OUR TEAM

The staff and advisory board of the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDocs) are a valuable collection of longtime industry and media professionals, filmmakers, artists, business owners, and supporters of the arts and education.

Festival Director & Founder Teddy Grouya

 

Theodore “Teddy” Grouya is the Founder, Director and Programmer of the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDocs), as well as President of Cinema Arts Magic, a film production company based in Palm Springs, California. Teddy has been working on and off in the entertainment industry since 1981. He received his BA from UCLA, studying motion picture/television & history. After graduating, he worked on several Hollywood films, as well as directing a live television telethon. From there, Teddy went to Australia, where he received an MA from the Australian National University in International Relations. Teddy worked for the US Embassy in Australia and went on to Washington D.C., where he was a program specialist at USIA for the Fulbright Program, helping to design worldwide university affiliations. Teddy was recruited to go back to Australia to head the U.S. contingent’s Protocol Office at the World’s Fair. Upon leaving the government, he went to work in film, producing and directing several award-winning independent movies, in both the documentary and narrative fields. Teddy oversees all programming and managerial aspects of AmDocs, and is viewed by industry professionals as one of the most hands-on festival directors in the world.

Associate Programming Director John Osborne

Dr. John Osborne is a retired professor of English, Film, & Humanities. He designed numerous film classes, and also was in the Graduate Film Program at San Francisco State. Much of his AmDocs role includes participating in Film Festivals throughout Europe in search of excellent documentaries. He has a film production company in Mendocino, California, and has several doc projects in development. Recently he helped produce American Totem, a film about the attitudes of Americans toward guns. With the Mendocino Film Festival, he interviews visiting filmmakers, streaming content live via Facebook. As a Production Assistant and Location Scout, he has worked on the following films: Need For Speed, CRABS! (in post-production), Thank You For Your Service, Davi’s Way, and Treasure of Pirates Cove (in post-production). John's programming skills are key to AmDocs' growing international notoriety as a Festival.

Social Media Director Rob Rochholz

Rob Rochholz has a BA in Journalism and Public Relations from Fresno State, where he earned a Gold Press Card from the California Intercollegiate Press Association. He came to AmDocs after years in the communications field, and creates AmDocs' social media posts across all of our platforms. Rob has worked as a sportswriter for The Fresno Bee, been featured in USA Today, and spent more than a decade as Regional Marketing Coordinator for the U.S. General Services Administration in San Francisco. He's anchored his own graphic design company, produced a multimedia presentation for the Fresno County Special Olympics, and served as a college football writer at Outsports. Rob is innovative in his approach to social media, marketing, and promotion of our Festival, and enjoys finding new avenues to promote smaller indie and documentary films that might go unnoticed in an industry dominated by blockbusters.

Volunteer Coordinator Robert T. Mejia

Robert T. Mejia has a BA and Master's in Public Administration from UCLA, and is a filmmaker and independent television producer. The President and Chief Creative Officer at EtherWorks Media, focusing on social and environmental causes, Robert serves as our Volunteer Coordinator, leading a team of volunteers who make our Festival run smoothly. A former local government administrator and grant writer, Robert received national recognition from the US Conference of Mayors for an article on green jobs, and has served as a green jobs expert on Fox 11 TV in Los Angeles. He produced Green Century, a documentary on sustainability in the 21st century that aired in multiple markets across the country in 2013. An award-winning executive producer, Robert was invited to help develop an academic enrichment program in filmmaking for the Desert Sands Educational Foundation, and his film background brings an important element to leading our volunteer team.

 

Homestay Host Coordinator Elizabeth Press

Elizabeth (Ebers) Press brings a lifetime of valuable and varied international experience to our AmDocs team. Holding a BA in Modern Languages from Wagner College, Elizabeth also attended Quebec's Laval University, before moving onto graduate school at Sorbonne University in Paris, and later earning a Master's in Public Health from Loma Linda University. She's worked in Overseas Development for the Ford Foundation, and served as Assistant to the President at San Francisco's Golden Gate University. A Coachella Valley leader in championing the arts, Elizabeth has served on the Board of Directors for Palm Springs Community Concerts, and was part of the original Sunday Afternoon Concerts Formation Committee. A one-time health educator for the American Cancer Society, she uses her international language capabilities, interpersonal skills, and overall expertise to make our visiting filmmakers from around the world feel entirely at home in Palm Springs.

Homestay Host Coordinator Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith has been with our AmDocs team since the beginning, serving as a co-director of our HomeStay Host program, and enjoys making our international group of filmmakers feel at home in the desert. She and her husband, Tom, call Gresham, Oregon, home for part of the year, and she's been volunteering and participating in Palm Springs-area events since 2003. A supporter of the arts, Cheryl believes strongly in volunteerism, supporting the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Dezart Performs, Desert Rose Playhouse, Coachella Valley Repertory Theater, Modernism Week, Desert AIDS Project, and more. A former floral shop manager with Safeway for 16 years, her role at AmDocs has bloomed in recent years, as she's taken on a guest services position, and now organizes teams for our sister fest, the Architecture Design Art Film Festival (ADAFF).

Print Designer Greg Kain

Greg Kain graduated from Chatsworth Senior High School and earned an Associate of Arts degree while studying Computer Information Systems at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. He is the president and CEO of Creative Juicez, and lives in the Coachella Valley city of La Quinta. Greg began his career in graphic design as a layout artist for a local Southern California newspaper in 1999, and has received hands-on experience creating corporate magazine ads. He's designed more than 20,000 telephone directory ads covering a variety of styles, and annually creates most of our print materials, including the banners and posters that adorn Palm Springs streets during Festival season, and our hard-copy program.

