R2R Bios

Meet the people who make the magic happen:

The Creative Team

Venay FeltonVenay Felton (Executive & Artistic Director)

Venay has been the Artistic and Executive Director of the Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth since its inception in 1998. A fervent advocate of children’s media for over thirty years, she has worked at the Media Center for Children in New York City, curated film programs for museums and community centres, and conducted film appreciation workshops. She has served as a Juror of the International Festival of Film & Video for Children in Isfahan, Iran, and was invited to participate as a discussant on “Documentaries for Young Audiences” at the Flaherty Film Seminar in Claremont, California. Her work is directed to engaging a network of educators, artists, film industry professionals, and community arts leaders. The purpose of this engagement is to broaden knowledge, sharpen perceptions, and stimulate the imaginations of youth about media arts.

Tammy Bannister (Director of Programming) Tammy Bannister

Tammy has been a part of Vancouver’s film industry for over fifteen years. In 2009 Tammy was the education and youth program coordinator with DOXA – Documentary Film Festival. She was responsible for programs promoting media literacy and critical dialogue to a new generation through non-fiction media arts, and helped establish the Kris Anderson Connexions Outreach Program. She’s been a team member at R2R since 2010 as a producer and programer. And has contributed to the programming at VQFF since 2012. Tammy’s cinematic taste goes well beyond family fare, due in part to her role as the international program coordinator at the Vancouver International Film Festival (since 2008) — where she is also a consultant and writer for the international program. Before her festival career, as an associate member of the DGC – BC, she worked as an assistant director on numerous films, TV series, independent projects, commercials, and music videos, including: Tegan & Sara, and Nardwaur: The Human Serviette. Tammy makes films too, and enjoys wearing hats.

Jessica Bradford Jessica Bradford (Program Associate & Youth Jury Coordinator)

Jessica is an award-winning writer and director based in Vancouver, Canada. She is a graduate of Canadian Film Centre and an alumna of the Women In the Director’s Chair program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She holds a B.A. (Hons) in English Literature and American Studies from Hull University UK and a diploma in Film Production from Vancouver Film School. Jessica’s films have won numerous awards including a Gemini, several B.C. Leo Awards and the Kodak Image Award for Excellence in Visual Storytelling. Jessica has spent over 15 years in the industry as a writer, director and producer. Currently she teaches in the Writing Department of the Vancouver Film School and is the past-president of Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society. Jessica grew up in Cambridge, England, which resulted in a love for choral music, riding bicycles and drinking beer – but not necessarily in that order, though possibly all at the same time. She is currently writing a kids’ heist movie and is in post-production on her latest short film.

Maria Cecilia Saba (Festival and Outreach Coordinator)

Before coming to Vancouver, Maria Cecilia worked as an instructor at University of Lima (Peru) teaching video and documentary production. She also joined Markham College as they launched their first class of Film Studies within the International Baccalaureate program, and collaborated as instructor and program advisor. Maria Cecilia earned her BA in Communication from University of Lima, where her documentary “Sarita Colonia, The Customized Saint” won Best Original Production in the Puntos de Vista Documentary Festival hosted by the University of Texas at San Marcos. She furthered her education with a Diploma in Cultural Management from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP) and in August 2014 she moved to Vancouver to pursue the Master of Arts degree in Comparative Media Arts at SFU. In October 2015 she curated and produced the first Andean Horror Film Fest in Vancouver.

Eileen Francis (Programming Assistant)

Ta’gum (Sun and Moon), her traditional name given to her by the Tla’Amin elders. Her English name is Eileen Francis. Eileen holds a diploma in Indigenous Filmmaking and is currently living in Vancouver, BC, where she is furthering upgrading her skills (writing, directing, and producing) and knowledge in film and developing upcoming films and projects.

Sarah El Bakkouri (Programming Intern)

Sarah El Bakkouri was born in Morocco and emigrated to Canada to complete her BFA in Film Production at Simon Fraser University. Her shorts have screened in film festivals around the world. She is currently working on a few projects exploring identity politics, media and women’s issues through hybrids of experimental and narrative approaches. She has a fascination with mythology in the precolonial context and is exploring that through animation.

