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Nat Geo WILD is back this year with Salon. Held daily in Festival HQ, our Salon Series provides a chance for Festival guests to get up close and personal with acclaimed filmmakers. Featuring Bob Poole, Emmy Award winning wildlife documentary cinematographer and television writer/producer Kenneth Biller (Smallville, Star Trek: Voyager) showrunner of Nat Geo’s Genius.

Festival and Party Passholders only.

Bob Poole

Thursday, March 16th | 12:00pm

Bob Poole is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, whose extensive credits include documentaries for PBS, NATURE and NOVA, BBC, over 30 films for Discovery Networks, and an additional 35 plus films for National Geographic Television. Bob works around the world and his passion for wildlife conservation has taken him to some of the African continent’s most remote locations. Whether tracking elephants in extreme desert environments of Mali, following wildebeest across the Serengeti, or traveling road-less regions of war-torn Sudan, Poole’s lifetime experience, and unfailing tenacity help him to capture remarkable moments.

Ken Biller

Friday, March 18th | 12:00pm

Ken Biller is a TV writer, producer, and director, who is currently the Showrunner and Executive Producer of National Geographic’s global event series Genius. Prior to Genius, he was the Showrunner and Executive Producer of Legends on TNT. His other credits include serving as Executive Producer and head writer for E-Ring on NBC, Six Degrees on ABC, and Star Trek: Voyager on UPN. He also served as Co-Executive Producer of the series North Shore, Smallville and Dark Angel. He was the Showrunner and Executive Producer of the action-fantasy series, Legend of the Seeker, which he developed for television. He was also the Co-Creator/Showrunner of Perception, which aired on TNT from 2012-2015.


Saturday, March 18th | 12:00pm

Join directors Suzannah Herbert Break the Hold, Michelle Morgan LA Times and

Suzi Yoonessi Unlovable for a discussion about directing films as a woman in the industry.

Suzannah Herbert

Originally from Memphis, Suzannah Herbert is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Herbert's senior thesis Home Game premiered at DOC NYC, won Best Short Film at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, and is distributed by SnagFilms. Her short documentary Central Park: The Park at the Center of the World aired on several local PBS stations. Herbert was the associate producer on Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and she has worked as an assistant editor on Michael Moore's Where To Invade Next and an untitled feature documentary directed by Martin Scorsese. BREAK THE HOLD is her first feature film.

Michelle Morgan

Michelle Morgan has written numerous projects at major studios for film and television, though her heart belongs to independent cinema. Her feature directorial debut, L.A. Times, premiered at the Sundance 2017 film festival. Michelle is ecstatic to share her film with Sun Valley, which has a very special place in her heart as she really loves snow and baked potatoes. On an unrelated note, she also loves cats. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, her film is a love letter to the city and its citizens she knows so well. If you see her on the slopes or eating a potato please go and say hi.

Suzi Yoonessi

Iranian American director Suzi Yoonessi still writes with jelly-pens, knows how to make a pretty awesome cootie-catcher and loves exploring the painful yet innocent era of adolescence where we’re guided by a voice so endearing we can’t help but embrace the memories of that time. Yoonessi’s award-winning feature film Dear Lemon Lima (2009) premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The LA Times dubbed the visually stunning film as refreshing as an astro-pop on a summer day. The film was released by Phase 4 Films, HBO, Showtime and The Sundance Channel. 

Yoonessi’s ITVS FutureStates episode The Spring of Sorrow (2011) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won an ECA award for the lush lensing that captured a post-apocolypic future. For International Women’s Day, she directed #OwnYourVoice (2016) for the UN, YouTube and Portal A, which was recently nominated for a Webby and a Streamy Award. Yoonessi received a Jerome Foundation Grant for her artful documentary Vern (2003), which now resides in the SF Museum of Modern Art. 

Yoonessi’s hilarious series Olive and Mocha (2012-2015) is Funny or Die’s 1st Annual Make Em LAFF award winner, and was the #1 video on Reddit for a week, with performances that won many hearts and horrified parents. Yoonessi currently directs branded, short and commercial spots for Funny or Die, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Portal A, Retrofit and Super Deluxe, and is in post-production on her second feature Unlovable, starring academy award nominee John Hawkes, academy award winner Melissa Leo and Charlene deGuzman. 

Yoonessi received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and her MFA from Columbia University where she was a recipient of the FMI Directing Fellowship.