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SXSW: Meet the Vimeo Staff Picks Curators

SXSW is happening right now, a cavalcade of of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences taking place in Austin, Texas. Nestled amongst the big movie premieres and food trucks are the good folks at Vimeo.


When: Saturday, March 11th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB

Every day, tens of thousands of videos are uploaded to Vimeo. Only five are chosen as Vimeo Staff Picks. Founded in 2008, Vimeo Staff Picks has emerged as one of the preeminent channels for online video and one of the most coveted awards for young filmmakers, having helped launch the careers of many celebrated directors. For the first time ever, Vimeo’s curation team will offer an in-depth look at the process behind curating a daily showcase of the best short narratives, documentaries, animations and music videos on the internet.


When: Tuesday, March 14th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Where: The Vimeo Theater (Inside Austin Convention Center)

A person talking during a film can be the most annoying thing imaginable — unless that person is the director. During this special edition of Vimeo Staff Picks Cinema, seven directors will be in attendance to provide live commentary during screenings of their Staff-Picked films. This is the fourth annual Vimeo Staff Picks Live.

Join members of the Vimeo Curation team as they screen Staff Picked films with live commentary from CANADA, Maceo Frost, Miles Jay, Kristen Lepore, New Media Ltd., Nicolas Ménard, and Darcy Predergast.

Vimeo’s  Staff Pick channel is curated by a five-person team that highlights the best short-form content on the platform. It’s time to introduce you to the team.

Sam Morrill, Director of Curation

Sam Morrill Head ShotSam Morrill joined Vimeo in 2009 where he currently serves as its Director of Curation. From customer support, to content acquisitions, to curating Vimeo Staff Picks, Sam has experienced Vimeo’s growth and evolution from a variety of different angles. When he’s not watching videos, he’s probably traveling or working on his amateur golf swing. Sam resides in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

Film That Speaks to Me: Black Holes 

“Equal parts 2001: A Space Odyssey and “Ren & Stimpy,” we first saw “Black Holes” at Sundance this year. “Unusual” would probably be the best word to describe the film and I mean that in the best possible way—it’s got a super unique comedic voice and the quality of the animation itself is exceptional. It’s a short that really stands out. They’re currently raising funds on Kickstarter to turn it into a series!”

Jeffrey Bowers, Senior Curator

Jeffrey Bowers headshot (credit Johnny Simon)Jeffrey Bowers is a Senior Curator at Vimeo, where his responsibilities include selecting Staff Picks, contributing to the Staff Pick Premieres program, and running the Vimeo On Demand curation. For the past four years he has curated VICE media’s VICE Shorts and written the column “I’m Short, Not Stupid.” His background includes programming features and shorts for Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Athens International Film + Video Festival. Because of his broad expertise, he’s served on juries and participated in speaking engagements at places like SXSW, DOC NYC, Slamdance, Palm Springs Shortsfest, Nantucket Film Festival, and IFP.

Film That Speaks to Me: Young Thug – Wyclef Jean

“Director Ryan Staake is sitting on a whooping 11 Vimeo Staff Picks and his latest music video for Young Thug (technically co-directed with Young Thug) shows why. Beyond being a mad creative genius with mind-bending and often hilarious, boundary pushing and/or whip smart concepts for projects he did what even the greatest filmmakers hope to do: turn a shit sandwich into gold. His subject/co-director didn’t even show up to set and yet Staake soldiered on – questioning, but not quitting his vision. Like a true director, he managed to bring together dozens of disparate shots, rambling audio recordings, lost footage, and Cheetos to create one of the most memorable music videos of the year. That’s resilience in the form of creativity.”

Ian Durkin, Senior Curator

Ian Durkin Head ShotIan Durkin is a senior curator at Vimeo and filmmaker living in Brooklyn. Recently featured in Adweek’s creative 100 as a “content creator setting the bar for creativity in 2016″, Durkin’s work balances how life in the outdoors can live online.

Film That Speaks to Me: Glacier Exit from Raphael Rogers

“Raphael Rogers, Paul Rennick and Kristin Gerhart set out on a trip to explore the glaciers of Alaska. Instead of adventure, they found a man named Rick Brown, and a story of how climate change is drastically altering our landscape before our eyes. The glaciers that Rick calls home are now disappearing at an alarming rate — it only takes one month for them to recede the same distance that used to take hundreds of years. I love a travel film that highlights unique landscape, but found Glacier Exit to be exceptional in the way that it found a compelling story to match the landscape and educate the viewer.”

Meghan Oretsky, Curator

Meghan Oretsky Head ShotBefore joining Vimeo in 2014, you could find Meghan cheering on filmmakers in the comments section of countless videos on their site. Today she serves as a member of the Vimeo curation team, for which she watches thousands of videos a year. She is especially proud to support women in film via her channel, “Ladies With Lenses.”

Film That Speaks to Me: “Where We Stand” by Kristine Stolakis

“I recently attended the Athena Film Festival, which is a weekend celebration of women and leadership – and saw“Where We Stand” in one of the short screenings. It stood out to me as a strong documentary about a group of super intelligent, composed women who were fighting for the ordination of women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints. I not only appreciate and stand behind these women, I also really want to be their friend! They’re so cool and lovely! And it was amazing to be able to reach out to the filmmaker, Kristine Stolakis, and ask her to bring “Where We Stand” to Vimeo so that we could give it a Staff Pick. She was as happy about our recognizing it as we were that she was sharing it with our audience, and that’s always a great feeling.”

Ina Pira, Curator

Ina Pira is the newest member of Vimeo’s Curation team.  Prior to her job at Vimeo, Ina worked as a Senior Programmer for the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Montclair Film Festival, and the Sarasota Film Festival. In addition to her programming duties, Ina has helped manage and select scripts for the Hamptons Screenwriters Lab and other year-round programs.


“Using only a few household items, this spectacular short captures a profound loss in one of the most moving and imaginative films around. At just over 9 minutes, this is personal storytelling at its best.”

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Written by

Chris Evangelista is the Executive Editor of Cut Print Film & co-host of the Cut Print Film Podcast. He also contributes to /Film, The Film Stage, Birth.Movies.Death, The Playlist, Paste Magazine, Little White Lies and O-Scope Musings. 'The House on Creep Street' and 'Beware the Monstrous Manther!', two horror books for young readers Chris co-authored with J. Tonzelli, are available wherever books are sold. You can follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 and view his portfolio at chrisevangelista.net

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