Max Libman

Founder, CU International Film Festival

Max Libman, a high school junior at Academy High in Champaign, has watched the world through a camera lens ever since he can remember. He started filming his own movies before the age of ten, and at the age of twelve, began writing a screenplay inspired by his great-grandmother’s life under the Nazi regime. He submitted the screenplay to the screenwriting competition Pens to Lens, and his short Ein Stern (A Star) was chosen as one of the winners and filmed in German with English subtitles. This short movie has been viewed by thousands and inspired conversations with diverse groups of all ages.

Seeing the power of film, Max decided to combine his love for movies and desire for community action to launch CU International Film Festival (CUIFF), with the mission to provide a platform for the next generation of filmmakers to share their stories. CUIFF’s inaugural festival debuted in October 2022 at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures to a crowded theater, showcasing eight short films from around the world that entertain, educate, and elevate. As founder and director of CUIFF, Max has been grateful to see this vision become a reality, and plans are underway for next year’s festival. Additionally, CUIFF is excited for its new partnership with Ebertfest and honored to have one of its films showcasing in the Ebertfest 2023 Short Film Program. To learn more about CUIFF, visit