2017 Presenters and Panelists

Each year, the Yorkton Film Festival brings in some of the best and brightest in Canada’s film and cultural industries. From producers to cultural advocates, here’s a look at some of the individuals coming to this year’s festival.

Veria Marketing

Annelise Larson

Annelise comes from a background as an independent producer, with training at such prestigious institutions at the Canadian Film Centre (Producer’s Lab) and Banff Centre for the Arts (Electronic and Film Media). Since 1995 she has been working in the field of online marketing and has always been an avid gamer and consumer of digital content. She works extensively with government organizations and production companies in the film, television and interactive industries in North America. Her focus is helping content creators and storytellers to use the power of online language and data to define, find, attract and engage their audiences and work toward strategic and sustainable digital business models. Her online course Becoming a Storypreneur has been taught to media storytellers across Canada and in conjunction with Boost Hbg in Sweden.

NSI - Director, Programming

Brendon Sawatzky

As director of programming at NSI, Brendon directs the development of all new programs and is accountable for the delivery of all NSI courses.

Prior to his current position at NSI, Brendon focused on producing film and television. This resulted in producer credits on six feature films, a television sitcom, two television movies and a number of television specials, short films and music videos.

He previously worked for the National Screen Institute as a program manager and before that at the Winnipeg Film Group. A more recent role was as a producer for the National Film Board. He is also the chair of Film Training Manitoba.

Mozilla Foundation

Brett Gaylor

Brett Gaylor is a documentary filmmaker and the Commissioning Editor for Advocacy Media at the Mozilla Foundation. His most recent project, Do Not Track, is a co-production of Upian, the National Film Board of Canada, Arte France and Bayerischer Rundfunk, in association with Radio-Canada, Radio Télévision Suisse and Al Jazeera’s AJ+ network. It is the recipient of the International Documentary Association award for best nonfiction series, the 2016 Peabody Award, and the Prix Gemaux for Best Interactive Series, the International Association of Broadcasters Online Factual Prize, the Deutscher Prize for online communications, and the 2016 Peabody award. His 2008 feature documentary Rip! A Remix Manifesto is an official honoree of the Webby Awards, was the recipient of Audience Choice prizes at festivals from Amsterdam to South Africa, was broadcast in 20 countries, and seen by millions of people worldwide.

Executive in Charge of Production, Documentary Programming, CBC Television

Charlotte Engel

Based in Toronto, Charlotte Engel has spent over 25 years working in the film and television industry. She cut her teeth working in the Indie Canadian film industry, working on the films like “Highway 61” and “The Adjuster”.

She moved onto a career in broadcasting, working as a production executive for CHUM Television, CTV and Bell Media for 10 years. Specializing in documentary and factual programming, she oversaw successful documentaries such as “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” and “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”.

After departing Bell Media, Engel set up her own production company, Rock Yenta Productions. During this time, she produced many documentaries for CBC and TVO including “Puffin Patrol”, “Carpe Diem: A Fishy Tale” “Mugshot” for TVO.

In 2015, Engel joined CBC’s Unscripted department to oversee CBC’s new documentary strand called “Firsthand”. In its second year, the strand has gone on to entertain and enlighten Canadians coast to coast.


Daniel Cross

Daniel Cross is co-founder of EYESTEELFILM in Montreal, named by RealScreen Magazine as a top 100 non-fiction production company in the world. He is Associate Professor, and Concordia University Research Chair in Interactive Documentary at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University. Cross is also a member of the Provost's Circle of Distinction and sits on the University's Board of Governors and Senate. Cross is a multi-disciplined award winning documentary filmmaker with a long history of directing and producing theatrical documentaries.

His newest film I AM THE BLUES is currently nominated for 2 Canadian Screen Awards including Best Feature Length Theatrical Documentary, the film will open the 70th annual Yorkton Film Festival. Cross is currently looking for a production unit to film the 2017 Stanley Cup Parade in downtown Montreal – Go Habs!

Filmmaker / Assistant Director

Daniel Redenbach

Daniel Redenbach is a Toronto-based filmmaker and assistant director. Holding a BFA in Film Production and Studies from the University of Regina, Redenbach’s thesis short Close to Here went on to screen at the Montreal World and Toronto International Film Festivals. His collaborative debut feature film, The Land of Rock and Gold premiered at imagineNative in 2016 and will be released theatrically this fall. Currently in development for his next feature, Daniel can still sometimes be found AD’ing film sets large and small across Canada.

City Saskatchewan

Joanne McDonald

For the last decade and a half Joanne McDonald’s world has mostly been filled with screen-based media (which until recently was better known as film and television) and lots of coffee.

