM Studios was right down the street where many movies and TV shows were being filmed and visiting the old Hal Roach and Desilu Studios located in the downtown area. He has always enjoyed the movies and has three cousins in the industry. Bruce has been here on the Central Coast for over 10 years and enjoys all the diverse activities here.
Joette Eisengart – Board Member
Originally from Santa Monica, Joette Eisengart has lived in San Luis Obispo County, and been an active community member, since 1973. For more than 20 years, she and her husband owned and operated several garden center businesses throughout the County, during which time Joette had the honor of becoming personally acquainted with legendary filmmaker King Vidor, who had been a frequent customer of their Paso Robles business. Because of her love of the movies and filmmaking, getting to know Mr. Vidor during this time was nothing short of nirvana to her. For the past 20 years, Joette has worked at Cal Poly State University, currently serving as executive assistant to the vice president and analyst/specialist for the Division of Student Affairs. In 2006, she received the Division?s prestigious Chandler Award for outstanding service to students and the profession. Naturally drawn to the SLOIFF because of her passion for film, she served as a 2008 Festival volunteer, helping to coordinate the King Vidor Retrospective, The Man Who Was King. This year will be Joette’s fifth year as a member of the Board.
Bill Hales – Board Member
Bill moved to San Luis Obispo in 1986 to attend Cal Poly, and never looked back. Upon graduation he embarked on a career in the restaurant/bar business and over the course of 24 years has owned and/or operated over 30 businesses, in three states. He currently owns seven spots in SLO, one in Arroyo Grande and two in Oxford, Mississippi, near the Ole Mis campus. A life-long lover of film, Bill is excited to be a part of the SLOIFF Board of Directors, and is eager to build on its already stellar reputation.
Joe Patane – Board Member
Joe is a former computer business owner and holds a BS and an MBA from Fordham University in New York, as well as an MSW from Monmouth University in New Jersey. He lectures across the country regarding the considerable issues that face youth today. His autobiography, “Livin’ in Joe’s World,” describes his experiences as a cast member on “MTV’s The Real World Miami,” and was published by HarperCollins in 1998. Joe executive produces several health and wellness videos for-kids-by-kids, and started his “Dream Camps” program for high level-need emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth in 2007. The first student-made documentary about these camps, entitled “Camp Woz: The Admirable Lunacy of Philanthropy,’ was accepted into the SLOIFF in 2008 and immediately Joe was smitten. The second, entitled ‘Dream Camp Wyoming,’ won The Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase Best Film Over 30 Minutes in 2010. After nine years of random vacationing and temporary living in SLO, between his work as computer guy and social worker on the east coast, and tech and tv guy on the west, Joe is grateful to finally call beautiful San Luis Obispo his new home. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and President of ‘Dream Camp Foundation,’ a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides youth leadership, counseling, and positive life experience opportunities for challenged young adults. See www.joesworld.org
Sandra Sansoni – Board Member
Sandra Sansoni is a Mortgage Banker in San Luis Obispo, specializing in residential real estate loans, and an active, Central Coast community member. She is the Assistant Executive Director of AmpSurf – Association of Amputee Surfers, a Board member of the Rotary Club of Grover Beach and is a seven year member of Strategic Alliance – Five Cities, a business networking group she helped launch. She enjoys all genres of film, loves the whole movie experience and is thrilled to get involved with the SLOIFF. She believes that the SLOIFF is another stellar example of why the Central Coast is such a diverse and great place to live.
Elizabeth White – Board Member
Elizabeth attended the SLOIFF for the first time in 2007. The following year she decided to volunteer and served as the “Wine Wrangler” for the next three years before ultimately joining the board. She loves to write, cook, wine taste, travel, watch movies, and occasionally run endurance events. Elizabeth has a background in dance, holds a B.A. in Anthropology from CSUS, and lived in rural Japan for three years while teaching English with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Upon moving to San Luis Obispo several years ago, she obtained a Paralegal Certificate from Cal Poly’s Extended Education Program and currently works in real estate development. She served as the volunteer Media Coordinator for the Southern California JET Alumni Association for almost two years, and some of her adventures in Japan have been published in Sushi and Sake Magazine. She is also the author of the SLO County food and wine blog, Elizabeth in SLO. She appreciates many film genres but is drawn to documentaries, as she truly believes that truth is stranger than fiction.
