Meet Our Judges


Suzan Aledin

Suzan has produced and commissioned hundreds of projects for children and youth in Finland. She is now Co-founder and head of the board at Moilo (, a production company specialized in children and youth content (digital, live-action, animation, and games). Her way of working is based on the Finnish educational system, coupled with a sensitivity towards children and their needs in different contexts.

Marie-Eve Arseneault
Content Manager

Marie-Eve Arseneault is a Marketing and Content professional with more than 13 years of experience in the Entertainment industry, in both Television and Video games. Inspired by pop and geek cultures, she is working on the development of digital and interactive content.

Kenny Bae
Senior Producer, Marketing Manager
KBS Korean Broadcasting System

Kenny, Kihyung Bae joined KBS in 1991 and has been involved with most of the significant international co-productions initiated by the broadcaster since joining the company. His focus is on documentaries and cultural programs. Currently, he is in charge of KBS World channel marketing and content business with overseas partners at KBS.

Bae has received the Presidential Award and the Best Program Award from the Korean Government. He is an internationally renowned expert in the field of co-production and global producing of content industry.

Zia Bales
Senior Acquisitions Manager EMEA
Turner Broadcasting System EMEA Limited

Zia Bales is Senior Acquisitions Manager, Kids for Turner EMEA, working across Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, Cartoonito and Toonami.

In this role, Zia oversees and negotiates shared acquisitions for Turner EMEA’s kids’ business, working closely with the local heads of programming and acquisitions of each of the channels and the content heads within EMEA. In addition, Zia works closely with production and coproduction partners to provide creative consultation throughout the development of select series, including the recently-announced Taffy, an original series for Boomerang with Cyber Group Studios.

Zia has been at Turner since 2013. Prior to this she held an Acquisitions role at Disney. Zia has a background in Television Production having held various positions in Production Management.

Kerry Ball
Literary Agent and Head of Development
Meridian Artists Inc

Kerry Ball is a Literary Agent and Head of Development at Meridian Artists.  Kerry joined the Meridian team in 2010 as an Associate where she worked closely with the Agents and roster to facilitate employment opportunities and project sales in both Canada and the USA.  She transitioned to the  role of Agent in 2014 and covers primetime production and development in Canada.  Kerry also  manages Meridian's internal development slate to maximize opportunities for the client's original  material.  Prior to Meridian, Kerry worked at Achilles Media as a Content Producer for television  production and programming events such as the Banff World Media Festival, Just Comedy at Just for  Laughs in Montreal, and History Makers in New York City.  In 2013 Kerry was awarded the CBC  Business of Broadcasting mentorship through Women in Film and Television Toronto (WIFT-T).  Kerry is an active member of WIFT-T and in 2016 completed their inaugural Shaw Media Management Accelerator program through Ryerson University.  Kerry is a graduate from Ryerson University, earning at Honors BA in Radio and Television Arts with a minor in English. 

Justine Bannister
Just B

Justine is a trilingual children’s media consultant with 25 years’ experience accrued most notably at 20th Century Fox, Disney Channels France and Lagardère France. Her skillset spans animation production, development, post-production, distribution, acquisitions, co-productions, marketing, brand and community management and project evaluation. Justine set up JUST B to provide Producers, Creatives, Distributors, Festivals and Media Conglomerates with bespoke services whereby each project is nurtured from inception through development, production, delivery, commercialization and building the brand.

JUST B services cover market readiness, pitching, commercial strategy, financing, funding, project sourcing and evaluation, co-producing, adaptations, casting, dubbing & post-production, International sales, marketing, communication and press.

JUST B clients include Animation from Spain, NHK Japan, TFO Canada, Reed Midem, Shanghai Media Group China, Animation South Africa, Pro-Chile, Go-N Productions France, Shanghai TV & Film Festival, Cinekid Festival, Telefilm Canada & SODEC Quebec, Spider Eye UK and Tinker Group.

Justine sits on International Festival juries, panels and advisory boards and works as an expert on project evaluation for numerous national and pan-regional funding organisations.

Philip Barnsdall Thompson
VP Acquisitions, UK, Europe & North America
Flame Distribution

Flame Media is a content production and distribution company specialising in high end factual entertainment and documentary programming. Flame represents over 3,500 hours of content across all factual genres and works with over 180 independent producers from all over the world.

Flame has offices in London, Sydney, Singapore and the USA, and Flame has its UK production office based in Cardiff.

Philip is a seasoned TV professional, having worked for many years acquiring factual content for BSKYB in the UK.

Having joined Flame four years ago, Philip is attending Banff World Media Festival with the aim of sourcing high end factual content in multiple genres for Flame Distribution to assist with marketing internationally. Flame's experienced sales team are also able to assist our producers with pre-buys. Philip would also be happy to discuss co-production opportunities on the right content, in addition to how Flame might assist in maximising back end revenue internationally on existing content.

Emily Baustien
Development Specialist
Discovery Channel

Emily Baustien serves as Development Specialist for Discovery Channel. In her role, she works with producers to develop and produce primetime series. Discovery closed out 2017 as cable’s #1 network among M25-54 (excl. sports) for the 3rd straight year and owned more top 10 unscripted cable series than any other network among men. Prior to Discovery, Emily worked at Netflix and Authentic Entertainment. She is based out of Discovery Communication’s West Coast office in Los Angeles, California.

