Competition Categories:


BIFF has held Spirit of Freedom as one of its themed categories since it's very first festival.  Each film in this program explores the potential of the human spirit and how freedom affects - or is absent from - our lives.   


Our New Visions competition is a showcase for emerging artists, providing festival audiences with the opportunity to discover the next generation of visionary filmmakers. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the New Vision film category.   


Sponsored by Liquid Courage

A short film is 31 minutes or less and often the only place where young filmmakers have the chance to explore story telling through cinema. Film Festivals are one of the few venues where multiple short films can experienced. BIFF is pleased to present one of the most interesting and diverse lineups of short films. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the Short film category.

Screenwriters residency program

Sponsored by Source, AlivUniversity Of Georgia, Hope Town Harbour Lodge, Hope Town Inn & Marina, Hope Town Coffee House, Sea Spray Resort

Screenwriters will be mentored by industry professionals and judged for a Grand Jury Cash Prize in Harbour Island.


Susan Batten

Writer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

  • Susan Batten|Writer-Producer-Actor (Showing Roots, Love Once and Always)

Susan Batten, actress, writer and producer, received her BFA in acting from the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was awarded the Helen Hayes Scholarship. She also studied with legendary acting teacher, Sanford Meisner. Susan worked Off-Broadway at MCC, Circle Rep, Naked Angels, with such notable directors as Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, Academy Award nominated Peter Hedges, and Norman Renee. Susan was an original member of The Edge Theatre company, along with Mary-Louise Parker. She co-starred with Julie Harris in The Fiery Furnace, originated the award-winning role of Luna Moody in ABC’s One Life To Live from 1990-1996 and portrayed the role of Connor Walsh on CBS’s As The World Turns from 1997-98. She guest-starred in sitcoms and dramas on ABC, CBS and FOX, before she began her writing career. Susan earned her MFA from Columbia University School Of The Arts in screenwriting and directing, and was the recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship. Susan’s screenplay Whynot was selected for Faculty Honors at the Columbia Film Festival, and received the Development Award at New Harmony Project. Susan wrote, produced, and acted in her first independent film, Showing Roots, starring Maggie Grace, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth McGovern, Adam Brody and Cicely Tyson. Showing Roots won ‘Best Narrative Film’ at the Bahamas and Maryland International Film Festival and also screened at Sonoma and Newport Beach Film Festival (one of five chosen for Saturday Night Centerpiece Films). Showing Roots sold to Lifetime Network and premiered May, 2016. Lionsgate released the DVD in June, 2017. Susan wrote the teleplay, Love, Once and Always for Hallmark Channel, which aired in March 2018, and is currently completing her next feature, Damage Machine, which she will direct.

Alessandro Camon

Producer, Writer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Born in Padua, Italy, he currently lives in Los Angeles. Camon is a graduate of the University of Padua, School of Philosophy, and received a masters in film from UCLA in Los Angeles.

Camon wrote The Messenger with writer/director Oren Moverman. The film won the Silver Bear for best screenplay and the Peace Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as the Grand Prize and the International Critics Prize at the Deauville Film Festival. It was nominated in the Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor categories by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Camon's producing credits include The CoolerThank You For SmokingOwning MahownyBad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.

Camon started his career in Italy as a film critic. He has written several books and articles on film, both in Italian and English. His stage play Time Alone premiered in Los Angeles in September 2017, starring Tonya Pinkins and Alex Hernandez. It received the award for outstanding new playfrom the Los angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Camon is the son of novelist Ferdinando Camon and newspaper columnist Gabriella Imperatori and is married to film producer Suzanne Warren (The Last King of Scotland,Hacksaw Ridge).

Mark Downie

Producer | Short Film Jury

Mark E. Downie is a creator and producer of independent film and television with expertise in marketing. He has raised eight figures from private and institutional sources for five feature films on which he structured two international co-productions, five of which he produced. 

Mark's critically acclaimed & award winning Fictional and Documentary Feature Credits include: “Hundred Percent” (LAIFF, ancillary release); “Franchesca Page” (Sundance Film Festival, limited release); “Escape from China” (PBS “POV” broadcast, International Emmy nominated Best Documentary); and “Soundtrack for a Revolution” with Danny Glover and France’s WildBunch (limited theatrical release, PBS “American Experience” broadcast; PGA and WGA nominations, Academy Award short-list for Best Documentary, and Cannes Film Festival Official Sidebar Premiere). Most recently, Mark Produced writer, Gee Malik Linton's crime drama feature directing debut, "Exposed" starring Keanu Reeves/producer, Ana de Armas, Mira Sorvino, Big Daddy Kane and Christopher McDonald, released US theatrical January 2016, by Lionsgate with Fortitude International selling overseas. Mark is also Executive Producing Linton’s next picture, "André and Adeline", to be shot in Paris 2019 with top French producer, Philippe Carcassonne.

Mark's TV Credits include: developing, writing and producing Chinese TV news magazine "Around the World"; development of the unscripted series “Hip Hop Takeover” with MTV News & Docs; development of the scripted series “Jigsaw” with Danny Glover’s Louverture Films; and development of the unscripted NFL Draft Docu-Series “The Agent” with Media Verité, broadcast on Esquire Network Fall 2015 as a limited run series.

