top of page
Featured Guests

Featured Guests 2023

Ephraim Aisli
Ephraim Asili.jpg

Ephraim Aisli: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "The Inheritance"

3:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m., Campus Center West Multi-Purpose Room

Ephraim Aisli is the writer-director of THE INHERITANCE (2020), an astonishing ensemble work set almost entirely within a West Philadelphia house where a community of young, Black artists and activists form a socialist collective. The film is based on his own experiences as a former member of a Black liberationist group. Director of the Film and Electronic Arts Program at Bard College, and a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, Asili was named as one of "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker magazine in 2020. In July 2022, he directed the Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2023 Men’s Fashion Show in Paris.

Dani Barker, Photo by Gerald Situ.jpg

Dani barker: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "follow her" 

3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Dani Barker iis the writer and star of FOLLOW HER (2022), the story of a struggling actress drawn into the twisted world of online fantasies and social media influencers. The film won major awards at the Albuquerque, Austin, Fantasporto, FilmQuest, GenreBlast, Ravenheart, and Vancouver Horror Show Film Festivals. Barker is also the creator and a star of the web series STARVIVAL (2010); SQUIRM (2015) on Canada’s OUTtv; and Turner Broadcasting’s THE UNPROFESSIONALS (2017). Together with Caminer, she is presently working on a sequel to FOLLOW HER.

Keith A. Beauchamp.jpg

ironweed award winner keith beauchamp: Discussion OF "Till" 

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Keith Beauchamp is the screenwriter and producer of the acclaimed 2022 movie, TILL, starring Danielle Deadwyler and Jalyn Hall, about the quest for justice undertaken by Mamie Till-Mobley after the lynching of her son, Emmett Till. Beauchamp has devoted much of his career as a writer and filmmaker to showing how the Till case contributed to the beginnings of the American Civil Rights movement. He also wrote and directed the film, THE UNTOLD STORY OF EMMET LOUIS TILL (2005), and authored the book, BE INSPIRED: My Struggle For Justice and Equality Inspired by the Death of Emmett Louis Till (2014).

Sylvia Caminer.jpg

Sylvia Caminer: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "follow her" 

3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Sylvia Caminer is an Emmy Award-winning nonfiction director and producer. She received top awards at numerous festivals for her narrative feature directorial debut, FOLLOW HER (2022), a psycho-sexual thriller about the perils of social media, starring and written by Dani Barker, and shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Luke Geissbuhler. She previously directed the documentary, AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART (2012), about Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Rick Springfield; TANZANIA: A JOURNEY WITHIN (2011), an odyssey that explores beauty and suffering in East Africa; and the Daytime Emmy-winning travel show, SAMANTHA BROWN’S PLACES TO LOVE (2018-present).

Jeffrey Gibson Photo by Brian Barlow.jpg

JeffrEy Gibson: Panel discussion on video & film making

12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Jeffrey Gibson is a multidisciplinary artist and craftsperson who merges traditional Native American materials and forms with those of Western contemporary art to create a new hybrid visual vocabulary that has been described as “Indigenous Futurism.” Winner of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, Gibson is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent. His pieces range from garments and sculptural objects to paintings and video, and often involve intricately detailed and technically demanding handwork using materials such as beads, metal jingles, fringe, and elk hide.

Daniel Gold.jpg

Daniel M. Gold: Panel Discussion on "What is the Future of Movie Critics?"

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Daniel M. Gold is a prolific film, theater and television reviewer. Currently the Senior Production Editor at the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s English language “newspaper of record,” Gold previously served as Staff Editor at the New York Times for 25 years (1992-2017), where he contributed articles and reviews across multiple desks, including Business, National, Culture, and the Book Review. As a movie critic, he specialized in reviewing independent and documentary films for the daily Arts section. Early in his career, Gold was a reporter for the Albany Times Union.

Nicole Gomez Fisher.jpg

nicole gomez-fisher: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "good egg" 

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Nicole Gomez-Fisher filmmaker and UAlbany graduate, is the writer and director of GOOD EGG (2022), an adventure-comedy about a couple struggling with infertility. For her previous film, SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES (2013), which aired on HBO, she received the “Best New Director” award at the Brooklyn Film Festival, and “Best Director” at the Imagen Awards. Also a stand-up comic, she’s a founding member of “The Hot Tamales Live!,” a Latina comedy tour, and the writer-star of the one-woman show, “Mixed,” at the New York Underground Comedy Festival. 

Masood Haque.jpg

Masood haque: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "Witness" 

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Campus Center West Multi-Purpose Room

Masood Haque is the director of WITNESS: A DOCUMENTARY (2022), which retells and reexamines the well-known story of an Albany imam and a pizza shop owner who became the targets of an FBI terror sting in 2003. Haque has also produced and directed several award-winning short documentaries, including STRANGER IN PARADISE, about a Pakistani man, Ansar Mahmood, arrested in 2001 for taking pictures of a landscape near Hudson, NY— a film that won the top prize at the City Vision Film Festival and the jury prize at the Jackson Heights Film Festival. WITNESS is his first feature documentary.

