Meet Our Judges

Jury

Tina Apostolopoulos
Sr. Production Executive, Original Programming, Factual, Reality and Documentaries
Bell Media

Tina Apostolopoulos is a Senior Production Executive for Factual, Reality and Documentaries on Bell Media’s Original Programming team. In this role, Tina works with Canadian production companies and filmmakers on the development and production of various original unscripted series and feature documentaries for Bell Media’s family of channels and platforms including the main conventional channel CTV, premium SVOD service Crave, and specialty channels Discovery and CTV Life.

Currently, Tina oversees CTV’s hit series MasterChef Canada: Back to Win, multi-award winning Mary's Kitchen Crush and inspirational series starring Mike Holmes entitled Holmes Family Effect for CTV and Fox. She is also an executive on a variety of award-winning and critically-acclaimed feature film documentary programming for Crave including The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Anthropecene: The Human Epoch, Sharkwater Extinction, Carmine Street Guitars – all of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the moment, Tina is also overseeing Crave's upcoming docu-series We're All Gonna Die! 

Tina is the Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the Original Programming group, a member of the Bell Media Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, D & I Content Advisory Committee and the D & I Think Tank.

Prior to joining Bell Media, Tina was a sought-after director and producer for a number of award-winning, highly-rated reality and factual entertainment series such as So You Think You Can Dance Canada (CTV), Canadian Idol (CTV), and Project Runway Canada (GLOBAL).

Mike Beale
Managing Director Global Creative Network
ITV

Mike Beale is Managing Director of the Global Creative Network at ITV Studios, a creator, producer and distributor of world-leading programmes. Part of ITV plc, it includes the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster.
 
ITV Studios crafts nearly 9,000 hours of original programming a year across 55+ production labels globally. Its footprint spans 13 countries including the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, The Nordics, Italy, The Middle East, Israel and the Netherlands.
 
Reporting to Julian Bellamy, Managing Director of ITV Studios, as leader of the Global Creative Network Mike helps to drive the creative and development efforts across the Group’s business globally with a particularly active role with the UK and US teams. He is responsible for identifying new opportunities to build ITV Studios’ creative pipeline via development deals and partnerships with format creators across the world.  Armoza Formats is a part of the Global Creative Network.

Mike joined ITV Studios in June 2011 to establish ITVS Studios’ enviable slate of formats on the global stage including, The Chase, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Hell’s Kitchen, Come Dine With Me and the increasingly popular global hit, Love Island.

Prior to joining ITV, Mike was Vice President of International Production for NBCUniversal where he looked after global production of shows such as Top Chef, Minute to Win It and Real Housewives. His career began in television production working for a range of companies including Planet 24, LWT, Bunim Murray, Hat Trick and the BBC. He was also one of the founders of 12 Yard Productions.

Shannon Bishop
Manager, Creative Affairs
Entertainment One

Shannon Bishop works as part of the Entertainment One, Family & Brands team as Manager, Creative Affairs. She is responsible for acquiring new content and managing projects in active development. eOne Family's current slate of programs include Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Ricky Zoom and Cupcake and Dino.

Brenda Bisner
Chief Content Officer
Kidoodle.TV

BRENDA BISNER is the Chief Content Officer for A Parent Media Co Inc. the creators of the SAFE STREAMING™ Platform: Kidoodle.TV®. She is an integral force behind the successful acquisitions of top children’s media content from around the world, as well as a future caster for all new business development on behalf of the company. Brenda has a proven expertise in the navigation of an ever-shifting children’s digital media landscape. She has the rare talent to spot trends and recognize brand potential along with an innate ability to optimize for their success. Brenda’s work with Kidoodle.TV continues to set a standard for a more safe and reliable online space to relieve parents and help protect and entertain kids from over 160 countries as they learn and grow into the best versions of themselves.

Over her 21+ year career in the children’s media space, Brenda has developed, produced and sold live action, animation and reality series across multiple channel worldwide and executed on numerous Licensing & Merchandising deals. Working with companies such as Scholastic, Cookie Jar Entertainment, Tom Lynch Company, and more, Brenda has helped these major brands develop precise and thoughtful plans for today, while anticipating the future of the business for tomorrow. Discovering novel ways to bring great content to children in a SAFE way all around the globe is her goal, and she pursues it with passion.

Brenda is a Member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Additionally she serves as a Member of the Chief Network, is a Judge for the Webby Awards, Kidscreen, Banff, ATF and many others.

Cara Bleskie
Production Manager, Nelvana Studio
Nelvana Ltd

Cara Bleskie is a Development Executive at Nelvana Ltd. (a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.) and is dedicated to identifying up-and-coming talent in the world of animated media. She specializes in sourcing dynamic children’s content, with a focus on fostering inclusivity and sharing authentic stories from creators of diverse backgrounds. Cara is a driving force in Nelvana’s development team, equipped with a BFA (Hons) in Visual Arts and English.

Kristen Boychuk
Director of Development
Great Pacific Media

Kristen has over a decade of experience developing and working on series for broadcasters like Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, T+E and OUTtv. The Ryerson Journalism grad has spent the better part of her career in unscripted development, chasing down compelling characters and stories for TV. But she still catches the production bug now and then.

Most recently, she worked on Mud Mountain Haulers (Discovery Canada) and w/t Styled (HGTV Canada), two shows she helped develop at Great Pacific Media.

