About Us

About the Festival

SohoLIFF, set in the heart of London’s West End is a festival run by an ever-expanding group of passionate professionals, from both film and media backgrounds, sharing a growing platform for creative minds to come together.

Made up wholly of volunteers, we encourage newcomers to join the journey and learn along the way. 

The four-day festival is held in January, where our filmmakers are championed and celebrated as we screen 50+ independent films, and culminate the year’s activities with a live gala awards ceremony.

Audience Choice Award

The winner of this award, voted for by the public, will get to see their name, and film, up in lights with promotion literally being spread from one big screen to another, displayed across StormClear Channel’s huge digital billboards in prominent locations across the capital.  See our interview with Ben Hope from Clear Channel for more details.

It’s one hell of an exciting opportunity to maximise exposure for your film, in true blockbuster style.

This is all thanks to our wonderful Soho neighbours, Clear Channel, who have partnered with us to take the festival to the broadest possible audience across the UK, driving awareness of independent film and sharing stories that matter across the nation. A truly money-cannot-buy prize!

Meet the Team

Festival Director & Founder

Liz Farahadi

Liz  has starred in a number of Award Winning Independent Films, Theatre Productions & Commercials

Fuelled by her passion about creating opportunities within the industry , championing diversity and inclusion she started putting her own projects together, projects she wrote and produced.  She then produced, wrote & starred in the Award Winning short film, Love And Other Stuff, & co-produced and starred in the Award Winning short film, Losing Grace which she also picked up Awards for Best Actress in.

She currently has her first feature film in development. This is a crucial film that looks at Domestic Abuse and the varying manifestations this takes, including financial control.

She Champions using Film to shine a light on the disenfranchised & is delighted that alongside her own journey she can support other Filmmakers through The SohoLIFF and through the films she makes giving a voice to those who have been marginalised.


Festival Director & Producer

Vanessa Ayiku

An experienced event producer/director and content editor, Vanessa worked on Herne Hill’s Free Film Festival, curating ‘shorts’ film nights for 5 years.  She’s passionate about bringing new talent to the forefront and new audiences to independent film.

Vanessa has over 20 years production experience in TV and entertainment, and currently mentors and assesses Media Apprentices across the UK.

She manages SohoLIFF’s content platforms and produces and directs studio interviews and the live awards show.


Technical Director & Founder

Erik Moore

Erik is a founder of the festival and an experienced sound engineer/designer and film editor.
Based in Soho, he has contributed to many projects including sound design for the Oscar long listed film “Beverley” and the recently released “Heavenly Cream” feature documentary featuring the music of the 60’s band Cream and the last studio sessions with their infamous drummer Ginger Baker.


Previously manager of 01zero-one, a centre for film and video creatives in Soho and the original home of SohoLiff, he is now head of sound at All Is Joy in Dean street, Soho, formerly Warner De Lane Lea studios.  He is about to release his third vinyl album with his band, an upside down tree.
He is the Studio/Technical Director for SohoLIFF.

IMDb https://m.imdb.com/name/nm3418401/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_2_tt_0_nm_8_in_0_q_erik%2520moor

Studio Filming & StreamYard Producer

Matt Taylor

Matt has over 20 years experience as a filmmaker, covering scriptwriting, directing, camera,  lighting and editing.

Matt was the co-wrote and co-directed on the award winning feature film The Warehouse,  that screened on London Live TV and Apple TV.

He has made over 10 short films including NASA & the Space Pen which screened at several international film festivals.

Matt runs FBH Films Ltd.

Head of Design

Steven Conner

Steven is an experienced and passionate graphic designer. He is a Senior Designer at Sold Out Advertising, handling the UK’s top music campaigns.

He runs Conner Design and has created the brand, logo, animations, and illustration for the festival.


Production Consultant

Andrea Speziale-Bagliacca

An award-winning TV Executive Producer, Andrea is passionate about content and has an impressive track record in making programmes for a global audience for over 20 years.

After years of working in the industry, most notably at Viacom and NBC, he is currently working in the third sector, mentoring and helping British youth get into the media industry.

Passionate about cinema, he produced ‘MTV Cinematic’ and ‘MTV @ the Movies’ for several years and is now delighted to be working with SohoLIFF.

