Meet our 2020 Festival Jurors

We’re no strangers to talent here at Indie Grits. Each year, we bring on the best and the brightest in the filmmaking world to adjudicate our festival selections. We’re excited to welcome our two jurors, who hail from across the Southeast and beyond, and are here to help us celebrate this year’s crop of moviemaking talent.

Jenny Slattery

Jenny Slattery is the Interim Executive Director of the Southern Documentary Fund, where she oversees the organization’s work to cultivate documentary projects made by artists based in the American South. Previously, she was the Associate Director of Foundations and Artist Development at SFFILM in San Francisco, where she built funding partnerships, developed new filmmaker support programs, and provided guidance to independent filmmakers. She is also a fundraising and organizational effectiveness consultant who works with both filmmakers and nonprofit organizations.

Farihah Zaman

Farihah Zaman is a Bangladeshi-American filmmaker, critic, and curator; her first feature is the award-winning documentary Remote Area Medical, followed by second feature This Time Next Year (2014 Tribeca Film Festival) and the doc-fiction hybrid Feast of the Epiphany (BAMcinemafest 2018), as well as several shorts (Kombit, Nobody Loves Me, American Carnage, and the New York Times Op-Doc To Be Queen). She produced the Sundance-award winning Netflix Original, Ghosts of Sugar Land, which was Oscar shortlisted. Zaman has written for Reverse Shot, Film Comment, Elle, Huffington Post, Filmmaker Magazine, and AV Club, among others, and her diverse background in the film industry includes Magnolia Pictures, IFP, The Flaherty Seminar, and serving as the Production Manager for Field of Vision (founded by Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook), where she worked with artists like Marshall Curry, Garrett Bradley, Lyric Cabral, Josh Begley, Ramell Ross, Steve Maing, and Brett Story on films eventually published at The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Vice, Wired and more. She was the Documentarian in Residence at Bard College 2018-2019.

2020 Indie Grits Awards

Top Grit ($1000)
The Giverny Document (Single Channel)
Ja’Tovia Gary | Dallas, TX | 42 min
Genre: Experimental
Filmed on location in Harlem and in Claude Monet’s historic gardens in Giverny, France, The Giverny Document is a poetic meditation on safety and bodily autonomy among Black women. This distinctive experimental feature utilizes direct animation techniques, woman-on-the-street interviews, and montage-style editing to explore the creative virtuosity of Black femme performance figures, simultaneously interrogating the histories of those bodies as spaces of forced labor and commodified production.

Big Grit ($500)
Border South
Raúl O. Paz Pastrana | Denver, CO | 83 min
Genre: Documentary
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants begin a treacherous journey northward, passing through Mexico to reach the United States. Director Raúl O. Paz Pastrana spent four years embedded with these migrants, capturing their day-to-day struggles as well as their ingenuity, courage, and grim humor. Met with resistance from increasingly hostile governments, and confronted by life-threatening circumstances, Pastrana’s subjects are steadfast in their resolve to reach the US.

Visionary Women Award ($500)
Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack
Rachel Reichman & Deborah Shaffer | Brooklyn, NY | 75 min
Genre: Documentary
88-year-old Audrey Flack holds a unique place in the history of contemporary American art. An abstract expressionist, photorealist, and creator of monumental public sculptures, Flack has always been a trailblazer. Queen of Hearts accompanies Flack on her latest creative journey, and offers insights into her struggles as the parent of a child with autism.


Visionary Women Award (Honorable Mention)
Dirt Daughter
Marnie Ellen Hertzler | Baltimore, MD | 13 min
Genre: Narrative Short
A security guard overcome with loneliness turns to an unlikely source to find a companion, but quickly realizes that she must make some serious changes. Indie Grits alum Marnie Ellen Hertzler was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2018.

Doc Short Grit ($250)
Georg Koszulinski | Wilmington, NC | 13 min
Genre: Documentary Short
As philosophical loggers befoul the lush natural landscape of an archipelago along Canada’s northwestern coast, Sphenia Jones, a member of the Haida tribe native to the region, considers the forces that shape the islands she and her ancestors have long called home.

Doc Short Grit (Honorable Mention)
Coby & Stephen Are in Love
Carlo Nasisse & Luka Yuanyuan Yang | Austin, TX | 31 min
Genre: Documentary Short
Indie Grits alum Carlo Nasisse returns with this transfixing dual portrait of Coby Yee, a 92-year-old retired nightclub dancer, and Stephen King, an experimental filmmaker 20 years her junior—two creative souls who have forged an unlikely partnership.


