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MEET THE TEAM

Ali Alkhafaji-Headshot
Ali Alkhafaji
Festival Director
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After pursuing a career in film, Ali wanted to give filmmakers the experience he desired in festivals. Since its inception in 2017, Ali has watched LA UNDER THE STARS grow from an idea to one of the TOP 100 BEST-REVIEWED FESTIVALS. 

He currently hosts two other festivals in Austin TX called "Austin Under the Stars" & "Austin Spotlight". All his festivals donate proceeds to Autism Society of America. 

Madison Moreland
Madison Moreland
Marketing Director

As a graduate of the University of Texas, Madison handles daily outreach & promotion within the student community both locally with the Department of Radio-Television-Film & nationally.

Maksim

Kubarka Maksim

Judge


For more than 7 years Kubarka has been creating video ads for large international companies and private enterprises, as well as for individuals. Businessman, athlete and musician. He has a high level of practical skills in the full cycle of video production (director's script, storyboard, filming, sound, lighting and editing). Winner of several international awards.

Tian Liu
Tian Liu
Judge

Studied at Harvard Business School, graduate of New York Film Academy and an outstanding director of Photography, Tian Liu has truly carved out a reputation for herself as an highly influential person in the US media market. Her works have made appearance on the covers of "VOGUE", "GQ", "Forbes" and other international magazines. "Fox", "Business insider" and many other mainstream media have commented and conducted exclusive interviews for her company's advertising works. She has won more than 50 best cinematography awards at film festivals, and her film and television works have been shortlisted at the French Cannes Film Festival twice. She worked with Oscar winner Kim Basinger, Lynne Littman, and three-time Oscar nominee for best cinematography, Dean Cundey.

Michael
Michael Schuermann
Graphic Designer

With an exceptional background in communications & visual arts, Michael has been instrumental in creating the LA Under the Stars brand.

Michael now works as a motion designer & animator in video production.

TJ
TJ Faraizi
Judge/Programmer

Award-winning international producer, actor, voiceover artist, public speaker, host, and proud programmer/judge of LA Under the Stars. TJ is the first Bangladeshi-American to work in major productions both through Hollywood and Bangladesh. A devoted human rights activist, he has created and will continue to produce media that will bring aid and awareness to social injustices and worthy causes all around the world. 

Zenith

Zenith Ander

Judge

A multi award-winning actress, producer, and now a proud judge with LA Under the Stars. Zenith is an established Australian industry professional who has worked on major productions in Hollywood and Australia both in front of and behind the camera. Zenith loves watching new and established talent create fun, challenging, creative and exciting works.

Ekaterina Markavets

Ekaterina Markavets

Judge

Documentary film director with 15 years of experience working at one of the European TV channels and private video companies. Ekaterina has a well-rounded background in video production as both a director and TV presenter. Participated in many international workshops on documentary film directing. Ekaterina agrees that "directing is a practical psychology" and is currently working on projects at the intersection of cinema and psychology.

Tracy
Tracy Morse
Board of Directors

As President of Images, Inc., Tracy Morse developed a business that filled a need for strategic communication and public outreach across a variety of industries. Morse is breaking ground by reshaping the way outreach is done in the transportation industry.

Janie
Janie Gallagher
Board of Directors

Head of the PR Foundation for Broden Company, an independent record label in Los Angeles. Personal Assistant at Red Light Management Los Angeles. Personal Assistant to Fernando Giaccardi, manager of award winning singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias. Served as an Administrative Assistant for Red Light Nashville working with clients ranging from: Alabama Shakes, Amos Lee, Taj Mahal, Rayland Baxter, String Cheese Incident, & many more.

Thomas
Thomas Berrios
Judge

With over 6 years of judging experience, Thomas has been a crucial to the festival team; serving as a judge for LA Under the Stars, Austin Under the Stars, & Austin Spotlight. 

An accomplished screenwriter & actor, Thomas continues pursuing numerous positions in film to satisfy his creative expression. 

Chad
Chad Mundo
Judge

Actor/model/athlete born in New Orleans. Past veterinarian-tech (equine medicine and small animal), golf-course greenskeeper, renovation contractor, alarm/surveillance tech, systems administrator, IT engineer, business owner, and fiction writer. He currently judges films from around the world for Film Festivals in Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California. Lover of all aspects of film and enamored with acting. 

Mike
Mike Alexander
Judge

An entrepreneur, podcaster and Siskel & Ebert superfan, Mike is the co-founder and CEO of the AI-powered communication platform Audirie. When not revolutionizing how the world connects or trying to teach ChatGPT to be funny, he is an avid cinephile and voracious consumer of creative digital content. Brace yourselves for a whimsical, laughter-filled journey with Mike as your comedic guru and film judge! (Note: ChatGPT wrote that last line - seems I still have some work to do)

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