Geena Davis’ 8th Annual Bentonville Film Festival Jury Revealed

NARRATIVE JURY

Bird running water

Bird Runningwater belongs to the Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache peoples and was raised on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico. He is a producer and executive producer for film and television and recently signed his first contract with Amazon Studios. He is currently co-executive producer of the TV show “Sovereign” currently in development with Ava DuVernay, Warner Brothers Television and Array Filmworks. Prior to launching his career as a producer, Runningwater guided the Sundance Institute’s commitment to Indigenous filmmakers for 20 years, nurturing new generations of filmmakers through the Institute’s labs and the Sundance Film Festival. The films championed by Runningwater propelled Indigenous cinema to the global marketplace. Prior to leaving the Sundance Institute, Runningwater served as Director of the Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program; diversity, equity and inclusion; and artist programs. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the boards of Illuminative and the Arctic Indigenous Film Fund. He was recently named a member of the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress and was a member of the jury for the George Foster Peabody Awards. In Time Magazine’s Optimist 2019 issue, Runningwater was named one of “12 Leaders Shaping the Next Generation of Artists.” Last year, he was honored by the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission as the Creative Spirit Laureate for Native Americans. Heritage Month for his outstanding contributions to the Native American and Alaska Native community of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles community as a whole. Runningwater began his media career 26 years ago as a program associate for the media, arts and culture program at the Ford Foundation in New York, where he helped fund radio work , non-commercial television and film in the United States and around the world in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Russia. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with degrees in journalism and Native American studies, and he received his master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin.

Shrihari Sathe

Shrihari Sathe is a director and producer based in New York. Sathe recently won the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Award – Producers Award. His producer/co-producer credits include Pervertigo by Jaron Henrie McCrea, It Felt Like Love and Beach Rats by Eliza Hittman, Sunrise by Partho Sen-gupta (Arunoday), Dukhtar by Afia Nathaniel, Screwdriver by Bassam Jarbawi, The Sweet Requiem by Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam, No Land’s Man by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki among others. Sathe’s first feature film – 1000 Rupee Note received more than 30 awards. Her latest co-production, The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future by Francisca Alegría had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and her latest production, Stay Awake by Jamie Sisley had its world premiere at the 2022 Berlinale where it won received 2 awards. He has received scholarships from the HFPA, PGA, Trans Atlantic Partners, IFP, Film Independent and The Sundance Institute to name a few. In 2016, Sathe received the Cinereach Producer Award. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Senior Production Advisor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Sathe is a member of the PGA, IMPPA, SWA-India and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Yolonda Ross

Yolonda Ross (actress/writer/director/producer) is a two-time Film Independent Spirit Award nominee and Gotham Award winner for her film debut as the lead actress in HBO’s Stranger Inside and John Sayles’ Go For Sisters. Ross, originally from Omaha, Nebraska, is recognized for her wide range of work, including Angela Bassett’s Whitney and Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher Story.

On TV, she worked on Pulitzer Prize-winning David Mamet’s The Unit. The two teamed up again on HBO’s Phil Spector. Ross returned as “Claudia” on How To Get Away With Murder, portrayed the memorable “Ms. Green,” on the Baz Luhrmann/Netflix series, The Get Down, and played a documentary filmmaker on HBO’s Treme who inspired her to step back from the camera for her first film, Breaking Night, which aired on VH1 Classics.

Ross is also a member of New York’s famous Labyrinth Theater Company. Yolonda is featured in the PBS episode American Masters How it Feels To Be Free, about black pioneer women. Yolonda will make her feature directorial debut with her romantic drama, Scenes From Our Marriage, which was chosen for Film Independent’s Fast Track & Directors’ Lab, Film Producers Workshop’s Cannes Marche’ and Seattle Film Summit’s Prestige Select Movie. She recently worked with the Seattle Film Summit, starring in Desmond’s Not Here Anymore alongside S.Epatha Merkerson. Yolonda can be seen reprising her role as series regular, “Jada Washington” in season five of Lena Waithe’s critically acclaimed Showtime drama Le Chi.