Narrative Short Grit ($250)
Keisha Rae Witherspoon | Miami, FL | 14 min
Genre: Documentary/Narrative Hybrid Short
A film crew follows three participants of Miami’s annual T Ball, an event where the grieving model RIP t-shirts and other innovative costumes designed to honor their dead. T received the Audience Award for Best Narrative Short at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival, and is a 2020 Sundance Film Festival official selection. The film was just recently awarded the Golden Bear for best short film at the 2020 Berlinale.

Special Jury Award for Acting
Spilt Milk
Cierra Glaudé | Los Angeles, CA | 18 min
Genre: Narrative Short
Single mom Ximena (Dascha Polanco of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) moves back in with her parents while struggling to care for her young son. An old wound opens when she reconnects with her ex, Lena, who is raising the child they conceived together through a sperm donor.

Animated Grit ($250)
Hudson Geese
Bernardo Britto | New York, NY | 5 min
Genre: Animated Short
A goose recounts details from his early life—as well as the days of peace and happiness he spent with his wife, Sherona—before everything went to hell. Directed by Indie Grits alum Bernardo Britto, Hudson Geese premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.


Experimental Grit ($250)
Roger Beebe | Columbus, OH | 25 min
Genre: Experimental Short
This “desktop cinema” essay from Indie Grits alum Roger Beebe, an assessment of consumerism’s impact on our psychic and physical geography, visits four cities across the United States where e-commerce titan Amazon’s original distribution centers were located.

Local Grit ($250)
Little Saluda USA
Lillian Burke & Amada Torruella | Columbia, SC | 13 min
Genre: Documentary Short
In Saluda, South Carolina, established Latinx immigrants and generations of Black and white residents coexist in isolation. A poetic analysis of place and gaze, this documentary witnesses the rural South and showcases a collage of experiences from 21st-century America.

Emerging Grit ($250)
Jo Hatcher | Winston-Salem, NC | 7 min
Genre: Student, Narrative Short
In this narrative short, an undocumented young woman seeking asylum walks toward McAllen, Texas with her seven-year-old daughter in tow—unaware that the Trump Administration’s so-called Zero Tolerance Policy has just taken effect at the US border.


New Perspectives Award
3-Part Horror-mon-ee
Ashley Teamer | New Orleans, LA | 11 min
Genre: Experimental Short
This dread-saturated experimental short, an abstract rumination on growing up in post-Katrina New Orleans, chills with its forbidding juxtapositions of image and sound. Expect desolate nighttime highways, garbled radio dispatches from the police, and, of course, ever-present bodies of murky water, filled with mystery and menace.

Bodies in Motion Award
Bodies Like Oceans
KC Cory | Portland, OR | 13 min
Genre: Documentary Short
Bodies Like Oceans is a dreamy documentary portrait of photographer Shoog McDaniel, a self-described queer fat freak whose work with fat bodies in nature transgresses reality.

Bodies in Motion Award
Roni Nicole Henderson | Columbia, SC | 13 min
Genre: Experimental Narrative Short
Forced from the comfort of her mother’s 84’ Bonneville, Nena ventures into the home of a gentrifying heroin dealer and discovers her power to truly awaken and transform. AND THE PEOPLE COULD FLY, directed by Columbia’s own Roni Nicole Henderson, premiered at the 2019 BlackStar Film Festival.


Writing Grit
The Woodpecker
Courtney Bush, Will Carington, & Jake Goicoechea | Brooklyn | 7 min
Genre: Narrative Short
Indie Grits power trio Courtney Bush, Will Carington, and Jake Goicoechea return to this year’s festival with The Woodpecker, a comedic narrative short about Richard, a man eager to impress friends at an animal-themed housewarming party.

Environmental Grit
Mossville: When Great Trees Fall
Alexander John Glustrom | New Orleans, LA | 75 min
Genre: Documentary
“We’re in downtown Mossville,” Stacey Ryan says. “Population: one.” A once-thriving Louisiana community founded over a century ago by the formerly enslaved, Mossville has been ravaged by industrialization, with chemical spills and other hazardous incidents poisoning the landscape—and its people. In spite of an ongoing site development project by the South African corporation Sasol, Ryan resists calls to leave, clinging steadfastly to his ancestral home.