Kristian Hodko is an international actor and screenwriter. His work has been selected in a multitude of international film festivals, including Cannes, for three consecutive years. He regularly lends his time as a film festival juror. He wrote and acted in Morning After, which is currently being filmed in Montreal and will be released in 2017. Kristian is honoured and excited to be part of the Montreal International Black Film Festival.
Award-winning director and producer Michael Challenger has literally built his entire career in one word: “multi-faceted.” As a high-energy, business-savvy, and goal-driven person, Michael has carved out a career path that spans two decades—a rarity in the show business industry. He has been a dancer, actor, and singer since the age of 13, earning him a strong reputation. It was only a matter of time before Michael established ANU Entertainment. He has been the company’s owner, executive producer, and creative director since he founded it in 2007. ANU Entertainment is a leading production company offering many services in various departments. Michael thrives on passion, commitment, and excellence.
After studying drama at Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe, Sherbrooke-based actress Marie-Évelyne Lessard furthered her screen acting and musical theatre training in Montreal. She became a public figure through popular Quebec series such as 19-2, 30 Vies, Trauma, and Les Argonautes. She also works in dubbing, giving her voice to many Afro-American actresses. Her role as Sophie in Martin Laroche’s feature-length film Fair Sex was critically acclaimed, selecting her as nominee for Best Actress at the 2014 Gala du cinéma québécois. She recently played a role in Guy Édoin’s Ville-Marie, alongside Pascale Bussières and Monica Bellucci.
Honey A. Dresher
President of the jury
Culture.Diversity.Communications President Honey A. Dresher is a producer and consultant. She has sat on 20 Canadian boards of directors and served as president of the Saidye Bronfman Centre and the TVA Action Committee on Cultural Diversity. Ms. Dresher has been the Mois du Créole president, president of the Ms. Créole jury, and consultant for Black History Month. She wrote and directed Woumble/Farbrengen, a musical and poetic show paying tribute to Haitian and Jewish artists. Ms. Dresher is currently an executive producer with DLI Productions. She is also a PAX cofounder, a Peace Festival focused on many artistic expressions.
Jérôme Pruneau has a PhD in social and cultural anthropology (ethnology). He is General Manager of Diversité artistique Montréal (DAM), has been a university professor for 10 years, and is an artist manager, editor-in-chief, and art director at TicArtToc magazine, and has authored several scientific articles and publications. He puts his expertise at the behest of ethnically diverse artists by guiding them in (re)developing their professional careers in Quebec. Persuaded by intercultural issues and the richness of diversity for every society, his campaign aims to change points of view, open up spirits, and give a voice to these artists that are too often forgotten about. He’s the author of the essay Il est temps de dire les choses published in October 2015.
As a producer, television, and radio host in Haiti, Carel Pedre is one of the most influential and famous media personalities in the country. He not only masters the art of social media but also has an innate talent for interacting with people. In 2005, he created Chokarella (“Carel’s Show” in Creole), an exceptional talent pool for people evolving in Haiti’s cultural and entertainment industry. Carel is an astute leader; he has received a number of awards and has also been involved in Haiti’s most popular TV programs like Digicel Stars, Ayiti Deploge, and Kiyès Ki Toro a. He was a TEDx speaker in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, last year, and was chosen to represent Haiti in the U.S.-funded International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). With over 15 years of experience under his belt, Carel continues to innovate and regularly introduce new features into Haiti’s media market.
President of the jury
Phyllis Gooden is a professional actor working in film, television, and theatre. She recently played a role in Le cœur de madame Sabali, winner of the Best Canadian Feature Award at the Festival de nouveau cinéma. Other recent appearances include films Devant and Case Claus’d as well as TV series 19-2, La théorie de K.O., and Inheriting Trouble. Phyllis has also graced the stage in lead roles at the Centaur Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop. She produced From Reality to Set, an ACTRA video promoting the casting of culturally diverse actors. She was appointed Ombudsperson of ACTRA Montreal in 2016.
Caesey Shakes was born in Jamaica and raised in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. After moving from the city’s west end to its east end, she developed an appreciation for the layered identities within the diverse communities surrounding her. She attended the University of Ottawa to pursue a major in communications and a minor in film studies between 2009 and 2014. Following her graduation, she was one of the participants in the Montreal Black Film Festival’s Being Black in Montreal program. During this time, she wrote and directed her first short-documentary, Indie. She has since pitched a pilot web-series— Tia Aide-Moi! — in collaboration with Pimiento. She is currently working on a script for her first feature-length film.
Jhonattan is a passionate Colombian actor and filmmaker. The struggle between social classes and urban culture from his upbringing in Queens, New York, is a common denominator in his acting and films. Jhonattan fell in love with the film industry shortly after relocating to Montreal. He has had the opportunity to learn from recognized teachers like Gene Gibbons, Mike Migliara, and Tom Todoroff. He also has had the opportunity to participate in films screened in local and international film festivals, and has had experience working in some of the greatest films that have come to the city. Because of constant inequalities in the industry, he has made it a priority to collaborate with and give opportunities to people from ethnic minorities.