Erica Benson
Media Executive & Producer
Erica Benson

Brenda Bisner
Vice President Content and Business Development
Baby Toes Media

Brenda Bisner is a Children’s Entertainment Digital Brand Strategist and business development executive in the children’s media space. She has the rare talent to spot properties that have staying power and close deals to fully leverage their value in the Digital marketplace. Throughout her 18+ year career, Brenda has demonstrated a knack for tapping overlooked revenue streams in apps, gaming, and digital. Formerly with Cookie Jar Entertainment/CPLG, Porchlight Entertainment, and the Tom Lynch Company, etc. she helped close digital licensing deals for major brands, such as Strawberry Shortcake, Johnny Test, Caillou, Richard Scarry, Inspector Gadget, Lucha Libre Wrestling, and many more. Brenda was instrumental in launching 5 online platforms, has negotiated and produced over 30+ apps, developed, produced, and sold live action, animated, and reality series across multiple channels around the world.
In 2013, she founded Baby Toes Media, a consultancy that works with large companies to help maximize their library value in Digital space, but also works with “brand owners” to help build their brands from the “Digital Ground Up.” With a thoughtful approach Brenda strategizes, implements, and executes on a host of digital initiatives across many platforms worldwide by implementing precise and thoughtful plans for today and the future of the business. Discovering novel ways to bring great content to kids all around the globe is her goal, and she pursues it with passion.

Tessa Bryson
Al Jazeera Media Network

Tessa has been in broadcasting since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2003. In 2007 she joined Al Jazeera English in London and later in 2013 she moved to Qatar to join Al Jazeera's award winning Investigative Unit. In 2011 she became a trustee for the Arab British Centre for four years, a cultural organistation that promotes understanding between the UK and the Arab world through arts and culture.

Mitch Burman

After spending the first 20 years of his life watching way too much TV, Mitch decided that he might as well make a career out of it.
The Gemini, CSA and International Emmy® Award nominated Producer/Director got his start in television working in Los Angeles on NBC’s popular daytime drama “Santa Barbara”. After a brief stay in Hollywood, he returned to Canada and has spent the past 25 years honing his talents all across the Canadian broadcast map.
Known for his creativity and expertise as a show runner, Mitch has been able to bring his talents to some of this country’s most popular and critically acclaimed programs. Having spent a large portion of his early career in sports television, his more recent years have focused primarily on the Unscripted and Kids genres where he produced and/or directed shows such as “Style By Jury”, “The Second City’s Next Comedy Legend”, “Conviction Kitchen” and “The Adrenaline Project” just to name a few. Mitch is also regarded as one of Canada’s leading producers of hidden camera prank shows, having created the hit YTV series “Extreme Babysitting” and “Undercover High”.
Since 2016 Mitch has been serving as the Head of Production for Toronto-based HeartHat Entertainment where he jumped feet first into the world of Animation by creating and producing the critically acclaimed “CANAdooDAday” for CBC Kids.

Melissa Campbell
Contentum Consulting & Management

Melissa Campbell launched Contentum Consulting & Management in 2018 after over a decade in the Unscripted Television agency world. Previously Head of Unscripted Content at the Kaplan Stahler Agency, Campbell works with a varied client list of U.S. and International production companies, producers, and talent. Her background in radio, production, marketing, and PR led her into the representation business at commercial prodco, Plum Productions, helping to pioneer their branded and short-form entertainment division, with agency life starting in 2005 at the Gersh Agency. She is based in Los Angeles with a core group of clients, working strategically with other reps, managers and entities worldwide.

Juliana Capelini

Juliana Capelini has been working as a producer in the Brazilian TV and film market for more than 10 years. As executive producer, she worked for the main Brazilian production companies in TV series, documentaries and feature films, such as “Julie and The Phantoms”, kids live action series for Nickelodeon and TV Band, Emmy Nominee in 2012; “Sitio do Picapau Amarelo – 1th season”, animation series for TV Globo and Cartoon; “Doggy Day School” a Brazilian Canadian coproduction animation series for Nickelodeon LA, TV Cultura and TV Ontario; “DPA- Detetives do Predio Azul” kids live-action series for TV Gloob, “Terra Prometida” a documentary series for TV Cultura and the movies “DPA- Detetives do Predio Azul - The Movie” and “DPA2- Detetives do Predio Azul - The Italian Mystery”.

Jan Caruana
Writer, Comedian, Performer

Jan is a multiple Canadian Comedy Award-winning actor and has performed across North America in a variety of comedy shows. She has appeared in films and television shows including Baroness Von Sketch, Rookie Blue, Mean Girls and Kim’s Convenience.

As a writer, Jan is a Gemini/Canadian Screen Nominated writer for her work on City TV's Sunnyside and the YTV youth sketch show That’s So Weird, creating some of the series most memorable and colourful characters. She is a writer for CBC's Because News with Gavin Crawford and Just For Laughs All Access and CBC’s Baroness Von Sketch Show. Jan is also very proud to have written for the Nickelodeon shows Make it Pop and The Other Kingdom and the international sensation The Next Step on NBC Universal.

Candice Chambers
Director Digital Distribution and Aquisitions
9 Story Media Group

Candice Chambers is a seasoned television executive with over 12 years of experience in digital distribution, acquisitions, sales, and production. As Senior Director of Distribution and Acquisitions, Candice oversees 9 Story’s digital business, and handles content acquisitions with third party producers. Prior to joining 9 Story in 2011, Candice held various positions at Warner Bros International Television Distribution across business administration and sales. Candice also held prior positions at Corus Entertainment within programming (W Network) and production (CMT).