Hedda Bruessing
Head of Media & Business Development
BNNVARA

Hedda has been working in the film and television industry since 1996 and worked on a wide range of television programs for public broadcasters and production companies. From 2007 to 2019 she has been working for the public service broadcaster NTR, first as executive producer for the youth department and later as NTR's head of production and head of media business. In this role she was responsible for setting up all international co-productions and business development. During her tenure, Hedda worked on successful kids shows like Emmy-nominated science series Fulll Proof, Ketnet/ NDR co-pro Animal Detectives and the sex education format The Doctor Corrie Show which was adapted locally in Belgium on Ketnet and is in the works in Canada and Australia. Since November 2019 she joined public service broadcaster BNNVARA as head of media and business development. In this role she will be responsible for international co-productions, collaborations and business development and will be heavily involved in children content acquisitions, development and original production.

Lynne Carter
Manager, Original Content, Lifestyle
Corus Entertainment

In her role as Manager, Original Content, Lifestyle at Corus Entertainment, Lynne oversees the development and production of a slate of series for Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, and Global, managing a team of Production Executives and driving the day-to-day operation of the Original Content, Lifestyle department.

With over 30 years of experience in the television world, Lynne has worked in the documentary, factual, scripted, reality and lifestyle genres. For IFC Canada, Lynne oversaw the channel’s slate of originals (Cocked Guns, Ink: Alter Egos Exposed, Vice Guide to Film) as well as over 25 documentaries.

At Shaw Media, as Executive-in-Charge-of-Production, she gained extensive experience in the Factual space working on multiple, award-winning original series and one-off programs for HISTORY (Museum Secrets, War Junk, Mummies Alive, Miracles Decoded, Ancient Weather, Dino Hunt Canada). Lynne’s portfolio also included award shows, scripted and reality programs for Global (Canada’s Walk of Fame, The Indspire Awards, The Gemini Awards, The Genie Awards, The Kennedys and Big Brother Canada).

At Corus, Lynne’s knowledge of both the production and broadcasting processes saw her elevated to the position of Manager, Original Content, with a focus on Lifestyle. She also continues in her role as Executive-in-Charge-of-Production working most recently on Farmhouse Facelift, Big Brother Canada, and The Canadian Country Music Awards.

Lynne has seen many changes in the television industry throughout her lengthy career but her passion for telling great Canadian stories, and producing entertaining and meaningful content has never wavered.

Vanessa Case
SVP, Production and Operations
VICE Studios

Vanessa Case is SVP, Production and Operations VICE Studios, overseeing physical production and production operations, working in partnership with VICE Studios global development and creative teams.

A senior executive with a long-standing successful career in media, Vanessa has deep expertise in content strategy. Her recent projects for VICE Studios include QAnon: The Search for Q for Vice TV, Shine True for OUTtv and Fuse and Vice TV’s highest rated series, Dark Side of the Ring.

Prior to joining VICE, Vanessa was EVP Content at Blue Ant Media where she was instrumental in the launch of several world-renowned brands landing in Canada and internationally including BBC Earth, Smithsonian Canada and Love Nature. Prior to her role at Blue Ant, Vanessa held positions at Shaw Media, CanWest and Alliance Atlantis, where she launched new services, commissioned hundreds of hours of original content, developed original production slates and led scheduling and acquisition strategies for some of Canada's top specialty channels.

Sumi Connock
Creative Director of Formats
BBC Studios

In her role at BBC Studios, Sumi has responsibility for an extensive formats catalogue of more than 300 titles, including popular entertainment brands such as Dancing with the Stars, The Great Bake Off and Top Gear, alongside scripted formats Luther, Doctor Foster and The Office.

Prior to joining BBC Studios, Sumi worked as Head of Entertainment at ITV Studios in Manchester, where she was responsible for multiple formats including Countdown, University Challenge and You've Been Framed!, as well as creating and developing new formats including the hidden-camera magic show and Broadcast Digital Award
winning Tricked (ITV2), returning daytime cookery format, Yes Chef and children's quiz, Top Class (CBBC).

Sumi has an extensive background in Entertainment, having previously spent three years as Commissioning Editor for Entertainment at BBC Daytime, where she oversaw output including Eggheads, Are You an Egghead?, Strictly It Takes Two and Through the Keyhole; and also as an Executive Producer in BBC Entertainment with credits including Just the Two of Us, The Big Finish with Graham Norton and Dear Father Christmas.  

Further credits include: Streetmate, The Big Breakfast, MTV Europe Music Awards,
Dirty Sanchez, An Audience with the Spice Girls, Animals Do The Funniest Things
and Blind Date.

Amanda Culkowski
Vice President, Music Program Development
MTV Global

As Vice President of Music Program Development at MTV Amanda Culkowski is responsible for developing original music and talent driven series for MTV’s 170+ global linear channels, as well as Paramount+ premium content. Since joining the network in 2019 she has overseen the series development of My Life on MTV, YO! MTV Maps, Sounds Like a Game Show and the upcoming 2022 premiere, Hip Hop My House.

Prior to MTV, Amanda was a part of the WE tv development team where she oversaw the series development of Jim & Chrissy: Vow or Never, Hustle & Soul and Untold Stories of Hip Hop with Angie Martinez. She has previously held positions at HGTV in New York and at PBS member stations ThinkTV and WOUB.

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Amanda is originally from Toledo, Ohio.


Russell Ford
VP - Creative Development
Propagate Content

Russell Ford is the VP of Creative Development at Propagate Content (Chopped, Untold, Our Kind of People).  After earning his BFA in TV Production at Chapman University, Russell joined Maker Studios, helping the company grow from millions to billions of monthly views.  Since then, he has developed and produced shows for digital and linear channels, both domestically and internationally.  Recent projects include the American Song Contest for NBC, Baking Impossible for Netflix, and Kings of Pain Season 2 for History.

Beth Fraikorn
Head of Content Development and Partnerships
Transform Films

Beth Fraikorn is an Emmy award winning Executive Producer with an established reputation for her deep acumen in development, production and distribution. Known for expertise in crafting deals, a passion for content and meaningful industry relationships, Fraikorn has built companies and launched corporate divisions.

