Festival Director - Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith, a native of Kingston Jamaica, started her career as a filmmaker in 2008 with a documentary entitled “I Wanna Be President.” Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith has written directed and produced several projects over the last eight years, including three short films “Descent,” “Alone,” and “Necrophilia.” She also co-produced the web series “Real Life.” In addition to producing, Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith has acted in numerous film and theatrical productions throughout the country. She is committed to portraying positive images of African people.
Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith loves and appreciates the power entertainment has to impact the lives of people around the globe. Along with Smith’s passion for the arts in its various forms, Smith has always been a strong proponent for Social Justice. She started the Central Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry and initiated a rights of passage program for the young congregants. The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival is Smith coupling of her love for the arts and her passion for social justice. She wanted to take action and provide a platform for those “Artivists” (artist and activist) who seek to use their artistic voice for social change.
Smith’s festival experience was honed during her stint as Programmer for the inaugural Diaspora program for the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2013. Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Adelphi University, and a Juris Doctorate from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Business Affairs and Legal - Vical R. Peterson is a graduate of DePaul University’s College of Law and earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Arizona. Ms. Peterson began her career providing counsel to senior management on employment issues at Pactiv Corporation and subsequently transitioned to a position in media at TV One. She has always had an interest in promoting artistic endeavors, which includes being a member of the California Lawyers for the Arts. To this end, Ms. Peterson has provided legal counsel for nonprofit arts organizations, musicians, managers and producers.
The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival is important for artivists because it gives them the opportunity to showcase their work in a setting designed to promote the issues they are passionate about. The social justice issues most important to Ms. Peterson are those relating to and promoting equality for those facing discrimination.
Ronald Jackson - Digital Media Analyst - Ronald Jackson is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with B.A. degree in Psychology.
His primary professional experience is as a Financial Analyst building financial models for environmental remediation, antitrust, acquisitions and asset valuation reports. A long-standing interest in design and technology has lead him to digital media analytics where identifying, analyzing and presenting data can enhance problem solving and decision making.
A Los Angeles resident, Mr. Jackson enjoys music, art, biking, hiking, beaches, and sports.
Programming Director Alexandra Graham is a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in Film and Religious Studies, with a particular focus on religion in horror films and contemporary Christian cinema. She is also the Programming Director of the Huntington Beach Film Festival, which is in its 14th year. She is currently based in Atlanta, where she is working on a series of essays on the "God's Not Dead" trilogy and collaborating in the indie film community.
Social Media Marketing Coordinator Maddie Faircloth is a 4th year theater major at the University of California Los Angeles. She was born in Chicago and found her way to San Jose, where she spent her later years. School brought her to Los Angeles, and fueled her desire to become involved with the local film scene. She grew up performing on stage, and has grown to study multiple aspects of both theater and film. The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival has allowed her to use these studies to support social justice and progressive art. She hopes that the audience is not only entertained but also encouraged to create a dialogue about the issues. The marker of great art is its ability to make its audience think.
Events Coordintor Keanna Flores has a passion for the arts, literature, and anything related to the creative arts. Keanna is originally from Japan however, she now live in sunny Long Beach, California. Currently a Senior attending UC, Berkeley studying Art Practice and English. Keanna has traveled and lived all around the world; having lived in Japan for most of her childhood, she has jumped around both Southern and Northern California as well from Texas and Hawaii. She is frequently found sketching up new ideas in her sketchbook, writing up strange stories, and walking around the park or sitting in a coffee shop. Besides the arts, Keanna is greatly fond of wildlife, thus she happens to know nearly everything there is to know about hummingbirds.
Website Manager & Developer Jonathan Schwartzman is from the New York area and currently studies Communications and English Literature at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He is assisting various nonprofits and organizations, such as Project New Yorker and Future Technologies Inc., to build and design their websites while improving their online marketing strategy. Jonathan is also an avid artist, photographer and writer, displaying his works in an online portfolio at www.YoniArt.bid. He is a lover of nature and enjoys cycling and hiking during his spare time. As an artist himself, Jonathan is happy to help the PTAFF team in their mission to display the artwork of so many talented individuals in order to positively impact the world.
PR Coordinator Nava Amoona is a third-year Communication major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Due to her upbringing, Nava has always felt a special connection to LA rooted causes. She spends her free time volunteering for a diverse range of non-profits across the city. Using her educational and professional experience, she is thrilled to join the Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival team and help shed light through art on the underserved or on marginalized issues.
Events Coordinator Zarah Shah