Michael Barker (co-President, Sony Pictures Classics)
Michael Barker Is the Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, a company that distributes, finances and produces independent films from America and around the world. Recent successes include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Pollock,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “All About My Mother,” and “The Tao of Steve.” Previously he co-founded Orion Classics in 1983. He and his partners have been associated with films that have been nominated for a total of 67 Academy Awards®, winning 17.
He has worked with some of the world's greatest filmmakers including Ang Lee, Woody Allen, Francois Truffaut, Akira Kurosawa, Louis Malle, Pedro Almodovar, Wim Wenders, R.W. Fassbinder, Lily Tomlin, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Linklater, Zhang Yimou, Merchant Ivory, John Sayles, John Boorman, David Mamet, Neil LaBute, Errol Morris, Sally Potter, Don Roos, Gary Oldman, Allison Anders, Hal Hartley, and Mike Figgis.
Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Mr. Barker holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas.
ERIC BYLER (writer/director)
Chinese American writer/director Eric Byler's debut feature, "Charlotte Sometimes" (Ebertfest 2003), was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards after being discovered by Roger Ebert at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Eric's second feature, "Americanese," will be released in the fall of 2007 by IFC Films, having won the Audience Award and the Special Jury Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2006. His latest feature, "Tre," recently received the Special Jury Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and will be released by Cinema Libre Studio in 2008. Eric has been invited to speak at colleges and universities around the United States, and is known for grassroots activism and YouTube documentaries created during the 2006 Virginia Senate race on behalf of Senator Jim Webb and Virginia's Asian/Pacific American community.
MICKEY COTTRELL (publicist)
Mickey Cottrell has become a specialist in filmmakers’ publicity, having represented such outstanding talents as Wim Wenders, Gus Van Sant, Percy Adlon, Bernard Rose, Tony Bill, Neil Jordan, Diane Keaton, Bruce Weber, Juzo Itami, Julien Temple, Agnieszka Holland, Bryan Singer, Vincent Ward, Phillip Noyce, and Neil Young in his recent directorial outing, “Greendale.”
The LA Weekly recently dubbed Mickey, “a prince among independent film publicists.”
At film festivals, Mickey’s clients have captured a number of top awards, including four Grand Prize trophies at Sundance and trophies at 2006 and 2007 SXSW (South by Southwest) as well as at the Los Angeles and AFI Festivals. Two of his documentary Oscar(® nominees took home the gold. He oversaw PR for the late master film composer Alex North, surrounding his Lifetime Achievement Oscar®.
Cottrell has opened over 150 films in Los Angeles, from Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” to Wenders’ “Wings of Desire”; from Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho” to David Gordon Green’s “George Washington” to, more recently, David Mamet’s “Edmond,” and acclaimed docs “Tarnation,” “Ballets Russes” and “Who Killed the Electric Car?”
Mickey, who began his showbiz career as an actor, has been seen in “My Own Private Idaho,” “Apt Pupil,” “Ed Wood,” “Shortbus,” as well as guest starring on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek Voyager” and “The Practice,” among others. He is currently the executive producer on a new doc, “Big River Man,” which is covering the adventures of the first man to swim the mighty Amazon River. The film has just wrapped.
JIM EMERSON (film critic/editor of RogerEbert.com)
Jim Emerson is a Seattle-based writer and film critic who has worked in nearly every part of the movie biz--screenwriting, production, editing, marketing, exhibition, journalism and criticism. He is the co-creator, editor of, as well as a contributor to, Roger Ebert's website, RogerEbert.com, where he also maintains a blog called Scanners. He was the editor of the Microsoft Cinemania, a multimedia movie encyclopedia on CD-ROM and the web, and has been the editorial director of other film-related web projects such as Reel.com and the now-defunct start-up, FilmPix.com.
Emerson was movie critic for the Orange County Register (and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association), and has written for many other publications and websites including the Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, MSN, Film Comment, Amazon.com, and Premiere. He is also the co-author (with his friend and sometime writing partner Julia Sweeney) of the play and screenplay "Mea's Big Apology" and the film "Its Pat: The Movie," and a creative consultant on Sweeney's monologues, "God Said Ha!" and "Letting Go of God." He has been a film programmer for the famous Market Theater in Seattle, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Floating Film Festival. His own rarely-updated website is Jeeem's CinePad: www.cinepad.com.
