Past Keynote Speakers
Visions 8 Keynote Speaker:
Shaofu Zhang has been inspired by film and animation from an early age. From post-it note doodles to Play-Doh stop-motion to Lego short films, Shaofu grew up with a passion for telling stories. As his passion grew from dream to reality, Shaofu built a career as a character animator at Walt Disney Animation and Sony Imageworks. In addition, his student short film “Dragonboy” won the gold medal at the 38th Student Academy Awards in 2011. Currently, Shaofu heads TAIKO Studios as CEO and Founder with a team of Disney veterans. TAIKO has just finished their debut short film “One Small Step” about a young Chinese American girl who dreams of being an astronaut.
Visions 7 Keynote Speaker:
Thompson’s film Bedford Park Boulevard won the Excellence in Narrative Award at the first ever Visions event circa 2011 and is back to speak about his feature, King Jack (2016), and give insight to working in the professional film industry post-graduation.
Recognized at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards as “Someone To Watch”, Felix Thompson is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and received his MA in Screenwriting from the Royal Holloway University of London. His previous short films have been screened at festivals such as SXSW, Tribeca and the BFI’s London Film Festival. It was selected for the Sundance Creative Producing Labs and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015 and currently lives in Los Angeles. Felix is working as a writer and director in Los Angeles and is currently working on his second feature film.
During our Keynote Address, Thompson will be sharing his experiences as an independent director navigating the film world. Thompson, along with other industry professionals, will be available to network throughout the entire festival. Join us in Lumina Theater for an all day film celebration on Friday, March 31st, 2017.
Visions 6 Keynote Speaker:
Director/Writer, “Badass Woman,” and Cannes Film Festival Selection
Visions Film Festival & Conference is dedicated to celebrating the success of past alumni both regionally and nationally. This year, Visions has selected Jaclyn Gramigna to deliver our keynote address. In 2011, Gramigna won the first ever Visionary Award, our festival’s highest honor, for her film “Infallible” (2011).
Since then, Gramigna has graduated from NYU with a BFA in Film & Television Production (2010) and is the Founder/Director of Whippersnapper Films. She has written, directed, and produced eight short films and several music videos which have screened in a variety of film festivals (including the Festival de Cannes Short Film Corner, Palm Beach International Film Festival, Brooklyn Short Film Festival and others). In 2013, she was featured as an "emerging filmmaker to watch" in Miramax’s blog. Jaclyn directs theater, as well, and won first place in the 2013 Take Ten 1 Act Festival and the 2014 New York New Works Theatre Festival. She is represented by “badass female driven studio,” X-Factor Films, as a Director/Writer and is working as such on their upcoming original series, “Tansylvania.” Gramigna is on the verge of starting funding for her first feature film endeavor, a romantic mystery/thriller currently titled, “Control Freak.” In addition, Jaclyn has received quite a few awards for her work in sound design and is a proud member of the Film Fatales and The Filmshop. She strives to make visceral films that use humor to challenge people’s comfort zones and turn reality on its head. She is also an avid home cook and musician who lets her freak flag fly!
Working in New York City, continually selected for film festivals around the world, and eager to share the challenges of transitioning from student to professional, Jaclyn Gramigna’s keynote speech is sure to launch Visions Film Festival & Conference with a bang.
Visions 4 Keynote Speaker:
Reardon is a bilingual (English, French) arts, film and television professional with experience in arts administration, communications, writing, editing, production, and social media. She also serves as an active member of the Toronto Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
With an inextinguishable interest in critical theory, cinema, and feminism, Reardon first attended McGill University in Montreal as an undergraduate, earning her B.A. in Cultural Studies in 2009. In 2012, she received her M.A. in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where she also held a Teaching Assistant position throughout her graduate study (responsible for teaching a class of 40 students). Considering an obvious dedication to her extended education in cinema and cultural studies, one may assume that an equal, high-level of related work experience doubtful, at least until her formal study had been completed. Think so? You don’t know Kiva Reardon. So stop, take a few deep breaths, and prepare yourself for the highly effective scholar and writer that is Ms. Reardon. I have not even begun to express the true ambitious fire that seems to have engulfed her life and aspirations--a fire fueled primarily by a passion for the cinema, writing, and feminist theory.
What is most impressive is Reardon’s creation of her very own film journal. She is founder and editor of Cleo Journal (April 2013– Present), a quarterly digital journal of film and film culture informed by feminist perspectives. She also holds the position of Staff Film Writer for The Loop.ca at Bell Media (May 2012–Present) and has worked as a freelance writer for the past five years (March 2009–Present), serving as an on-going contributor to Cinema Scope and NOW Magazine, with work published in the National Post, Reverse Shot, Ms. Magazine, Torontoist, Cinephile Journal, AV Club Toronto, and Rue Morgue.
In regards to production experience, Reardon was the Business Affairs Coordinator for Shaftesbury Films Inc. (May 2008 – August 2008), and held the Publicity Coordinator position for Insight Production Company from August to November in 2009. Reardon also worked as a Production Assistant for John Greyson Film (Greyzone Production Co.) from February to April in 2012.
Her work with the Toronto Irish Film Festival as Public Relations Manager (February 2011– November 2011) was a very pleasant surprise not only for our staff, but myself as well, as I’m holding her identical position on the Visions4 staff. I may have to squeeze in a few more of my own questions, as I would be a fool not to pick her PR brain for my own benefit! Although, the fact that Reardon does have festival staff experience is amazing and that will be a huge benefit for both the staff and herself regarding communication.
At Visions Film Festival and Conference, the same kind of emotion and ardor is present in our undergraduate filmmakers, scholars, and staff, along with professors and event guests. As keynote speaker of Visions4, Reardon will nurture these passions for film and writing inside of everyone--and perhaps create a few new ones as well. Established by the variety and sheer amount of successful work she has done this early in her surely long career, Reardon will have the ability to immediately invigorate the spirit of the undergraduate filmmakers and scholars in attendance, allowing their future aspirations to take form in reality, not from the point-of-view of starved dreams, but from a real-world perspective that has been rid of excuses and doubt. This of course accomplishes a primary responsibility of Visions: to help securely bridge the imposing transition between film school and film career.
Kiva Reardon is a true visionary with a well rounded range of experience in both the film and media industry, and she has extensive scholarly writing/editor knowledge as well, founding her own film publication. She is certainly a near-perfect rendering of the Visions4 mission as a whole, and her accomplishments and future aspirations are much more than intimidating--they are inspiring.