Board of Directors

Amy Ettinger – Executive Director & Founder

In 2001, I fulfilled a dream to share my personal passion for foreign film with the Valley by launching the Scottsdale International Film Festival. In the 19 years hence, I have cultivated, sustained, and expanded the annual Festival from a three-day event to a 10-day event.  Along the way, and with the help of many, the Festival has withstood ongoing adversity in a state where the arts mortally vie with other arts organizations, professional sports, politics, and the heat for time and for money.

In an era when most people seem to consume images and information in a weird sort of group isolation, the Festival provides the opportunity to have a collective encounter with the moving image on the big screen. Art can be challenging as well as fun, and the Festival’s Board of Directors and I bring the community together to experience films which will rarely be seen locally. I scour the globe to find works of art and our attendees frequently participate together in post-film discussions to process what they have viewed.

Over the seasons, the Festival has showcased many hundreds of films to over 100,000 attendees. Along the way we have shouted from the rooftops about our OSCAR® and GOLDEN GLOBE® winning films and famous guests. But at the end of the day, the reason I serve with this organization is because it makes an invaluable contribution to our collective quality of life and to the cultural well-being of the place where I live. Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.

Mike Simonyi – President

When I moved to Phoenix from the East Bay area of California in the mid-80s, I missed the busy film festival scene. I was able to use mail-order video rental services to see foreign and independent films that didn’t play in the Phoenix area, but I still missed the people who went to the festivals – open-minded folks like me who wanted to know about other cultures and viewpoints.

When I attended the second Scottsdale International Film Festival in 2002 (I saw five films!), I knew that I had found the like-minded event that I had been missing. After that Festival, I volunteered to handle the mailing of the programs and over the years have moved on to performing other volunteer duties. All of these roles have been interesting and fun and allowed me to feel as if I was contributing to the progress of the Festival.

Over the years, I have made a point to talk to Festival attendees and have heard fairly consistent stories from them that the films we screen present a culture or viewpoint that they never would have experienced otherwise. Films have the power to change minds and hearts for the better. In 2017, I joined the Board of Directors. I feel this has been one of the best things I have done for the Festival as I’m able to see the positive impact that we have on our region. I am proud to be a part of it. We invite YOU to be a part of our journey – donate, volunteer, join the Board or become a sponsor!

Ellen Nusbaum – Secretary

With equal parts positivity, investment, expansiveness and gratitude, I relish the creative and logistical impact I and my fellow Board members have on the Arts in the community where we work and play. We connect our city in a joyous way to the rest of the world. Because I am passionate that Film Festivals create identity and kinship, I am both a Festival donor and a member of the Board of Directors.

As a Board member, I use my particular skills to help tackle the various challenges and opportunities that emerge when planning a 10-day event, which include:

  • Brainstorming new alliances and events that grow sponsorships, donor lists, and funding.

  • Writing and editing grant applications.

  • Designing the annual program guide and poster.

  • Crafting brand identity for annual promotional pieces, presentations and t-shirts.

Scottsdale International Film Festival Board members also have the opportunity to:

  • Network with local, regional, national and international film professionals, enthusiasts, creatives, industry talent and executives.

  • Attend dynamic fund-raising events.

  • Interact in a productive way with our local community.

We’re currently looking for other Valley professionals to join our Board and share their unique talents and perspectives. Think you might have innovative ideas and abilities to contribute? Then do not hesitate to reach out to me, other Board members or the executive director to learn more!

Beth Renfro – Treasurer

What’s your favorite film? That’s a question I’m asked frequently, and I’m usually at a loss to answer. In truth, my favorite film is the last one I watched, good or bad. It’s one of the reasons I’m committed to film as art – for me, each one watched is an opportunity to explore a new viewpoint, a new world or a new perspective. Film festivals permit the viewer to explore a variety of these viewpoints, worlds and perspectives together with others in a focused way, which at its core is what filmmaking truly is – the collaboration of a variety of voices coming together to tell a focused yet shared story.

Singularly, a story is one voice – that of the author. Yet no film exists in a singular mindset. They are the culmination of visions from a variety of participants, from the PA working for credit to the Teamster driving the equipment truck. Every voice is heard, although the viewer may be unaware of each individual’s contribution to the whole. A film shares the vision of everyone who brought that story to life. I’m sure it’s why my chosen career gravitated toward marketing, which also at its core requires good storytelling and collaboration.