Richard Cook
Tough Cookie

Richard is an International Emmy and Rose d’Or-Nominated Executive Producer. His career has spanned genres including documentaries, factual entertainment, music, chat shows and live events. In the UK he has produced and directed for BBC, ITV, CH4, SKY, and in the US; Showtime, E!, HGTV, VICE and CNN. He has worked with an array of A-List talent including; Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Simon Cowell, Will Smith, Spike Jonze and Madonna amongst many others. His credits include Queen: Days of Our Lives (BBC), The Cruise Ship (ITV), T4, Popworld and Transmission (Channel 4), and in the branded world iTunes Music Festival, Red Bull Rivals and Nike Supersonic. Richard is a voting member of BAFTA and the International Emmy Awards. He is currently Chief Creative Officer at Tough Cookie Productions in NYC, part of the Argonon Group.

Connie Dercho
Vice President
Triangle Post

Connie’s Post Production career began in the 3-D world where she produced short films, commercials and show openings. She moved into Live Action where she quickly developed a reputation for her collaborative approach to material. Thanks to her commitment to all aspects of storytelling – from initial concept to the final delivery of a realized vision – Connie has worked with some of the city’s most talented creators and technical teams. She’s produced several award-winning documentaries, factual shows over the years and continues to be actively involved in the whole of each project.

Nate DuFort
Creative Producer
The Second City

Nate DuFort is a writer, producer and director who splits his time between Detroit and Chicago. Nate currently serves as the Creative Producer for Local Legend Films, having previously served as the Producer for Second City Theatricals, Producing Director for The Second City Touring Companies and the Producing Artistic Director for The Second City Detroit. Highlights include producing The Second City Guide to Opera in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago, leading the producing team for The Second City's collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, managing the partnership at sea between Second City and Norwegian Cruise Line. Nate served on the Board of Directors for Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, Michigan and from 2005 to 2007 served as the Director of the Planet Ant Film & Video Festival as well as segment produced for festivals around the United States. He currently produces the podcasts My Neighbors Are Dead and Unspookable both available wherever you get your podcasts.

Lauren Evans
Co-Founder & Producer
Cherrydale Productions

Lauren is an award winning producer, content creator, and co-owner of Cherrydale Productions Ltd. Lauren has had a passion for all things Film and Television for as long as she can remember and being able to create and share engaging stories with the Cherrydale team has been a dream come true.
Since moving to Toronto she has had the opportunity to work in various aspects of the media industry from production through to distribution & marketing. Her experience includes coordinating and managing for productions and companies as well as many years of being on set. With Cherrydale Lauren has produced two critically acclaimed web series "The March Family Letters" and "All for One".

Stephen Finney
Finney Films

Stephen Finney is a development executive, story editor and script consultant known for boundary pushing dramas and comedies. As a broadcast production executive at Global, Showcase, and History, he oversaw the hit series Lost Girl and Continuum, international co-productions The Firm and Julian Fellow’s Titanic miniseries, comedies Almost Heroes, Pure Pwnage and Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will, and the digital properties Howie Mandel’s The Family Business and But I’m Chris Jericho. He is currently consulting on and developing scripted dramas with production companies in Toronto and Vancouver.

Michael Fukushima
Executive Producer, Animation Studio
NFB The National Film Board of Canada

Michael Fukushima is an award-winning filmmaker and producer at the National Film Board of Canada’s world-renowned Animation Studio. He has been making films since 1984, which is a lot of water under the bridge. Fukushima joined the NFB Animation Studio in 1990 where he’s been a filmmaker, producer, and now executive producer. He now mostly produces the producers and offers up sagacity and wise-cracking bon mots.

Colby Gaines
Back Roads Entertainment

Colby Gaines is an executive producer and founder of Back Roads Entertainment, a New York based content creator specializing in comedy and lifestyle programming.

In his role, Gaines is responsible for the company's programming, development and day-to-day operations. Back Roads Entertainment develops, sells and produces across all genres for broadcast and cable networks, both domestically and internationally, as well as digital platforms.

Since establishing the company in 2011, Gaines has created, sold and produced over 30 series, specials and pilots for networks such as such as A&E, Lifetime, Discovery, Food, Travel Channel, TLC and E! among others. He oversees and manages a production slate that includes Big Bad BBQ Brawl (Cooking) and the upcoming variety format 50 Central (BET) starring music icon, actor and entrepreneur 50 Cent. Other credits include Joking Off (MTV), Lake Life (DIY) as well as Culinary Beats (Yahoo).

Athena Georgaklis
Head of Development
Nelvana Enterprises

Athena Georgaklis is the newly appointed Head of Content for Nelvana. Georgaklis, a highly respected animation executive, leads the acquisition of rights and the development of all original content for Nelvana, working with the studio’s producers, creators, and talent around the world.
Georgaklis has worked in Canadian broadcast and production for more than 19 years. In her most recent role, Georgaklis oversaw all original productions for Corus Entertainment’s TELETOON network, supervising the development and production of Canadian content in both English and French. During her time with TELETOON, she led the production and development of hit shows like Johnny Test, Camp Lakebottom, Mysticons, Cournterfeit Cat, Atomic Puppet, Rocket Monkeys, and the Total Drama Island franchise.

