Each week, NYF profiles the dynamic men and women who serve on the New York Festivals TV & Film Awards Grand Jury. This world-class Grand Jury is made up of over 200 award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, art directors, filmmakers, composers and programming executives. With members from over 40 countries, this diverse jury with a global mix of perspectives is one of the strengths of New York Festivals jury process.
This week NYF’s Grand Jury POV profiles, Berlin-based Aela Callan, journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster. Her passion for connecting filmmakers with their audience led Aela to create a digital strategy for Al Jazeera’s 101 East program.
In 2014, Aela earned Al Jazeera the prestigious Gold United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) Award for her entry “It’s A Man’s World” in the Current Affairs category.
Aela was selected as a Knight Fellow for Journalism innovation at Stanford University where she researched ways to combat hate speech. Her mission as a media innovator and leader is rooted in the belief that great storytelling brings us closer to those in forgotten corners of the globe.
In the interview below, Aela shares her insights on the evolving broadcast industry, the benefits of judging NYF’s TV & Film awards, what makes an entry trophy worthy, insider tips on submitting work to this year’s competition and more.
New York Festivals: As a Grand Jury member, you will view programs, films and promos from entrants from networks and production companies around the globe. What are you most excited to see/judge in terms of recent trends?
Aela Callan: Documentaries made specifically for the web, or using innovative storytelling techniques suited for web/social media platforms
New York Festivals: What do you feel are the benefits of judging the New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards?
Aela Callan: To allow me to see high quality work that I may have missed during the year, especially in the news/documentary field.
New York Festivals: How important is it that submissions represent the wide spectrum of produced work today?
Aela Callan: For me, it’s important to see work that is related to my field across an international spectrum, but not important to see commercial or public relations videos
New York Festivals: You’re both an award winner and one of New York Festivals Grand Jury members, what criteria will you personally use when judging this year’s entries? In your opinion, what makes an entry standout and trophy-worthy?
Aela Callan: Great storytelling, topics that enlighten me about something I didn’t know, high quality camerawork and editing. Innovative methods of distribution that reach a wide audience.
New York Festivals: Based on your experience as an award-winner, do you have any inside winner’s tips or advice for entrants submitting their work to this year’s competition?
Aela Callan: Be clear in your description of your work. Often, poorly written or confusing introductions make judges less excited to view the work. Choose an entry that means something to you, and tell us why.
New York Festivals: What is your opinion of New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards competition and online judging platform?
Aela Callan: I find the judging platform very easy and user friendly. I appreciate the work that’s gone into that. I feel the competition is exceedingly broad. It would be useful to break the entries up into categories and have specialists in those fields judge the work from those categories. I do not feel especially equipped to judge commercials or marketing videos, and likewise, I am a little discouraged to think that a marketing executive may be judging my entries.