Competition Categories:


Sponsored by Backstage and

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.   


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.

Screenwriters residency program

Sponsored by Source, University Of Georgia, InkTip, Cocoa Coffee House, Romora Bay, The Landings

Screenwriters will be mentored by industry professionals and judged for a Grand Jury Cash Prize in Harbour Island.


Ann Louise Bardach

Award Winning Journalist | New Visions Juror

Ann Louise Bardach is an American journalist and non-fiction author. Bardach is best known for her work on Cuba and Miami and was called "the go-to journalist on all things Cuban and Miami," by the Columbia Journalism Review having interviewed people such as Fidel Castro, Juanita Castro, Luis Posada Carriles, E. Howard Hunt, Orlando Bosch and Felix Rodriguez.

Bardach's book Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington was cited as the authoritative work about Cuba under Raúl Castro and one of The Miami Herald's "Ten Best Books of 2009". Earlier publications include Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana. Her journalism has been anthologized in KILLED: Journalism Too Hot To Print and Mexico in Mind. Bardach was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair for ten years and has written for The New York Times, POLITICO, The Guardian, The Washington PostThe AtlanticThe Daily Beast, The Financial Times, The New Republic and Los Angeles Times. She has guested on many US television programs including 60 MinutesToday, Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, CNN, The O'Reilly FactorCharlie Rose and is frequently heard on NPR and BBC. Bardach started the "Global Buzz" column for Newsweek International and the Interrogation column for Slate.

In 1995 Bardach won the PEN USA Award for Journalism for her reporting on Mexican politics, and was a finalist in 1994 for her coverage of women in Islamiccountries. Her book Cuba Confidential was a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism and the PEN USA Award for Best Non-fiction, and named one of "Ten Best Books of 2002" by the Los Angeles Times. Bardach was a finalist for the 2005 PEN USA award for Journalism for her story on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's ties with the tabloid press, published in Los Angeles magazine.

Bardach started the international journalism class at University of California, Santa Barbara (USCB) and is on the board of PEN USA and UCSB's Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media and is a Resident Scholar at UCSB's Orfalea Center.

Brenda Barry

First Mss Bahamas & Entrepreneur | Spirit Of Freedom Juror

Style, elegance and beauty personifies this bahamian model and ballerina. Brenda Barry is a first of many. Brenda Barry was crowned the first winner of Miss Bahamas in 1961, first bahamian Director of the Red Cross in Nassau, Bahamas and one of the first female bahamian owners and assistant manager of The Landings in Harbour Island, Bahamas, now owned and managed by her daughter Tracy Barry. The Landings is an incredibly beautiful boutique hideaway with an huge international reputation.

Jill Bohling

A24 | New Visions Juror

A24  - The studio behind Moonlight, The Lobster, The Witch, Ex Machina, Spring Breakers & more.

Holly Bynoe

Curator | Short Film Juror

Holly Bynoe is a curator, visual artist and writer from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She is currently living and working in Nassau, The Bahamas. Bynoe is the co-founder and director of ARC Magazine, the premiere visual art and culture publication focusing on contemporary work created throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora. She is a graduate of Bard College | International Center of Photography where she earned an M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies. As editor and director of ARC Magazine, Bynoe and has organized and curated various exhibitions across the Caribbean and the diaspora in collaboration with several formal and informal art spaces including trinidad+tobago film festival, VOLTA NY, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. and Transforming Spaces among others. She is co-director of Caribbean Linked, a regional residency program in Aruba, and co-director of Tilting Axis, a biannual meeting charting arts activism and non-profit models of connectivity and sustainability across the region. She is currently conducting research on interdisciplinary practices across the Global Caribbean with a focus on New Media and photography and she is appointed Chief Curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.



Billie Carroll

Professional Blogger | Short Film Juror

Billie Carroll is a professional blogger, social media influencer and entrepreneur living between the Bahamas and NYC. 

Raised in the Bahamas, Billie continued her education in the US where she studied advertising and psychology at SMU. Billie proceeded to move to NYC to work in the fashion industry. 

As a content creator, Billie has partnered with countless brands to build social media campaigns for her audience. With this experience, Billie is using her platform to curate and market her next project - a boutique here in Nassau, Bahamas. 

Dara Cohen

Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Dara Cohen is a producer and executive with over 20 years of experience in development, production and programming.  She has worked in development at The Mark Gordon Company, Red Hour Films, Revolution Studios, USA Network, CourtTV, Island/Def Jam Records, Maker Studios and A+E Studios.   She has collaborated with writers, directors, actors, producers, top recording artists and social media influencers to create engaging content across all platforms.   Dara has extensive experience in sourcing material and IP, negotiating rights, and overseeing development through production and delivery of projects.  While at CourtTV, she developed, secured deficit financing, staffed writers and directors and produced their first scripted series  Til Death Do Us Part.   She has produced 13 movies with the USA Network and SyFy Channel, and executive produced  Ring of Fire  for Lifetime (nominated for 4 Emmys),  House of Joy  for NuvoTV, and the digital series  The Temp Agency  for Vuguru. 

Ken Friedman

Writer & Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

 Ken Friedman, born in New York, is a graduate of the NYU School of Film. As a student he wrote and directed SHOWDOWN, winner of the National Student Film Festival. Ken Friedman has written numerous feature films, including WHITE LINE FEVER (Jan Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz), HEART LIKE A WHEEL (Bonnie Bedelia, Beau Bridges), JOHNNY HANDSOME (Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Forrest Whitaker and Morgan Freeman) and CADILLAC MAN (Robin Williams, Tim Robbins). Ken Friedman often works as a rewriter, including the films THE FUGITIVE, UNLAWFUL ENTRY, BAD GIRLS, THE GETAWAY and most recently THE BANK JOB (Jason Statham). For television, he wrote and was Co-executive Producer of the limited series, THE GRID (Julianna Margulies, Dylan McDermott). Ken Friedman also directed and wrote the feature film MADE IN USA (Chris Penn, Lori Singer, Adrian Pasdar), which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and was featured at many film festivals including Sundance and Munich. Ken Friedman is currently the Tenured Professor of Writing and Head of Thesis Writing at Graduate Film at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.



