Competition Categories:

Spirit of Freedom: Narrative & documentary

BIFF has held Spirit of Freedom as one of its themed categories since it's very first festival.  Each film in this program explores the potential of the human spirit and how freedom affects - or is absent from - our lives.  


Our New Visions competition is a showcase for emerging artists, providing festival audiences with the opportunity to discover the next generation of visionary filmmakers. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the New Vision film category.  

Short Films

A short film is 31 minutes or less and often the only place where young filmmakers have the chance to explore story telling through cinema. Film Festivals are one of the few venues where multiple short films can experienced. BIFF is pleased to present one of the most interesting and diverse lineups of short films. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the Short film category.


Nate Kohn

Academy Award Nominee Producer | Screenwriter Residency Mentor

Nathaniel Kohn, Ph.D.,


Dr. Nathaniel Kohn is professor at the University of Georgia and Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards, the most prestigious award in electronic media.  He directs the University of Georgia Cannes Festival Study Abroad Program and co-directs the University of Georgia Cannes Lions Advertising Festival Study Abroad Program.


He is also festival director of Roger Ebert's Film Festival, and he was co-founder and director of Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival. 


Dr. Kohn's credits as Producer include the Academy Award nominated Zulu Dawn starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole; the independent feature Somebodies, which premiered in competition at Sundance (2006); Rain, starring Nicki Micheaux and CCH Pounder, the Bahamas’ first indigenous feature which premiered at Toronto (2007) and on Showtime (2010); the feature film Bottleworld (2010); he was Executive Producer on the BET television series Somebodies (2008); and he is Producer on the feature length documentary Bayou Maharajah that premiered at the SXSW Festival (2013).


He has served on juries and mentored at the Atlanta International Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Kerala International Film Festival and the Bahamas International Film Festival. 


He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and of the book Pursuing Hollywood: Seduction, Obsession, Dread (AltaMira Press, 2006).

Jib Polhemus

Producer | Screenwriter Residency Mentor

Jib Polhemus is a manager/producer who has worked in the entertainment business for the past 20 years.  He recently founded the literary management company, Source Artist Management where he represents writers and directors. 


He started his career at CAA, where he met legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis, who hired him as a development executive.  While at De Laurentiis, he worked on numerous films including Paramount’s breakout hit, BREAKDOWN, starring Kurt Russell and directed by Jon Mostow.


From there he was hired as President of Simon West Productions, where he has developed and sold numerous high profile projects to numerous studios including: Warner Brothers, Universal, FOX, Paramount, Sony and others.


Currently he is Producing SALTY starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko which wrapped July.  He is just finishing up post on a film he Executive Produced called STRATTON starring Dominic Cooper and Connie Nielsen.  Previously, he Executive Produced WILD CARD starring Jason Statham and Stanley Tucci for Lionsgate.  In addition, he co-produced blockbuster EXPENDABLES 2, starring Sylvester Stallone,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Jason Statham, and Executive Produced STOLEN starring Nicolas Cage.


He is also produced the graphic novel inspired NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: Darkest Dawn currently being released by Walla Distribution.  In 2011, he co-produced The MECHANIC, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, and also Associate Produced Paramount’s mega-blockbuster LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, starring Angelina Jolie. 


During his tenure at Simon West Productions, he has overseen production and development on several other films including Oscar-winning BLACK HAWK DOWN, Sony’s WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, and Paramount’s hit, THE GENERAL’S DAUGHTER written by best selling author Nelson DeMille.


In television, he has developed and sold shows to most of the top networks including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC and WB.  Most recently, he is directing and producing, CRIMINALS for award winning documentary filmmaker’s Nick Fraser ’s company YADOO.  In the network world, he recently sold 40 Elephants to TNT and Lionsgate.  Previously, he Co-Executive Produced THE CAPE for NBC and HUMAN TARGET for FOX.  He has overseen a production deal at CBS Studios for the past 10 years and is currently developing projects with Entertainment One and Lionsgate TV/TNT studios as an Executive Producer.


In his free time, Mr. Polhemus is on the advisory board of Bahamas International Film Festival and lectures for the Columbia College of Chicago in film studies. He resides in Los Angeles, California.

Christine Swanson

Academy Award Winning Filmmaker | Screenwriter Residency Mentor

Multiple award-winning filmmaker Christine Swanson earned her MFA in Film from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, one of the nation's top-ranked graduate film programs. Recognized early as a talented filmmaker, Christine was selected by NYU faculty as the Willard T.C. Johnson Fellow, the most prestigious fellowship given to the student who has achieved high standards in his or her work.


In December 2015, Christine received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture for For the Love of Ruth. Christine also directed three original cable movie premieres, To Hell and Back (starring Ernie Hudson and Vanessa Bell Calloway), For the Love of Ruth (starring Denise Boutte, Loretta Devine, Gary Dourdan and James Pickens, Jr.) and Love Under New Management , The Miki Howard Story (starring Teyonah Parris, Darius McCrary and Gary Dourdan) which broke network ratings as the most watched original movie in network history.


Christine was recently tapped to direct the feature film, Buffalo Soldier Girl , a true story based on the life of Cathy Williams, the first black female Buffalo soldier. Christine is also adapting the award-winning book, Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen, into a screenplay. Christine is a professor at the low residency MFA Screenwriting Program at the University of Georgia as well an advisor to the Film and Television program at the University of Notre Dame, her alma mater. Christine resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Michael, and their children. 

Kurt Wimmer

Writer, Director, Producer | Screenwriter Residency Mentor

Kurt attended the University of South Florida and graduated with a BFA degree in Art History. He then moved to Los Angeles where he worked for 12 years as a screenwriter. He is also the director, writer, producer of One Tough Bastard, Total RecallEquilibrium  and Law Abiding Citizen.

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