Josh Hauck-Whealton.jpg

Joshua Hauck-Whealton: panel discussion on "Meddling with the Movies: the Real Censors Behind the Hays Code" 

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Joshua Hauck-Whealton is an archivist at the New York State Archives in Albany, where his specialties include the Motion Picture Division (MPD) licensing files held at the Archives— the largest collection of film scripts from 1921-1965 in the world. 73,000 cases files preserve a record of each film evaluated during that period by a panel of censors charged with determining whether it might be "obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, sacrilegious or of such character that its exhibition would tend to corrupt morals or to incite crime." Hauck-Whealton earned his Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science at UAlbany.

Sky Hopinka.jpg

Sky Hopinka discusses video & film making 

12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall
Sky Hopinka, winner of a 2022 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, is a filmmaker, video artist, and photographer developing new forms of cinema that center the perspectives of Indigenous people. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Hopinka layers imagery, sound, and text to create short and feature-length films that explore both Indigenous histories and contemporary experiences. His work has been screened at the Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals, and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, among numerous other festivals and venues.

Joseph Juhn.jpg

Joseph Juhn: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "chosen" 

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Campus Center West Multi-Purpose Room

Joseph Juhn is a lawyer-turned-filmmaker with a passion for telling narratives of the Korean diaspora. His 2022 documentary CHOSEN follows the experiences of five Korean Americans who ran for US Congress in 2020. His earlier feature documentary JERONIMO (2019) presented the untold tale of Korean-Cuban revolutionary Jerónimo Lim Kim, a contemporary of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Prior to working as a full-time filmmaker, Juhn served as in-house counsel at a NYC-based South Korean government agency (KOTRA) for 4 years where he advised Korean companies and entrepreneurs on US intellectual property and startup law.

CJ Lais.jpg

C.J. Lais Jr.: Panel Discussion on "What is the Future of Movie Critics?"

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

C.J. Lais Jr., a lifelong Capital Region resident, has been obsessed with movies practically since birth, and has been writing about them for the Times Union for more than 20 years. He also compiles the weekly movie quiz in the newspaper’s Preview section. A Troy native, Lais took film classes as a UAlbany undergrad; and counts Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson among his past co-stars (he worked five days as an extra on IRONWEED). Currently, Lais can be seen boring his two daughters with endless film trivia and trying to get them to watch movies on his “essentials” list.

Stephen Lang.jpg

ironweed award winner Stephen Lang in conversation with Paul Grondahl 

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Stephen Lang is an award-winning actor with extensive stage, film and television credits. He is perhaps best known for his recurring role as Colonel Miles Quaritch in James Cameron's AVATAR films, including the 2009 original and the 2022 sequel, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, as well as his acclaimed performances in LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN (1989), GETTYSBURG (1993) and as General Stonewall Jackson in GODS AND GENERALS (2003). He also narrated the short film “Passages,” produced by MagicWig Productions, that was projected onto the exterior of the Science Library at the inaugural NYS Writers Institute’s Albany Film Festival in 2021.

Amy Carey Linton jpg

ironweed award winner Amy Carey Linton: Discussion On film editing of "Daughters of the dust" 

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Amy Carey Linton acclaimed film editor, has worked on numerous award-winning films including Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, a Sundance winner that was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. She has worked on dozens of documentaries, feature films, and music videos in her 25-year career, and continues to collaborate with Dash on projects for Showtime and PBS. Other films include THUMBS UP FOR MOTHER UNIVERSE: THE LONNIE HOLLEY STORY (2020), and SACCO AND VANZETTI (2006), which Ken Burns called “A wonderful film, as timeless as the struggle for human justice, as relevant as today’s headlines.”

Rachel Martin.jpg

Rachel Martin: discusses video & film making 

12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Rachel Martin is a Tlingit artist of the Tsaagweidei, Killer Whale Clan, of the Yellow Cedar House ( Xaai Hit’) Eagle Moiety.  In her work, she focuses on themes of Indigenous sovereignty and tribal identity through images of traditional lifeways, matriarchal figures, landscapes and sea creatures with humorous undertones and layered symbolism. Some of her artworks delve into the harms wrought by colonization, while others consider connections between the human/animal/spirit worlds. Her work has been exhibited across North America, and is included in the permanent collection of the Forge Project, a Native-led initiative centered on Indigenous art, based in Taghkanic, NY.

Ira McKinley, Photo by Nathan Borgadus.jpg

Ira McKinley: panel Discussion OF "outta the muck" 

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Ira McKinley filmmaker and activist born in Upstate New York, is the writer, director and producer of OUTTA THE MUCK (2022), an intimate portrait of his extended family and their history, spanning seven generations in the historic, predominantly African American city of Pahokee, Florida. He’s also the star and director of the award-winning documentary, THE THROWAWAYS (2013), about the impact of mass incarceration, police brutality and homelessness on African American men, told through the lens of his own experiences as a formerly incarcerated individual who spent 15 years living on the streets.

