In April of 2021, Chloé Zhao made history as the first woman of color to win the Oscar for best director in the 93-year history of the Academy Awards. She was the second woman ever to achieve this honor.
For eight years now, the Nevada Women’s Film Festival has been part of a growing consciousness raising movement happening in the movie world and our greater culture. We are witnessing a slow but steady awakening to the failures of the industry to properly represent women.
While Chloé Zhao’s win is encouraging, the underrepresentation behind the camera continues to be problematic. This type of discrimination is deep-seated and systemic, especially for women of the BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ communities. Despite the challenges, women of all backgrounds continue to make great films.
Our mission is to celebrate and support the fair representation of women in film. We showcase films with a strong female presence, women at the helm, stories that depict women in a positive light and which display diversity of worldview, background and experience.
Our programming does include films which are not directed by women, but they must feature strong female characters or subjects. Representation in front of the camera is important too. Think of the last movie you’ve seen. With any luck, it may have featured one or two strong female leads (super heroes not required). But did the film pass the Bechdel Test? This test asks whether a work of fiction:
Incredibly, very few films can pass this simple test! Most of us have grown up in a society where this imbalance is the historical norm, and we are desensitized to it.
We believe that change begins by awareness. At NWFFest we come together each year to be entertained, inspired and enlightened by some of the most talented and creative women in the world.
Please join the conversation. We hope to see you there.
Executive Director & Founder
A Las Vegas native, Nikki spent her early career in feature film development in Los Angeles, with stints at Twentieth Century Fox and Michael Douglas’s company at Paramount. She began producing and writing independently with the award-winning documentary, Urban Rescuers, and continues to follow her passion for nonfiction film with her business, Life-Portraits. Besides working on NWFFest year-round, Nikki teaches a variety of film and English classes at the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College, and is a free-lance writer for Story Terrace. She holds a B.S in film from Boston University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College.
Board of Directors
Danette is the Film Resource Coordinator for the Nevada Film Office. The Nevada Film Office markets the state’s diverse locations and promotes Nevada as a premier destination for productions. Danette’s work focuses primarily in the area of Public and Community relations; however, her passion for the local community keeps her involved in all aspects of the operations. Working closely with major productions, Danette directly has a hand in films, television series, and commercials featuring Las Vegas and Nevada, driving economic benefits, tourism and promoting our state. She holds an M.S. in Library Science from the University of North Texas, and a B.A. in Foreign Languages from UC, Riverside.
Board of Directors
Brett graduated with honors from NYU and got her start at MTV where she worked her way up from intern to producer. Brett attended Columbia University’s graduate film program. She became the first woman to win the Coca Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Award in 2004, with her film Being Reel. Brett is an Associate Professor of Film at UNLV. She directed, The Track, a feature film about underage sex trafficking in Las Vegas.
Board of Directors
Dr. Heather Addison joined the Department of Film at UNLV as Chair in 2016. She is a film scholar who has taught a broad range of courses in film history, criticism, and theory. She studies Hollywood’s relationship to American culture, and has published her work in a large number of peer-reviewed journals. Her books include Hollywood and the Rise of Physical Culture (Routledge, 2003) and Motherhood Misconceived: Representing the Maternal in U.S. Films (SUNY, 2010), a collection of essays co-edited with Elaine Roth and Mary Kate Goodwin-Kelly.
Board of Directors
Michelle Patrick oversees the Community Arts Development programming through the Nevada Arts Council, State of Nevada. Originally from New York City, Michelle also serves as a board member for the Las Vegas Arts District, and as a grants reader for the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the past decade, Patrick has worked at the intersections of theater, dance, film, arts programming and public speaking. She is also an Actress, Director and Voice Over Artist. Patrick’s experience comes from a varied background that includes the city of Las Vegas, Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the Sundance Film Festival.
Board of Directors
Born and raised in Vegas, Kelsie’s interest in film began at an early age; her long time favorites are Interview with the Vampire and The Mask. She studied both film and English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 2015. Kelsie previously worked as a content manager for an independent film studio and network website, and has also appeared on set as a production assistant.
Board of Directors
May May Luong is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Film and a minor in Theater. She also holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Dramatic Media from UNLV. May May has produced seven feature-length films and numerous short films. Her films have played all over the world and have garnered notable awards including the Narrative Feature Special Jury Recognition for Independent Filmmaking at the Austin Film Festival for her first feature film, Thor at the Bus Stop. In 2017, May May was named the Nevada Woman Filmmaker of the Year and March 24, 2017 was declared “May May Luong Day” by the City of Las Vegas. May May currently teaches film courses in production at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is also working on the development of a number of feature film and television projects.
Samantha Rodriguez is a Mexican filmmaker currently working as a freelance camera assistant and producer in Las Vegas, Nevada. As an alumnus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas film program, Samantha has co-produced and co-directed a short film that screened at many local film festivals. She has worked on over fifty short film and commercial sets in her two year film career so far. Her experience working within many departments aids her to be a better producer and director. Her work as the Director of the Behind the Scenes team on “The Big Wish” in the Coca-Cola and Regal Films nationwide contest was awarded the Best Social Media award in 2019. She is currently the creative producer on a feature-length documentary called “Crave,” which is about the importance of art communities and the innovators that help shape them.
