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Meet the Team

Get to know the faces behind the festival.

Spanning across undergraduate, graduate, and young professionals in Pittsburgh.

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Film Festival Director

JOLANTA LION

After teaching Polish language, history of Polish Cinema, and scriptwriting at the renowned National Film School in Łódź and University of Łódź, Jolanta Lion came to Pittsburgh to teach Polish Language, Film 
and Culture at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition she created and taught courses on contemporary Polish Cinema and the Cinema 
of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and she founded a Polish Film Festival “Through Polish Eyes.” She is currently the Assistant Director of the 
Humanities Center at CMU, the Founder & Director of the annual CMU International “Faces” Film Festival, and professor of the Film Festival Course, which she created. Among the festival’s recent centerpieces were appearances by the former First Lady of Poland, Danuta Walesa, Director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), and Director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing). Barry Paris, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Film Critic, wrote: “The Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival is my annual favorite, due to the excellence of the choices by its director, Jolanta Lion, who deserves an Oscar in general.”

Executive Assistant

ISAAC FISHER

Isaac Fisher graduated in 2023 from the Masters in Arts Management Program at Heinz College. When he’s not working on the festival, Isaac teaches cartooning workshops at the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh through Incubator Productions. His current cartoon series, The Tourist is available to read at www.incubatorproductions.com. Isaac’s biggest fear is not being able to provide for his family

Creative Director

BAILEY DOWNIN

Bailey is a freelance web designer and creative. She graduated from Kent State University with a BA of Interior Design in 2021. Following her graduation, her desire to further her creative outreach led her to this opportunity with IFF. This path has progressed from her being a festival intern to the Creative Director throughout her first year with the team. During her time, she has helped to redesign the festival’s website, created portions of advertising content and promotional graphics, and assisted in the organization of the largest event in festival history. She is very excited to share her creativity with the public and see the team’s hard work come to life. Biggest fear is being limited to a smaller version of myself.

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Logistics

YIKUN YANG

Yikun is a soon-to-graduate arts management from Carnegie Mellon University. When not crunching numbers for the International Film Festival, you'll find her grooving to a dance routine and with her dance people. Mixing a love for movies with a passion for dance, Yikun brings a unique and lively spirit to the world of arts and entertainment.

Event Coordinator 

Mengyi Yang

Mengyi Yang, 杨孟依, is a first-year student in the Master of Entertainment Industry Management program. Prior to joining CMU, she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and was a reality TV creative producer and a fashion magazine editor. At the CMU International Film Festival, she is the head of events and specializes in marketing and development across the Asian and UPitt communities. Passionate about various forms of love and beauty expression, she aspires to become an international film producer in the future.
Biggest fear: Being confined to an office and living a 9-5 life. 

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Event Coordinator

Dalvina Bian

Dalvina is a first-year student in the Master of Entertainment Industry Management. She is the head of the event coordination department, and she helps organize and plan events for every film. She hopes that CMU IFF’s inclusive approach will establish the organization as a leading force in the Pittsburgh community and is excited to be a part of the organization. In her free time she enjoys singing, going to concerts, and watching variety shows. My biggest fear is losing my cat.

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Development committee

NICK ROBINSON

Nick Robinson is a Master of Entertainment Industry Management student at CMU. He is passionate about films of all kinds and is excited to work on this year’s film festival.

Short Film Competition Co-Director

ALEJANDRA MAANTILLA-DIAZ

Alejandra Mantilla-Diaz is an entertainment professional from Colombia. Having started her career leading marketing projects for creative industries, she is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University. As co-director of the Short Film Competition, Alejandra works to create opportunities to showcase diverse and unique voices. She has also contributed to the programming and social media committees. Biggest fear: clowns

Logistics

Jesús Padilla Muñoz

Co-president Jesús Padilla Muñoz is a filmmaker studying at Carnegie Mellon University that uses the language of film and music to enhance the human experience. Jesús believes emotions and their significance is universal, and that film and music offers poetic solutions for the internal conflicts people experience every day. Serving also as the Lead Projectionist, Jesús, has dedicated himself to enhancing the screening experiences at the festival, to build unique and exciting experiences for audiences.  His greatest fear: the deep ocean.

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Youth Outreach Coordinator

Cassius Connolly

Cassius is a fourth year majoring in Psychology. This is his first semester participating in the CMU film festival. A new interest he has is participating in student films whether behind the camera or learning how to act. 

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Youth Outreach Coordinator

Zhenru (Kristine) Yan

Kristine Yan is a dedicated second-year Master of Art Management student at Carnegie Mellon University, driven by her profound passion for film, art, community engagement, and youth advocacy. Currently, she holds the pivotal role of overseeing the Youth Program at CMUIFF. Dedicated to broadening access to art and film among Pittsburgh's youth, Kristine works tirelessly to curate enriching movie screenings and engaging activities tailored specifically for teenagers. Her unwavering commitment to empowering young people through cultural experiences underscores her belief in the transformative power of the arts.

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Development committee

Kari Galensky

Kari is a staff member in the Student Life Suite at Carnegie Mellon University with a passion for the arts, culture, film and building community on campus.. She has provided assistance with the development, programming and production of some of the films and events for this year’s festival. She is working to help spread the word about the hard work our students put into the festival every year. She’s just happy to be here to help. 

