2018 Fine Cut Judges Bios

Domee Shi

Domee Shi 

Director, Pixar Animation Studios

Domee Shi began as a story intern at Pixar Animation Studios in June 2011, and was soon hired as a story artist on the Academy Award©-winning feature film Inside Out. Since then she has storyboarded on the feature films The Good Dinosaur, Incredibles 2, and the upcoming Toy Story 4. In 2015 Shi began pitching ideas for short films to Pixar, and was soon greenlit to write/direct Bao. Loosely based on her own experiences growing up as an only child and set in the Chinese immigrant community in Toronto, Canada, Bao premiered globally as the official short film attached to Incredibles 2 this summer. Shi is currently still working at Pixar in early development on her own original feature.

Shi graduated from the animation program at Sheridan College, where her love of storytelling and animation blossomed. Her biggest creative influences are Studio Ghibli, 90s anime, and Disney, as well as the works of Asian filmmakers such as Yasujiro Ozu, Ang Lee, and Bong Joon Ho.

Shi was born in Chongqing, China and resided in Toronto, Canada most of her life. She currently lives in Oakland, California and notes that her love of animation is only rivaled by her love of cats.

Effie T. Brown

Effie T. Brown

Film and television producer

Effie T. Brown is an American film and television producer, who most recently executive produced the television movie Z-O-M-B-I-E-S for Disney Channel. She recently served as Executive Vice President of Development and Production for Lee Daniels Entertainment producing the Fox TV series STAR. Brown is also known for producing the highly acclaimed independent feature, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE which won multiple awards, including the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and Best First Screenplay at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards.

Brown’s career began as a Film Independent fellow in the “Project Involve” program followed by a position as Director of Development for Tim Burton Productions in 1995. Decades later, Brown serves as a Film Independent Board member and mentors the new generation of fellows.

Throughout her career, Brown has produced several critically acclaimed HBO Films and award-winning projects including, STRANGER INSIDE, REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (winner of Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award and Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Performance), EVERYDAY PEOPLE, IN THE CUT and ROCKET SCIENCE (winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Directing at Sundance and recipient of three Independent Spirit Awards nominations). In 2010, her film THE INHERITANCE, starring Golden Brooks, won the Best Actress award at the American Black Film Festival.

HBO recognized Brown’s ability to mold a low budget film into a critically acclaimed success and invited her to join the controversial reboot of PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Executive Produced by Matt Damon & Ben Affleck) in 2015, where she served as producer and mentor to the show’s fresh new director.

Brown’s next endeavors will be adapting two critically acclaimed novels for the screen. Through her company, Duly Noted, Inc., she is producing the Lionsgate Entertainment feature film FLYY GIRL (based off the best selling novel by Omar Tyree) and she recently sold THE GOOD HOUSE (by acclaimed novelist Tananarive Due), to Lifetime films.

Jenna Marotta

Jenna Marotta

IndieWire film reporter

Jenna Marotta is IndieWire’s Los Angeles–based film reporter, contributing breaking and investigative news. So far this year she has filed dispatches from SXSW, CinemaCon, and Comic-Con, as well as backstage at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Oscars. In addition, she moderates panels and has provided entertainment industry analysis on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and KCBS Radio. 

She previously spent five years freelancing for New York magazine and its verticals, and has also written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, Vogue, Backstage, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, VICE, Playboy, Fortune, the Time Out franchise, The New York Times Magazine and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. While studying journalism and history at New York University, she interned for two seasons on “Saturday Night Live.”

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Actress, Writer, Director, Composer

Marianne Jean-Baptiste received Academy Award, Golden Globe and British Academy Award nominations for her feature-film debut role in Mike Leigh’s "Secrets and Lies.”  

Marianne can next be seen in Amazon’s new series HOMECOMING opposite Julia Roberts and Bobby Cannavale.  She was most recently seen in the Sony live-action/animated film of the Beatrix Potter classic PETER RABBIT, opposite James Corden and Margot Robbie.  She also recently wrapped production on Peter Stickland’s feature film IN FABRIC opposite Gwendoline Christie.  Marianne recently starred as ‘LAPD Deputy Chief Joy Lockhart’ on CBS’s TRAINING DAY, as ‘Virginia Cross’ in ABC’s HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, and as FBI director ‘Bethany Mayfair’ on Season 1 of NBC’s hit show BLINDSPOT.  She was also featured in Season 2 of the hit ITV drama BROADCHURCH playing ‘Sharon Bishop,’ a role written especially for her by the show’s writer and creator Chris Chibnall.  For seven years Marianne portrayed 'Vivian Johnson' on “Without A Trace” (CBS).  She and her cast were nominated for the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2004, and she was nominated for a NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series three years in a row. Other television credits include “Harry’s Law” (NBC),  “Sons of Anarchy” (FX), "The Murder of Stephen Lawrence” (PBS), "The Man" (BBC) and Oprah Winfrey’s mini-series "The Wedding" (ABC).

Feature film credits include “Robocop” (MGM/Columbia) opposite Joel Kinnaman and Samuel L. Jackson, “The Moment” opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Violet & Daisy” opposite James Gandolfini and Saoirse Ronan, directed by Geoffrey Fletcher, Fernando Meirelles’ “360” (Magnolia) opposite Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, and Rachel Weisz, "Won't Back Down" (FOX) opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. She can also be seen in “Takers” (Screen Gems), “City of Ember” (Fox), "The Cell" (New Line), "28 Days" (Columbia), "The 24 Hour Woman" (Artisan) and "Spy Games” (Warner Brothers) opposite Robert Redford. 

A writer and composer, she wrote the score for Mike Leigh's feature film "Career Girls." She has written and performed with British jazz musicians, including Jason Rebello, for whom she wrote and recorded four tracks on his album "Keeping Time." 