As the General Manager for City Saskatchewan she’s involved in all aspects of broadcasting- from operations to programming. Over the years she has helped bring many hours of content from Saskatchewan and beyond to screens and audiences. Many titles have won national and international awards and have been licensed in other markets.

When she’s not running a TV station, you can find her volunteering for arts and cultural organizations- at present she sits on two Boards of Directors: SaskCulture and the Yorkton Film Festival. She also gets to vote as a member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and belongs to Women in Communications and Technology. In the past she was on the board of the Saskatchewan Media Producers Industry Association and was a member of the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Creative Industries Advisory Committee. In her other spare time she likes to cook, pull weeds in the garden and travel. And watch TV- of course.

Although her dad remains skeptical to this day, there is proof that someone with a philosophy degree can get a real job.

Associate Producer, Reel Women Seen / ACTRA Saskatchewan National Councilor

Jodi Sadowsky

Jodi Sadowsky is a passionate performer and producer living in Regina, SK. She is one of the Associate Producer’s of the short advocacy film Reel Women Seen, produced by the ACTRA National Women’s Committee. She also currently holds the position of ACTRA Saskatchewan National Councilor. Jodi is the past producer of the Regina Fringe Theatre Festival, and a founding board member and past producer of The Golden Apple Theatre. She has helped build her local arts community by volunteering and working many hours with a variety of arts organizations. In 2014, she was nominated for a Saskatchewan Arts Board Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Awards for Individual Leadership in the Arts. Select Film/TV performing credits include: The Land of Rock & Gold, Vampire Dog, Insecurity, Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Velvet Devil, renegadepress.com, Incredible Story Studio. Select Theatre performing credits: Kafka’s Monkey, Dry Streak, Chickens, Volstead Blues, See Bob Run, Grace, Wit, and Waiting for the Parade. When not performing or producing, Jodi continues to learn and grow as an artist through the study of her craft.

Telefilm Canada - National Project Lead - Western Region + Ontario

John Dippong

John Dippong leads Telefilm Canada’s Industry Promotion activities for the Western Region and Ontario. In this role he identifies and implements regional promotion strategies, partnerships and special initiatives that align with Telefilm Canada’s corporate and promotional objectives. John was also Telefilm’s Western Regional Feature Film Executive for 12 years prior to joining the National Promotion team. Before joining Telefilm Canada, John was involved in feature film production, film festival organization and programming.

NFB - Producer

Jon Montes

Based in Winnipeg, Jon is currently a producer with the NFB’s North West Studio, in development on a slate of documentary and animation projects in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. As associate producer with the NFB, Jon’s recent projects include the feature documentaries Gun Runners (Hot Docs 2016), Danny (Hot Docs 2015), the short animation 54 Hours (Founder’s Award – Yorkton Film Festival), the interactive documentary Bubble Dancers (32nd Int’l Environmental Film Festival, Paris), and on the 10th and 11th editions of the animation intensive Hothouse. A transplanted east coaster, Jon holds an MA in Communication & Culture from York and Ryerson Universities.

NSI - Manager, Programs & Development

Joy Loewen

As manager, programs and development, Joy runs the NSI Totally Television course.

Joy is a passionate supporter of the production, promotion and exhibition of Canadian art and artists. As a media arts consultant, her specialty lies in mentoring and showcasing a diverse range of media projects and the artists who create them.

She previously worked as a broadcast and festival programmer at WTN (Women’s Television Network), CBC and the Gimli Film Festival; program manager at On Screen Manitoba and executive director at Freeze Frame Media Arts Centre for Young People.

Joy is also an active volunteer with leadership roles in several non-profit organizations.

Her passion and commitment to supporting artists and emerging talent extends into her volunteer work as a member of the Yorkton Film Festival board, Rainbow Stage board of directors and their awards and scholarships committee as well as the Winnipeg Foundation’s strategic initiatives committee.

She has served as president of the Balmoral Hall Parent Association and co-chair of the Yes, She Can! Dinner honouring The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, and is currently the board chair at Balmoral Hall School.