It’s also why we need you – the ticket-buyer, the volunteer, the Board member, the sponsor – as a part of our story. For no film festival exists without the collaboration of voices it takes write the script and produce the show. As a member of this Board, I’m pleased to contribute my part in order ensure that the filmmakers of tomorrow continue to have a space to share their stories with the world. And a place to see my new favorite film. Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.

Mike Binder

I have been a fan of the art of storytelling from the beginning. Growing up in Phoenix, my parents would go to the Thunderbird Drive-In in Glendale. I would play on the playground at the base of the screen, romping in the reflected light of the screen, hearing echoes of music and dialog from speakers on the doors of a hundred cars. Looking out, I could see these people were transfixed by something I could not see, and when I finally looked up, everything changed.

Movies make anything possible and make us feel powerful emotions without distraction. Monsters and aliens? Yup. Light speed space travel? You bet. Time travel? Sure thing. Fear, excitement, tears, laughter? Can do.

But film is more than an escape. World cinema shines a light on how other people live, exposes the experiences we all share, and strips away biases that are not true. It shows us for who we really are; one world connected by more commonalities than differences. Putting a human face on people you have been taught to think of differently is a profound revelation that will change you at your core.

I’ve been involved with the Scottsdale Film Festival since 2010, and I believe in the value it brings to our community and to the people who attend. I have made wonderful friends from far-flung locations as a result. It allows people to open their eyes, minds, and hearts to voices from around the world, and to see the world from a different point of view.

To quote Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Film is the same. Open your heart and open your mind and join us in bringing this gift to the people of Scottsdale.

Zacory Boatright

My relationship with film started long before I began making films and writing for the stage in college. There is a rich tradition of storytelling in my family, and it has played an important role in my professional and personal life. I chose to join the Scottsdale International Film Festival Board because it gives me an opportunity to connect with storytellers from around the world.

The Festival elevates and amplifies the voices of people far flung from our daily experiences here in Arizona and creates a space in which we collectively take pause, listen and celebrate those diverse stories as a community. I believe in the unifying nature of effective storytelling, and film is one of the most universal mediums through which we are able to connect cross culturally and break down barriers that might otherwise keep us apart.

I believe in the Scottsdale International Film Festival and its mission – not only because I’m a filmmaker and a storyteller, but also because it creates unique moments that allow for our entire community to share the joy, passion and pain that good films have in abundance. We invite YOU to be a part of our story – donate, volunteer, join the Board or become a sponsor!

Mina Lopez

Since I was a little girl, I have always enjoyed going to the movies. The idea that I could escape my reality for a couple of hours and just coexist with the film was quite appealing. This could consist of me furthering the exploration of topics introduced in the film or deciding I didn’t want to participate in the activity because what I saw on film was enough to satisfy my own curiosity.

I decided to join the SIFF Board because I do believe I can make a difference. I think it is vital to provide a community for like-minded people who enjoy watching international films, and find them intriguing and fascinating. I also think it is vital to introduce these types of films to our younger generations. It is essential that young adults are given the opportunity to be introduced to all types of experiences, and film is definitely an experience whether you are an occasionally film watcher or a frequent film watcher. Who knows, you may find yourself sitting next to me, wanting to explore the world of international film! Please reach out to me if, as I did, you are interested in donating, volunteering, sponsorships or joining the Board.

Christine Lorello

I was a very little girl when my aunt noticed that I had a knack for memorizing the words and melody to any song I heard, and that I was hooked on music.  As luck would have it, I was able to turn that passion into a 20+ year career as a marketing and sponsorship professional for live concert events. So it is no surprise that the first thing that speaks to me when I see a film is the score or soundtrack.

Music enhances the emotion on screen. It can woo us into loving a leading man; create angst when we encounter an antagonist and inspire us to take action for a cause.

I have volunteered for numerous organizations in my lifetime, however I have never previously served on a board of directors.  My goal in that capacity was to find an organization where I could join a group of open-minded, creative and passionate individuals.   If I could integrate my love for the arts—even better! Happily, I discovered that well-rounded opportunity with the Scottsdale International Film Festival.

An endeavor like SIFF requires sustenance beyond ticket sales. As a Board member, I intend to use my career experience to assist in securing support from Corporate Sponsors. Support from our business community provides crucial funding as well in-kind products and services that enable us to ensure the art of film will allow our community to experience other places, situations, injustices, victories and feelings—together. Robust and dependable sponsors will be like the music that lifts the mood of a film at a very critical point. I will be looking for corporate “composers” to “score” our longevity and success. Please reach out to me to learn more about joining our Board and other opportunities.