Gustavo Gontijo
Content Development Manager
Globo TV International

Gustavo Gontijo has been with Globo Studios (Brazil´s biggest) since 2000 when he was hired as a writer in a long-term contract for many of the company´s shows and series. In 2014, with the creation of Drama Weekly division, dedicated only to drama and comedy series, he was named Head of Development. During the period, he was essential in the creation and development of hits like “Under Pressure” (the number 1 series in Brazil), “Supermax”, Mister Brau”, “The Wise Ones” and the 2017 MIPtv Grand Jury Prize “Jailers”.lers”.

Larry Grimaldi
VP, Production & Development
MarVista Entertainment

Larry Grimaldi is Vice President of Development & Production at MarVista Entertainment, where he helps create, develop and produce entertainment programming in the television movie, scripted and unscripted series and digital spaces. Before joining MVE, Larry spent considerable time as an independent producer. His career includes work for CBS, Disney, Hallmark, Lifetime, Bravo, MTV/VH1, USA, TLC, Freeform, Style, Animal Planet, Oprah and E Entertainment. He most recently served as an executive producer on the Hallmark movie, “My Christmas Love,” and the Disney XD film, “Mark & Russell’s Wild Ride.” Larry also oversaw the hit Hallmark film, “Summer Villa,” which is being developed into a sequel.

Peter Hartogs
CEO & Executive Producer
Landmark Media Productions

Peter Hartogs is the CEO and Executive Producer at Landmark Media Productions, a Washington, DC-based production company. Hartogs has over 20 years of production and development experience and served as Co-Creator and Production Executive of Smithsonian Channel’s critically acclaimed series, Boomtowners. Hartogs comes from a journalism background, beginning his career at CNN, where he produced daily news, features, long form and medical news. He also was a nationally recognized public relations director at a children’s hospital in Washington DC, developing stories that garnered worldwide attention.

Hartogs and LMP’s mission is to make programs of the highest quality that are enjoyable, innovative, and if you're not careful you might learn something, or feel an emotion or two. We tell stories, and tell them well. LMP specializes in high quality docu-series and documentaries and working with select corporate clients.

Justina Hemperek
Head of Acquisitions
Beyond Distribution

Justina Hemperek is Head of Acquisitions at Beyond Distribution and leads the company’s acquisition and pre-sales activity. She has extensive experience in factual programming and was previously Director of Acquisitions - UK, Europe and Australia, International Distribution at entertainment One (eOne). Prior to eOne, Hemperek held a similar role at ITV Studios Global Entertainment and has also spent time at All3Media International and RDF Rights in the UK. In her native Australia she worked for Nickelodeon Australia as well as Fox World Australia (a subsidiary of Fox International).

Holly Hines
SVP, Content
Dynamic Television

Holly Hines is the SVP of Content for Dynamic Television, where she oversees developing and selling new scripted series and mini-series to commissioning networks in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia. In addition, Hines oversees Dynamic’s produced television series. Hines has committed to building strong relationships with buyers and content creators across Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand leading to a plethora of International programming opportunities with various business models represented.

Holly Hines previously served as the SVP of Scripted Programming for Pivot TV, the cable network for Millennials owned by Participant Media. There, Hines oversaw the production and development of several original series including Please Like Me and Fortitude. Prior to Pivot, Hines served at Fremantle, Fuse and TLC where she oversaw over 100 hours of programming. Hines got her start in the format and international co-production business when she served as a development executive at Reveille, working on the scripted series The Office, The Tudors, and Ugly Betty.

Jimmy Humphrey
Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions
TCB Media Rights

Jimmy has worked in international distribution for over 12 years, with experience in acquisitions & sales across a range of companies from FremantleMedia, Banijay International & Passion Distribution.

In his current role, Jimmy manages the overall acquisition process for TCB Media Rights, identifying, sourcing and evaluating factual programming to acquire and licence around the world. He works closely with broadcasters and producers alike to raise deficit finance and attach co-production and pre-sale partners.

Kirsten Hurd
Acquisitions, Children's Media

Working in Acquisitions for TVO, the technological extension of Ontario’s public education system, Kirsten is responsible for sourcing a wide range of kids programming. She is also the Production Executive for TVO on 5 co-productions each year. In her previous positions she spent 15 years in international sales and acquisitions of finished programming, most recently as Director of Acquisitions and Canada Sales at Distribution360. Prior to D360, Kirsten served as Director of Sales for factual distributor BuzzTaxi Communications, and has held sales and management positions at Cookie Jar Entertainment, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Decode/DHX Media. As a specialist in program sales, Kirsten worked within territories across the globe including North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia. She has attended international markets extensively including Kidscreen, MIPCOM, MIPTV, Banff Media Festival, Hot Docs, AIDC, TIFF, Realscreen and NATPE.

Beth Iley
Director of Development
New Metric Media

BETH ILEY spent five years on the scripted team at Temple Street (a division of Boatrocker Media) where she helped secure funding and worked closely with writers story editing and shepherding projects through development at CBC, Rogers, Bell Media, Shaw, BBC America, NBC Universal and ABC. During her time there, she was involved in both the development, pre- and post-production of “The Next Step” (Family Channel, Hulu, BBC Worldwide), “Orphan Black” (Space, BBC America, BBC Worldwide), “Lost & Found Music Studios” (Family Channel, Netflix), “X Company” (CBC, History Channel, Sony International), and “Killjoys” (Space, Syfy, NBCUniversal).