Fraikorn has worked alongside the CGI pioneers, in AI and at NHK, has turned around graphics and post-production facilities and established global footprints for production companies. Beth has worked across genres from commercials to films to long-running series. She was one of the few women and youngest General Managers at Disney IDEAS. Her entrepreneurial spirit launched Remarkable Content Group, a successful international development and distribution company. Early in her career she worked on Palm-D’or commercials, significant min-series such as Lost Civilizations and The Stand; eventually moving to long running series such as The Perfect Murder and network shows such as Extremely Weird. She produced award winning documentary films including Baring It All and Lost Animals.

Having been responsible for content creation, strategic alliances and growth for numerous US and international production companies, Beth has developed and placed hundreds of hours of non-fiction original, library and scripted content into domestic and global TV markets and with nearly every US commissioner. Beth has served as a Judge for the PGA, Emmys, Real Screen Awards and as Chair for the PGA Non-Fiction and Documentary Committee and currently sits on the Board of Delegates for the Producers Guild of America.

Zara Frankel
Director, Programming & Development
PBS

Zara Frankel works in PBS Programming as the Director of Programming and Development. She collaborates extensively with filmmakers, production companies, and new talent to develop interesting and innovative content across genres for PBS. Prior to her current role, Zara served as the Development Manager for PBS Programming, evaluating submissions and providing editorial feedback, and worked as a Project Coordinator in digital content and online games with PBS KIDS.  
 
Prior joining PBS, Zara worked for digital ad agency, AKQA. She is a graduate of Florida State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Film and a Master’s degree in Education.

Angela Freedman
Director of Development
Travel Channel

Angela Freedman joined the Travel Channel team in early 2019. As Director of Development, she collaborates with producers to develop breakout series for the network, as well as helping to steer strategy for future programming. 

Prior to Travel Channel, Freedman was at Mic Productions, where she developed and produced documentaries and series across linear and digital, including executive producing Hulu’s cultural hit Fyre Fraud. She previously worked in development at BBC America, Oxygen and MTV.

A storyteller at heart, Freedman is a proud alumna of NYU Tisch’s Department of Dramatic Writing. She works and lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Tommy Gillespie
Director, Children's Programming
PBS

As Director of Children’s Programming, Tommy leads the strategic rollout of video content for PBS KIDS, including scheduling and content planning for the U.S. public broadcaster’s national children’s service and the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and livestream. He is also the production executive on several PBS KIDS series, including the Emmy-winning Arthur, now in its 23rd season, and the new series Molly of Denali. Tommy developed, launched, and programs the top-rated PBS KIDS Family Night, a destination block for kids and parents that airs every weekend on PBS stations, pbskids.org, and the PBS KIDS Video apps for mobile and OTT platforms. Originally from eastern Kentucky, Tommy joined PBS in 2009 after stints at the U.S. Senate and NPR.

Olaf Grunert
Vice Director
ZDF Digital

Olaf Grunert began working for German public broadcaster ZDF in 1986 after finishing his studies of History and German and Scandinavian philology in Kiel, Reykjavík and Tampere.

Since 1991, he has been working for the German-French Cultural channel Arte in different positions. From 2004 to 2013, he worked at Arte headquarters in Strasbourg as head of theme nights. Since then, he has been responsible for fiction programs and feature-length documentaries. Films he commissioned have won numerous awards, including the Prix Italia, the Golden Nymph (Monte Carlo), the Rockie Award and the prestigious German Grimme Award.

Brad Holcman
Senior Director of Non-Fiction & Alternative Programming
A+E Networks

Brad Holcman joined A&E in 2012 as Senior Director, Non-Fiction and Alternative Programming. In this role, Holcman oversees the development and production of many of A&E’s unscripted critically acclaimed projects including 60 Days In, Intervention (4-time Emmy Nominee), Accused: Guilty or Innocent?, A&E’s Home.Made Nation block (Triple Digit Flip, Zombie House Flipping), Digital Addiction, Panic 9-1-1 and other series yet to be announced. He has also overseen some of A&E’s past hits including America’s Top Dog (A&E’s first competition series), 9-1-1: I Was There, Duck Dynasty, Behind Bars: Rookie Year, Gangland Undercover, The Employables and Undercover High to name a few.

His passion is to build relationships with the world’s producers and broadcasters to develop and produce for A&E. Additionally, he serves on many of A&E’s DEI committees and leads a Monday Motivation group. 

Holcman came to A&E from fox21 where he served as Director of Creative Affairs, and was responsible for overseeing the development of all reality and alternative programming including Countdown, Beauty and the Geek, Saved, Untitled Jamie Kennedy Project and Game Show in My Head, as well as numerous pilots for broadcast and cable networks.  He also assisted with fox21’s slate of scripted projects, including Homeland, Sons of Anarchy and Brickleberry. Prior to fox21, Holcman worked in Drama Development at 20th Century Fox Television.  

Brad received his Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and Communication from the University of Michigan. Brad is also a Volunteer Firefighter for his hometown fire department and training to be an EMT.

Kirsten Hurd
Acquisitions, TVO Kids
TVO

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.

Katie Isaacson
Senior Director, CNN Original Series
CNN

Katie Isaacson is Director of Development for CNN Original Series at CNN, based in New York City. In this position, she is responsible for cultivating relationships within the creative community and developing original programming across a variety of CNN platforms. She is responsible for the development of show concepts for CNN Original Series and HLN Original Series.

