Obi Emelonye (Nigeria) - Jury Head

Obi Emelonye, a former professional footballer and lawyer graduated from The University of Nigeria Nsukka with BA (Hons) Dramatic Arts. He went on to study for an LLB Law degree from the University of Wolverhampton. He completed a Post Graduate Degree in Legal Practice from the London Metropolitan University and practiced Law for a few years before focusing on his first love: films. Obi is presently a Doctoral researcher in film at Goldsmith University of London and a Lecturer in Filmmaking at the University of Huddersfield, UK. Obi has secured international distribution for most of his films and set himself apart as a truly international commercial filmmaker. His films have grossed millions of dollars in cinema box office revenue. His writing and directing credits include the multi-award winning THE MIRROR BOY; the record-breaking LAST FLIGHT TO ABUJA; the seminal CRAZY, LOVELY, COOL; the unique HEART & SOUL and the number 1 film ‘GONE’ (ALL PRESENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX); and the paradigm-shifting biopic BADAMASI (Portrait of a General) and the sleek thriller BLACK MAIL- both coming on soon on Amazon. Obi Emelonye is now firmly established as one of a new generation of Nigerian filmmakers taking the magic of Nollywood to the world; with what he calls a ‘quintessential African cinematic voice’. He is the Chair of the Jury at Coal City Film Festival and a member of Directors UK. His recent appointment as a Lecturer and Module Leader on the BA in Filmmaking course at the Yorkshire Film and Television School, University of Huddersfield is a personal win for the cerebral filmmaker. However, it is ultimately a global validation of the Nollywood school thought in filmmaking and a confirmation of its acceptance into global cinema scholarship and praxis.

Prof. Dr. Mohan Das (India)

Writer, Director, Producer – Prof. Dr. Mohan Das is working on his latest film QUARANTINE IN A BROTHEL, (Hindi) and will soon be starting his other projects NIRNAY (THE JUDGEMENT), THAAM LE HAATH (HOLD MY HANDS) & KAR GAYEE CHULL (GET LOST). Armed with a degree in Financial Management and courses in advertising, journalism and film making, the direction bug bit Mohan Das after a chance meeting with the late director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. He started off assisting him in the serial AGAR AISA HO TOH and later having made an impressionable mark, co-produced DAUGHTERS OF THIS CENTURY that was directed by Tapan Sinha. He also assisted Tapan Sinha in the making of this film. An opening film in the Indian Panorama “IFFI 97” it boasted of a cast ensemble of greats like Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachhan, Deepa Sahi, Nandita Das, Debashree Roy, Milind Gunaji and others. This film later also went to a number of prestigious film festivals including Mumbai International Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival and many others. Thereafter, he co-directed MAIN KAUN HOON - a short film on National Integration for LSSP - Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad, one of the most prestigious wings of Doordarshan. He moved into regional cinema and made Bhojpuri Feature Films SAAWARIYA I LOVE U & WAFADAAR. He also co-produced Hindi feature film “STRINGS OF PASSION” starring Zeenat Aman, Indrani Halder, Rajesh Sharma, Shubh, etc. Winner of several awards, this film deals with the controversial subject of male rape and is based on a concept by him. This film went on to win 3 Awards at Darbhanga International Film Festival. Prof. Mohan Das has over the years bagged several awards and has sat o the Jury of 20 international Film Festivals

Leonard Amanya (Uganda)

Born in Uganda, Leonard has an educational background in Film production, Photojournalism, Media, and Communication. He holds a degree in Mass Communication from Makerere University (Uganda), Filmmaking from Kampala Film School (Uganda), Maisha Film Lab (Uganda), Television for Development (Uganda) and CineArts University (Lebanon). Amanya has spent most of his career as a film festival curator with the Uganda Film Festival and an officer for Film, Video and Cinematography with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) under the Content Division advising on matters film production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition. He has also worked as Jury member on several Film festivals in Africa including the Gulu International Film Festival (Uganda), FESTICAB (Burundi), Mashariki African Film Festival (Rwanda), Durban International Film Festival (South Africa), Sotambe International Film & Arts Festival (Zambia) among others and also attended other festivals and markets including the Zanzibar International Festival (ZIFF-Tanzania), the Coastal International Film Festival(Kenya), Discop Africa among others. Co-founder of Amaka Film Productions based in Kampala-Uganda. The company directs and produces content including documentaries, short films and feature films among others. Some of the works have been nominated in festivals like the African International Film Festival in New Zealand.