Transportation Director Tim Alexander Glaves

Tim Alexander Glaves, who earned a BA at Cal State Fullerton, developed a love for film while working for the American Film Market, beginning in 1986. A mid-1990s to early 2000s stint with the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) earned Tim widespread recognition. Also known as Mr. Pitch Me!, Tim produced seminars, including "Pitch Me!," that he co-developed with Mark Itkin (TV4 Entertainment) and Ken Solomon (Golf Channel). His nurturing and caring spirit led him to a current role in the development department for Step Up, a non-profit in Santa Monica that provides permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing mental health conditions. After managing ground transportation for the PSIFF from 2008 to 2011, Tim came to AmDocs in our inaugural year of 2011, and his leadership has been vital to the success of our transportation team.

 

International Coordinator Lynne Stephenson

Lynne Stephenson arrived at AmDocs with years of experience in the newspaper and publishing industries. She is responsible for most of AmDocs' international operations, coordinating with guest filmmakers from outside the US, managing key deadlines, and coordinating a wide variety of aspects to ensure a smooth running Festival. Lynne is a former Executive Assistant to the Publisher and President at The Desert Sun, the Coachella Valley's largest daily publication. This former Palm Springs-area resident now makes her home in the UK, enabling a closer connection to AmDocs' international aspects. Lynne is a contributor to many charitable causes, including serving as past president of the Coachella Valley United Way, and organizing the popular, annual valley cultural event - Make A Difference Day. 

2020 Intern Anthony Bonetti

Anthony Bonetti is currently a senior at Pepperdine University in Malibu, majoring in Film Studies with an emphasis on production. As a child growing up in a small town outside Sacramento, Anthony was inspired by a variety of different films, and had a desire to learn the behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking. As a film student, that interest has grown into a deep passion for post-production, and seeing how the final cut of a film comes together. Attending Pepperdine has given Anthony many opportunities to express himself as a filmmaker and build special relationships with others in the field. Anthony says he is grateful for all of the opportunities he's been given over the last few years, and feels excited for many more opportunities to come, including meeting and brainstorming with visiting filmmakers from around the world who will be spending time with us in Palm Springs in 2020.

 

 

 

AmDocs Advisory Board

 

Joel Douglas was literally born into the motion picture industry. Joel is the son of legendary award-winning actor Kirk Douglas and younger brother of Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas. He started two film studios, one in Mexico -- Studio Corazon -- and the other in Nice, France -- Studio la Victorine. He has won two Directors Guild of America awards, for production on One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Romancing the Stone. The Palm Springs resident has recieved numerous career awards.​

Cyrus Nowrasteh has worked in the motion picture and television business for over 25 years, credited as a writer, producer, and director. He has won two PEN awards, a Golden Satellite Award, Orson Welles Award, and a Freedom of Expression award. His credits include La Femme Nikita, The Day Reagan Was Shot, The Path to 9/11, and The Stoning of Soraya M, the award-winning feature film released by Lion’s Gate (2009).

​​David Kaminsky has been involved with documentary filmmaking during the past decade and is the executive producer of the Academy Award-nominated, Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, and No Subtitles Necessary, for which he received an Emmy nomination. His film, Paint Me A Future, won a special jury prize at the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. He has been vice-chair of the PSIFF and a programmer for Italian Cinema and Cinematography.

David Permut has enjoyed a successful career in the movie business over the last 30+ years as a prolific film producer.  In 2009, he was nominated for an Emmy (Best Made for TV Movie) for Prayers for Bobby, starring Sigourney Weaver. In 2009, he co-produced with Ben Stiller, for Disney, the documentary The Boys: The Sherman Brothers, about Richard and Robert Sherman.

 

Paul Szynol is a filmmaker and attorney, concentrating his practice on intellectual property matters (particularly media and technology), and advising filmmakers, artists, start-ups, and more. Paul’s documentary films have been featured on the New York Times Op-Docs, the New Yorker, and The Atlantic, and his films and photos have been shown at festivals and galleries internationally. A former software developer and drummer, he still plays Pearl drums, and tinkers with Java libraries. A former in-house counsel at Bloomberg, Paul is a graduate of Columbia University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), where he studied history and philosophy, and Yale Law School, focusing on free speech and intellectual property.

 

Cynthia Kane created DOCday on Sundance Channel, shepherded over 150 international and U.S. co-productions for public media at ITVS, and at Al Jazeera America oversaw Kartemquin’s series Hard Earned, among others.  With gbgg productions and Les Film de l’Après Midi, Kane served as an executive producer. In 2016, she joined forces with former NYC Film Commissioner Cynthia Lopez as creative consultants for Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl's film, Letters from Baghdad, about the extraordinary life and times of Gertrude Bell.  Kane currently works with East Village Entertainment and Women Make Movies.

Peter Bogdanovich is a multiple award-winning filmmaker, writer, actor and historian, who's been associated with some of the biggest films of all time. In 1971, he took home the BAFTA for Best Screenplay, and Oscar nominations in both the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director categories for The Last Picture Show. In 1972, he directed the Writer's Guild Association- and Golden Globe-nominated What's Up, Doc?, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal. He also directed 1973's Paper Moon, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including an Oscar-winning performance from actress Tatum O'Neal.  

Joe Berlinger is an Oscar nominated filmmaker whose works cover a wide spectrum of story lines from exploitation of oil in the Amazon to his famous trilogy of the West Memphis Three. Berlinger serves on the board of Proclaim Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and building awareness around wrongful convictions. In addition to serving on our AmDocs Adivsory Board, he also serves on the boards of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, the Bedford Playhouse, and the International Documentary Association.

 

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