Following her involvement in the development of Killjoys, she boarded the production in 2015 for the subsequent four seasons producing alongside EPs Karen Troubetzkoy and Michelle Lovretta, assuming the role of Producer on the fifth and final season of the series.

Iley also has extensive knowledge of music licensing, credited as the music coordinator on all four seasons of “Being Erica” (CBC, SoapNet, BBC Worldwide), and provided story editing services to Carmel Creek Productions on the feature film “Full Out” (DHX Media, Netflix).

Andrew Johnson
Executive in Charge of Production, Original Content, Factual
Corus Entertainment

Andrew Johnson helps develop & commission factual & documentary programming for Corus channels, mainly HISTORY and Global. He has overseen current & recent programs like 100 Days to Victory, Hunting Nazi Treasure, I Am War, Yukon Gold, Real Vikings, Black Watch Snipers, War Story and Ice Pilots. Previously, he was Commissioning Editor of CBC News Network’s award-winning documentary series The Lens, and Senior Producer at The Passionate Eye. He began his career in independent television production, and has won numerous prizes including a Peabody Award, 3 Geminis, and an International Emmy nomination.

Gary Jones
Writer, Actor, Host

Gary’s thirty-year career has spanned over two decades! During that time he’s appeared in countless features, MOW’s and TV episodics.
Gary’s comedic work with Toronto’s fabled Second City Improv Theatre brought him out to Expo '86 and the rest, as they say, is super boring but he has to write a bio so whatever. He’s a Jessie Award-winning playwright and an award-winning improviser. Gary appeared for 10 years and over 100 episodes on the sci-fi smash (Smash, I tell you, smash!) ‘Stargate SG:1.’ He acted alongside screen icons Mickey Rooney, Nick Nolte and Andre the Seal (one of whom ate a bucket of fish a day). He’s performed improv in the home of Bill and Melinda Gates and currently writes for CBC Radio’s ‘The Debaters.’ He and his writing partner, Diana Frances, are in a development deal with CBC Television and Toronto’s Pier 21 Productions for a ‘GIVEN UP,’ a single-cam comedy based on Diana's life of adoption. Gary has one Oscar to his name: his 18 year-old son, Oscar Jones.

Anthony Kimble
SVP, Co-Productions & North American Acquisitions
Cineflix Rights

Anthony has worked in international sales, acquisitions and distribution for over 12 years – With experience garnered from the distribution, production and broadcast sectors.

Prior to Cineflix Rights, Anthony was Head Of Co-productions at UK terrestrial Five, VP of Sales, Acquisitions and Co-productions at National Geographic Television International and also ran the Fugitive Consultancy specializing in helping production companies negotiate pre-sale and co-production financing for programming in all genres.

Matt King
LaRue Entertainment

MATT KING is an International and Canadian Screen Award winning creator/producer. King, together with life-long friend and business partner, Andrew Ferguson run LaRue which has recently emerged as one of the hottest content producers and short form distributors in the country. Delivering high-end motion pictures at a competitive cost for both foreign and domestic partners, Matt leads a network of highly capable talent behind the scenes, and remains focused on producing great stories for the screen and living up to the motto excellence behind the scenes. To date, LaRue's projects have attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Academy Award Winning Director Jonathan Demme, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. Matt is a member of the PGA, CMPA, WIFT, IWCC, and is a director of CAFDE. Matt was recently nominated for an International Emmy for his work on the Amazing Gayl Pile (NBCUniversal’s Seeso/CBC/Amazon/LaRue).

Jim Kiriakakis
Head of Television & Development
Buck Productions

Jim Kiriakakis has been a part of the Buck landscape for nearly two decades, with the majority of that time spent as Head of Television and Development. He has created, directed, and produced some of the most successful properties in the company’s diverse unscripted portfolio
including six seasons of Rich Bride Poor Bride (WE tv and Slice); Keys to the VIP (Comedy); Project Guatemala (Citytv); McMorris & McMorris (MTV); Saw Dogs (Velocity and OLN), and Deals from the Dark Side (Syfy and OLN).
He’s also spearheaded several branded digital properties, including Canada’s Best Beauty Talent with Coco Rocha; travel series Like a Tourist for Hilton Hotels; and entrepreneurial-focused Young Money for Infiniti.

However, Jim’s last year has been his busiest yet, acting as executive producer on four series for Reelz Channel as part of that network’s largest output deal to date. Stalker Files, It Happened Here, Cashed Out, and Irreconcilable Differences will all air in 2018. All four series were produced simultaneously.

Tania Koenig-Gauchier
Manager, Programming-Western Region
APTN Aboriginal People's Television Network

Alyssa Landry
Narrative Director

An "American in Paris" for many years, Alyssa Landry is a storyteller and director who writes and designs immersive and interactive audience experiences. She is a free-lance show writer and director for Disneyland Paris whose credits include The Jedi Training Academy, Frozen Sing-Along, and The Forest of Enchantment, among others. She is a producer and narrative designer for Double Eye Productions, spearheading an augmented reality experience for the premiere of Cardboard City at the 2016 New York Film Festival and developing Metropoles, a multi-player virtual reality experience on the subject of gentrification. Her musical theater writing credits include Élémentaire, mon cher, Énooormes (co-author), Bons Baisers de Broadway and #Hashtags!, her first transmedia project. She is currently Narrative Director for Incarna, a new location based virtual reality game.