Tiffany Thomas (United States)

In addition to being an Emmy-Award winning producer, Tiffany Thomas has spent years honing her comedy writing skills with well-known Los Angeles sketch comedy troupe, Slow Children Crossing. She would go on to create sketches that hilariously tackled everything from sex/politics to race in America. Her work has been seen on a number of stages, including the Comedy Store, The SeattleFest, and the Montreal Sketchfest. Wanting to push herself further, Ms. Thomas branched out to television. She has written several pilots, including “Frankie”; a dark comedy about a recent parolee who tries to get her life on-track while dealing with her manipulative mother’s antics. The pilot caught the interest of renowned show creator, Ralph Farquhar. Mr. Farquhar would go on to direct the pilot presentation. Ms. Thomas’s hard work and dedication to the craft of comedy writing was recently rewarded when she scored a staff writing position for The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder reboot. She also currently developing a film for Disney + and wrote the upcoming show Rise Up, Sing Out for Disney Jr.

John Henry Richardson (United States)

Having studied acting and directing at the world-renown Pasadena Playhouse College, and filmmaking at UCLA, John has appeared in over 400 films, TV shows, plays and commercials. Currently he can be seen co-starring in the #1 rated TV series from China, SEVEN DAYS. He also co-stars as series regular in MOM DON’T DO THAT! for Netflix Taiwan/China. Watch for him as co-star and series regular in A GRUNT’S LIFE for VET-TV. Most recently he wrote, directed and co-starred in a new-genre DocuMystery film ...WHERE IS SHE NOW? winner of 35 international film festival awards, in which he won 16 awards for Best Film, 6 awards for Best Director, 3 awards for Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Watch for the series spinoff, ...WHERE ARE WE NOW? Last year, John earned 6 Best Actor Awards from prestigious international film festivals for PROJECT BAU, GRANDPA: THE HORROR, STARFISH and THE CURIOUS WOODS.

Emem Isong (Nigeria)

Emem Isong is a Nigerian screenwriter, film producer, and director. She career in filmmaking began in 1994 when she wrote the script and co-produced the movie Jezebel. Her very first solo production was for the movie Breaking Point (1996). She has written or produced for films such as Reloaded, Breaking Point, She Devil, A Minute To Midnight, Play Boy, Private Sin, Master Stroke, Rumours, Shattered Illusion, and Promise Me Forever and Emotional Crack (2003). The movies Emem Isong has been involved in are also noteworthy for being the launching grounds for various Nollywood talents including Stephanie Okereke, Dakore Egbuson among others. In 2014 Isong directed her first feature film Champagne. In August 2015 she released the film Code of Silence, her second directed feature film which she also produced, working with the Royal Arts Academy and Nollywood Workshop, an international NGO that aims to encourage change in the society through the use of movies. Emem Isong is also known for her role in founding the Royal Arts Academy in 2010 and her subsequent role as the academy’s CEO. The Royal Arts Academy which she started with Uduak Oguamanam, Anietie Isong, and actress Monalisa Chinda, is based in Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Judith Audu (Nigeria)

Judith Audu is a Multiple award winning Filmmaker / Actress, UNHCR, High Profile Supporter, Listed among the YNAIJA 100 most Influential Nigerians in Film in 2019. She started out as an actress and has grown to become a Filmmaker of international reckon. Her debut feature film production, Just Not Married was one of the eight Nollywood movies that screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Canada in 2016 and screened in over 20 Major Film Festivals worldwide winning over 20 awards. The Multiple Award winning Filmmaker holds a Certificate in Directing from the London Film Academy, London, a Masters degree in Public and International Affairs and a B.A in French both from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She's the CEO of Judith Audu Productions, with over 50 movies and TV credit as an actress, and over 30 awards and nominations for her own produced movies. Judith has successfully produced and been part of the production team of some fantastic projects from Nigeria like; Netflix Original Blood Sisters Limited Series, Death and the Kings Horseman, Shanty Town, RattleSnake: The Ahanna Story , Hakkunde, Walking with Shadows, Gold Statue, Nigerian Trade, Just to mention but a few. Judith Audu is a force to reckon with, her attention to details, dedication to her craft, discipline and professionalism are some of the qualities that makes her and her productions stand out.