We are forever grateful to our patient and thoughtful judges who spend hours and hours enjoying your films and sharing their insights with us. While we would love to screen all the submissions we receive, we don't have enough time! Judges' comments are not available to filmmakers or the public, but know that they are some of your strongest supporters.
Our 2019 panel of judges included:
Asheville-based Jill Boniske is a reviewer at Chickflix.net (recognized by Lifehacker and O, The Oprah Magazine), which offers fun, informative, easy-to-digest thoughts on movies—from a female perspective. As “Arty Chick,” Jill usually covers documentaries, foreign flicks, and indies. Her film career began when she moved into production and development, working on features ranging from cult classic The Toxic Avenger to director Sidney Lumet’s Power. Her credits also include stints as a TV writer/producer for a number of series.
Dr. Marsha Gordon has taught film history, with a special focus on the Hollywood studio system, at North Carolina State University since 2002. She is the author of Hollywood Ambitions: Celebrity in the Movie Age and Film Is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies, co-editor of Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States, and former editor of The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Marsha also has a radio show with Laura Boyes and Frank Stasio, Movies on the Radio, a series of conversations about the silver screen, from the producers of NPR’s The State of Things.
Dr. Alisa Johnson teaches introduction to film study at Meredith College and is coordinator of the Meredith College Documentary Film Festival. On the faculty of Meredith College for 20 years, she also teaches American and African American literature, women’s literature, and supernatural fiction. She is a resident of Durham, a faithful attendee of Alice Fest, and a lover of cats, coffee, meditation, and movies.
Craig Lindsey has been a Longleaf judge since year one! He is a journalist and film critican award-winning writer and blogger for several publications including the Raleigh News & Observer, the Houston Chronicle, the Philadelphia Weekly, the Baltimore City Paper, LA Weekly, Vibe, and the Nashville Scene. Craig knows film. And music. And pop culture. And if you’re lucky, he knows you, too.
Frank Thompson is a film historian whose background includes authoring more than 40 books (including the start of a series investigating filmmaking in Asheville and Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman, with John Andrew Gallagher); writing hundreds of articles, interviews, commentaries, and reviews in newspapers and magazines across the country; lecturing; and creating podcasts. He also directs, produces, and acts with a focus on film-related documentaries and television shows. He now calls Asheville home and is an instructor at the Asheville School of Film.
Lawrence Toppman has a BA in English and history from Duke University and an MA in journalism from the University of North Carolina. He worked at the Charlotte News and the Charlotte Observer for a total of 37 years, covering all sorts of culture, and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. He currently freelances about the arts and writes about non-arts subjects for a variety of websites. He has sung bass in the Opera Carolina chorus for 35 seasons—which reminds him how hard artists work at their craft.