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Marianne’s theatre credits include Hang (Royal Court), The Way of the World, Measure for Measure (Royal National Theatre), The Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare in the Park) opposite Al Pacino. 

She made her directorial debut with the short film INK, which she also penned.

Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond

Chief Film Critic for Deadline Hollywood

PETE HAMMOND is currently chief film critic for Deadline Hollywood. For the past eight years he has also been Awards Editor and Columnist for Deadline  (previously he was doing a similar column for the Los Angeles Times “The Envelope”). He served as film critic for Boxoffice Magazine, Backstage Magazine, Hollywood.com, Movieline and for Maxim magazine (for three years) and was a frequent contributor to Variety.  He is in his seventeenth year as host of the KCET Cinema Series in Los Angeles, and UCLA extension’s Sneak Preview for the past ten years. He can also be seen hosting the TV series showcasing classic films “Must See Movies” every Friday night and Saturday afternoon on KCET. He has hosted panels at AFI Fest, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, CineVegas, San Francisco Film Festival, and Cannes Film Festival, and has interviewed top stars and filmmakers at screenings for such groups as SAG, DGA, BAFTA, and WGA. He has held producing positions at Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Access Hollywood, the Arsenio Hall Show(as well as being a writer for the show), the Martin Short Show, and the AMC network. He is the recipient of five Emmy nominations for his TV writing and is the winner of the 1996 Publicists Guild of America’s Press Award and is only the second journalist in the organization’s 50-year history to receive the award twice winning again in 2013. He also served on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences representing writers for six years.

Philip Rodriguez

Phillip Rodriguez

Director, Producer, Writer

Phillip Rodriguez is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and veteran content provider for PBS. His films bring to light the complexities of Latino culture, history, and identity at a time when our nation’s demographics reflect unprecedented growth in the Latino community and the concomitant demand for relevant storytelling. Rodriguez’s most recent PBS documentary, The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo, explores the life and work of revolutionary Chicano lawyer, author, and countercultural icon, Oscar Zeta Acosta – the basis for the character Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, written by his friend and legendary provocateur Hunter S. Thompson. His investigative documentary Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle explores the life and mysterious death of the pioneering journalist, and won Best Documentary at the 2014 San Antonio CineFestival and the 2014 Denver XicanIndie Festival. RACE 2012: A conversation About Race and Politics in America was awarded a 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award in the Best Televised News Division – Informational/Current Issue category. Latinos ’08 received a 2009 CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best News Analysis. Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream was awarded the 2008 Imagen Award for Best TV Documentary. Rodriguez’s other critically acclaimed films include Los Angeles Now, Mixed Feelings: San Diego/Tijuana, Manuel Ocampo: God is My Copilot, and Pancho Villa & Other Stories. In 2006, Rodriguez received the first annual United States Artists Broad Fellow Award. This annual award honors the country’s most accomplished and innovative artists. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley, he has an M.A. in Latin American Studies (Honors) and an M.F.A. in Film and Television from UCLA. His fellowships have included Senior Fellow at The Dorothy Leavy Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, Fellow for Documentary Filmmaking at the Institute for Justice and Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Simon Kilmurry

Simon Kilmurry

Executive Director, International Documentary Association (IDA)

Kilmurry joined IDA in June 2015 and oversees all IDA programs and operations, including filmmaker services, funding, educational programs the IDA Awards, and advocacy for the field. In 2017 he launched IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund.

Kilmurry serves on the board of jurors of the George Foster Peabody Awards. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Prior to joining IDA he served as the executive producer of POV, the long-running PBS showcase of independent documentaries earning received 18 Emmy Awards, more than 60 Emmy nominations, six George Foster Peabody Awards, four Du Pont Columbia Awards.

Taj Paxton

Taj Paxton 

Head of Logo Documentary Films.

Under her guidance, Logo Documentary Films has won 3rd consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Special, its first in 2016 for the critically acclaimed documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, a subsequent Emmy in 2017 for Out of Iraq about two soldiers whose love puts their lives in danger and, most recently, for Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & Beast In Me. At Logo, she has carefully selected films with pressing social causes. Out of Iraq was screened on the floor of the UN. Hungry highlights chefs fighting for gender and equality. The IF Project, about a Seattle police officer’s commitment to prison reform, was selected to tour with the US State Department as a part of its cultural exchange program. Paxton was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the people changing the face of Hollywood. Her work has also earned a Humanitas Prize, given to works that inspire human freedom. Her mission is to bring us closer to equality one story at a time. 

Van Partible

Van Partible

Animator, Director, Producer

Van Partible grew up in Salinas, California (the lettuce capital of the world) and always dreamed of turning his love of cartoons and comic books into a career. Upon graduation from college, Van’s dream came true when he sold his senior thesis project and turned it into the animated TV series, JOHNNY BRAVO, which ran for five seasons on Cartoon Network. 

Van’s unique perspective on life as a Filipino-American also served as inspiration for the 2002 award winning feature film, “The Debut.”  Van has gone on to produce original material at Film Roman, Walt Disney Television Animation, Fox Kids, NBC, and Cartoon Network Asia where he consulted on all of their original content.  

He is currently a director on the animated series, “Pete The Cat,” which is currently playing on Amazon Prime and continues to develop both live action and animated properties with an eye towards creating another comedic underdog.  

Michael Herrera

Michael Herrera


Michael is currently a Story Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios, having worked most recently on Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. He was born and raised in Southern California and always planned on a career in Animation. His previous work includes The Angry Birds Movie and projects for Reel FX and Rovio Animation Company. He spends much of his free time writing, teaching, illustrating, and developing projects for animation and beyond.

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