Our Volunteers

Alessia Moretti

Amelie-Ash Clain

Billy Herring

Cezary Sykut

Christine Robinson

Errol Hewitt

Ion Belesis

John Higgins

Lana Naoum

Lucille Tientché Kaloupé

Maria Olabambo Lajuwomi

Maxine Booth

Sigrid Sortland

Suzanne Whitlock

Tara Heatherson

Zak Khan

SohoLIFF volunteers in the studio

Each year we realise our ultimate goals of bringing people together and shining a light on stories that matter. We also look to engage new audiences, making independent film more accessible both in the UK and abroad.

- Vanessa Ayiku, Festival Director

Our Judges

Jane Perry

Jane Perry is a BAFTA award winning actor known for her extensive work in voiceover, film, TV and theatre.  She is classically trained and has worked in theatres across Canada performing in Shakespeare, new writing, and everything in between.

Her move to the UK in 2003 signified a shift from theatre to screen where she had the honour of working with directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Matthew Weiner, Michael Grandage, David Yates, Neil Jordan & Tom Tykwer.

Jane’s work as a voice artist spans across commercials, documentaries, narration, performance capture work and voicing characters in numerous AAA video games. Some of her stand out roles include Diana Burnwood in Hitman I II & III, Selene in Returnal (BAFTA win for Best Performance in Leading Role, 2022) Rogue in Cyberpunk 2077, Mystra in Baldur’s Gate III, and Sharon in Interior Night/Microsoft’s When Dusk Falls.

She and her family are based in London, England, where she attempts to grow things in her garden, chases after a large Great Dane, and continues to expand her interest in health and fitness.  Jane also holds a Master’s Degree in Actor Training & Coaching and supports actors in their work in the voice over studio, as well as on stage and screen.

Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall has been working successfully in both feature films and the television industry since his feature debut “Dog Soldiers” in 2001. His second feature as both writer and director, “The Descent” 2005 was an even bigger critical and commercial hit, winning several awards including the BIFA for Best Director, and the Empire award for Best Horror. He followed this success with the post-apocalyptic action movie “Doomsday” 2008 and historical adventure “Centurion” 2010.   In 2012 Neil made his debut in the world of high-end television with Game of Thrones S2 Ep9 “Blackwater”, and followed that up with S4 Ep9 “The Watchers on the Wall” for which he received an Emmy Nomination for Best Director.

Over the past 6 years, Neil has made a considerable name for himself, working in the network, cable and streaming arenas directing projects such as the pilot episodes of “Black Sails” for Starz, DC’s “Constantine” and “Timeless” both for NBC.  Neil also directed notable episodes of “Hannibal” for Showtime and “Westworld” for HBO. In 2017 Neil developed, produced and directed the Netflix reboot of classic sci-fi series ‘Lost in Space”, quickly followed the same year by the feature film reboot of ‘Hellboy released in 2018.

In 2020 Marshall made his return to independent film and the horror genre with the multi-award winning witch-hunt saga ‘The Reckoning’ which was the opening movie at Fantasia festival in Canada that year.  This year sees the release of Marshall’s latest movie, ’The Lair’, an all action-creature-feature set in Afghanistan. ‘The Lair’ was the opening night presentation at Frightfest 2022 in London and also played Sitges in Spain along with several other international festivals.

Neil switched pace and genres in the summer of 2022 filming the gangster revenge flic “Duchess” on location in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. And most recently, in early 2023, he switched genres yet again for the erotic thriller “Compulsion” which just completed filming in Malta.

Stephanie Bamberg

Stephanie is a London based producer who has worked all over the world.

Since her first major producing credit BLACK DEATH, Stephanie has produced RETROSPECTIVE, and LITTLE FAVOUR with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Prior to developing and producing her own projects, Stephanie worked on Hollywood and independent films including THOR 2X-MEN: FIRST CLASSWORLD WAR ZMALEFICENTMORTDECAILOCKE6 DAYS and SKYFALL.

Stephanie is a member of PGGBWIFTV and BAFTA. She has been an official guest of the Beijing International Film Festival, a jury member for the PGGB Rising Star Award and a jury member for the WIFTV’s Deluxe Director Award.