C.O. "DOC" ERICKSON (executive producer/production manager)
C.O. "Doc" Erickson, an executive producer, has over thirty years' experience as a producer and production manager on many of Hollywood's biggest films. He began his career at Paramount Pictures, serving as production manager on five Alfred Hitchcock films: "Rear Window," "To Catch A Thief," "The Trouble with Harry," "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo." He left Paramount to become John Huston's associate producer on "The Misfits," "Freud," and "Reflections in a Golden Eye." He was production manager on Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "There Was A Crooked Man” and “Cleopatra.” He also spent three years supervising film production for Brut Productions and later became associated with Robert Evans on "Chinatown," "Players," "Urban Cowboy," and "Popeye." Other producer/production credits include "55 Days at Peking," "Blade Runner," "Nicholas and Alexandra," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Magic," and "The Lonely Guy."
ALLISON FIROR (writer)
Allison Firor is a Southern writer/artist/photographer/poet who, when not traveling the world, spends most of her time in various cabins in the woods of Georgia.
ERIC PIERSON (film scholar
Writer/director/actor/humorist Hadjii was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a BA degree in Telecommunications Arts. In 2004, he was a finalist in the Image Film Festival Perfect Pitch Competition with his pitch for his original screenplay, "My Father's Business." His 2002 short film, "The Making of Brick City," won 2nd place at the 2002 Peach City Short Film Festival and was featured in the 2003 Hollywood Black Film Festival. He was also a semi-finalist in the 2002 Hollywood Black Film Festival Storytelling Competition, and he was an invited panelist discussing the state of African-American film at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival in 2004.
Earnest Hardy of the L.A. Weekly praised Hadjii's work for its "potent mix of irreverence and social consciousness." “Somebodies,” his first feature film, which he wrote, directed and starred in, was shown in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, the AFI Film Festival, Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival 2006, and at festivals in Cleveland, Paris, Atlanta, and Sarasota, where Hadjii won the Special Jury Prize for Screeenwriting. Hadjii also won Best Director at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. “Somebodies” will be distributed by BET Films, and a television series based on “Somebodies” will air on BET later this year. His first novel will be published in January 2008 by Broadway Books, a division of Random House. He is an adjunct instructor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he teaches writing for film and television.
Eric Pierson is an associate professor and department chair of the Communication Studies Department at the University of San Diego. His current book project, “Blaxploitation: Hollywood’s Cash Cow Revisited and Reframed,” focuses on the political, economic, and social climate that contributed to manufacturing and maintenance of Blaxploitation films.
His work on black images and audiences has appeared the “Encyclopedia of African American Business History,” “Screening Noir,” and the “Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration.” He has done research in the area of public policy; his most recent work in that area appears in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. His co-authored piece entitled “The Rhetoric of Hate on the Internet: Hateporn’s Challenge to the Modern Media Ethics” explores the role and responsibility of internet service providers with regards to content that encourages bigotry and hate.
DAVID POLAND (writer/publisher)
David Poland is the publisher/editor of Movie City News and is about to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his column, “The Hot Button.” He also blogs, causing many people to write very nasty things (and more often, really smart stuff). This is his eighth Ebertfest and he, as ever, is thrilled to celebrate all things Roger.
LISA ROSMAN (festival blogger)
A former labor organizer, Lisa Rosman has worked as a film writer and editor for such publications as Us Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Indiewire, and Premiere magazine and has commentated on the Oxygen Channel, TNT, the IFC, and for public radio. She is also the film editor of the online magazine Flavorpill (http://flavorpill.net).
KRISTIN THOMPSON (film scholar)
Kristin Thompson is an Honorary Fellow in the Dept. of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her eleventh book, “The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood” (for which she interviewed Roger Ebert on the subject of press junkets) is forthcoming this summer from the University of California Press. Her previous books include “Storytelling in the New Hollywood” (Harvard, 1999) and “Herr Lubitsch Goes to Hollywood” (Amsterdam, 2005).
MICHAEL WIESE (filmmaker/publisher)
Wiese attended Uni High and was a cub photographer for the News Gazette during the "Ebert years". He has 35 years’ experience as a producer, director, author and publisher. Wiese currently lives in England where he oversees Michael Wiese Productions, with offices in Los Angeles and Seattle from his "international headquarters" (a wooden shed on the Cornish cliffs): www.mwp.com. Besides making the occasional film, the company publishes a line of nearly 100 books on filmmaking which are used by professionals and students in over 600 film courses around the world.