Full Frame Staff
Deirdre Haj is the Festival Director at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. At Full Frame, Deirdre implemented free year-round screenings, the “Teach the Teachers” program and lending library, “The School of Doc” and the “A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy”. Under her leadership the festival is a PGA qualifying festival for long and short form documentary, and an Oscar qualifying festival for short form documentary. She attracted the creation of the Full Frame Theater and new offices. She is Vice President of the Film Festival Alliance, serves on the board of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, and IFP Minnesota, and has participated in panel discussions and juries at several universities, festivals and conferences. She served on POV’s 25th Anniversary Board, and the Advisory Board for “Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk When Telling Truth to Power” by the Center for Media & Social Impact, and as a mentor at SXSW.
She speaks often nationally about the relationship between filmmakers and festivals, at the IDA’s GETTING REAL conferences and IFP Film Week, and has been published in Indiewire and the peer-reviewed journal Synoptique.
Since going to Minneapolis, she delivered the keynote speech at the Flyway Film Festival and created/oversaw the “Cinema of Urgency” series co-presented at the Walker Art Center. Previously, she consulted for such organizations as the Motion Picture Association of America and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Her first film, the award-winning 2002 broadcast documentary Scene Smoking, starred Sean Penn, Ted Danson, Rob Reiner and other Hollywood leaders. She is a member of Women in Film, the Screen Actors Guild, and the IDA.
Sadie Tillery is the Director of Programming of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Sadie joined the Programming Department in 2005 and became Director in 2008. In her role, she is responsible for Full Frame’s annual line up of new and retrospective documentary titles, and has collaborated with guest curators including Steve James, Rick Prelinger, Lucy Walker, Ross McElwee, and Sam Pollard.
Sadie has traveled extensively, representing Full Frame at the Venice, Toronto, and Sundance Film Festivals, along with the International 1001 Documentary Film Festival in Istanbul, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen, and IDFA in Amsterdam. Sadie graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Hollins University, with a degree in Film and Photography. She is from Raleigh, NC, and now lives in Durham with her husband, Ryan, and their two dogs, Stella and Murray.
Kate Rogers is the Programming Coordinator of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Prior to joining the programming department in October 2016, Kate was the Department Coordinator of Moving Image at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She also co-created and programmed Northern Exposure, a series engaging local audiences with local cinema at the Trylon microcinema in south Minneapolis.
Kate graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a degree in English and Cinema and Media Studies. She is from Milwaukee, WI.
Dan Partridge is the Production Co-Director for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. He has served as the Research Associate for The Jazz Loft Project at the Center for Documentary Studies, beginning in 2003.
From 2000-2002, he was the CDS Exhibitions and Public Programs Assistant. Prior to working at CDS he was the Coordinator and Teaching Assistant for the Sound Shadows program at the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh.
Lani Simeona is the Production Co-Director for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Lani joined the Full Frame team in 2007 as Office Manager, became the Artist Services Coordinator and Communications Manager in 2011, and Production Co-Director in 2014. As Production Co-Director, she is responsible for festival and year-round ticketing, volunteer selection and training, filmmaker transportation and lodging, venue selection and build out, and technical and IT support.
Prior to Full Frame, Lani studied film and theater at Florida State University and the University of Central Florida, was a tour guide and trainer for the Walt Disney World Resort, and spent 10 years in music retail management, merchandising, and music buying before making the move from Florida to Durham, North Carolina.
Michelle Benham is the director of marketing at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. With a background in nonfiction multimedia production, communications, and community outreach, she is interested in connecting people through storytelling. Michelle founded Longleaf Films in 2015 and produced Faith in Solar, a short film about the phenomenal impact communities of faith are having on the renewable energy fight in North Carolina.
In the past decade, she has worked as a producer for Discovery Learning Alliance, where she brought exciting educational video content to classrooms around the world, and an earth science producer for NASA where she led comprehensive multimedia strategy and implementation for Operation IceBridge, the largest airborne mission to measure sea and land ice at the Earth’s poles.
Michelle is on the Board of Directors for Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean, an initiative that brings together the best and brightest emerging leaders working in wildlife conservation in the region. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the University of Georgia and a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Electronic Media from the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University in Washington, DC. She is thrilled to live in Durham, NC with her husband, their two children, and their cat, Biscuit.
Ashley Solesbee is the Education Coordinator at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Ashley is responsible for Full Frame’s “Teach the Teachers” Professional Development program, the School of Doc Summer Program for high school students, and the annual Youth Screening Event at the Carolina Theatre. Ashley is also part of the pilot partnership with PBS’s POV Program, where she will be hosting a webinar on how to successfully integrate documentary film in the classroom.
Ashley is also a full time middle school teacher specializing in Gifted and Talented Education at Neal Middle School in Durham Public Schools. She began her time with Full Frame in 2014, when she was a participant in the “Teach the Teachers” program. After realizing the transformative power of documentary film by making it a vital part of her own classroom, she began leading “Teach the Teachers” so that she could share her passion for documentary film with educators across Durham Public Schools. In 2017, Ashley began to coordinate all of Full Frame’s Education Programs.
Senior Development Associate
Savannah Lennertz is the Senior Development Associate for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Prior to joining the Full Frame team in 2017, Savannah was the Development and Communications Associate for the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai in New York City. Savannah graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Health Policy. Savannah is a native New Yorker and recent transplant to Durham, NC.
Angie Potiny was born and raised in North Carolina. She grew up in the eastern part of the state before moving to Chapel Hill to attend UNC as an undergrad. After completing a degree in Communications with a minor in Women’s Studies, she stayed on at UNC as an employee working with the Information Technology Services department. During her time at UNC, she worked closely with faculty, staff and students providing tech support and customer service for a multitude of tech issues. Angie is a long-time volunteer of Full Frame, most recently as Plaza Team Lead. She lives in Durham and enjoys spending time exploring new restaurants, cultural events and the city’s many breweries. Angie is excited to be a part of the Full Frame and CDS family.
CENTER FOR DOCUMENTARY STUDIES
Associate Director for Operations and Finance
Finance Business Manager
Associate Director for Programs and Development