Su Lei

Su Lei is the Director of Shanghai Media Group (SMG)’s Documentary Channel since 2002. She has deep understanding of documentary films both in foreign and domestic aspect. Recently, she is chief director for “Fruit stories” and implement new shooting method with artistic breakthroughs.

Since 2002, Sulei has responsible for more than 50 documentary program productions. She received several awards in China with her programs and “Rockie Awards” in 2015 with “Endless Love”.

Liz Levenson
VP Development & Co-Productions
Visland Media

Liz Levenson is an international television executive who works with global networks, platforms, and producers to develop and distribute top-quality content around the world. With experience in creative development and global business, Liz works closely with content generators and expanding digital and linear platforms to create content and opportunities that engage, inspire, and drive viewership.

Liz has shared her experience on panels and at conferences around the globe, including MIPTV, MIPCOM, Realscreen, NATPE, the Banff Television Festival, ATF, Discop Africa, and more. She currently serves as the Vice President of International Development and Co-Productions with Visland Media.
Liz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Marney Malabar
Director, KidsTV

Marney Malabar
Director, KidsTV

As Director of TVOkids, Marney Malabar has created excellent children’s educational content in an ever-evolving digital space - helping kids to be successful both inside and outside the classroom.

Over more than two decades at TVO, Marney has been nominated for numerous awards: winning an International Emmy Award, as well as four Gemini Awards. Today, Marney oversees internationally recognized co-productions, original content and an acquisition slate that drives diversified content and immersive worlds on TVOkids.

In June 2017 Marney completed her graduate studies and received a Masters of Education from the University of Toronto. Marney continues to weave her love of learning and engaging children into every production she works on.

Sandy Marshall
Norman Howard

Sandy Marshall is a Chicago Emmy-nominated producer, actor, and speaker. He develops content for television, brands and publishers with Norman Howard, his Toronto-based firm, and Silent Crow Arts in NYC. A NASA Social alum, Sandy writes the "Workish" humor series for Rogers Media, is a Director / Faculty Member at the legendary Second City, and can be seen in Ron Howard's The Dilemma and on the Comedy Central special Still Hungry.

Jennifer Mason
Marketing and Communications Executive

Jennifer is an accomplished marketing and communications executive with over 15 years’ experience in the broadcast entertainment industry working at CBC, Alliance Atlantis, Canwest, Shaw, Blue Ant and TableRock Media. She has extensive experience developing and executing channel and program launches through strategic marketing and PR campaigns that build awareness and deliver on audience and revenue targets.

Throughout her career, Jennifer has overseen marketing and communications for some of Canada’s most popular media brands including CBC, History Television National Geographic, Showcase, HGTV, Cottage Life and the launch the Smithsonian Channel in Canada. Jennifer is currently VP Strategy at Lamb Creative Group, where she manages a diverse group of clients from media and packaged goods industries to sports APPs and athletic apparel.

Kristen McGregor
Creative Executive

Kristen is a creative development executive for Apple's Children's Programming division. Before joining Apple, Kristen worked as a children's media producer, director and writer - most notably for Sunny Side Up (Sprout/NBCUniversal) where she oversaw over 500 hours of preschool children's television content and directed talent such as First Lady Michelle Obama, and Giver (TVOntario) where she helped build 36 playgrounds across Ontario for the Emmy Award-Winning construction series she co-developed, produced and directed. Kristen completed her Master's Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University focusing on the cognitive development of children in relation to screen-based media, and was the recipient of the Youth Media Alliance Emerging Talent Award in 2013.

James Mills
Senior Marketing Manager
Nimble Collective Inc.

Dan Odendaal
Ahoy Films

Dan is a producer based out of South Africa and spends most of his time shooting across the African Continent. He has a passion for wildlife and the outdoors. He recently conceptualised, executive produced and produced a docu-reality series on the people of the famed Kruger National Park in South Africa which aired on Animal Planet late 2017.

Jennevie Olivieri
Manager, TV Acquisitions & Co-Productions

Since joining Gaumont Television Jennevie has been part of growing the Acquisitions & Co-Productions department, where she reports directly to Vanessa Shapiro, President of WW TV Distribution & Co-Productions. She has been a key member in growing Gaumont’s presence in Canada and LATAM, by finding content and forming strong relationships with producers and creators.

Sandrine Pechels de Saint Sardos
Director, Disruption and Multiplatform Distribution

Sandrine is a 20-plus year vet with an illustrative career in entertainment, production, co-production and distribution with impressive global relationships and deep experience in deals & negotiations in children's programming. She is currently handling disruption and platform distribution at Groupe Media TFO, a Franco-Ontarian public broadcaster in Canada. In this position, Sandrine is in charge of acquisitions, pre-buy, co-production, programmation, TFO's platform distribution and digital efforts.