Niam Itani
Acquisitions Manager, TRT World
TRT World

Lebanese American filmmaker, educator and media executive, currently leading the Acquisitions Team at TRT World in Istanbul. TRT World is the English Language news and current affairs channel owned by Turkish Radio and Television Corporation. Itani started her corporate career at Al Jazeera in 2005 where she produced programs for Al Jazeera Arabic News Channel. Between 2010 and 2017 Itani moved to independent filmmaking. Her projects have been selected for grants and industry events by the Doha Film Institute, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), European Producers Network, and the Rotterdam Film Lab of IFFR, among others. Films she produced / co-produced / directed as of 2010 have screened at the Venice Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and other Academy Award qualifying film festivals and won several awards. Itani holds a BA in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University in Beirut and an MFA in Screenwriting from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA (USA). She has taught screenwriting and video production at her alma matters and conducted multiple screenwriting and filmmaking workshops. While a strong advocate for equality and social justice, she is herself a full-time slave to her 5 feline children.

Andrew Johnson
Executive In Charge of Production
Corus Entertainment Inc

Andrew Johnson helps develop and commission factual and documentary programming for Corus channels HISTORY and Global in Canada. He has overseen current and past programs like Rust Valley Restorers, Cheating Hitler, Fight to the Finish, Big Timber, History Erased, D-Day in 14 Stories, 100 Days to Victory, Hunting Nazi Treasure, Yukon Gold, Real Vikings and Ice Pilots NWT.

Previously, he was Commissioning Editor of the award-winning CBC News Network documentary series The Lens and Rough Cuts and Senior Producer of The Passionate Eye. He began his career in independent production and has won numerous prizes as a Producer and Director, including a Peabody Award and several Geminis, plus a BANFF Rockie Award and an International Emmy nomination.

Miriam Johnson
Producer
Pacific Content (Rogers Media)

Miriam is a writer, producer and musician with a passion for stories and sound. Before joining Pacific Content, she worked in film and TV on documentaries for National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, and HBO. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times. Miriam performs in a band, trains as a boxer, and loves hiking in the woods with her Swiss Shepherd dog.

Gwen Jones McCauley
Director, Global Distribution
CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

With over 20 years experience in distribution, Gwen Jones McCauley has had a hand in launching and expanding several successful content sales operations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s recently re-launched international content sales department, CBC & Radio-Canada Distribution. She continues to serve as the Director of Content Sales and Consumer Products, overseeing the department’s acquisitions and sales initiatives, while managing a sales remit of her own which includes North and South America, Oceania and much of Europe, while leading CBC's Archive Sales and the Merchandising & Licensing teams.

Prior to CBC, Gwen held a senior level position at Blue Ant Media where she was instrumental in the build of the company’s global distribution business, and the expansion of their premium content library through acquisition of content as well as through sales across several global territories.

Gwen has also served as VP Sales and Coproductions at BBC Worldwide Canada. While with the BBC, she was responsible for the year-on-year growth of the program sales division including spearheading some of their largest Canadian presale and format deals. Over her 13 years with the company, she also held primary responsibility for BBCWW’s Canadian news and current affairs business, children’s business as well as playing a key role in the launch of BBCWW’s Canadian digital business and domestic channels.

Audrey Kamga
Sales Manager
ARTE France

Audrey Kamga is an award-winning, multilingual executive with in-depth knowledge, and experience in most key TV markets including the Americas and EMEA.

Successfully working with ARTE France - one of the largest publicly-funded European broadcasters, she possesses a very diverse distribution background working with documentary specials,  limited doc series, unscripted formats, and factual entertainment with experience in sales, acquisitions, marketing, and business affairs.

Well versed in TV History and Pop Culture, she truly believes in the importance of multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion, and a gender-balanced approach both on and off-screen. 


Joana Klaus
Kids Content Coordinator
Globo Comunicacao E Participacoes S/S

Based in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Joana Klaus is Kids Content Coordinator at Grupo Globo. In the broadcasting business for more than 10 years, she is the curator of animation and live-action streaming content for preschool children at Grupo Globo's newly restructured digital department. Prior to moving to the streaming business, she worked for Gloob, Grupo Globo's TV Channel for kids, where she integrated the Acquisitions & Programming team and later became Original Content Coordinator. At Gloob, she oversaw licensing, content development and international coproduction of IPs such as Miraculous - Tales of Ladybug and Catnoir, Power Players and Alice & Lewis.

Sylvia Kocman
Manager, Distribution
Attraction Distribution

Sylvia has been active in global television for the past 15 years, beginning her career in Prague, working in the Telecommunications and Media practice area for international law firm, Linklaters. Her career in television started in 2004 working as PR Liaison for the entertainment program, Just for Laughs: All Access Pass, broadcast on CBC during the Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival in Montreal. Her responsibilities included booking top comedy guests and provide on-location access to shoot stand-up comedy shows. In 2006 Sylvia moved into global distribution at Distraction Formats as right-hand to the President, coordinating acquisition, license and option agreements in the Legal & Business Affairs Department. From 2009 to 2011 she worked in the Acquisitions department at Radio-Canada, and in 2011 returned to the international television industry working in sales & marketing as Director of Business Development at The Format People (TFP). Sylvia was instrumental in growing the professional consultancy business of TFP. Additionally, she oversaw the management & logistics of the global development of Format Master Classes; sourcing new international formats as well as finished content for TFP’s various clients such as Star China, Mongol TV, KOCCA, with a strong focus on Asia. Sylvia worked in several countries, managing TFP professional events such as the KOCCA Format Master Classes in Seoul (2014 to 2017); LightHouseNation Format Master Classes in Beijing (2015 and 2016), as well as developing new business at international markets such as MIPTV and MIPCOM in Cannes, the Asia TV Forum in Singapore, Promax BDA Global Excellence Awards in Los Angeles and Singapore, IEMMY’s. In her current role at Attraction Distribution International Sylvia seeks and strengthens relationships with International Producers as part of the development and execution of the acquisition content strategy for drama series, sci-fi, thriller kids and family films as well as formats. She was invited to moderate a panel on Non-Scripted Entertainment at the IEMMY’s in 2016. Sylvia is a jury member for the IEMMY’s, the Banff World Media Programming Competition, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for Les gémeaux (The Canadian Screen Awards) and The Vancouver Web Fest. Sylvia holds a B.A. in foreign languages and photography from Bishop’s University as well as a Certificate in Public Relations Management from Concordia University. She is fluent in English, French and Czech.

