Dennis Cieri

Executive Director and Co-Founder/Narrative Film Curator

I am a native New Yorker, who had produced a number of film and TV projects throughout my carrier, focusing on social justice and environmental storytelling. My latest work Lionfish, An Invasive Species is available on tubitv and other online outlets. My travel series, Beyond Moscow, which featured five undiscovered Russian cities through historical narratives interwoven with modern culture and social allure, has been acquired in 2017 by SES, a European TV network broadcasting to over 300 million homes worldwide. I also produced and directed a mini-documentary, Redesigning the Sanitation System for JSTOR Daily, featuring a novel waterless toilet system, piloted in Madagascar, timed for the UN World Toilet Day 2017. Prior to that, I produced a mini-documentary What’s in Brooklyn Gowanus Canal? for the Hakai Magazine, about rare and unique microbes dwelling in one of the most polluted waterways in North America. Lastly, in my short, The End of Fair Trade, I investigated how Internet bots force consumers to settle for higher prices based on their perceived ability to pay, which is calculated using personal information gathered on the web. Additionally, as the founder and executive director of The New York City Independent Film Festival, which screens over 250 indie films yearly, I have created a collaborative and supportive environment for filmmakers from around the world, attracting enthusiastic New York City audience of indie film fans.

Bonnie Rush

Director and Co-Founder – Mid-Length Narrative Film Curator

New to the ‘indie film world’ in 2009, Bonnie was the co-founder of the festival and helped lay the groundwork for the festival’s current success. She is also part of the original Cieri Media team and was one of the original creators of the ‘egarage’. The ‘Jersey transplant’ has been active in the art world, working at small theaters and galleries. Her paintings have shown at galleries in Manhattan and Long Island City. She is currently employed by The Metropolitan Opera.

Gerard van den Broek

Documentary Curator

Gerard is a born Dutchman, with a vast TV career in his back pocket, working internationally as a journalist and TV program editor. In 2004 he started his own international film festival focusing on journalism: current affairs and sports documentaries. Fifteen years later that 10 person gig has grown into a two day 700+ audience festival. In 2012 he met Dennis and got involved in the NYC Independent Film Festival, first as a judge, since 2014 as the documentary curator of the festival. The NYC Indie Film Fest receives some 300 feature and short documentaries each year submitted from all over the world, of which some 60 docs make it to the golden selection. Gerard watches every single one of them to make sure he doesn’t miss one single pearl of a film. For the NYC Independent Film Festival he also ran some of the venues independently and produced the 2018 Awards Ceremony in the SubCulture Club on Bleecker Street in NoHo New York. This year he started a brand new event, the Music Film Festival in the Netherlands. Dedicated solely to music, from Rachmaninoff to Rammstein, rap to gospel, jazz to world music. All on film for music lovers only.

Dominik Pagacz

Art/Experimental Curator

Dominik Pagacz is a multidisciplinary artist whose body of film work spans over two decades. His films have screened internationally at experimental venues in places such as Rio de Janeiro (Curta Cinema), Amsterdam (EYE Film Institute), New York and the UK (Alchemy) to name a few. Dominik is curating the festival’s art/experimental film programs and exhibitions.

Lucie Guillemot

Narrative Shorts Curator

Bringing a little bit of the “French touch” to the NYC Indie Film Festival, Lucie is a Parisian freelance filmmaker and film festivals coordinator. She is a screener for the Sundance Film Festival, but also the Film department’s coordinator for the Deauville, Gerardmer and Reims Polar film festivals, and the industry coordinator for the Critics’ Week in Cannes. She has directed a couple of short films and has worked as an assistant director on shorts and feature films. She has been a curator for NYCIFF since 2017. 

Virginie Balabaud

Super Short Curator

Virginie Balabaud  is french and lives in Paris.She works in arts since 1999. Her work is at the border between documentary and video art, but her favorite medium has always been photography, which she always includes in her movies. She is a psychology and psychoanalysis graduate, and likes to work on the topics of memory and objects, which she regards as media for remembering.

Mario Gajo

Narrative Feature Curator

Mario Gajo is a highly acclaimed filmmaker from Porto, Portugal. His passion for nature and landscape has taken him to the Americas, Africa, and Australia. With three degrees in Arts and Cinema and a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences, Mario has directed several award-winning films, including The Millionaires, The Boy and the Owl, and Circus Movements, which have been selected in film festivals worldwide, including Ann Arbor Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, and Vienna Shorts, among others, and have had hundreds of international screenings. These films showcase Mario’s unique storytelling style and his ability to capture the essence of his subjects. In addition to his work as a director, Mario has also produced several highly acclaimed films such as Poise, Histories of Wolves, My Dear, and John 746, which have been selected in prestigious film festivals such as the San Francisco Film Festival, Hotdocs, Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart, St. Louis International Film Festival, Guanajuato, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Doclisboa, Krakow Film Festival, Go Short, Hamburg Short Film Festival, and DokumentART, and have received over 80 awards. Mario has helped program prestigious film festivals such as NYCIndieFF and Slamdance, where he has demonstrated a keen eye for storytelling and emerging talent.

Jonny Lewis

Animation Curator

Jonny Lewis has written and directed 26 short films since 2008. His 2016 stop-motion animation comedy, G.I. Hospital, featuring six paraplegic and amputee characters, won 5 awards and was featured in 35 festivals. A fan of all styles of animation, Jonny appreciates the ability of animation to convey messages and tell stories that can’t be told by conventional films.Jonny’s first indie feature, “Waking Up in Idaho” is now in post-production.