Most recently, Sandrine spent 9-years with Bejuba Entertainment as EVP of Sales & Acquisitions putting together an impressive list of acquisitions and WW show sales to build a catalogue of over 600 half-hours of kids’ TV. In addition and while at Bejuba, Sandrine secured co-development and co-production deals. Prior to Bejuba, Sandrine spent 12-years in NYC working for an array of major entertainment companies in creative development, production and distribution for Sunbow Entertainment (Transformers, My Little Pony, Gi Joe, etc), Sony Wonder / Sony Music, TV-Loonland, Hallmark and Classic Media/ Dreamworks. While at Classic Media /Dreamworks, Sandrine spearheaded WW sales and co-productions on Casper, George of the Jungle and other titles. She became lately an expert in new media rights establishing strong digital strategies. Sandrine is also very much involved in the industry as she participates regularly in various festivals and organizations as a juror, panelist and research adviser.

Paul Pope
Pope Productions Ltd

St. John’s producer Paul Pope is a dynamic force in the Canadian media industry, having produced or worked on hundreds of films. A founding member of the Newfoundland Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO), where he served as president for over twenty years, he has been instrumental in the development of a vibrant production industry. A generous mentor, he is a passionate voice for independent production at a regional and national level with a long-standing tradition of supporting Canadian artists and ensuring that Canadian stories are brought to the screen.

Paul serves as a board member on the Canadian Media Producers Association, Resource Centre for the Arts, NIFCO and was Vice-Chair (2008-2010) of the Canadian Media Fund. In addition to his awards and nominations for his projects with Pope Productions, he has also received the Arts Achievement Award from ArtsNL, the Douglas James Dales Industry Builder Award, and an honorary Doctorate from Memorial University. Paul has a BAA in Film and Photography from Ryerson.

Kathleen Prefontaine
Distribution & Development Coordinator
Aetios Productions Inc.

Kathleen holds a BAC in Design Art from Concordia University and a Certificate in Marketing Management from HEC Montréal. In 2006, she began her television distribution career with Distraction Formats as Director of Marketing. She then migrated to various Quebec production companies (La Presse Télé, Attraction Média and Trio Orange) where she established the new distribution department.
She has participated in international sales of programs: Les Parent (France, Greece, Israel, Poland, Russia and Air Transat) and Live from the universe (France and Lebanon). At Aetios, she coordinates all aspects of distribution and collaborates in the development of new series.

Marly Reed
Director, Development and Production
CCI Entertainment Ltd.

Based in Toronto, Marly currently oversees production and development for CCI Entertainment and the newly formed Neshama Entertainment.

With over thirty years of experience in television, film production and international distribution, CCI works in all genres, including family, lifestyle, drama and factual.

Neshama Entertainment is a new Canadian entity from producer Arnie Zipursky and LA-based producer/distributor MarVista Entertainment. Neshama focuses on sourcing Canadian creative content for development, production and distribution, as well as seeking Canadian partners and talent for TV movies, features and TV co-productions.

Khaled Sabbour
East Liberty Entertainment

Khaled Sabbour is the founder and principal of East Liberty Entertainment, a multiplatform production company.
Currently serving as an Executive Producer at marblemedia where he works alongside global agency partners to create strategic financing models to license newly commissioned series for broadcast.
Prior to marblemedia, Sabbour Executive Produced and co-developed with Entertainment One Group (Force Four Ent) Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip a Food Network Canada series.
As of late Sabbour’s focus has been on facilitating branded partnerships and integration models and has been involved in a number of roles within various television and feature productions. He facilitated sponsorship deals for Tornado Hunters on CMT Canada, winner of the Digital and Branded Content - Multi-Platform Project award at 2015 Realscreen Summit West. Prior to this, he also served as a development producer at Architect Films spearheading the company’s development slate.

Aaron Schneeberger
Director of TV Development

Aaron Schneeberger is a TV & content development executive with a penchant for the absurd. He helped launch truTV into scripted comedy by developing the single camera sitcom Those Who Can't. While there, he also produced other series and built bridges with comedy talent for the fledgling comedy channel. He now runs development for Mustache in Brooklyn, NY, aspiring to ever more ridiculous heights. Recently, he spearheaded VICELAND's newly greenlit variety talk show, Danny's House, starring rapper Danny Brown. He also creatively consults on VICELAND's Most Expensivest and on numerous branded content projects including Netflix is a Joke.

Joseph Schneier
VP, Production & Development
Discovery Channel

Joseph Schneier is Discovery Channel’s Vice President of Development and Production, heading the West Coast Development team, based at the Discovery Channel offices in Los Angeles.

Schneier first joined Discovery in 2012. He has Executive Produced multiple hours for Shark Week and oversaw the hit series Alaskan Bush People and Moonshiners. He also oversaw the network’s successful true crime series Killing Fields, which returned for a third season on January 4, 2018.

Prior to Discovery, Schneier worked as showrunner and executive producer in New York and Washington DC, producing for Discovery, Animal Planet, Science Channel, A&E and Scripps Networks, among others.

Schneier is a graduate of Tufts University.

Hila Sharif
Development Manager
DHX Media Ltd.-Toronto

As Development Manager for DHX Media’s content group, Hila Sharif manages the development slate across all original animated and live-action series for the company. Notable development credits include award-winning series Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 & 4, Space Ranger Roger and 2017 Kidscreen Award winner The Deep. Previously Hila worked with Family Channel Canada’s original programming team on Raising Expectations and Justin Time. Hila holds a B.A in English from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the Centennial College Children’s Media program.