MIT Open Documentary Lab

Katerina Cizek

Katerina Cizek is a two-time Emmy winner and a pioneer in digital media. Her work has documented the Digital Revolution, and has itself become part of the movement. She has been called the “Godmother of Interactive Documentary” on the international circuit. She is currently leading a new initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Documentary Lab, while based in Toronto. At the National Film Board of Canada, she helped redefine the organization as one of the world’s leading digital content hubs. She was the director and creative force behind the NFB’s award-winning 7-year digital documentary project HIGHRISE, and she realized the acclaimed NFB Filmmaker-in-Residence program. Cizek has built collaborations with a diverse range of community, academic and media partners to co-create media, including The New York Times, Wired Magazine, City of Toronto, United Way and most recently, Canada’s top YouTube stars. She has been recognized with 2 Emmys, a Peabody Award, World Press Photo Prize, 3 Canadian Screen Awards, 2 Webbys, amongst others. Her work has been seen by millions around the globe, through TV broadcasts and publishing on the web. She has travelled the world with her projects, teaching and advising on her innovative approaches to digital media and co-creation models.

Director / Producer

Kelly-Anne Riess

Originally from Saskatchewan, Kelly-Anne Riess produced and directed the documentary, Finding Al, while living in Winnipeg, MB. Finding Al is about notorious gangster Al Capone’s connections to Canada, which aired nationally on CBC in 2016. As part of her work on the project, she was one of only 15 Canadians to receive a grant from the Telefilm Micro-Budget Production Fund for Emerging Filmmakers in 2014. Riess worked as a writer, director and researcher on the TV show Crime Stories, which aired on A&E Biography, Investigation Discovery and History Television. In 2013, Riess won the MTS Stories from Home $20,000 Pitch Competition at the Gimli Film Festival for the documentary Artists by Night, which Riess produced and directed. The film premiered at the Gimli Film Festival a year later. Riess was a CTV National Fellow at the Banff World Media Festival in 2011.

Kevin McMahon - Vice President, Creative, Primitive Entertainment

Kevin McMahon

Kevin McMahon has directed more than 20 documentaries, including nine features, and produced dozens of hours of non-fiction television. His work focuses on environmental themes, viewed explicitly – in subjects like Niagara Falls, the cod fishery and nuclear weapons – and obliquely – in stories about the guru Marshall McLuhan; Haida and Inuit communities; or the nature of human intelligence. Known for bringing unusual perspectives and personalities to documentary, Kevin has collaborated with cellist Yo Yo Ma, rock musician Gord Downie, performance artist Laurie Anderson, comedian Mary Walsh and actress Sarah Polley. He has filmed in some of the world’s wildest places, including the Sahara, the deserts of Jordan and Iran, the north Atlantic, Canada’s maritime coasts, the boreal forest and the high Arctic. Kevin’s current project is co-producing and co-directing the 12 hour documentary series Equator 360, a Canada-German co-production that looks at climate change in the tropics. Kevin’s latest feature documentary is Spaceship Earth, a collaboration with Japan’s NHK and ARTE/ZDF. He also recently wrote and co-directed The Polar Sea, a 10-hour multimedia adventure for ARTE/ZDF and TVO. Among many awards, Kevin is the recipient of the Earth Prize from the Tokyo Film Festival and the designation of Canadian Eco Hero by the Planet in Focus film festival.

Corus Entertainment - Production Executive, Factual Original Programming

Larissa Laycock

As a Production Executive for Factual Originals at Corus Entertainment, Larissa oversees programs on History Canada and Global TV including the runaway hit Ice Road Truckers, Bud Dynasty: a series newly in production that explores the growing marijuana industry in Canada and The World Without Canada: a mind-bending thought experiment and part of History’s original slate of Canada 150 programming.

Having recently made the move from the Lifestyle Originals team Larissa’s also overseen shows and digital projects for a variety of other networks including Slice, HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada. Prior to joining the executive team at Corus Larissa has held a variety of creative positions in production, most recently as a Story Editor on The Amazing Race Canada.

Over the preceding decade she held various positions as a freelance producer, director, story editor, development producer and showrunner in a variety of genres over the years including talk series, documentary, docusoap, lifestyle, comedy and competition.

Director / Producer

Lucas Frison

Lucas Frison is a 2014 graduate of the University of Regina with a BFA in Film Production. After finishing film school he founded Prairie Cat Productions, a Regina based film production company that is currently producing the feature film Talent. Talent was a selection for the 2016/2017 Telefilm Micro-Budget production program and is slated for release in later 2017. In 2016, he was the cooperating artist for a Sask Arts Board Arts Smarts grant, where he taught a film unit to students at William Derby School. Lucas has also worked with CTV Regina since 2015 and is known to many in Regina as a dodgeball legend.

CBC - Executive in Charge of Production

Melanie Hadley

Melanie is an Executive in Charge of Production for CBC. At the network she oversees and provides consultation on a variety of programming; The Secret Path, Heartland, Pure and When Calls the Heart to name a few.