Josh Brolin has roots in the Central Coast area, having grown up in Templeton, CA before moving to Los Angeles as a teenager. In a high school production there he caught the acting bug, which led him to his feature film debut in Steven Spielberg’s GOONIES. That role led to many more in movies and television, including a long-lasting TV series, “The Young Riders”. While on hiatus from that show he co-founded the Reflections Festival at the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, NY, giving him the opportunity to act and direct. More movie roles came his way and he honed his craft in film, TV and theatre. In 2000, Brolin made his Broadway debut in Sam Shepard’s TRUE WEST (some of the cast wore caps from Templeton Grain and Feed in the show.) His appearance in GRINDHOUSE marked the beginning of a career rebirth that saw Brolin landing roles worthy of his untapped talents. A small but memorable role in IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH followed and the next two films, AMERICAN GANGSTER and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN launched Josh Brolin into the spotlight. Roles in Sean Penn’s MILK and Oliver Stone’s, W ensure that he will be in the spotlight for many years to come. He has recently begun directing and appeared at the 2008 SLOIFF for a screening of his first short film, X, starring his daughter Eden Brolin and Vincent Riverside.
Jim was born in Hackensack, NJ and lived for short stints in Nevada, New Mexico and southern California, before ending up in San Luis Obispo in 1965. During Jr. High, High School and as a journalism major at Cal Poly, Jim spent 90% of his time at Cal Poly’s radio station, KCPR. As a college student, he started an on-again off-again film club called The Cinema Zoo with artist (and current SLOIFF board member) Paul Karlen, who went on to design the Rainbow Theatre and Palm Theatre logos. Jim opened the single-screened Rainbow Theatre in 1979 in San Luis Obispo and owned and managed it until it closed in 1989. He opened The Palm Theatre in August 1988, and since them it has become the home of the SLO International Film Festival, and is now one of the only solar-operated movie theatres in the world. Jim was one of the original founders of the SLOIFF and we are delighted to have him on the Advisory Board.
Raised by two film-loving parents in various California towns, Steve Leone moved to the San Luis Obispo area in 1998 from Fresno to take a job as a full-time English instructor at Cuesta College. Before then, he enjoyed work as a disc jockey, a weekly columnist, a concert promoter, a radio music director, and a facilitation trainer. Since receiving tenure at Cuesta in 2002 teaching composition, film and literature, Steve has found the time to learn surfing and travel abroad. Steve also co-edits Cuesta’s annual student literary journal TELLUS and is the co-organizer of a monthly film and discussion series for Cuesta faculty and staff called “Flex Flicks.” Steve brings to the Festival a passion for independent, character-driven films, and he considers himself a life-long learner and a student of world cinema. He was on the Festival Board for six years and was President of the Board for three of those years.
Phil May has over 35 years experience in television production, creating highly stylized programming, advertising and marketing campaigns for a long list of national and international clients. As a staff television producer, Phil received a prime time Emmy nomination for “Disney’s Wonderful World” television series. In 1986, Phil established Associated Images, a successful entertainment concern. As CEO of AI, he’s created programming and advertising campaigns for such clients as Universal/MCA, 20th Century Fox Films, Fox and F/X Networks, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, HBO, the television networks, King World and many more. Phil is a proud member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and the Publicists Guild of America.
John Sorgenfrei is the owner and president of Tom Jones & Associates. TJA is one of the oldest and largest full service marketing firms on the Central Coast. John graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and has been involved in the advertising agency business for over twenty-eight years. John has served as a Branch Manager for several national and international advertising agencies in Southern California.
Cathy Henderson Martin
Cathy Henderson Martin has been a casting director for over 30 years. She grew up in Hollywood where her mother was an actress, and her father a Production Manager on television series such as “Bonanza”, “Rawhide”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, and “Mod Squad”. She began her career in casting working on the film “Grease”. She then became an independent casting director on series such as “Charlie’s Angels”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Chips” and “MacGyver”. She has cast over 130 features including “Weeds” with Nick Nolte, and “Love Letters” with Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as projects that gave Michelle Pheiffer, Renee Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Patric, William Forsythe, David Duchovny, Billy Bob Thornton and many others, their first break. She has been a member of The Casting Society of America for over 20 years and is a former SLOIFF board member and a competition film judge. She is currently casting several features, and now lives in Pismo Beach with her husband, Sandy. She loves to surf, kayak and spend time with her adorable granddaughter.
