Elizabeth Tisdahl

Elizabeth Tisdahl has lived in Evanston for 37 years and was elected Mayor in April 2009. Mayor Tisdahl has participated in a broad array of political and community projects and has many times been recognized for her services including the Democratic Party of Evanston Community Service Award in 2002.

Mayor Tisdahl’s political experience started when she served twelve years on the Evanston Township High School Board of Education beginning in 1989, including two years as President of the Board. From 2003 to 2009 she served as the 7th Ward Alderman. Mayor Tisdahl’s many honors include the Park School Certificate of Recognition in 1992, the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center Salute to Women in Human Services Appreciation Award in 1999, and the Chessmen Club Community Service Award in 2002.

Aparna Sen

Aparna Sen is a critically acclaimed Indian filmmaker, script writer, and actress. She is the winner of three prestigious National Film Awards and eight international film festival awards.

Her first film appearance happened in Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya when she was sixteen. In 1981, Aparna, made her debut as a film director with 36 Chowringhee Lane which won national and international accolade . Since then she has gone on to direct films on a wide variety of subjects that have brought her worldwide fame and recognition.


Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi is regarded as one of the finest actresses in India. She has appeared in over 120 Hindi films in both mainstream and independent cinema, and has to her credit as an actor several international projects. Azmi’s performances in films across genres have earned her praise and awards, which include a record of five wins of the National Film Award for Best Actress and four Filmfare Awards.

In addition to acting, Azmi is a social and women’s rights activist, a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), and a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.

Suhasini Maniratnam

Suhasini is an actor par excellence, a renowned screen play writer, producer, and is one among the few woman cinematographers in South Indian films. Suhasini has won various awards including the coveted Filmfare, Cinema Express, and TamilNadu Government’s Kalaimamani award.

She enjoys the identification of belonging to an illustrious family where four members, including her, have won the President’s award for films the others being Kamal Haasan, Charuhasan, and ManiRatnam. With numerous television shows, short films, and public service films to her credit, this cinema veteran has acted in over 225 films in all four South Indian languages. In the male dominated bastion of Indian film directors, her much acclaimed directorial venture “Indhira”, broke all stereotypes and received international accolade, including an award for Best Director in Russia.

Narimon Safavi

Narimon Safavi is a Chicago based Iranian-American entrepreneur who is also a contributor and analyst for the radio program Worldview on WBEZ (Chicago Public Media). Born in Tehran to an Azari-Iranian family, he studied Chemistry & Philosophy at the Illinois State University and is now serving on the Human Rights Watch – Chicago Committee and as an ambassador of the DC based National Iranian-American Council (NIAC, the largest grass roots advocacy organization of Iranian-Americans).

He regularly appears on Persian, Spanish and English language programs affiliated with media outlets such as NPR, PBS, BBC and Telecinco. His essay on Iran, a contribution to the anthology called “What’s Next?” edited by the economist David Hale was published as a book by Yale University on May 2011.

In his spare time, among other hobbies, he loves to divulge in culinary endeavors.

Bhawana Somaaya

Bhawana Somaaya commenced her career in the late 70s as Chief Reporter with Free Press Journal’s film weekly titled Cinema Journal. In 81 she joined Movie as Assistant Editor and went on to become the Joint Editor. In 2000, she joined as Editor Chief, Screen, a film weekly of The Indian Express Group.She is the recipient of several prestigious awards and has contributed columns to prominent publications like The Observer and The Hindustan Times. She has to her credit nine books in a span of 10 years which include Amitabh Bachchan – The Legend and Cinema – Images & Issues.

Somaaya does a weekly film review and a Sunday show on 92.7 Big Fm. She is a multifaceted individual who juggles multiple responsibilities including being creative consultant to Enlighten Films and their website Dear Cinema, a guest lecturer at MET college, and serving her second term on the Advisory Panel of Central Board of Film Certification.

Lillete Dubey

Lillete Dubey has appeared in numerous Indian movies, most notably in the Mira Nair directed: Monsoon Wedding, Baghban alongside the legend,  Amitabh Bachchan, Bow Barracks Forever alongside her daughter Neha Dubey, and Housefull alongside Bollywood A – listers Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone.

Lillete Dubey, in addition to acting, is an acclaimed theatre director, television and film artist, and founder of the Theatre Action Group in Delhi. She has directed a number of plays including Mahesh Dattani’s Dance like a Man, which is the longest running play in English that completed 425 shows across the world  and a two week run on Broadway.

Amy Kronish

Amy Kronish works as a consultant in the field of Jewish and Israeli films and is leading expert on the subject. She lectures and writes widely on films and has authored two books on Israeli film – World Cinema: Israel (1996) and Israeli Film – A Reference Guide(2003). Born and bred in the United States, she has an M.A. in Communications from N.Y.U. (1973), and has lived in Jerusalem since 1979. She blogs at She served for 15 years as the Curator of Jewish and Israeli Films at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

Deepti D’Cunha

Deepti D’Cunha is a Film Programmer, based in Mumbai, India, specializing in Contemporary Indian Cinema. Deepti sources and curates films for the Viewing Room section, Work-in-progress lab and Film Bazaar Recommends section, for NFDC Film Bazaar. Her deep commitment towards independent Indian cinema always keeps her on the lookout for new films and fresh talent from all over India as well as new platforms for exhibition and distribution of Indian cinema across the world. She is well connected to independent Indian filmmakers and maintains an extensive database of contemporary Indian films.

She has been a programmer for the 17th and 18th International Children’s Film Festival of India by the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) and well as for Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival. Deepti sources  Indian films for International Film Festivals and is currently the India Consultant to Marco Mueller, Artistic director, of Rome Film Festival.

Aditya Shashtri

Aditya Shastri has been CEO Gitanjali Gems, People Pictures,  and business head of Saregama Films. Shastri has also held the Chief Operating Officer position for UTV Motion Pictures and brings with him over ten years of experience in film marketing & production.