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Hanna Sawka|President

Hanna is a Hudson Valley-based filmmaker. Her film directing started with 4 short films, ranging between 10 and 30 minutes and that were selected, nominated and/or awarded at 14 international film festivals, including FIAPF accredited festivals (DOK Leipzig, Cine Jove and others). Some of these shorts have been or are currently in broadcast. Her most recent completed film is a full-length documentary titled “Beyond Iconic: Photographer Dennis Stock,” which she directed and produced in the Hudson Valley. “Beyond Iconic” had a festival run that included being a finalist at the Sao Paolo International Film Festival (Brazil) and selections at DOC NYC, Starz Denver, FilmColumbia, and Hot Springs. It is currently in educational Distribution through the Alexander Street Press and has been sold to television networks in Europe and Australia. She is currently working on a second feature-length documentary. Hanna’s television directing experience includes directing nearly 40 crime reenactments for TVP 2 (Channel 2 of Polish National Television). She graduated cum laude from Smith College and she holds an MFA in Film, Television and Theater Directing from the Polish Film School in Lodz, Poland, which is listed among the top 15 film schools in the world. Hanna has also directed professionally in the theater. Hanna teaches film studies and practice, most recently teaching film studies courses at SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Ulster.

Nicole Coady | Vice President of Communications

Nicole Coady was raised in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College in Film. Currently, she resides with her family in upstate, NY.     Her work has been published in various magazines, including a monthly column in Gotham and a daily column online in Cosmogirl. She has also written for MTV and her screenplays have been produced by New Line Cinema and 20th Century Fox. In addition, she authored two video games featuring The Bratz line of dolls for MGA.     Writing under the pen name, Lydia Storm, her debut romantic suspense novel, Moonlight on Diamonds, published by The Wild Rose Press, is a Romance Writers of America’s “Heart of the West” award winner. Her second novel, Cleopatra’s Secret: Keepers of the Light, hit Kindle Best Seller status, reaching #8 on Amazon’s Fantasy/Romance list and was hailed as “A Sensual Delight” by USA Today.   Her upcoming feature film, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, is currently in preproduction.

Sunny Edelman |Vice President of Membership

Classically trained, Sunny has directed and performed roles from Shakespeare to Clare Boothe Luce, working in regional, Off Broadway theatres, as well as in an Emmy winning television program and numerous Indie films. Recently, Sunny played the part of the narrator in Discovery Investigations Emmy award winning drama, “A Crime to Remember.” She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from S.U.N.Y New Paltz and studied with Iza Itkin, Robert Castle, Bob Luke and Peter Sklar. Sunny also took classes at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. She is the events coordinator and host for The Hudson Valley International Film Festival. The Hudson Valley International Film Festival is held in Monroe, NY and focuses on providing lots of networking events for filmmakers. Sunny also teaches sixth grade science and directs the drama productions at Twin Towers Middle School in Middletown, NY. She’s looking forward to working on the next Emmy awarded series or in any feature opposite Colin Firth.

Jillian Fisher | Vice President of Marketing, Public Relations  

Jillian Fisher began her career with the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Returning to her native New York, she joined the Board of Directors of the Hudson Valley Film Festival, and went on to help establish the Woodstock Film Festival.   In 2009, Jillian founded Jillian Fisher Public Relations. Clients have included The City of Kingston, the O+ Festival, Kingston Farmers’ Market, Woodstock Golf Club, Natalie Merchant’s Shelter concert, and the One Billion Rising Ulster County series.   As a location scout, Jillian has worked on such films as The Sisterhood of Night, Cold in July, King Jack, and Good Ol’ Boy. Jillian is pleased to be a member of the Board of Directors of Upstate Women in Film and Television.

Gaby Allen | Treasurer & Webmaster

Advisory Board Members

  • Heidi Philipsen-Meissner, Founder & President Emeritus
  • Meira Blaustein
  • Nora Brown
  • Jane Cottrell
  • Heidi Eklund
  • Debby Goedeke
  • Amy Hutchings
  • Terry Lawler