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 2018 panel of judges includes:
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. An industry insider, Jill also wrote the screen adaptation of Clyde Edgerton’s Raney, has directed a documentary, served as associate producer, and shared the screen with Kevin Bacon—so, if you meet her, you’ll be 2 degrees. Her credits also include stints as a TV writer/producer for a number of series.
Kelly Creedon is an independent documentary filmmaker and visual journalist whose work uses the craft of intimate storytelling to explore communities and the questions that unite and divide them. Her work has been featured in Vimeo Staff Picks, National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Reel outh (a collaboration between UNC-TV, South Carolina Educational Television, and the Southern Documentary Fund), the PBS Online Film Festival, and The Bitter Southerner, among others. She has taught visual journalism and documentary storytelling at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the UNC School of Media and Journalism, where she received her MA in visual communication. She is also a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Dr. Alisa Johnson teaches introduction to film study at Meredith College and is the coordinator of the Meredith College Documentary Film Festival. She has been on the faculty of Meredith College for twenty 20 years, and also teaches American and African American literature, women’s literature, and supernatural fiction. A resident of Durham, she is a faithful attendee of Alice Fest and loves cats, coffee, meditation, and movies.
Craig Lindsey has been a Longleaf judge since year one and is an award-winning writer, blogger, and film critic for several publications including the Raleigh News & Observer, the Houston Chronicle, the Philadelphia Weekly, the Baltimore City Paper, Vibe, and the Nashville Scene. Craig knows film. And music. And pop culture. And if you’re lucky, he knows you, too.
Marcianne Miller is a book and film critic who writes for local magazines and newspapers that include Asheville’s Mountain Xpress, Canton’s Rapid River Magazine, and, currently, Hendersonville’s Bold Life magazine. A frequent judge at film festivals such as the Asheville Film Festival and western North Carolina’s competitors in the 48 Hour Film Project, Marcianne received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern Appalachian International Film Festival. In a prior life, Marcianne produced short films and documentaries, as well as news and public affairs programs in Los Angeles and reviewed movies for the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and Los Angeles Downtown News.
Frank Thompson is a film historian and writer, the author of ’s background includes writing more than 40 books (including the start of a series investigating filmmaking in Asheville and his latest, Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman, with coauthor John Andrew Gallagher) and hundreds of articles, interviews, commentaries, and reviews in newspapers and magazines across the country.—as well as He also lectures, creates podcasts, commentaries, and writinges, directings, producinges, and actings. His works include film-related documentaries and many television shows. Thompson’s latest book is “Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman,” co-written with John Andrew Gallagher (Men With Wings Press, 2018). 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, so he generally gets satisfaction every basketball season. He has 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 for the Observer 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 (and that virtually all directors are crazy).