Via his NY-CA based film and television production and development company, Battery Park Entertainment (BPE) with producing partner Matthew Morris, currently he is Executive Producing the upcoming Puerto Rico-set bi-lingual crime drama TV series, "TITERES" from Efrain Casillas, with Paul Eckstein ("Narcos") on board as Consulting Executive Producer. From 1996 - 2011, Mark sat as a judge for the International Emmy Awards of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; judged the Student Academy Awards of the Association of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; and continues to serve as an advisor for Tribeca Film Institute's TFI Network. He earned his B.A. in Modern Culture & Media from Brown University.

Nate Kohn

Producer, Roger Ebert’s Film Festival Academic Associate Director, Peabody Awards | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Dr. Nate Kohn is professor at the University of Georgia, Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards, festival director of Roger Ebert's Film Festival, director of the University of Georgia MFA program in screenwriting and award-winning producer. Dr. Kohn produced  Zulu Dawn  starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole; the independent feature  Somebodies , which premiered at Sundance (2006);  Rain , the Bahamas’ first indigenous feature which premiered at Toronto (2007) at the Bahamas International Film Festival (2008) and on Showtime (2010); the feature film  Bottleworld  (2010); he was Executive Producer on the BET television series  Somebodies  (2008); he was Producer on the feature length documentary  Bayou Maharajah  that premiered at the SXSW Festival (2013); he produced the Emmy Award-winning short documentary Ebertfest 2012 ; and he was Executive Producer on  The 73rd, 74th  and 75th Annual Peabody Awards Specials for PivotTV/Participant Media (2014, 2015 and 2016).   He has served on juries and mentored screenwriters at the Atlanta, Hawaii, Kerala, and Bahamas International Film Festivals. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and of the book  Pursuing Hollywood: Seduction, Obsession, Dread  (AltaMira Press, 2006).

Lanre Olabisi

Writer, Director, Producer | Short Film Jury

Lanre Olabisi is a writer/director whose two feature films August the First and Somewhere in the Middle have been screened in over 70 film festivals combined including SXSW and the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.  His films have won the top prize on ten different occasions and have been nominated for an IFP Gotham Award as well as a Black Reel Award.  Both August the First and Somewhere in the Middle are distributed by Film Movement and they can now be found on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and Vudu. Lanre has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the Urban Artists Initiative.



Jib Polhemus

Producer, Sponsor | Screenwriters Residency Mentor & Grand Jury

Jib Polhemus has worked in the entertainment business for over 20 years.   He recently founded the literary management company,  SourceManagement  +  Production where he represents writers and directors.   He is also President of Simon West Productions where he produces Film and TV with director, Simon West (Con Air, Tomb Raider, Expendables 2).   As President of Simon West Productions, he has developed and sold numerous high profile projects to Warner Brothers, Universal, FOX, Paramount, Sony and others including BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott.   Recently, he Produced GUN SHY starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko and Executive Produced STRATTON starring Dominic Cooper and Connie Nielsen.   Previously, he Executive Produced WILD CARD starring Jason Statham and Stanley Tucci for Lionsgate.   In addition, he co-produced blockbuster EXPENDABLES 2, starring Sylvester Stallone,   Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Executive Produced STOLEN starring Nicolas Cage.   In 2011, he co-produced The MECHANIC, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, and also Associate Produced Paramount’s mega-blockbuster LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, starring Angelina Jolie. In television, he has developed and sold shows to most of the top networks including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC and WB. He is currently developing shows for e1 and Lionsgate.

In his free time, Mr. Polhemus is on the advisory board of Bahamas International Film Festival, lectures for the Columbia College of Chicago (LA) and judges the screenplay contest for UCLA Master’s Writing Program. He resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Suzanne Warren

Executive Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor



Suzanne is currently Vice President of Production at Pandemonium Films working with ex Fox Chairman, Bill Mechanic.  Recent productions include ‘HACKSAW RIDGE’, the true story of the pacifist war hero, Desmond Doss, directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughan, Theresa Palmer, Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving.  The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture.  Other films in development include a remake of Korean noir picture ‘COP ON A MISSION’ with director Paul Verhoeven; ‘DEADWORLD’, an adaptation of the thirty year running comic book series with Gregor Jordan attached to direct; and ‘DAMASCUS’, an adaptation of Bennett Fisher’s O’Neill Conference finalist play.


Suzanne got her start in film production at Cowboy Films in the UK with Lisa Bryer and Tim Pope.  In addition to working on commercials and music videos for artists like The Cure, Neil Young and David Bowie, she developed and was a producer on Nick Love’s debut feature ‘GOODBYE CHARLIE BRIGHT’ starring Paul Nicholls and Danny Dyer;  ‘THE HOLE’ starring Thora Birch and Keira Knightley; and ‘THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND’ directed by Kevin MacDonald starring Forest Whitaker (who won the Academy Award for best actor) and James McAvoy.


After moving to LA in 2001 to be with her husband, producer and screenwriter Alessandro Camon, she spent three years at Catch 23 as Snr. VP Production working on several projects including ‘EDGE OF DARKNESS’, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone; and ‘SUBURBAN GIRL’, directed by Marc Klein, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin. 


She is also recently produced her first play, ‘Time Alone’, with Belle Reve Theatre Company and LATC, starring Tony award winning actress Tonya Pinkins.


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