Anna Kozanecka
Head of Film Programming and Acquisitions, Telewizja Polsat
Cyfrowy Polsat S.A.

Anna Kozanecka began working for the first commercial broadcaster in Poland Polsat in 1998. During the last 20 years Polsat (now called Cyfrowy Polsat), a privately owned company, has become one of the biggest media holdings in the region. 

Anna’s responsibility within the company is selecting and programming films for the main channel Telewizja Polsat. Anna is also buying movies on a presale for all rights from independent producers. During the past 20 years she has successfully negotiated contracts with companies worldwide. Although Anna is mainly focused on acquisitions of films with theatrical potential, she also has experience in acquiring all kinds of television programs.

Before joining Polsat Anna had worked for the public broadcaster TVP and in the National Film Archive where she was head of archive cinema based in Warsaw.


 

Liz Lewin
Commissioning Editor, Drama
Sky

Liz Lewin is currently a commissioner in Sky's drama team, where she oversees a small (but perfectly formed!) slate of provocative dramas. From this slate has emerged The End (See-Saw Films) by Samantha Strauss and I Hate Suzie (Bad Wolf) created by Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper and written by Lucy Prebble, both of which she executive produced for Sky.

Alongside her commissioning role Liz has developed and executive produced two series of the award winning Derry Girls, and is currently working on the 3rd series with Lisa McGee and Caroline Leddy.

Jennifer Liang
VP, Acquisitions
Topic

Andrew Lutin
Director, Original Programming, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Paramount Network
ViacomCBS

Jennifer McCann
VP, Kids and Family
Shaftesbury

Jennifer McCann is an award-winning producer with over two decades of experience in both Europe and North America in multiplatform content production, international co-production, and development.

Beginning her career in Paris at Marathon Media, part of Zodiak Kids, Jennifer held several positions, including Director of Post-Production and Creative Producer, developing overseas co-pro operations, and establishing two satellite studios in Montreal and Los Angeles. Jennifer was recently Director of Development at 9 Story Media Group and Senior Producer at Toronto based Pubcaster TFO. 

Ashley McFarlin Buie
Vice President, Unscripted Development
WE TV

As Vice President of Development for WE tv, Ashley McFarlin Buie oversees new and developing projects for the network and serves as an executive producer on the popular series Waka & Tammy: What the Flocka and Beyond the Pole.

With over twenty years in the industry, Buie has garnered a strong reputation for crafting layered, elevated stories of larger-than-life characters that are relatable, real and wildly entertaining. She founded Bird’s Eye Entertainment, Inc., and has worked on a multitude of shows with various television networks including Bravo, Discovery, OWN, Oxygen, CNN, MTV, The Travel Channel, and VH1, producing popular series such as, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Potomac (season one), The First Family of Hip Hop, and Southern Charm New Orleans (season one). She also produced VH1’s Love and Hip-Hop spin-off series Meet The Mackies, as well as VH1’s hit Girls Cruise, starring Lil’ Kim, Chilli, and Mya. Buie began her career as a production assistant at CNN.

Buie has served as an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University, a guest lecturer at Yale and Clark Atlanta Universities; and as Co-Director of a non-profit teen empowerment organization based in Harlem: The Power of You Teens, Inc. She has also published a book of daily devotionals, The Truth: Wrapped In Love.

Buie received her B.A. in Mass Communications from Howard University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Kathleen Meek
Manager, Original Content, Scripted & Factual
Corus Entertainment Inc

Kathleen Meek is Manager, Original Content, Drama and Factual for Corus Entertainment. In this capacity, she is responsible for a portfolio of original scripted and factual series for Global Television, History® Canada, Showcase, and W. She is production executive on Global’s new event drama, Departure, History’s hit show Vikings, YTV’s up-coming drama Hardy Boys and factual series Salvage Kings and The Wild Ones.

She joined Corus in 2018 from Bell Media where she was Production Executive, Drama and Feature Film. She worked on various original series including CTV’s Motive, Saving Hope and The Detail; Space drama Killjoys and HBO Canada’s Hip Hop Evolution and Sensitive Skin. She also managed the pre-licensing of Canadian feature films for Bell Media's pay-TV services, The Movie Network and HBO Canada.

Prior to Bell Media, she worked for Astral where she was responsible for licensing of Canadian film and worked on original series like Call Me Fitz, Funny as Hell, Less Than Kind and Transporter as well as various feature documentaries and comedy specials. Kathleen started her career at CTV in the drama department.

Malin Nevander
Head of Development
SVT Swedish Television

Malin Nevander has worked as Head of Development at SVT Drama (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Bridge, Real Humans) – Swedish Public Broadcaster – since 2017.

With 25 years experience developing and writing animation, feature films and tv series, Malin has worked with most production companies and creatives in Sweden. She has taught classes at the National Film School in writing for television and is a well-respected guest teacher at several film schools.

Prior to joining SVT, Malin worked as a freelance script consultant and scriptwriter. She is the co-creator and writer of the successful and award-winning epic drama series The Restaurant (Vår tid är nu/Our time is now). All three seasons have been the most-watched tv series in Sweden, both in broadcast and the online platform.

