Meet the Judges (2024)

Chris smiles towards the camera in a wooded area.

Chris Metzler

Chris Metzler’s film career has taken him to some strange places as he has pursued making subculture documentaries on subjects as far-ranging as rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, swamp rat hunters, ganja-preneurs, Black punk rockers, and evangelical Christian surfers. His award-winning films include PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA (IWFF 2006), EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE (IWFF 2018), and JACK HAS A PLAN. He also serves as the Director of Programming for three irreverent, San Francisco-based film festivals, SF DocFest, Green Film Festival of San Francisco, and SF IndieFest.

Lana Beissel

Lana’s love for animals has led to some unique experiences, from being courted by a curious manatee to having a black-footed ferret asleep in her lap and once having a porcupine get a little frisky with her leg. After working as an EMT, Lana shifted her focus to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, contributing fieldwork as a community scientist studying endangered species such as black-footed ferrets, desert tortoises, jaguars, and ocelots. In 2019, she decided to devote herself full-time to storytelling and filmmaking, focusing on wildlife and conservation stories and bringing light to places most needed. Together with her husband, James Beissel, she co-founded Just Float Films, which specializes in using the most up-to-date technology in 360-degree and VR cinema to create immersive stories about our planet’s most precious and endangered wildlife. Their work has been featured in multiple film festivals across the globe and has been showcased at educational events, fundraisers, and museums. When not filming or digging up new stories, Lana can be found freediving in search of octopus, reconnecting with her Korean roots, and exploring the Colorado Front Range with her husband.

Lana smiles towards camera.
Katherine looks a viewfinder in back of camera on tripod in grassy environment with bison.

Katherine Gomero

Katherine is a Producer at the Wildlife Conservation Society, producing short form content for New York City’s zoos and aquarium, while at ties supporting the international programs. Her role mixes editing, directing, and cinematography in one, allowing her to test the air with drones, and the water with diving and filming. She has participated as part of the jury for the New York Wild Film Festival and Wildscreen Festival. Recently, she continues to advocate for the oceans through marine research on mantas and mobulas in Peru, following the marine world since an early age with other studies in Costa Rica. Before getting to WCS, she participated on the full feature film, Season of the Osprey, for PBS Nature, as assistant camera operator .