Programming

YUTONG LIU

Programming

Steve Makin

Yutong Liu (刘雨桐) is an independent film director and producer from China. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University. She had experiences in film production, sociology, and Arts Management, and she aims to direct and produce cross-cultural films telling stories of voices unheard and people underrepresented. As programming head and director’s assistant at CMUIFF, Yutong works to select films around the world and bring them to the Pittsburgh community by supporting the teams on film screenings and secondary events programming. 
My Greatest Fear: Be unconscious of being self-conscious

Steve Makin is a first-year undergraduate studying both Creative Writing and Film + Visual Media. He is wildly passionate about his writing pursuits, especially outside of the classroom, and he works in the IFF’s programming department. His biggest fear is rollercoasters.

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Marketing Coordinator

Ritika Gokhale

Ritika, who is embarking on her first year as a Master's student in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University, holds the conviction that life itself unfolds like a grand play. At CMU IFF, she is eager to deepen her understanding of media marketing, event organization, festival operations, and to immerse herself in the realm of international film. Leisure time for Ritika is spent in contemplation, browsing fashion forums, and in pursuit of the ideal movie for her weekend viewing. With a background enriched by theater, scriptwriting, and composing music, she looks forward to collaborating with her peers at CMU IFF, who share her passion for art, culture, and cinema. Ritika is a staunch believer in the power of storytelling as a means of 'marketing' emotions, aiming to spark meaningful discussions and raise social awareness.

Visual Designer

JUSTIN SONG

Justin is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University studying environments design with a minor in animation and special effects. He is passionate about social justice and empathy through his design work.

Videographer & Photographer

Arther Tang

Arthur is a sophomore majoring in Art under the College of Fine Arts. His focus is on digital, time-based arts. He is interested in 3D animation, digital sculpture, filmmaking and music. He is happy to join the videography team to make trailers that promote the festival, and document great moments of the event. 

Visual Designer

Priyanshi Garg

Priyanshi is a sophomore in Design at Carnegie Mellon University. With a keen eye for aesthetics and a flair for creativity, she is deeply passionate about exploring the intersection of art and technology. Priyanshi thrives on solving design challenges and is committed to creating meaningful and impactful experiences through her work.

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Visual Designer

Gabby Acker

Gabby is a Sophomore in Design at Carnegie Mellon. She is fascinated by the animation and film industry, at one time taking a year to pursue animation, only to be tempted and ultimately seduced by other prospects of financial stability and a 401k. Despite this, she still enjoys consuming the medium ad infinitum, with her all time favorite film being of course the 2010 cult classic Megamind. Her biggest fear? Telemarketers.

Development Committee 

Keerthana Karthikeyan

Keerthana Karthikeyan is a Junior in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. An overachiever by nature, Keerthana dives headfirst into a wide array of activities, constantly pushing the envelope of what's possible. At CMU IFF, she is part of the production team! Greatest fear: a world where film doesn't exist!

Visual Designer

Ally Wen

Ally is a sophomore in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. She is interested in visual & experience design and is happy to have worked on IFF this year to create branding and visual media. She is a firm believer that animation is a medium, not a genre.
Greatest fear: Needles

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Videographer

Ervin Song

Programming

Noel Limb

Ervin Song is a sophomore studying Statistics & Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the CMU IFF team because of his interest in watching films and learning from their stories and themes. Currently, his LetterBoxd top four films are Aftersun, Decision to Leave, Drive my Car, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, but he hopes to watch more films and evolve that list. 

Noel Limb is a third-year undergraduate studying Creative Writing, Film/Visual Media, and Drama. She is a part of IFF’s programming team and loves to discover new films and the process behind creating them. She is a passionate writer of her own fictional works and scripts, aiming to bring them to the screen in exploration of the human condition and relationships. Being a creator means looking to the real world for inspiration and observations; it breathes life into her vision while also reaffirming some of her fears. Looking into the endless abyss of the ocean’s waters, into the black hole of a deep well, or down the spiral of a perpetual staircase… then you fall into the dizzyingly imperceptible space. Bathophobia (a fear of depths) is one of her greatest phobias.

Marketing Coordinator

Nicole Huang

Nicole Huang is a freshman majoring in Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon. Her practice is research-focused, with a heavy inclination towards installation and moving-image as mediums. Arts Management is one of her interests, and she is excited to join CMUIFF to assist with marketing the festival and expanding its reach.

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Programming

Alicja Czaja

Alicja Czaja is a first year-undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing Biochemistry with a creative writing minor. She is passionate about poetry writing with a goal of publishing her own poetry book. She is involved in the IFF’s programming department. Alicja’s biggest fear is failure.

Development Committee

Azmayeen (Rhythm) Fayeque

Visual Designer

Audrey Zhao

Azmayeen is a passionate moviegoer and interested in creative production. He is currently pursuing his master's in Entertainment Industry Management at Carnegie Mellon University. 
As a Development committee member for CMUIFF, Azmayeen works to foster partnerships with our community and sponsors who help us to bring world-class films to Pittsburgh.   

Audrey is a sophomore studying Communications design at Carnegie Mellon University. She strives to design with heart, and is fascinated by all the in-betweens of our world; the universe, the deep sea, and the spaces that connect and divide us. She’s honored to participate in IFF this year and find new movies she won’t understand. Audrey is more often afraid than not, but will do it all anyways.

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Short Film Competition Co-Director

SOPHIA HELLER

Sofia Heller is a first-year Master's of Entertainment Industry Management student at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the co-director of the Short Film Competition, but is passionate about all areas of film and television. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she is excited to be working with filmmakers from the local Pittsburgh area. Biggest fear: spiders 

Meet the Team

Get to know the faces behind the festival.

Spanning across undergraduate, graduate, and young professionals in Pittsburgh.

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