IFFNY 2018 Announces Jurors!

Today, the International Filmmaker Festival of New York, presented by Nil Production and organized by Mrika Krasniqi, announced its jurors for 2018 Festival. IFFNY program will run from Friday, May 25, 2018 to Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at Kaufman Astoria Studios and Producers Club Theaters. Ermira Babamusta and Giorgio Kolaj are the two presenters hosting the show.

The prestigious jury consists of President of the Jury Jotti Ejlli; Festival Selector and award-winning director Ibër Deari; Award-Winning Actress, Director and Writer Margherita Peluso; successful Actor and Teacher Kendrick Merdani; and accomplished Director, Producer, and Writer John Blenn. 

Our Jurors this year are some of the best filmmakers in the industry. The International Filmmaker of New York acknowledges established and emerging filmmakers from around the world and we highly encourage new talent. The final winners will be announced on the Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 9:00PM. We are looking forward to the Red Carpet Opening Ceremony on Friday, May 25 at 7:00PM.


We encourage our Special Guests and attendees to take advantage of our networking events, screenings and Media Corner interviews. The International Filmmaker Festival of New York is a global industry event held annually in the world’s most iconic center of arts, New York City, with a strong emphasis on supporting and highlighting the artistic community,” said IFFNY Festival Director and Founder Mrika Krasniqi.

2018 IFFNY Jury


Jotti Ejlli (Director, Producer, Writer) – President of the Jury

Jotti Ejlli (Kastriot Ejlli) is a talented filmmaker, born in Albania. He has always been creative since he was young, growing up with love of art, cinema, painting and music. Jotti studied “Cinema” (Discipline delle Arti della Musica e dello Spettacolo) at the University of Florence in Italy. After graduation, he moved to Milan, Italy to continue his studies at the SAE Institute for “Filmmaking”. Upon graduation, he started working as an independent filmmaker in Milan, where he completed many successful projects, documentaries, music videos and short films. His critically acclaimed debut short film “Rosso Fuoco” received positive reviews by film critics and the audience.

In 2012 Jotti returned to Albania to continue with his successful work in various well-known projects, as a filmmaker and as a director of many popular television programs. In 2014 he collaborated with Kinostudio Dardan, to produce many projects in a very short time. In 2015 he wrote and directed his first feature film, “Hije” (Shadows), all accomplished as an independent production. “Hije” was released for the audience in 2016 and it screened in New York at AFW, where it won the “Artistic Achievement Award”. Jotti Ejlli is currently working on his next feature film “Nik”, that will launch its production in 2019.


Ibër Deari (Director, Producer, Writer) – IFFNY Festival Selector

Director, writer, producer, DOP Ibër Deari is born in 1990, in Macedonia. He is a talented director and writer, known for his award-winning movies: My City Screams (2015), Toka (2016), A long way Home (2017). Filming is his biggest passion and he has been making films since high school. He has also written and directed a number of short fictional and documentary videos. Ibër Deari studied Film School at the University of Audiovisual Arts “ESRA” in Skopje. He graduated in 2013 with the film “Last Confession”. Deari earned his Master of Arts in the Department of Film Direction with the film “Toka” (Land) and thesis “To Film or Not to Film”.

Ibër Deari is the winner of numerous prestigious international awards, including: Best Artist in Macedonia from Milingona e Artë; Best Film for “Between Paradise and Hell” from Gässli Film Festival in Basel, Switzerland; the Audience Award for Best Film for “Last Confession” at New York Albanian Film Week in Manhattan; Best Director and Best Film for “My City Screams” at the Nine Eleven Festival in Prishtina, Kosovo; Best Short Film and Best Director for “Land” and Best Director for “A Long Way Home” at the International Filmmaker Festival of New York in Manhattan.