Amanda Kerr (Print Designer)

A professional designer since 1996, Amanda bleeds creativity and adventure.  For many years, she has wandered in the realm of front-end design and visual communications for web and print. Amanda loves design, not just for it’s own sake, but for what it can do for people.   Complex patterns, imaginative concepts and simple solutions to visual challenges are some of the things that inspire her every day. Free of any particular style or perspective, nothing excites her more than a new design problem to solve, and, to her, any challenge can be conquered with deep creative thought. // web. www.akcreative.ca

LaurelTerleskyphotoLaurel Terlesky (Web Designer)

Laurel Terlesky is an artist, designer and educator with a Master of Fine Arts. Since 2011 Laurel has taught Visual Effects in the New Media program at British Columbia Institute of Technology. As an independent contractor, Laurel has contributed to various motion graphics projects both for film, TV and live events, designed and programmed websites and designed print materials. Her clients include TBA Global, POV Works, Anaid Productions (where she worked on the series X-Weighted creating an animated flash series for their website) and various projects for both CBC Television and Radio-Canada, including CBC’s late night innovative cross-platform project, Zed — allowing her to jump between web, print and broadcast motion graphics.  You can find her work at studioblanc.com

Helen YagiHelen Yagi (Publicity)

Helen Yagi has been working in Film Publicity and Marketing for several years for the Vancouver International Film Festival, Leo Awards and Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth. She has also been the Publicist for many Canadian filmmakers including award winning directors Bruce Sweeney and Charles Wilkinson, local productions companies and film organizations such as Women in Film, The Cinematheque and Cineworks. Helen was also an Associate Producer on a feature documentary about fashion modelling, How to be a Model, which premiered at the VIFF and was broadcast on CBC TV. A visual art photographer when she’s not promoting movies, Helen has exhibited her work at the North Shore Arts Council, Firehall Arts Centre, Roundhouse Community Centre, and the Vancouver Museum.

Board of Directors

Jodi Derkson, MEd

Jodi is a Certified teacher, with over fifteen years of professional teaching experience. Throughout her fulfilling career she has worked very diligently to keep her students engaged, focused, and enthusiastic about their own education and their place in the world.  Jodi holds a Masters of Education from UBC and is the BC Regional Director of Educational Programs for the non-profit FAST.  Jodi is also the founder of !mperative Education which offers a variety of workshops/presentations on bullying, social emotional intelligence, mindfulness and negotiation empowerment for women in business.  She is very honoured to be involved with R2R!

Nicole Koller (Board President)

Bio coming soon.



Marie-France Leroi (Secretary)

Marie-France is a lawyer practicing as in-house counsel with FortisBC. She has practiced business law for more than 20 years.  One of her favourite spare time activities is watching movies with her two children and her filmmaker spouse. She has been a board member at R2R since 2007.

Robyn E. Ludwig (Treasurer)

Robyn Ludwig holds a Master of Film and Literature from the University of York, U.K., and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, Canada. For the past decade, Robyn has been a manager and fundraiser in the charitable arts and culture sector, a consultant to media arts festivals, and has served as a board member for several Vancouver-area arts organizations. She has been a board member at R2R since 2006.

Leslie Mawhinney

Bio coming soon.



Zoe Quinn

Zoe Quinn specializes in marketing and publicity in the arts. She has held positions at the Arts Club Theatre Company, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, PuSh International Performing Arts festival, SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, Vancouver International Film Festival, and Vancouver New Music. She holds a BA from the University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) and a certificate in Arts and Entertainment Management from Capilano University. She has been a board member at R2R since 2009.

Michèle Rechtman-Smolkin (Vice President)

Michèle is an experienced writer, journalist, director and producer for radio and TV. Trained as an architect, she came to BC from France in 1983. She has produced, written and directed numerous documentaries for radio and TV and has published a novel. For the last ten years, she served as a Manager and Programming Executive Producer for Radio-Canada BC and Yukon. She retired in August 2013 and continues now to produce, direct and write independent projects.  Michèle  has served as a board member, jury member or volunteer on many Vancouver not for profit organizations, such as Productions Figlio, Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition, Audiovisual Archives of BC, Jewish Film Festival, VIFF, AIBC, Leo Awards, WIVF, Feed the Hungry, Truth and Reconciliation.

mayanka   Mayanka Sarin

Born and raised in Dubai, U.A.E; Mayanka now calls Canada her home. After completing her B.COM from University of Toronto she carried out an array HR roles in Toronto and Vancouver, which focused on recruitment, employee relations, training, change management, internal communication and employer branding. She has experienced working with multi-national and national organizations in a variety of industries from Marketing, Trading and Investment, Retail, Automotive and Supply Chain Management.

Furthermore, Mayanka has successfully introduced multiple events in Toronto such as a local talent show – South Asia’s Got Talent and guerrilla marketing campaigns that consisted of a flash-mob and lip-dub videos. She has also produced and hosted a weekend radio show for Naach Radio – a Toronto based, Urban South-Asian radio station.

Program Advisors

Renate Zylla 

Renate holds a Master of Pedagogy, with a concentration in media, from the University of Bielefeld. She has had professional experience in film and media since 1983 and since that time has held a has been a director, organizer, manager of film projects and events, festival agent and jury member in countries around the world. She has been the director of the Kinder Film Fest of the Berlin International Film Fest and of Kodomotachino Kinder Film Festival Tokyo. In 2010, she became a program advisor for international film festivals for children and young adults in Jakarta (Indonesia), Mexico City (Mexico), Montevideo (Uruguay), Seattle (USA), Winnipeg (Canada) and Kathmandu (Nepal). She is currently the official program advisor for Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth in Vancouver and the Golden Elephant Film Festival in Hyderabad (India).

