Hudson Valley International Film Festival

"Not just an experience but a lifestyle"

The Board of Directors

            Charles Marinaro

Charles Marinaro is the President and Founder of the  Hudson Valley International Film Festival, as well an award winning Actor, writer, Producer in Transcending Pictures. He has Directed 3 feature films (The Factory 2014 - Award nominated - Best Picture at Hoboken International Film Festival, Savior 2015 - Award Winner: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Charles Marinaro), nominated - Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Greg Genute), and Best supporting actress (Janel Tana), Irony of Catharsis, which will premiere at this year's festival (HVIFF). He also produced/wrote/directed a short film "A Modern Myth" which is currently in the festival Circuit. Marinaro's fifth untitled project is in pre-production and is set to film in the fall and premiere at HVIFF 2017.

Beyond Filmmaking, Charles is an entrepreneur, co-owning Transcending Pictures, and previously  owning Dream Chasers Inc and The Clients Advocate, both marketing and self promotion companies. For the last 8 years, Charles has worked hands on with individuals with intellectual disabilities along side filmmaking,  a business man and running an international film festival.  

             Chris Matrone
                Founder/Operations Director

Matrone is an award winning and nominated filmmaker: The Factory (2014) Nominated for best of festival at the Hoboken International Film Festival, Savior (2015) Winner for best picture at Mount Vernon Film Festival.  Matrone is one of the lead Writers and Directors at Transcending Pictures, as well as the co-founder/owner of the production company. 

             Simon Fridlich 


Simon Fridlich, a long time resident of Monroe, studied Motion Picture Production at Germain School of Photography, in Manhattan (1972). 1974 Started making movies 35mm (his first) with acclaimed director, screen writer, Abel Ferrara. In later years Simon was president of Home-Tech Developers Inc. building housing developments in Rockland and Orange County. 1999 formed Simon Sez Productions, a video production company producing everything from educational DVD's, business commercials, TV pilots, Documentaries, Features and more.

Simon Co-Produced and was Director of Photography for Transcending Pictures of "The Factory", " Savior" and "Irony of Catharsis". The Factory was also edited by Simon. He also co-produced a Reality TV-Pilot with a local drug counselor, called "Darkness" about addiction and recovery.

             Melissa Cohen
             HVIFF Founder/HVIFF Board of Directors

Producer, Casting Director, Production Manager  for Transcending Pictures.

Melissa Cohen is the Producer/Casting Director/and Production Manager for Transcending Pictures features "The Factory", "Savior" and the upcoming premiere at HVIFF "Irony of Catharsis." Having produced, cast, and managed award winning and nominated films, Cohen has a natural eye for talent. As one of the founding members of HVIFF, Melissa believes in the integrity film festivals should possess and the overall importance of filmmaker experience at a festival, which were her driving factors to help develop Hudson Valley International Film Festival. Aside from film, Melissa is a published journalist and entrepreneur, as President of Hudson Valley Business Club, an avenue for small business owners to gain promotion and exposure, while encouraging Hudson Valley residents to shop local and support small business. Melissa will be launching The Hudson Valley Business Club newspaper later this Fall. 


         Karen Lynn LaForest

Graduate of Pine Bush High School class of 81, U.S. Navy Veteran and retired Federal employee (Department of Navy and Federal Bureau of Prisons). I am an avid movie goer and love all types of films, especially independent ones. I attend as many film festivals as I can and am truly excited to be part of the Hudson Valley International Film Festival planning committee. Looking forward to August and making the HVIFF the most epic festival in the area (or country).

           Sunny Edelman

Classically trained in acting, Sunny has directed and performed roles from Shakespeare to Clare Boothe Luce, working in regional, Off Broadway theatres, as well as in an Emmy winning television program and numerous Indie films. 

Recently, Sunny played the part of the narrator in Discovery Investigations Emmy award winning drama, “A Crime to Remember.” 

She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Elementary Education from S.U.N.Y New Paltz and studied acting with Iza Itkin, Robert Castle, Bob Luke and Peter Sklar. Sunny also took classes at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. 

Sunny has been teaching science for fourteen years at Twin Towers Middle School in Middletown, NY and directs all the school drama productions. 

She enjoys working with local Indie film makers and has recently become the membership chairperson for UPWIFT (Upstate Women in Film and Television). Last year, Sunny was the events coordinator for the first ever Hudson Valley International Film Festival and looks forward to continuing to work for and promote this festival for many years to come. 

Sunny’s looking forward to working on the next Emmy awarded series or in any feature opposite Colin Firth.

Richard Desmond 

Stewart Thomas

Producer, Director, Actor.

Sandi Kotkin

Community Relations Coordinator 

Sandi is originally from Flushing, New York. She moved to Monroe thirty-three years ago(when Monroe

was "too country for her). It has definitely changed! She has a M.S. degree in Elementary Education from

Queens College. She works at Monroe/Woodbury School District as a substitute teacher.

For the first Hudson Valley International Film Festival, Sandi was the Community Rellations Coordinator. She

continues in the same position this year. Knowing many local business owners in the area gives her a "heads up" on 

getting people interested and involved with the HVIFF.

" I enjoy being part of the HVIFF and I hope this gets bigger and better every year!"