Margherita Peluso 2

Margherita Peluso (Actress, Writer)

Margherita Peluso is a screen and stage actor from Milan who works in Italy, Australia and the USA. She studied with Emma Dante and Mamadou Dioum of The Peter Brook Ensemble in Italy, and later at The Gloria Gifford Conservatory in Los Angeles. Most recently she had the pleasure of studying with Fay Simpson and Larry Moss in NYC.  She is a company member of an educational theatre company based in Melbourne, Australia called, Make A Scene. She is also an active member of The Lucid Body Institute in NYC. Margherita is a regular performer at La Mama Theater in both Australia and NYC, where she’s acted in a wide variety of work, ranging from Luigi Pirandello’s Caps and Bells to a provocative new translation of La Medea by Franca Rama and Dario Fo. Other shows include Wounded by Mario Fratti, at LES Festival in NYC, The Count of Montecristo produced by New Light Theater Company, NYC.

In addition to her theater work, Margherita is an accomplished film and TV actress, receiving several “Best Actress” nominations at Film Festivals around the world. She is a familiar face on Italian TV: Blood Trust, Gray’s Disconnected, Amore Criminale, Un’Amore di Strega. As a writer, she has translated “Le Beatrici” with the author Stefano Benni, premiered at NYC’s “In Scena” festival. Margherita’s current project “Io, Marta” has been workshopped at the prestigious international theater festival “La Mama Next Generation” in Spoleto. The show premiers at the Pirandello National Festival in Turin.  Future projects include a Docu-Fiction about Marta Abba, and a new film called “Chasing Marilyn”.


Kendrick Merdani (Actor, Teacher)

Kendrick Merdani is a successful actor known for a variety of primetime TV shows like NBC’s The Blacklist, Allegiance, Fox’s The Following, CBS’s Person of Interest, MacGyver, and USA’s Falling Water. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Arts at CUNY and furthermore continued his professional training as an actor at the William Esper Studio where he completed the Two Year Meisner program under the tutelage of Terry Knickerbocker.

Kendrick has also trained with Maggie Flanigan and Shane Ann Younts for Voice, Speech, and Shakespeare. He’s been seen performing in new and classic works at the American Theatre of Actors, Theatre for the New City, Shelter Studios, and Theatre 54. Kendrick also serves as Associate Teacher of Meisner Technique at Terry Knickerbocker Studio in New York.

john Blenn-0011

John Blenn (Director, Producer, Writer)

John Blenn is well known in New York media circles as an entertainment writer and critic for over 40 years. In addition to publishing Long Island Entertainment for 7 years, he has also been featured in magazines and Newspapers such as Newsday, Good Times, Island Ear, It’s Hip, The Music Paper and Network. He is also currently a contributing arts reviewer for Village Connection. Mr. Blenn has had over 80 plays staged with over a 23-year career as a New York playwright as well as serving as director/producer for the world premiere of Eddie Money’s autobiographical musical, Two Tickets To Paradise.

When he isn’t serving as a professor of mass communications & playwright-in-residence for Five Towns College, he also keeps busy as a SAG actor and producer. Among his screen credits are the Kevin James/Henry Winkler/Salma Hayek film, Here Comes the Boom, Bronx Bull, 911 and Beneath The Darkness, all Martin Guigui films, and Big Fish Blues, by Leslye Abbey. He’s currently working on a book of the history of Long Island Comedy, continuing to produce theatre of Long Island as the owner of Middle Class American Productions (with wife Joni), Long Island’s ONLY all-original theatre company, as well as handling several different tasks on several film projects.

About the International Filmmaker Festival of New York

The International Filmmaker Festival of New York is one of the leading platforms of international cinema, dedicated to artists who embody diversity, innovation and creativity. IFFNY began in 2012 as AFW (Albanian Film Week) and has grown each year, becoming one of the most respected festivals in New York for its commitment to advancing the film culture. Its popularity and success are due to the hard work and enthusiasm of the festival organizer Mrika Krasniqi, who is passionate about arts.

Director Mrika Krasniqi is the winner of “Woman of the Year” by US Congress, “Best Human Artist” by the European Community of Jewish Artists in Paris, France; “Best Organizer” by One World, Kosova; “Best Director” by DOCU Independent in Freiburg, Germany; “Best Production” by New Poland Film, Poland; “Best Social Documentary” by NYIFF, USA; “Best Historical Documentary” by Los Angeles Film Festival; and she is named “Ambassador for Peace” by the Universal Peace Federation.

The mission of IFFNY Festival is to promote and aid the development of the international cinema and film authors.


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