Steve Montgomery

Steve trained as a drama cameraman with Thames Television before travelling the world filming news for ITN and then SKY. He was awarded the Gulf Medal as one of three embedded British military cameramen in Operation Desert Storm.

Eventually, questioning the likelihood of remaining an incident-free war veteran, he started Creation Company Films, who produce documentaries and TV commercials for every major broadcaster and Advertising Agency. Their clients range from the Rolling Stones and the RAF Red Arrows, to UPS and British Airways.

A cinematography judge for both BAFTA, and Griersons, he has a wealth of experience in filming and judging shorts and features.

Daria Polunina

Daria has a diverse background and has seen the film production process from different angles and stages.

She has been working with Soho’s most recognised Post Production House Molinare for over 6 years now and has been on their Board of Directors for over 4 years.

Daria is also an Executive Producer of an independent British comedy feature LOVE TYPE D, starring Maeve Dermody and Tovah Feldshuh, which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in summer 2019.

Chris Michael Fretwell

Chris Michael Fretwell launched his career by Writing & Directing his award winning short film The Pugilist’s Son. Chris went on to be 2nd Unit Director on the British Crime film, The London Firm, starring Vincent Regan.

Chris has directed over 200 Actors Show-reels and written over 10 screenplays in preparation for a life in the film trade. He is now writing professionally on a slate of feature films and series with producers and investors.

Chris is currently writing and directing a feature documentary about former Strong Man, Eddie Hall, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Athena Mandis

Athena is an award-winning filmmaker and a Lecturer in Film Practice at QMUL, whose journey began in theatre with the David Glass Ensemble.

She has directed seven short films and three feature documentaries. Her work has screened at festivals world-wide.

Her feature film script Xenos won best script at Cyprus IFF 2018 and was selected onto the Torino Film Lab 2019 and shortlisted for Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2021.

She is currently in post-production with two short films Losing Grace, and Daughter  and with a documentary on Cypriot Migration.  She is also developing two features: Xenos and Polly.

Selina Armoudon

Selina is a creative at heart and believes the arts can make a difference to the world. She is one of the co-founders of 1111 Productions, that empowers marginalised communities through the art of story-telling.

She is an actress, writer, director, producer and faciltator, who was awarded Arts council funding during the pandemic for a R & D of her first full length play. Since then, she was shortlisted for the Vaults Five festival, was a part of the West London Playwright group through Bush Theatre where she wrote her second play.

She has performed her own writing which includes a piece on Winifred Atwell, the first Black woman to have a number 1 record in the UK to a week’s run of a sell-out show and Boiling Frog, a piece on domestic violence survivors at Canal Cafe Theatre and Union Theatre. More recently, she produced, performed and directed to a sell out show at The Pleasance Theatre that highlighted forgotten Black and Brown people from history, through an ensemble of short plays.

She loves being a judge at Soho London Film Festival because she gets to discover new stories from around the world, that connects us, all as humans.

Joe Ferrera

Joe Ferrera was trained in the art of acting at The Lee Strasberg Institute, New York.

Joe has starred in and produced numerous plays including Danny in “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” Charlie Fox in “Speed The Plow“, Micheal in “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” and he’s also played Aouda Abu Tayi in a Theatrical adaptation of “Lawrence of Arabia“.

Joe has featured in many TV shows including London’s Burning, Ultimate Force, Rosemary & Thyme and Benidorm.

His work on feature films includes “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote“, Terry Gilliam’s incomplete masterpiece, from which grew the award winning “Lost in La Mancha” and “Love, Actually” dir Richard Curtis

Kate Magowan

Kate has worked extensively across both Film and Television, enjoying leading roles in large studio pictures, small independent films and award winning tv dramas.

Her most notable projects were ‘STARDUST’, with Michelle Pfieffer and Robert de Niro; Cannes entry for 2002, ’24 Hr PARTY PEOPLE’ and the award winning ‘IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG.’

She can currently be seen in ‘SPOTLESS’ on Netflix. As a producer, her first short was EARLY DAYS. She has produced and acted in a series of comedy shorts selected for the Comedy Guide Pro Talent Award. Kate is currently writing a tv drama which is in development.

Kate Magowan - SohoLIFF Judge

For more information contact us: info@soholiff.co.uk

SohoLIFF, 75 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3SQ