The Film Jury
The Arab Film Awards celebrates filmmakers whoe enlightening and original works distinguish themselves in their category. A jury comprised of distinguised members of the film and academic communities selects the outstanding film in competition and awards a cash prize for the following areas:
- Outstanding Narrative Feature
- Outstanding Documentary Feature
Karim Ahmad is Senior Programming Manager at ITVS, where he oversees funding initiatives including Open Call, the acclaimed web series FUTURESTATES, and other digital content projects, wherein he reviews projects for funding and works with filmmakers to develop both non-fiction and fiction content from conception to completion. He previously served as Feature Development Director at the San Francisco production company Momentum Cinema, where he wrote and produced the award-winning narrative feature film Harrison Montgomery, starring Oscar-winner Martin Landau. Mr. Ahmad has served as a panelist/juror for numerous film funders and festivals, worked extensively as an independent story consultant, and received his BA from Pomona College.
Khalil Benkirane directed the Arab Film Festival, Cinemayaat in San Francisco from 1998 to 2002, has curated Arab films for a range of institutions and has collaborated with various cinémathèques. He produced and directed his first feature documentary “The White Thread” in 2006 and ran the documentary section of the Casablanca International Film Festival in 2007. Khalil moved to Doha, Qatar in early 2008 to produce films for Al Jazeera’s Children’s Channel until the end of 2010 and currently heads the grant unit of the Film Financing Department at the Doha Film Institute.
Targol Mesbah is faculty in Anthropology & Social Change and Interdisciplinary Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies where she teaches critical theory, postcolonial critique, global studies and film and media studies. She is co-curator of MENA Experimental: Experimental Film and New Media from the Middle East, North Africa and their Diasporas.
Matthew Takata is the Manager for Feature Film Program’s international work at the Sundance Institute. His focus is on international outreach and selection for the Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs in Utah, FFP’s labs in India, Turkey, Jordan and Japan, and the annual Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award. Previously, Matthew worked at GK Film on projects including The Departed, Blood Diamond, and The Town. After finishing his degree at University of California, Los Angeles, he stared in the mail room at International Creative Management, and moved on the Key Creatives. Matthew is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Michele Turnure-Salleo is a producer with over 17 years experience in the United States, Australia, France and Canada. As an independent producer, and later as a staff producer for Banff Center for the Arts, Associate Director of Film Arts Foundation, and in her current position as Director of Filmmaker360 at the San Francisco Film Society, she has helped guide hundreds of independent filmmakers and film projects through development, production, and distribution. As head of the San Francisco Film Society’s Filmmaker360 department, Turnure-Salleo oversees major grants, residencies and project development programs. From 2009 through 2013, the Filmmaker260 grants program has provided more than 2 million dollars in funding to incubate and support innovative and exceptional films. During this short period of time, Turnure-Salleo has worked one on one with filmmakers, supporting them extensively with the creation of their feature films.
Films include Sundance 2013 award-winning film, Fruitvale (Station)–which won the Grand Jury Prize (US Dramatic Competition), the Audience Award (US Dramatic Competition), and the Avenir Award at Cannes 2013–and the 2013 Academy Award nominated and Cannes 2012 Camera D’Or winner, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Beasts also won the Sundance 2012 Grand Jury Prize (US Dramatic Competition). Other films include the SXSW 2013 Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner, Short Term 12, as well as Bluebird, Mosquita y Mari, Pearblossom Highway and Circumstance, which won the Sundance 2011 Audience Award (US Dramatic Competition). Feature documentaries supported include Sundace 2013 award-winners Cutie and the Boxer and American Promise. Turnure-Salleo was associate producer on the Academy Award nominated Regret to Inform. Michele Turnure-Salleo holds a BFA in Film from the University of New South Wales and a MFA in Film from the University of British Columbia.