A part of the Planet in Focus team from 2010-2012, Katherine was delighted to return to the festival in 2016. She has worked extensively in the arts sector as a producer in film, theatre and visual arts including the UK-based Cape Farewell – The cultural response to climate change as Development Director for Carbon 14: Climate is Culture in partnership with ROM Contemporary Culture. Katherine has an MA in Communication and Cultural Studies with a research focus on fresh water as both a commodity and a human right through the historical narrative of Toronto’s R.C. Harris Filtration Plant.
Alessandra is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Radio and Television Arts Program and joined the Planet in Focus team in 2013. Engaging audiences through art is her passion, and over the course of her 18-year career Alessandra has performed in film and theatre, and produced workshops and conferences across the country. She is a long time advocate for arts in education and co-produced the charity album Starwalkers: A Celebrity Tribute for MusiCounts. Alessandra has participated on juries and industry panels in Canada and abroad including Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire (Montreal), Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DO), and Festivale Cinemambiente (IT).
Lesley Johnson is a director, producer and programmer, based in Toronto and Yellowknife. She studied Film Production in York University’s MFA program, and holds degrees in wildlife and environmental sciences. Before becoming a filmmaker, she worked in community-based research in the Northwest Territories, and on studies chasing after the likes of terns and wolverines. She is the former director and programmer of the Yellowknife International Film Festival, and of a Cinema Politica chapter. Read More
Gesilayefa Azorbo is a Toronto-based writer, photographer and filmmaker. She has a deep interest in music, film, literature, and pop culture. She was born in Nigeria, grew up in Kenya, currently lives in Canada, and considers herself a Third Culture Kid. Her work explores themes related to music, creativity and identity.
Michael John Long
Seeking adventure and refuge in nature as a child has inspired much of Michael’s environmental education and charitable not-for-profit work. Michael currently teaches at George Brown College, where he is also Faculty Advisor to the Sustainability Club / Green Team. He has previously taught at York University, where he completed the Master of Environmental Studies and Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Jesse Cumming is a curator and writer based in Toronto. His writing has appeared in Cinema Scope, The Brooklyn Rail, Canadian Art, MUBI Notebook, Filmmaker, and more. He presently sits on the steering committee of the Toronto Film & Media Seminar and is a founding collective member of MICE Magazine, a web and print publication dedicated to Moving Image Culture, Etc.
Education Programs Coordinator
Sophia has a background in Art & Design and Environmental Studies. She uses this to create an outlet for creativity through various mediums of photography, photojournalism and textile design to educate and inspire environmental and social change. A true believer in a sustainable planet, Sophia leads a zero-waste approach that has been incorporated into her works and designs.
Hui Wang (a.k.a. Jane) is a Chinese-Canadian documentary filmmaker and researcher. A graduate of the specialized Honors BA English Program at York University, Jane has been working and living in Toronto since 2001. Literature, cinema, and nature have been her biggest passions. From 2009-2010, she studied in the Film Studies certificate program at Ryerson University. In 2015, her debut feature documentary Last Harvest had its world premiere as Planet In Focus closing night film, and later won two awards at Whistler Film Festival.
Ron is a student at the University of Toronto with a passion in using the arts for community empowerment. With his academic background in cinema studies and urban studies, he brings technical knowledge of film and an awareness of community development issues into his work. He was a programmer for the 7th Human Rights Film Festival and is currently the associate producer of the human rights-themed podcast The Hum.