Prior to her role at CBC she was the Manager of Programming for APTN where she worked in a similar capacity managing development, first window and second window licencing for various television and digital media projects. She joins CBC with over 15 years of experience working in independent production and for a national broadcaster.

Melanie was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was raised to celebrate and participate in all facets of Indigenous culture and tradition.

Director / Producer

Michelle Latimer

Michelle Latimer is a Toronto based filmmaker, producer, programmer, actor and activist. Her films include Choke (Sundance Festival Jury Honourable Mention in International Short Filmmaking), The Underground, Nimmikaage and the feature doc ALIAS. Michelle is currently working on her first dramatic feature The Freedom Project, adapting the bestselling novel Inconvenient Indian for screen, directing a short doc for Laura Poitras’ company, Field Of Vision, and showrunning the series RISE for Viceland. She programs for Hot Docs Film Festival and the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.


Marco Luna

Born in Lima, Peru, Marco is a social engaged documentary filmmaker who believes on the power of filmmaking as a tool for social change. He participated on the first editions of the Peruvian Documentary Caravan (Caravana Documental) as well as the Independent Documentary Film Exhibitions (Muestra de Documental Independiente Peruano), venues that promote human rights and social engagement of documentary films in the Peruvian culture.

In 2007 he moved to Montreal to pursue a master’s degree on film production at Concordia University and since then he has worked in different social film projects. From 2008 to 2010 he trained homeless people in the use of digital cameras and new media tools for the project HOMELESSNATION.org, the first website by and for the street community in Canada. In 2011 he joined the WAPIKONI MOBILE team and traveled to several First Nation communities teaching filmmaking as a form self expression to at-risk youth. He currently works at EyeSteelFilm, a documentary film and interactive media production company dedicated to the use of cinematic expression as a catalyst for social and political change, and he is also the research associate of the recently established Concordia Research Chair in Interactive Documentary filmmaking.

VICE Canada - Executive Vice President

Michael Kronish

Michael Kronish is the Executive Vice President of VICE Canada. Since its inception in 2015 he has set up and run VICE’s production studio. His executive producer credits include the series RISE, which premiered at Sundance, VICE’s first scripted comedy Nirvanna the Band the Show as well as Cyberwar, Abandoned, Payday, Vice Guide to Film, Terror and the soon to be released TV series FUBAR. To date, the studio has produced over 130 hours of prime-time television content and is now expanding into third party network production and feature films.

In the mid-90’s Michael co-founded the documentary production company Rightime. He also held the position of Managing Director of NuFilms, Québec’s most prolific music video studio. In 2002 Michael joined Montréal-based Galafilm full-time, where he worked as a line producer, producer, executive producer and series creator. Notable career highlights include winning an Emmy and Gemini for the TV series Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within. In 2009, Michael launched the international TV division of Zone3. Michael is a native of Montréal and is a philosophy graduate from Concordia University.

Writer / Director

Reem Morsi

Reem Morsi had a career of professional scuba diving, human rights till becoming a writer/director.

Morsi’s film credits include “Their Feast” (Cannes Short Film Corner, TIFF, BBC, Cine Sud), “Nostalgia” (WIFT 2015), among others. Morsi is a CFC Directors’ Lab alumna 2015 and her CFC short “The Door” screened at notable festivals, including Whistler Film Festival & Yorkton Film Festival (for which it was nominated for Best Drama 2017). Morsi received a scriptwriting grant for her feature film “Bootleg” by the San Francisco Film Society, March 2016. Morsi’s short film based on her feature screened at International Festivals, including winning best Canadian short at the London Worldwide Comedy Festival.

Morsi won first place for “Show & Tell” at the WIFT/BravoFact pitch competition 2016 and the film was nominated for the Golden Sheaf Award for Best Short Subject and Best Emerging Filmmaker at the Yorkton Film Festival, 2017. Morsi participated at the 2012 Berlinale Talent Campus, 2016 TIFF Talent Lab and Women in the Director’s Chair.

Morsi’s short films scripts Lipstick, Check Point & Mango were named finalists for Robert Bosch Film Fund in 2013, 2014 and 2015 (affiliated with the Berlin Film Festival). Reem also won the Telefilm Canada New Voices Award at the Toronto Screenwriters Conference, April 2017.

Perfect Day Productions

Robert Hardy

Robert Hardy is a Vancouver-based producer and writer and the founder of Perfect Day Productions. He’s been SVP, Head of Development at Force Four Entertainment, VP Development at Paperny Entertainment, a network exec with Bell Media, and held positions at NSI Canada and CBC Radio-Canada. His Force Four credits include Keeping Canada Alive (CBC), Emergency (GlobalTV/Slice), Tricked (YTV), Shannon & Sophie (W Network/UP!TV), Battle Cats (Blue Ant Media), First Dates (Slice) and the US version of the Border Security franchise. As a production executive at CTV/Bell Media, Robert worked with the drama, comedy and documentary departments, developing and overseeing series, movies and documentaries including Defying GravityElijahPlaying for Keeps, There’s Something Out There and Music Rising.

