Director of Programming, Founder
Colleen deVeer came from a very artistic family that instilled in her a love for the creative at a very young age. Performing arts quickly became her passion. After graduating from Boston College, where she was a director of The Boston College Dance Ensemble and received her B.A. in Theatre Arts, Ms. deVeer moved on to the Actor’s Studio in New York City where she received a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting, training with the late Doug Moston and Barbara Poitier as well as other masters of acting including David Gideon and Elizabeth Kemp. After fifteen years of working as an actress and dancer in theater, film and television, Colleen met two playwrights whose work she found so exceptional that she tried her hand at producing. With her partner, Josh Rivedal, Colleen found investors, secured locations and put dramatic teams together, launching two successful plays in repertory with critically acclaimed runs. Colleen has attended and worked at film festivals across the country giving her a deep knowledge of the market.
Chairman of the Board, Founder
Wendy Reyes is a Greenwich native who graduated Cum Laude from the University of Michigan before earning her MFA from the Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California. At USC, Wendy learned fiction and screenwriting from some of Hollywood’s most famous and beloved writers including Shelly Berman and Syd Field. For the past 10 years, Wendy has worked tirelessly raising money for multiple non-profit organizations many of which she sits on the boards of. She’s been a member of UNICEF’s Next Generation Board and was formerly the chair of the Greenwich chapter. Wendy also helps women and children affected by HIV and AIDS through an organization known as FXB in Baranquilla, Colombia. She raised enough money to support 80 families for 3 years until they were able to get healthier and better educated, eventually being able to sustain themselves and their children. Along with Ms. Reyes’ background in the arts, her passion for philanthropy strengthens the GIFF team’s commitment to using film to serve the greater good.
Executive Director, COO
Ginger Stickel has had a long love for film as an art form, which led her to start the Greenwich Youth Film Festival for high school students in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. After successfully running the film festival for several years, she joined the Greenwich International Film Festival as COO. She has recently worked as a part-time strategic consultant helping start-ups create business and marketing plans. Previously, she worked in brand management at Colgate-Palmolive developing brand-building programs that drove business with key retail customers. Some of her projects included overseeing a grass-roots marketing program that grew sales in hard-to-reach areas of the country, launching new products for SoftSoap Body Wash, creating strategic growth plans. Ginger graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University (OH) and a Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.
Maryann Ghirardelli joined GIFF in 2015, bringing a variety of corporate and office management experiences. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office as well as coordinating special events. Her incredible organization skills keeps our team running smoothly. Maryann graduated with a BA from St. Peter’s University. Maryann is actively involved in the community and is a member of the Junior League of Greenwich.
Sam Kleiner joined GIFF in 2016 bringing a filmmakers eye and a rich knowledge of film history to the programming team. He made his first short film in the seventh grade and has been passionate about filmmaking ever since. Sam has attended a number of intensive programs at international film schools including the Prague Film School and the New York Film Academy. He graduated Cum Laude from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a BA in Psychology and Film Studies. Sam’s postgraduate experience in film has been primarily in publicity and he has had the opportunity to work with some of the top distribution companies in New York including Magnolia Pictures, Cinetic Media, and A24. Sam has also been fortunate enough to participate in a number of different film festivals including Tribeca, SXSW, Sundance, and Cannes. He loves festivals because they highlight certain films that might normally not be seen and provide a unique platform for filmmakers to find their audience.
Bears Fonte is the former Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Other Worlds Austin, a SciFi film festival. He writes reviews, previews, and interviews for AMFM Magazine, focusing on Indie Film and the Film Festival Circuit as well as serving as consultant for both film festivals and filmmakers navigating the festival scene. His feature film debut iCrime received DVD and VOD distribution after playing a number of film festivals. His most recent short, The Secret Keeper, just finished the circuit, playing 40+ festivals over 18 months.