Harry KillasHarry Killas

Harry is in his eleventh year at Emily Carr University, where he has taught courses in Film, Video + Integrated Media, and Media History.  His award-winning dramatic films have been screened at several international festivals including Bilbao, Toronto, Palm Springs, Clermont-Ferrand, Oberhausen, Torino and Vancouver. His documentaries have been broadcast on the BBC, CBC, Bravo!, NHK, CTV, Knowledge Network, and SCN. He is a graduate of Stanford University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Barb Cranmer
Barb is a documentary filmmaker from Alert Bay, BC. Her works document cultural renewal and traditional knowledge of First Nations of Canada’s North Pacific Coast. Cranmer has co-produced, written and directed five documentaries, which have won awards from the American Indian Film Festival and Telefilm Canada. She has also produced segments for television series such as APTN’s Creative Native. Cranmer was a consultant for NMAI’s exhibtion Listening to Our Ancestors: The Art of Native Life Along the North Pacific Coast. She holds certification through the Aboriginal Film and Television Program at Capilano College and has served several terms as an elected council member for ‘Namgis First Nation. She belongs to the U’mista Cultural Society and the T’sasala Cultural Group, which presents songs, dances and cultural education in Alert Bay every summer. She is also president of the Indigenous Arts Service Organization, which programs indigenous art festivals in BC.


Workshop Mentors

blank_avatarTasha Brotherton

Bio coming soon!



Jenna Brown

Jenna Brown

Jenna has been an instructor at Digital Media Academy, Capilano University Summer Fun Camps, Evergreen Cultural Centre, and R2R (teaching animation and producing the digital literacy panel), game design, and cartooning. Some of the courses she has taught include: stop-motion animation, game design for Minecraft, game development with Macromedia Fusion, and cartooning. Jenna earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Animation from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a citation of Animation Fundamentals from Capilano University. Jenna has directed the short film,  Looking Up To You; created the graphic novel project, The Tea Merchant; and The collaborative student project “NOVA” was featured in the 2011 Siggraph Dailies.

Elisa Chee

Elisa graduated from the animation program at Emily Carr in 2003. Since then, she has created animated segments for documentaries such as 100 Years of the BC Court of Appeal for the Knowledge Network, directed and animated Scenes, a music video, and worked in various supportive roles on films made at the National Film Board. Elisa has a wide range of experience with experimental as well as traditional animation techniques. Recently, Elisa has mentored with Aboriginal youth in Our World workshops, emerging filmmakers for Doxa’s Connections, and elementary school aged children for Reel 2 Real. She enjoys sharing her love for storytelling and animation with her students, and helping others express themselves through filmmaking. Visit her website The Art of Chee.

Jeff Chiba Stearns

Jeff is an Emmy® nominated and Webby award-winning animation and documentary filmmaker. He is also an accomplished illustrator, educator and artist. After graduating from the Emily Carr University with a degree in Film Animation, he founded Vancouver based boutique animation studio Meditating Bunny Studio Inc. in 2001. Jeff’s work has broadcast around the world, screened in hundreds of international film festivals and garnered 33 awards — a few of which were awarded by the R2R Youth Jury! He’s also taught college and high school animation as well as animation workshops around the world. A number of Jeff’s films have screened at R2R including: One Big Hapa Family (2010), Yellow Sticky Notes – Canadian Anijam (2013) and Cats (2014).

Stephen Gladue

Stephen is a talented artist from the Fishing Lake Metis settlement in Alberta. He attended the Vancouver Film School to study Classical Animation, later enrolling to the Art Institute of Vancouver, where he would graduate in 3D Animation and Design. His Animated shorts can be seen on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network children’s series Nehiyawetan, where he was the lead artist on the animated series Amy’s Mythic Mornings, also currently airing on the APTN on Saturday mornings. Also a filmmaker, Stephen produced and shot a 45 min documentary on the experiences of one family’s ordeal within the Indian residential school system in the 1950’s. Stephen has also illustrated a series of children’s books, before making his foray into comic books late last year, delivering nine titles in the period of just a few months.  

Ewan Green

Ewan is an animator and illustrator from Scotland, currently working on an animated anthology of poems for ebook. He has previously made animation for the multimedia ebook Don’t Be Alien. His film credits include Titeuf: Le Film (2011) and L’Illusioniste (2010).