Linda Simensky
VP, Children’s Programming

Vice President, Children’s Programming, PBS
As Vice President of Children’s Programming at PBS, Linda Simensky collaborates with producers, co-production partners, PBS station programmers, and distributors throughout the development, production, post-production, and broadcast phases for PBS KIDS programming.
Since joining PBS in 2003, Linda has worked with renowned producers to develop hit shows ranging from DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and WILD KRATTS to ODD SQUAD and NATURE CAT. Linda is currently working on the PBS KIDS creativity-themed series, PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC with WGBH, LUNA AROUND THE WORLD with Joe Murray, and several pilots.
Before joining PBS, Linda was Senior Vice President of Original Animation for Cartoon Network, where she oversaw development and series production of "The Powerpuff Girls," among others. She began her career working for nine years at Nickelodeon, where she helped build the animation department and launch the popular series "Rugrats," "Doug" and "The Ren & Stimpy Show."
Linda also teaches Animation History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sam Sniderman
EVP Global Production
Blue Ant Media

Sam Sniderman, EVP, Global Production, Blue Ant Media oversees the production, finance and business affairs teams at Blue Ant Media, which include Saloon Media (Toronto), NHNZ (New Zealand), Beach House Pictures (Singapore), Antenna Pictures (London), Blue Ant Digital Studios (Los Angeles), Look Mom! Productions (Toronto) and Northern Pictures (Sydney). Sniderman is formerly the Global Chief Operating Officer and MD, Film and Entertainment at Pulse Films (a Vice Media company). In these roles, he was responsible for the commercial performance of Pulse’s TV, film and branded content output and helped to guide Pulse through rapid growth, with including scripted and unscripted commissions from Channel 4, Sky Atlantic and ITV. He also spearheaded the financing and distribution of award winning theatrical feature films like 20,000 Days on Earth (Nick Cave), Who Is Dayani Cristal (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Shut Up and Play the Hits (LCD Soundsystem).

Adam Steinman
VP, Creative Format Development & Sales
Warner Bros. International Television Production

Igal Svet
Senior Director, Development
National Geographic

Svet is the main point of contact with the production community in New York and has been at the forefront of National Geographic’s pivot to premium content. National Geographic’s slate of sweeping original programs includes Mars, Story of God with Morgan Freeman and One Strange Rock — three of the highest-launching series in the history of the network. Since the pivot towards premium the National Geographic has released a robust slate of feature documentaries including the Oscar short-listed LA 92 and Jane as well as Before the Flood, which was watched by 63 million people in the first two weeks of its release.

Prior to National Geographic, he served as Vice President, Development at the Miami-based production company, 2C Media and as Producer on several hit cable network series including History Channel’s Top Gear and truTV’s Full Throttle Saloon. Svet also played an integral role at BBC Worldwide and Reveille LLC, in Los Angeles, where he developed, packaged and sold non-fiction projects.

Elizabeth Whitmere
Actor, Writer, Producer

Liz Whitmere has more than a decade of on camera experience. Her first project as a producer was the critically acclaimed short film This Is Not What You Had Planned starring Kristian Bruun and CSA winner Natalie Lisinska. Since then, she has gone on to produce several short films including Steven McCarthy’s bloody love story O Negative (a TIFF Top Ten film) and Meghan Heffern’s romantic NYC romp Flung. Other credits include the Canadian Screen Award winning The Neddeaus of Duquesne Island, the most-watched series on CBC’s digital platform. She is currently developing Hit On Me, a black comedy about crushes and contract killing, which won the 2017 Just For Laughs ComedyPRO pitch contest.

Andrea Whyte
Director, Commercial Content Strategy
Spafax Ltd

Andrea Whyte is the Director, Commercial Content Strategy at Spafax in London, where she oversees Spafax’s film programming and acquisitions team, develops global content and brand partnerships, and works with airline clients to create innovative, data-driven inflight entertainment strategies that both delight passengers and demonstrate commercial return. She works closely with media companies including Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony, HBO and the BBC to deliver the best entertainment deals for her clients.

Prior to moving to London, Andrea was based in Toronto as the IFE Programming and Account Manager at Spafax Canada, managing film and television acquisitions and partnerships for Air Canada. She also directed the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, a unique short film festival that supported the next generation of Canadian filmmakers.

After receiving her Master of Arts from the University of Toronto, Andrea worked for several years in the programming department of TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival’s year round film centre.

Bryn Wiebe
Original Programming Coordinator
Rogers Media Inc.

Bryn is a TV & film professional hailing from the flatlands of Winnipeg, Manitoba and educated at Ryerson University's film studies program. She began her career developing projects for Hallmark and Lifetime television, and has since collaborated with writers, directors, and independent producers in all facets of production, mostly recently coordinating the sales of top tier Canadian content in the international market. She is currently the Original Programming Coordinator for Rogers Media, facilitating scripted and unscripted production, development, and submissions. She is an avid storyteller and consumer, and believes in the power of representation as liberation.

Joel Williams
Head of Programming
The Walt Disney Company Australia

Joel Williams oversees all aspects of the programming strategy for Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television channels and platforms in Australia and New Zealand. He also focuses on acquisitions, emerging nonlinear platforms, content windowing, and supporting franchise development.

Joel is a member of the International Emmys® and has worked in the television industry for more than 19 years, across both subscription television and free to air networks. Prior to joining Disney, Joel held key leadership positions with the National Indigenous Television Network (NITV) and Nickelodeon Australia.