Robert is also a cofounder of Walkie, a startup creating software tools for film and television production, and of the FactualWEST Conference held annually In Vancouver.

Film & Television Producer

Sally Karam

Award-winning film producer Sally Karam’s first feature film What We Have (Maxime Desmons, director) won Best Franco-Canadian Feature Film (Les Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois), Best Canadian Feature (Inside Out FF), the International Diversity Award (Barcelona International FF) and the Audience Award (Imagine Nation Montreal FF). Some of Karam’s additional credits include the acclaimed breakthrough Canadian CGI series for Discovery Channel Alien Mysteries; Forensic Factor (Gemini Award-Winner); screenwriting credits on History Channel’s Outlaw Bikers, Under The Gun and Paranormal Survivor and over 10 years of documentary directing and story editing experience in factual and lifestyle television.  Her short doc Kubo’s Crickets (Michael Allcock, director) premiered at the Austin Film Festival 2015 & Planet Focus and won Best Documentary (Cabbagetown Film Festival) and Best Short Film (North Bay Film Festival).  In 2016 Sally produced dramatic shorts The Pact (Arran Shearing, director) and Perfect (Olivier Sabino, director), premiering at Atlantic Film Festival and Sudbury Cinefest International Film Festival 2016. Karam won the 2016 WIFT-BravoFact Pitch Competition and recently produced short film Show & Tell (Reem Morsi, director) in 2017. She also participated in Bell Media’s Producer Accelerator Lab, WIFT Development Incubator and completed the Cineplex Entertainment Producer’s Lab at the Canadian Film Centre.  She is currently in development with director Rama Rau on the feature film NATALIE.

Filmmaker / Community Engagement Specialist

Scott Parker

Scott Parker has two careers that keep him busy. Scott has 30 years experience in film and television notably as a director and editor. Scott also develops and implements community-based conservation projects in southern Africa, recently returning from 6 months in a remote village in the Kalahari.

In 2015, Scott teamed up with the National Film Board of Canada and combined his experience in filmmaking with his passion for community engagement, resulting in The Grasslands Project. The project created 10 short documentary films about life on the southern prairies, and each of those stories were developed out of community consultations. Engaging communities in documenting their essential stories resulted in extraordinarily authentic portraits of prairie culture.

NSI - Manager, Programs & Development

Ursula Lawson

Ursula has been with NSI since 2004 and is a manager of programs and development, working on many of NSI’s courses.

As program manager of CBC New Indigenous Voices (formerly NSI New Voices) and co-manager of NSI IndigiDocs, she has been instrumental in helping NSI develop and deliver culturally sensitive film and television training to emerging Aboriginal film and content creators.

In 2013 Ursula was honoured to receive the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Circle of Inspiration award along with colleagues Lisa Meeches and Melissa Kajpust for their contribution to the CBC New Indigenous Voices course.

Ursula previously managed the NSI Aboriginal Journalism pilot program; coordinated NSI Global Marketing, NSI Totally Television, NSI Aboriginal Cultural Trade Initiative and NSI Pitch to Win! She is also secretary of the NSI Board of Directors.

Prior to working at the National Screen Institute, Ursula held management positions in both the hospitality and healthcare industries.

Ursula can be found in her kitchen for 48 hours straight preparing intricate meals for her friends and family with the assistance of loud music, a few cocktails and some choice swear words … she considers it a labour of love.

Canada Media Fund

Valerie Creighton

Valerie Creighton is an industry leader in arts, culture and media, recognized for reenergizing some of the some of the country’s most important organizations in the sector over the last thirty five years. An expert in organizational change, Valerie has been recognized as a visionary in promoting Canada’s cultural wealth.

Currently serving as President and CEO of the Canada Media Fund, Valerie positions Canadian programming at the forefront in world markets advocating successful, innovative Canadian content and software applications for current and emerging digital platforms. Valerie has taken part in foreign trade missions, and is regularly called upon to present the CMF model internationally. She has been recognized with numerous awards nationally and from her home province of Saskatchewan. She was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM) in 2016.

Valerie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan, has served on a variety of regional, national and international juries and boards and has produced radio dramas for the CBC in Saskatchewan where she owns and operates the Red Horse Ranch.

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