Megan Gilbride is an Emmy-winning and Independent Spirit Award-nominated producer of narrative and documentary films. Her credits include Habibi, Sunshine, The Fickle, and Keith Maitland’s Tower, which won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prizes at SXSW and was shortlisted for Best Documentary Academy Award in 2017. The film won a Critics’ Choice Award for Most Innovative Documentary, the Boston Critics Circle Best Animated Feature Award, was nominated for a Gotham Award, and Megan was nominated for a PGA Award for Best Documentary. In 2017, Tower played to over 3 million viewers on PBS’s Independent Lens.

Megan co-produced Heather Courtney’s Emmy and Film Independent Spirit Award-winning documentary Where Soldiers Come From. The film screened at numerous festivals worldwide and aired on PBS in a special Veteran’s Day edition of the acclaimed series POV. Senator Carl Levin and National Guard Chief of Staff Craig McKinley presented the film on Capitol Hill and it continues to tour the U.S. promoting the discussion of veterans’ experiences and issues.

In 2010 she produced Bryan Poyser’s Lovers of Hate, which premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by IFC. The film was nominated for the Film Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award in 2011.

Masashi Niwano is the Festival & Exhibition Director for the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). He is a Bay Area native who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Film Production from San Francisco State University. Masashi has been associated with CAAM for almost a decade, starting as an intern, then becoming involved in theater operations and, finally, being chosen as a selected filmmaker (Falling Stars, 2006). Prior to re-joining CAAM as Festival & Exhibition Director, Masashi was the Executive Director for the Austin Asian American Film Festival. He is also an active filmmaker, who has worked on numerous films and music videos that are official selections at Outfest, Newfest, and South By Southwest.

Scott Stark is a film, video, performance, and installation artist whose work has shown nationally and internationally at festivals, museums, galleries and cinemas large and small, including San Francisco Cinematheque, Museum of Modern Art, Film Festival Rotterdam, the New York Film Festival, and many others. In 2002 he was invited to the Whitney Biennial, and in 2007 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the host of Flicker, the web resource for avant garde film, and is a founder and curator of Experimental Response Cinema, Austin’s micro-cinema for avant garde media art. He lives in Austin, Texas.


Sandhya Shardanand is an Austin-based producer and production manager who loves the process of taking stories and characters from the page to the big screen. She counts her work with director Terrence Malick on three of his films, including the award-winning The Tree of Life, as one of the highlights of her career. Her recent projects include local indies Barracuda, Amanda & Jack Go Glamping, and Support the Girls.

Photography by Mei-Chun Jau

Ya’Ke Smith, known for his unflinching and veracious style of storytelling, is a rising voice in independent cinema. His films have received world-wide acclaim, screening and winning awards at over 90 film festivals. The Director’s Guild of America, the Student Academy Awards, HBO, Showtime, and the City of Buffalo, NY, which proclaimed February 23, 2013 as Ya’Ke Smith Day, have honored him. His short Katrina’s Son screened at over 40-film festivals and won 14 awards. The film was also eligible for the 2012 Academy Award in short filmmaking. His debut feature, Wolf, which NPR called “an impressive piece by a young director,” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and has gone on to screen and win awards at festivals across North America. The film is now available for download via several video-on-demand outlets. His short film dawn. made its television premiere on HBO in February of 2015 and screened on the network for two years. The film was also streamed as part of Issa Rae’s Short Film Sunday series on her YouTube channel. His multi-award-winning digital series, The Beginning and Ending of Everything, is now streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

Kelly Williams is an independent film producer based in Austin, Texas. He is a 2012 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and a 2015 Sundance Institute Catalyst Forum Fellow. Along with his producing partner, Jonathan Duffy, Williams formed Ten Acre Films. Together they have produced several films, including the features Pit Stop, Hellion, 6 Years, and the documentary Beaver Trilogy Part IV. The features The Long Dumb Road starring Jason Mantzoukas and Sorry to Bother You starring Lakeith Stansfield and Steven Yeun are currently in post-production. He has also produced numerous short films as well, including the award-winning Black Metal and The Suplex Duplex Complex. Prior to producing, he was a film programmer at several festivals, including the Austin Film Festival.