Flick Harrison

Flick is a self-made nobody, a renegade artist, an underpreneur, a premiere Vancouver poorfessional, and a member of  “Something Collective.” His film, theatre, video, acting, writing and camera work has been seen by millions, been nominated and won awards internationally, and slipped into, under and through almost every Canadian funding niche. Chretien’s chief strategist Warren Kinsella called Flick “offensive” and “unfair,” the Globe and Mail called him “hilarious,” and the Georgia Straight called his work “gorgeously sophisticated.” His work includes teaching media art to kids, engaging community through art, designing projections for theatre and dance, and international journalism and criticism.

Scott Kiborn

Soccer Coach, Professional Animator, Skateboarder. For his entire life, Scott has been animating anything and everything he can get his hands on. His NFB production Animate Everything invites young folks to learn stop-motion animation by using everyday objects to create their imaginations’ desire. Scott teaches Pixilation for R2R.

Ariel Kirk-Gushowaty

Ariel KG is a filmmaker and photo-based artist living in Vancouver BC. A founding member of the Iris Film Collective, she is interested in exploring experimental film and photography, as well as interactions between analogue and digital media. Ariel also works in communities as an artist/mentor for projects/organizations as Vancouver Stories 125, Kerrisdale Collective Memory, Media Lab at the Richmond Arts Centre, Diverse Voices & Portraits, and R2R. Ariel has a BA in Philosophy and Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, and a Photography Certificate from Langara College. Her work has been shown in Canada and internationally. Check out her website.

blank_avatarJody Kramer

Jody Kramer is an independent animation filmmaker, illustrator and arts educator living and working in Squamish, British Columbia. Jody’s films have screened all over the world at prestigious festival such as Annecy, VIFF, and R2R! Jody was a Programmer at R2R in 2014, and now teaches animation part-time. You can find out more about Jody’s work on her website.

alex_mackenzie3Alex MacKenzie

Alex is an experimental film artist working primarily with analog equipment and hand processed imagery. He creates works of expanded cinema, light projection installation, and projector performance. His work has screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the EXiS Experimental Film Festival in Seoul, Lightcone in Paris, Kino Arsenal in Berlin and others. Alex was the founder and curator of the Edison Electric Gallery of Moving Images, the Blinding Light! Cinema and the Vancouver Underground Film Festival. He has been invited to residencies at Atelier MTK in Grenobles, France and Struts Gallery/Faucet Media in New Brunswick. See more of Alex’s work on his wesbite alexmackenzie.ca.

Cindy Mochizuki

Cindy is an interdisciplinary artist who makes work that crosses several disciplines including installation, animation, drawing and performance. Her artistic practice often involves collaboration and is process-based, integrating interviews and archival materials.  She has exhibited and screened her work nationally and internationally and holds a MFA from SFU’s Interdisciplinary Studies program at the School For Contemporary Arts. Visit her website cindymochizuki.com.

Lisa g. Nielsen

Lisa g is a multidisciplinary artist who has been focused in the digital media realm for the last 12 years. Her short videos (live action, animation and documentary) have traveled the globe and collected awards along the way. Lisa g currently creates personal, commissioned and community based short documentaries and teaches digital storytelling workshops all over BC and the Yukon. She works both as an individual artist and as a producer through her brand new co-owned company: Bite Size Media.

blank_avatarJacquie Rolston

Bio coming soon!



Moira “Mo” Simpson

Mo has been a freelance director, cinematographer and editor for over 35 years. It’s a natural fit for her to combine filmmaking with teaching and mentoring. She has taught at the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University, and Simon Fraser University. The subjects of her documentaries range from strife in Kosovo, to youth and drug addiction, to the complexities of offering aid to Africa. Mo’s work in film, video and new media has always been informed by a passionate belief in using film as a tool for social change.

blank_avatarWeronika Stepien

Weronika is a Polish-American interdisciplinary artist who graduated from Emily Carr University’s Film and Video + Integrated Media program in 2009. Her artwork incorporates different forms of visual story telling and experiments in shape and movement. Her work has been exhibited in Chicago, Amsterdam, Germany, Singapore, and Vancouver. She has been teaching animation to children and young adults since 2008. Weronika lives and works with her husband, Stephen Wichuk, and daughter in Vancouver, B.C, Canada. She also teaches R2R’s Animating History workshop at the Museum of Vancouver. Find out more about her work on her website. 

Kaho Yoshida

Kaho Yoshida grew up in Tokyo, and moved to Canada in her teen years. She studied the various mediums of animation at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and graduated with a bachelor of Media Arts. Her graduation film, Michi, is being screened at many film festivals world-wide. Since graduating, Kaho has been working successfully as a freelance animator/illustrator in Vancouver BC. She has worked on many projects including: a stop motion TV show for Kid’s CBC, independent documentary film, TV commercial, NFB’s VR project, and music videos. Visit her website.


Ryder Thomas White

Ryder is a Canadian-American filmmaker and multimedia artist currently working in Vancouver, British Columbia. He tends to work with analog projection and celluloid with a modern twist. Find out more about Ryder at his website.