Malin has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Cinema Studies from the University of Stockholm.

Silvia Perez Chavarria
General Director of Media and Audiovisual Content Analysis
Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones

With over 20 years of on-going experience in the audio-visual industry, Silvia has performed and developed in the public television broadcasting sector (Canal 11), as well as for the private sector (HBO Latam) in the following areas: Programming, Production and Content Purchasing aimed at child and adult audiences, specifically in planning, coordination management of financial and human resources, as well as in programming strategies.

Silvia got her BA in Communications from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. She has taken several workshops and earned certificates in TV Executive Production, Script, and most recently in several regulations on advertisement in TV and radio, children's content and content consumption habits of different kinds of audiences.

She has participated in different domestic and international markets, such as NATPE, Mipcom, Mipcom Jr., Mip Cancún, BBC Showcase, Mercadoc, Kidscreen and others, which have provided her with a wide scope of international trends of TV contents' offer and consumption.

She has collaborated with the Media and Audio-Visual Content Area since 2015, in her position as General Director of Media and Audio-Visual Contents at the Federal Telecommunications Institute where the main activities are: observe the compliant of rules for advertising spaces in private and public television and radio, develop different research of audiences behavior, and promote media literacy among content consumers.

Irene Pothecary Huse
Acquisitions Executive
NRK Super

Irene Pothecary Huse is an experienced Acquisitions Executive/ Project Manager for the Norwegian Public Broadcasting Corporation (NRK)

Initially, Irene joined NRK as part of the creative team behind the development and launch of NRK’s second channel, NRK2. She has since served as an executive buyer as well as co-producing and developing content for NRK1, NRK2 and NRK3.

In 2007, Irene became part of the team developing NRK’s designated children's platform, NRK Super.

NRK Super has been awarded several prestigious awards for their productions, and is broadcast on FVOD, linear TV, radio, and social media. Viewers appreciate  a wide variety of external acquisitions, in addition to in-house and co-productions of a variety of formats and genres. 

 

Katrina Ray
Acquisitions Manager
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Katrina has 20+ years experience in the television industry working in publicity, production and brand licencing for companies such as Grundy Television and Fremantle Media. Joining the ABC Acquisitions team in 2008, Katrina sources, negotiates and acquires for ABC TV, ABC TV Plus and iview. With a multi-genre remit across scripted and non-scripted programming Katrina has a keen eye for arts, comedy and features.

Jillianne Reinseth
Sr. Vice President Creative Affairs
Entertainment One Television International

As Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs, Jillianne Reinseth is responsible for overseeing the creative elements of all projects in development and production for eOne Family & Brands.

Since joining the company in 2015, the eOne Family production slate has included My Little Pony: A New Generation, PJ Masks, Cupcake & Dino: General Services, Ricky Zoom, Alien TV, and Ninja Express as well as several unannounced productions with partners around the world.

Jillianne’s 30 year career in entertainment spans children’s animation, primetime comedy and drama in the U.S., Europe and Canada. She has worked with the top creative talent in the industry for companies including Disney, Nickelodeon, DHX, ABC, and CBS with credits on top series such as Kate & Mim-Mim, Johnny Test, Chuck’s Choice, Kid vs. Kat, Martha Speaks, Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch, The Fairly OddParents and My So-Called Life.

She started her career as a television publicity assistant for Rachel McCallister & Associates working on In Living Color, Charles in Charge and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

Trine Ruud
Head of Acquisitions and Dubbing NRK Super
NRK, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

Trine holds a BA in Teaching as well as a BA in Journalism.

She began her Career working as a teacher and thereafter as a Production Manager  in television production. Trine joined NRK in 1996 when the Norwegian Public Broadcaster launched NRK2 in which she was part of the development team.

In 2007 Trine was managing the development process and launch of NRK Super, NRK’s Children’s channel publishing on VOD, linear TV, radio and social media.  She has since served as Acquisitions Executive and Executive Producer for the channel until she took over as Head of Acquisitions and Dubbing Spring 2017.

NRK Super targets the 2-12 year olds and schedules a mix of acquisitions, in-house- and co-productions of all genres. NRK Super has won numerous prestigious awards for their productions, amongst them three Emmys.

Khaled Sabbour
Founder & President
East Liberty Entertainment

An industry executive, Sabbour has been involved in all facets of production, most recently creating and producing ground breaking, innovative television programs for broadcast networks and global OTTs. During his tenure at Entertainment One Group, Marblemedia, Saloon Media and Architect Films, Sabbour managed multiple outside production partners while simultaneously serving as the primary point of contact for all projects to ensure clarity in communication and high-level oversight.

He has executive produced shows such as Just Like Mom & Dad for BYUtv, Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip for Food Network and Netflix, Tornado Hunters for CMT and oversaw brand integration on Mom Vs Matchmaker for MYX TV .

Additionally, Sabbour has supervised the entire creative process for new series development from the ground up to find new ways of talking to viewers – from treatment review to final delivery on original, co- production and reversion projects.

Joseph Schneier
SVP, Production & Development
Discovery Channel

Heidi Schorn
VP of Development
Alibi Entertainment Inc.

Heidi is a seasoned unscripted content development executive with a decade of expertise creating and executing top-tier content across all genres, and for a variety of platforms. As Vice President of Development for Alibi Entertainment, she applies her diverse background in development and production to masterfully cultivate and manage relationships with a range of partners, creators and talent in territories all over the world. Heidi has had a hand in several hit series and format adaptations and continues to demonstrate a deep understanding of the evolving marketplace.