Nate Kohn

Professor, Director, Roger Ebert’s Film Festival Academic Associate Director, Peabody Awards | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Dr. Nate Kohn is professor at the University of Georgia, Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards, festival director of Roger Ebert's Film Festival, director of the University of Georgia MFA program in screenwriting and award-winning producer. Dr. Kohn produced  Zulu Dawn  starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole; the independent feature  Somebodies , which premiered at Sundance (2006);  Rain , the Bahamas’ first indigenous feature which premiered at Toronto (2007) at the Bahamas International Film Festival (2008) and on Showtime (2010); the feature film  Bottleworld  (2010); he was Executive Producer on the BET television series  Somebodies  (2008); he was Producer on the feature length documentary  Bayou Maharajah  that premiered at the SXSW Festival (2013); he produced the Emmy Award-winning short documentary Ebertfest 2012 ; and he was Executive Producer on  The 73rd, 74th  and 75th Annual Peabody Awards Specials for PivotTV/Participant Media (2014, 2015 and 2016).   He has served on juries and mentored screenwriters at the Atlanta, Hawaii, Kerala, and Bahamas International Film Festivals. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and of the book  Pursuing Hollywood: Seduction, Obsession, Dread  (AltaMira Press, 2006).

Sam Morrill

Vimeo Director of Curation | Short Film Juror

Sam Morrill joined Vimeo in 2009 where he currently serves as its Director of Curation, leading Vimeo’s five-person Curation Team. From customer support, to content acquisitions, to curating Vimeo’s lauded Staff Picks channel, Sam has experienced Vimeo’s growth and evolution from a variety of different angles. In 2016, Sam led the launch of Vimeo Staff Pick Premieres, a weekly program in which the most celebrated short films from the festival circuit premiere online exclusively on Vimeo. When he’s not watching videos, he’s probably traveling, watching baseball or searching for the last golf ball he hit into the woods. Sam resides in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

Jib Polheums

Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Jib Polhemus has worked in the entertainment business for over 20 years.   He recently founded the literary management company,  SourceManagement  +  Production where he represents writers and directors.   He is also President of Simon West Productions where he produces Film and TV with director, Simon West (Con Air, Tomb Raider, Expendables 2).   As President of Simon West Productions, he has developed and sold numerous high profile projects to Warner Brothers, Universal, FOX, Paramount, Sony and others including BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott.   Recently, he Produced GUN SHY starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko and Executive Produced 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 Executive Produced STOLEN starring Nicolas Cage.   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. In television, he has developed and sold shows to most of the top networks including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC and WB. He is currently developing shows for e1 and Lionsgate.

In his free time, Mr. Polhemus is on the advisory board of Bahamas International Film Festival, lectures for the Columbia College of Chicago (LA) and judges the screenplay contest for UCLA Master’s Writing Program. He resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Arianne Rocchi

VP of Publicity at Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing | Spirit Of Freedom Juror

Arianne Rocchi is the VP of Publicity at Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing. Joining Magnolia over ten years ago, Mrs. Rocchi has worked on films including Food Inc., Blackfish, the Oscar-winning Man on Wire, and this year’s Oscar nominated I Am Not Your Negro.  Magnolia's busy schedule saw her work on over 29 films last year, ranging from Denmark’s nominated entry for Best Foreign Film, A War, to the disturbing documentary Tickled. She also worked with Amazon Studios on the release of The Handmaiden from director Park Chan-wook and with Werner Herzog on the release of Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Modern World. Prior to her time at Magnolia, Arianne was in the marketing department at Landmark Theaters.

Steve Shore

Programmer & Producer | New Visions Juror

Steve Shor has worked in a variety of positions at a number of Studios.  His array of experience ranges from casting, production and agency/management positions, including ten years with Columbia/TriStar Pictures as Manager of Business Affairs.

Steve was on the programming committee for the AFI International Film Festival (ten years) and consults with other festivals.  He is currently the  program director to the Sonoma International Film Festival; program director at the Long Beach Int’l Film Festival and a programmer/consultant for the Newport Beach Film Festival. He was also programmer for the Abu Dahbi Film Festival (two years), a board member (eight years) of the Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Prize.


Lucy Walker

Academy Award Nominee | Spirit Of Freedom Juror

Lucy Walker  is an award-winning English film director. She is best known for directing the documentaries  Devil's Playground  (2002),  Blindsight  (2006),  Waste Land  (2010),  Countdown to Zero  (2010), and  The Crash Reel  (2013). She has also directed notable short films, such as  The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom  (2011) and  The Lion's Mouth Opens  (2014), and fifteen episodes of Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, for which she was nominated for two Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Directing. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts(BAFTA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the International Documentary Association, and the Directors Guild of America.

Richard Wenk

Writer & Director | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

He is a writer and director, known for  The Expendables 2  (2012),  The Equalizer  (2014) and  The Magnificent Seven (2016). In addition to: Renegades (2017) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) Countdown (2016) The Mechanic (2011) 16 Blocks (2006) Just The Ticket (1999) and Vamp (1986). Wenk has also directed WIshcraft, Sweet Valley High for TV and Attack of The 5 Ft 2 Women. 

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