Jemsen Yumico Bollozos, born and raised in the Philippines, currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2019, she graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a BA in Film Studies. Since then, she has worked as a production coordinator and editor for various local production companies. Her projects centered mainly on experimental films and documentaries which explore the psychology of the human condition. In 2020, she co-directed the short documentary “I EXIST”, which won 2 student Emmy Awards–Best Short Film and Best Director. In the same category, her other short film titled “Reflection” won best cinematography/ photography at the Southwest Pacific Emmy Awards. Jemsen strongly advocates for diversity in the film industry and shared such views in an interview that aired on Action News, ABC in 2020. Later that year, she directed a PSA commercial for Workforce Connections that aired on various local channels. Her upcoming projects include “CRAVE”, a feature-length documentary focusing on art activism.
Nadine-Gabrielle Natividad graduated from UNLV in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in both Film Studies and English Literature. From 2016 to 2019, she wrote for the YouTube channel “Talltanic,” which had over 1 million subscribers. In that time, she also produced three short films, one feature-length film, and is an associate producer/head writer for CRAVE, a feature-length documentary. She resides in Los Angeles where she has worked for Buzzfeed, the Lot Studios, and is currently working as an Office Production Assistant for the NBC TV-show, Good Girls. One of her upcoming projects includes writing the script for a sci-fi LGBTQ love story music video (themes which pretty much describes her personality).
Gina Mizzoni is a Southern Nevada-based photographer who not only resides in Las Vegas but was born and raised there. She graduated from UNLV in 2008 with a dual degree in International Business and Marketing. With a strong background in marketing communications, her professional expertise has encompassed a wide spectrum, from brand development to content writing, voiceover work and everything in between. In 2014, she left the corporate world to pursue her passion for photography full-time through her business, Gina Mizzoni Photography. In 2022, she was the official Event Photographer for the Nevada Women’s Film Festival. Gina is honored to serve as part of the NWFFest Executive Committee this year, as she believes strongly in supporting women in film. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies with her music composer husband, David Rosen, host of the film podcast, “Piecing It Together.”
Keely Dervin came to us from Napa, California where she worked with the Napa Film Festival for 5 years as the Ring Master. She was a child actor/model in San Francisco, She went back into acting full time in 2004, and made a promise to write and produce a film a year. She founded a group called Filmmakers of Napa Valley, which made 4 films in one year.
At the moment she’s in the middle of finishing two documentaries, working as an actress in TV./Film and Improv in LA. She is also looking forward to producing another narrative next year. She has an amazing love for the industry, She taught filmmaking to many underprivileged children in Napa where she raised two children of her own.
Now that she is settled in Las Vegas, she is following her dream and working often in Los Angeles, acting in film and TV as well as performing with the top LA-area improv group, and is very excited to be part of the Nevada Women’s Film Festival.
Graphic & Web Designer
Born and raised in Rochester, New York and having graduated from Niagara University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Minors in Fine Art and Business, I continued on to Rochester Institute of Technology where I earned a Masters Degree in Computer Graphics Design.
In 2006 I relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada where I honed my craft and stamped my presence in the design community. I continually research new design avenues and push the envelope of avant-garde. I have worked in the design industry for over 18 years, and while I love the digital field of design, my passion still lies in print. I specialize in print, editorial and typographic design, but am also very capable in web and multimedia design. I excel in building brand identity and pride myself in clean, controlled, fluent and organized design.
Tiffanie Rose Ignacio is a Filipina filmmaker that currently resides in Las Vegas, NV as a Freelance Film & Video Editor. From the class of 2017, she excelled at UNLV with a Bachelor’s Degree of Art in Film. Since graduating, Tiffanie has worked as a Freelance Video Editor with brands such as Adobe & Toyota and has gained extensive Coordinator-Training experience from her work on the “90 Day Fiancé” series. Collaborating with her local peers, a selection of her works have garnered an array of awards and festival admissions. Previously receiving Best Editor and Best Sound Design along with all top categories for “Comme ci Comme ça” at the 2019 UNLV Spring Flicks. Tiffanie is also one of the Co-Founders of Eccentric Artists which is a film collective that encourages an inclusive community that supports underrepresented filmmakers. Currently in development, you can find her working as an Editor for both short and feature length documentaries and music video pieces.
Veronica Castillo is a Mexican-Guatemalan filmmaker based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She received her BA in Film from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has worked on several shorts and music videos as an assistant director and actor. Her short film, An Arrangement of Skin, won Best Audience Award for UNLV’s Spring Flicks in 2017 and screened at SSFF Spring Shorts Festival. She is also a co-founding board member of Eccentric Artists, a film collective committed to highlighting artists and forming community. Her focus is on producing and directing feature films, short films, and animated doodles. Veronica is currently producing Critical Incidents, a feature film in production for Fall 2021.