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Norman Jewison graduated from the University of Toronto, and then moved to London, England, where he gained valuable experience not only writing scripts, but acting in BBC programs. Upon his return to Toronto in 1952, he began directing TV shows for the CBC. His outstanding work caught the eye of bigwigs in New York, and in 1958, CBS signed him to a contract. He worked on The Judy Garland Show as producer and director from 1962 to 1963, before making his film directing debut with “40 Pounds of Trouble”. Since then, he has taken little time off from making movies, with hits such as “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming”, “In the Heat of the Night”, which won the Academy Award® for Best Picture; “The Thomas Crowne Affair”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Rollerball”, firmly establishing him as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and respected directors.
Jewison not only directs, but he also writes screenplays and produces many of the films he has directed, as well as those of other directors. In 1986, he established the Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies in Toronto, to help upcoming filmmakers and actors get their start. Not one to be satisfied to rest on his multitude of laurels, Jewison has continued to produce and direct highly acclaimed films, including “Agnes of God”, “Moonstruck”, which earned him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Director, “Other People’s Money”, and “The Hurricane”. A winner of awards from film festivals and film societies around the world, Jewison has been nominated personally for four Oscars® and his films have received 45 nominations and 12 Academy Awards®. In 1999, he received the prestigious Irving Thalberg Award at the Academy Awards®. In 1988 he received an honorary Genie for founding the Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies; in 1998 he received the Canadian Film Centre Lifetime Achievement Award; and he has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In 2007, he received SLOIFF’s King Vidor Award and has been a guest of the Festival several times since then, including coming back to San Luis Obispo to present the 2010 King Vidor Award to friend and colleague, Alan Arkin.
Born in Los Angeles, actor and activist James Cromwell is the son of Actress Kay Johnson and John Cromwell, a blacklisted director who served as one of the first presidents of the Director’s Guild. An early activist himself, went south after the Freedom Rides to join the Free Southern Theater; an integrated company that toured the south. Cromwell has directed at resident theatres across the country and was the founder and Artistic Director of his own company, Stage West, in Springfield, Massachusetts. After returning to Hollywood, Cromwell received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar ® nomination for his memorable performance as Farmer Hoggett in the smash-hit, “Babe.” Cromwell’s recent motion picture work includes “L.A. Confidential,” “Space Cowboys,” “The Green Mile,” “The General’s Daughter,” “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “The Bachelor,” “The Sum of All Fears”, “The Queen,” and “W.” He has earned Emmy nominations for his work on the HBO original series, “Six Feet Under,” the HBO movie, “RKO 281,” and the NBC drama, “ER.”
Cromwell continues to be very active in theatre, in many of the country’s most distinguished theatres, including the South Coast Repertory, the Goodman Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, the American Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage, the Long Wharf Theatre and the Old Globe. In addition to his work with countless charities, and initiatives, Cromwell has served as a board member for both S.A.G. and A.F.T.R.A. and as Secretary Treasurer of S.A.G. He received the King Vidor Award from the SLOIFF in 2007 and has been a supporter of the Festival ever since, attending almost every year as an avid filmgoer, workshop instructor and/or a competition judge.
Wendy Eidson, Festival Director
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Wendy got her first job at 14 as a production assistant on a television series, and that was it . . . she was hooked. After graduation from college and a short stint at art school, she began working full-time as an assistant director, working on many film and TV productions, including A CHRISTMAS STORY, SUSPECT, A NEW LIFE, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and many more. Wendy met her husband, Tim, while traveling in the South Pacific and in 1989, they moved to San Luis Obispo to start a family and a mail-order food business called Mo Hotta – Mo Betta. They successfully grew the business, selling it in 2000. From 2001-2004, Wendy was the Executive Director of the SLO Little Theatre, and a year later became the Artistic Director of the SLOIFF. In 2007, she became the festival’s director. Wendy finally had the chance to write, shoot, and edit her first short documentary, “Real Men Knit” in 2007 and hopes to have time for more creative pursuits in the near future. When she’s not watching movies, she’s playing tennis or walking her dogs.
Nancy Ross-Joynt – Assistant to the Director