Rick Moody.jpg

Rick Moody: panel Discussion OF "the ice storm" 

3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Rick Moody, major American novelist, is the author of the acclaimed 1994 novel, The Ice Storm, about suburban families who experiment with casual sex and substance abuse, and find their lives spiraling out of control. The novel was adapted as a major motion picture in 1997, directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by James Schamus. Moody’s other books include his first novel, Garden State, winner of the 1991 Pushcart Press Editor’s Choice Award; The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions (2002), winner of the PEN Martha Albrand prize for excellence in the memoir; and The Long Accomplishment (2019), the harrowing true story of his second marriage.

Jackson Murphy.jpg

Jackson Murphy: Panel Discussion on "What is the Future of Movie Critics?"

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Jackson Murphy  (a.k.a. Lights Camera Jackson) Capital Region native Jackson Murphy is an Emmy-winning film critic who has reviewed movies on TV, radio, in print and online for 17 years. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and SAG-AFTRA, voting annually for the Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards. Jackson appears locally every Friday on 99.5 The River, and his reviews are also on and his website,

Joyce Carol Oates, Photo by Dustin Cohen.jpg

Joyce Carol Oates: panel Discussion OF "blonde" 

1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Joyce Carol Oates is widely regarded as one of America’s greatest living novelists. Her acclaimed 2000 novel, Blonde (2000), about the life of Marilyn Monroe, has inspired two feature film adaptations: Joyce Chopra’s 2001 version for CBS, starring Poppy Montgomery, and Andrew Dominik’s highly controversial 2022 version for Netflix, starring Ana de Armas. The novel was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Many critics, and the author herself, regard it as one of her greatest achievements. Writing in the New Yorker in 2020, Elaine Showalter called it, “the definitive study of American celebrity.”

James Schamus

ironweed award winner James Schamus: panel Discussion OF "the ice storm"

3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

James Schamus is a major American screenwriter best-known for his many collaborations with director Ang Lee, including THE ICE STORM (1997); THE WEDDING BANQUET (1993); EAT, DRINK, MAN, WOMAN (1994); RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999); CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000); HULK (2003); LUST, CAUTION (2007); and TAKING WOODSTOCK (2009). He also produced Lee’s 2005 neo-Western, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. His 2016 directorial debut, INDIGNATION, based on Philip Roth’s 2008, tells the story of Jewish man who enrolls at a Christian college in Ohio to escape the Korean War. The film has been hailed by critics as the most successful adaptation of a Philip Roth novel to date.

Prince Sprauve.jpg

Prince Sprauve: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "the last shot"

3:15 p.m. -4:15 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Prince Sprauve is the director-producer of THE LAST SHOT (2022), a short film that follows the true story of 15-year old Eddie Stanley Jr., a Schenectady High School student and basketball star whose life was cut short when he was shot and killed in 2011. Sprauve, who grew up amid poverty and violence in Brooklyn in the 1980s, is also founder and CEO of the Schenectady-based production company, Quiet on Set, and formerly of TBU (Told By Us) Productions, an educational organization committed to strengthening communities through the production of music and films that explore social issues from the perspective of teens.

Bhawin Suchak, Photo by Jayana LaFountaine.jpg

Bhawin Suchak: FILM Screening & Discussion OF "outta the muck"

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Bhawin Suchak is director, producer, cinematographer, and editor of OUTTA THE MUCK, is also an educator, founder and co-executive director of Youth FX, a media arts organization focused on empowering young people of color in Albany, NY and around the world by teaching them creative and technical skills in film and digital media. Bhawin also co-directs NeXt Doc, a year-round fellowship program that exists to amplify the voices of documentary filmmakers of color between the ages of 20-24 years old. His previous projects include the documentary FREE TO LEARN, about The Free School, Albany’s pioneering inner city alternative school.

Laura Wittern-Keller.jpg

Laura Wittern-Keller: panel discussion on "Meddling with the Movies: the Real Censors Behind the Hays Code"

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Laura Wittern-Keller an authority on the clashes between American law and cinematic freedom, teaches in the History Department at UAlbany, where she earned both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees. Her books include Freedom of the Screen: Legal Challenges to State Film Censorship (2008) and The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (2008, co-authored with Raymond J. Haberski, Jr.). She also served as an onscreen commentator and consultant to Sickies Making Films (2018), an acclaimed documentary about the nation's longest surviving state censorship agency—the Maryland State Board of Censors (1916-81).

Dani Barker
Keith Beauchamp
Sylvia Caminer
Jeffrey Gibson
Daniel Gold
Nicole Gomez-Fisher
Masood Haque
Joshua Hauck-Whealton
Sky Hopinka
Joseph Juhn
CJ Lais
Stephen Lang
Amy Carey Linton
Rachel Martin
Ira McKinley
Rick Moody
Jackson Murphy
Joyce Carol Oates
James Schamus
Prince Sprauve
Bhawin Suchak
Laura Wittern-Keller
bottom of page