Laurie Sharpe
Executive Producer, Development and Production
CNBC

Laurie Sharpe is Executive Producer of Development and Production for CNBC, responsible for developing talent and original programming for CNBC Prime.

Prior to this role, she worked at ViacomCBS creating content across its MTV, VH1, CMT and Paramount brands. Over the course of her career, Sharpe has developed and produced the widest array the unscripted genre has to offer including the numerous hit series Intervention, Duck Dynasty, Bar Rescueand Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.

Geoff Siskind
Executive in Charge of Program Development
Pacific Content (Rogers Media)

As a producer, writer and director, Geoff has helped launch some of Canada's most popular reality television programs including Storage Wars Canada (internationally known as Storage Wars Northern Treasures), Canada's Worst Driver, Redemption Inc with Kevin O'Leary, Canada's Worst Handyman and Junk RaidersHe’s also worked as a key creative across many award-winning podcasts including Hackable?, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson and the Audible Original True North Heists with Colm Feore.


Annamaria Sofillas
Head of Programming
Topic

Annamaria Sofillas is currently the Head of Programming at Topic, a new streaming service from First Look Media, and the lead producer of the documentary I'm 'George Lucas': A Connor Ratliff Story, presently in post-production. She recently worked on building the original programming departments at Gimlet Media's scripted division and at the NBCUniversal comedy streaming service Seeso.

She has overseen over 25 original long-form series and 30 stand-up specials, including GLAAD Award-nominated Take My Wife, BAFTA Award-nominated Flowers, HarmonQuest, Bajillion Dollar Properties, My Brother, My Brother and Me, and Night Train with Wyatt Cenac. Prior to Seeso, Annamaria had stints at IFC, TV Guide Network, and Focus Features. Annamaria graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a board member of the HRTS Associates NY.

At Topic, she is tasked with overseeing the slate of originals and acquisitions — comprising hundreds of series and films from around the world — by building and shaping the content, programming strategy, and brand filter.

Nick Solowski
Senior Director, International Sales and Acquisitions
Blue Ant Media

Seventeen years experience in the Canadian entertainment industry specializing in film and television. Currently at Blue Ant Media, a globally placed channel operator, producer and distributor. In the position of Senior Director, International Sales & Acquisitions, responsible for strategically placing Blue Ant International's 4000+ hours into both the domestic and international marketplace as well as developing and acquiring content with production partners. 

Previously held roles at Tricon Films & Television, Spafax Canada and Alliance Atlantis MPD. 

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

Adam Steinman served as Vice President, Non-Scripted International Development & Sales from October 2010 until October 2016 and in November 2016 was promoted to Vice President, Creative, Format, Development & Sales at Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP), where scripted formats have been added to his remit.

In this position, Steinman is charged with overseeing the adaptation, development, and sale of programming based on formats and concepts developed from within the International Television Production Group and international 3rd party producers. He is also responsible for helping WBITVP identify producers and broadcasters to partner with, as well as acquiring formats to be exploited internationally.

During his WB tenure, Steinman has played an integral role in the development, acquisition, and international roll out of Impractical Jokers, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette, Hello Goodbye, America’s Best Dance Crew, Who Do You Think You Are?, First Dates, Back In Time For Dinner, The Gift, Ellen's Game Of Games, Little Big Shots, and True Story for NBC.

In 2019, Steinman identified and acquired the record-breaking Korean hit series, Sky Castle, for WBTV and Berlanti Productions which was most recently being adapted at NBC. In 2020, he identified a hit Israeli drama which was acquired by WBITVP for multiple European territories.  

Steinman was instrumental in facilitating the CJENM/Warner Horizon first-look unscripted deal, announced in October 2020. That same year he was also thrilled to play a role in identifying the Nippon format, MUTE IT!. This physical gameshow is now part of a multi-territory partnership with WBITVP. In March 2021 the local adaptation launched impressively in Holland on SBS6.

On the scripted side, he has been responsible for identifying two new hit Korean dramas now optioned at WBTV. In 2020, he acquired the rights to a French-Canadian comedy now being developed by WB in Belgium, and the short-form digital series from Canada, How To Buy A Baby, which became a long-form ratings hit in 2021 from WB Sweden for Discovery +. It has been renewed for a second season.

For WB, he oversees the successful WB/CBC Canada Format Incubator which produced the series, Under New Management with two seasons in 2018. In 2020, the second WB/CBC format incubator resulted in the competition reality format, YOU GOT THIS!. Quickly commissioned to series by TVNZ in New Zealand receiving top ratings, it will soon be adapted as a primetime series in Germany for Sat One.

He was instrumental in managing the multi-year TV Asahi co-development deal, and also helped develop and adapt the RTE Format Farm winner, The Hit, which sold to seven territories including Netherlands, China, Russia, and Scandinavia.


Igal Svet
VP, Documentaries, Discovery+
Discovery Communications

Igal Svet serves as Vice President of Documentaries at discovery+ where he spearheads development of the creative vision and strategy behind original documentaries. He is responsible for the ideation and creation of a wide range of projects and oversees the documentary content acquisition from filmmakers around the globe. In his tenure so far, Svet worked with the team at discovery+ to acquire films such as Introducing, Selma Blair, Francesco, Rebel Hearts, Lily Topples the World, Dear Mr. Brody, Groomed, Set!, Miracle Fishing: Kidnapped Abroad, and Citizen Penn. He was also involved in the development of discovery+ original documentaries, Attack of the Murder Hornets and Expedition: Back to the Future. Other credits include executive producer of the anthology series, Auto Biography: Racing Legends, as well as The Lost Lincoln and Great Balloon Bomb Invasion. 

Prior to his current role at discovery+, Svet served as Vice President of Production and Development for documentaries and specials at Discovery Inc. He led the team responsible for development and executing production strategies for event programming, documentaries and specials, including Shark Week. 

