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.
Development and Educational Programs Manager
Suzanne Spignesi is the Development and Educational Programs Manager at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Suzanne manages Full Frame’s development office, which oversees sponsorships, individual giving, and grants, and she also manages Full Frame’s educational programs. Suzanne graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and spent the following two years as a Teach For America corps member and teacher in the Philadelphia school district. While teaching, she earned a Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Suzanne joined the Full Frame team after completing her service with Teach for America. While in her full-time role at the festival, she completed her M.B.A at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and graduated in December 2016. Suzanne lives in Raleigh, and enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and doing improv comedy.
CENTER FOR DOCUMENTARY STUDIES
Associate Director for Operations and Finance
Finance Business Manager
Associate Director for Programs and Development