The Brain Trust
MAYOR JOE SERNA
The Sacramento Film Festival was the brainchild of two men, Ken Knoll and the late, beloved Mayor, Joe Serna, as a part of his "City of Festivals" initiative. One night, Serna and Ken had viewed some films at the beautiful Crest theater. Ken casually mentioned to Joe that Sacramento should have a fest and just that quickly, The Sacramento Festival of Cinema was born. Mayor Serna tasked Ken to run it and went on to locate $80K in seed money to fund the first two years of the festival.
Thanks to Mayor Serna, a true visionary.
KENNETH SEGURA KNOLL
Ken is the original Director of the Sacramento Festival of Cinema (as it was known) from 1995 when it was founded to 1998 when he handed the reins to Access Sacramento's Ron Cooper and Martin Anaya.
Since then, the event has grown into a jewel of the Northern California art scene.
In 2016, with the screening of Colin Hanks' seminal film on the founding of Tower Records, "All Things Must Pass", Ken was given our "Founders Award" for his tireless efforts to promote local film art.
Social entrepreneur and multi-media producer, Martin Anaya was the first Managing Director of the Festival of Cinema from 1998 to 2004 before taking the festival independent with the blessing and continued partnership of Access Sacramento in 2005.
The newly renamed Sacramento International Film Festival expanded its scope and added components like the DIGITAL ODYSSEY and AMERICAN SCREENWRITING conferences as well as additional stand-alone events like the Sacramento Black and Latino festivals (Cine Soul, Cine Latino). The Sacramento Film Festival continues to expand under Mr. Anaya's leadership and is now an 8-day, multi-venue event.
Through his role as Executive Director at Access Sacramento, Ron partnered with Ken Knoll and supported the Festival of Cinema since its founding.
In 1998 Ron took the festival under AC/SAC's wing to manage. From 1998 to 2004 the Festival was managed by Access Sacramento, the region's Public Access TV station. To this day AC/SAC still manages the highly popular spin-off event, "A PLACE CALLED SACRAMENTO".
A UCLA MFA and Alfred P. Sloan Award winner, Dawn is a writer/director who has spent many of her early years learning her craft from masters like Dustin Lance Black (Milk), Bobby Moresco (Crash), and Paula Wagner (Mission Impossible).
Dawn has taught the California Film Foundation screenwriting class since 2010 and has served as host to the American Screenwriters Conference since 2015. The event has hosted hundreds of students and featured the works of many awad-winning writers including Shia Lebeouf (Honey Boy), Felicia Marye (Bigger, 13 Reasons Why) and Michelle Amor (Tupak Shakur, Before I Wake).
VINCENT DEE MILES
Long-time actor and arts impresario, Vince Miles has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Ice Cube, Jamie Foxx, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke & Walter Matthau to name a few. In 2005, Vince was asked to helm the fledgling Sacramento Black Film Festival (Cine Soul). Since then, Vince has overseen the screening of more than 300 films that celebrate the width and depth of the African cinema diaspora.
Most people know Russ Solomon as the affable creator of Tower Records. What many do NOT know is that in 1995 when Ken Knoll was putting together a film festival for Sacramento, it was Russ who stepped up to create and manage a student aspect called "Tower of Youth". In 2016 at the same screening of the Colin Hanks film, "All Things Must Pass", Russ was given a Founder's award for his amazing contibutions.
Dr. JORGE SANTANA
Born in Rosarito Mexico, raised in California and educated at the University Complutense in Madrid Spain, Dr. Santana taught Spanish cultural studies at California State University for 37 years. His award-winning videos and international photo essays have been published in numerous books, TV shows and magazines. Jorge serves as the Director of Cine Latino (The Sacramento Latino Film Festival). Working closely with partners like the Mexican Consulate and community stakeholders, Jorge brings the joy of Latinx cinema to California audiences.
Dubbed the "Godfather of American screenwriting" by Francis Ford Coppola, Dr. Lew is a screenwriter, author, former Hollywood development executive and chairman Emeritus of the UCLA Screenwriting Department. Lew's book, "Screenwriting 434" is considered by many, 'the Bible' of screenwriting.
In 2005, after making numerous trips to Northern California to teach for our sister organization, The California Film Foundation, Lew was asked to head the newly minted American Screenwriters Conference. While he is now retired, he remains very involved. To this day, our top prize for screenwriting is known as the "Lew Hunter Award".
Dr. LEW HUNTER
After a successful medical career, Priyanka was scouted on the street for her first film. Of British/Indian heritage, Priyanka studied at the prestigious Identity School of acting in London. She is now represented by world-renown global management firm, Bohemia. Her credits include "Birdie" and "Election Night". Also an accomplished screenwriter, Ms Arya directs the Cine Asia (Sacramento International Asian Film Festival).