Before Discovery, Svet served as Senior Director of Development at National Geographic Channel. In his five years at National Geographic, he was part of the team developing a sweeping slate of the original programs including One Strange Rock, Mars and The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, and live specials including Earth Live and Yellowstone Live. Svet earned his BS from Boston University in Film/Television and Philosophy where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. 


Elisabeth Tangen
Executive Producer, International Co-production
NRK Drama

Elisabeth Tangen has been developing and producing tv series for NRK Drama for more than 20 years.

Her producer credits include: Gutta på Skauen 10 x 30 in post-production, 22. July 6x55, (2020), Monster 6x58 (2017), Eyewitness 6x58 (2015), Struggle for Life 16x45 (2014) and Taxi 4x45 (2011)

Elisabeth Tangen is currently working as Executive Producer for International Co-Production in NRK Drama, the public broadcaster in Norway.

Elizabeth Trojian
Chief Creative Officer/Executive Producer
yap films

Elizabeth Trojian is the Primetime Emmy nominated Chief Creative Officer and an executive producer at yap films, as well as an award-winning producer, writer and director. She has worked on and created many television documentaries and series for North American and international broadcasters including – How it Feels to be Free (Emmy nomination best documentary series) Unabomber: in his own words, The Genetic Revolution, Mosquito, Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl, My Trans Journey and the Smithsonian Channel record-breaking special and Canadian Screen Award nominee, Building Star Trek – marking the revolutionary show’s 50th anniversary.

Currently, she is producing two documentaries for CBC’s The Nature of Things - The State of the Planet(wt) documentary about climate change and The Machine the Feels a documentary about Artificial Intelligence and emotions; along with Battle of the Alphas (season 2) a natural history series for Love Nature.  Also, for Love Nature and Cottage Life she is producing A Cry in the Mist a natural history documentary about the Loon.

Most recently, Elizabeth was the executive producer and producer on Black Liberators World War II, a feature-length documentary about the Black Canadian soldiers WWII experience for History Canada.  She won the Canadian Screen Award as executive producer and producer on Ice Bridge the Smithsonian Channel, CBC France 5, UKTV and SBS, about a group of archaeologists who set out to prove their theory of a cross-Atlantic migration 20,000 years ago. In 2020, Elizabeth won the CSA Rob Steward Award for Best Science or Nature Documentary for A Day in the Life of Earth.


Adem Uysal
Lead Content Strategy and Acquisitions Manager
TV+ (Turkey)

Adem Uysal has 15 years of IPTV & OTT, Pay TV, Thematic TV Channels content related experience in the market of Turkey.  During his career, He has worked on some of telcos’ tv services and thematic tv channels such as TV+ (Turkcell), Tivibu (Turk Telekom), Sinema TV, MTV Turkey, CNN Turk.  He was involved in thematic linear tv channels and IPTV & VOD services launches. Content selection, acquisition and strategy are his main expertise.

David Van Poppel
IFE Content Specialist
Spafax Canada Inc

David Van Poppel is the In-flight Entertainment Content Specialist, Air Canada, for Spafax in Toronto. He specializes in programming Canadian film and television content for Air Canada, as well as Canadian and international short films for multiple Spafax airline clients. His work includes strategizing and curating multiple in-flight channels by working closely with several prominent distribution companies, including CBC/Radio-Canada, Entertainment One, and Just For Laughs. He also manages multiple partnerships for Air Canada, including Bell Media, The National Film Board of Canada, and Fairchild Television.

Prior to Spafax, David worked with the Toronto International Film Festival’s Film Circuit department, overseeing the programming of over 45 film series and festivals across Canada. He also spent three years fundraising for the festival, helping to launch and project manage some of their most prominent campaigns, including Share Her Journey.

Outside of work, David is a Director on the Board of The Toronto Outdoor Picture Show.

Amanda Vaughan
Production Executive, Corus Kids
Corus Entertainment Inc

Amanda is a Production Executive at Corus Kids, where she uses her passion for children's programming to assist in the production and development of live-action and animated series for Corus’s YTV, Teletoon, and Treehouse networks.

Previously, she has held other roles at Corus Entertainment on the Kids Original Content team as well as the Kids Programming team. In her programming role, she assisted in content curation for YTV, Teletoon, Treehouse and Disney Channel Canada among others.

In addition to her kids content expertise, Amanda was also actively involved with the launch of the first ever 24-hour Adult Swim network. Some of her Production Executive credits include Esme & Roy, Miss Persona, and Ranger Rob.

Oleksandrina Vyshnevska
Development and Co-productions Manager
FILM.UA Group

Oleksandrina is responsible for strategic direction and development efforts of FILM.UA Group across multiple genres (feature films, scripted drama, factual, animation). Oleksandrina evaluates, develops and facilitates the production of scripted drama projects, ranging from original content to local adaptations of scripted formats. Oleksandrina is currently working on several projects intended for the international market. 

Lauren Whitelaw
Head of Programming
OUTtv Network Inc

Lauren is the Head of Programming for OUTtv, currently with services in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Servicing multiple territories, she has successfully negotiated contracts with companies worldwide. Lauren is part of the development team at the network and continues to work closely with producers globally to find the best LGBTQ+ programming.

Before becoming OUTtv in 2006, Lauren helped launched the service PrideVision TV in 2001. Prior to 2001, she worked for companies including The Movie Network, CBC and Vision TV.

In 2016, for OUTtv, Lauren co-created the OUTtv original series Knock Knock Ghost which went on to have two nominations for a Canadian Screen Award in the category of Best Reality Series, a C21 Format Award, and a Venice TV Award.

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.

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.