Joedance Film Festival

Benefiting Rare Pediatric Cancer Research
The Most Inspiring and Gratifying Experiences I’ve Ever Had… 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

The Most Inspiring and Gratifying Experiences I’ve Ever Had…

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I often call my work with Joedance Film Festival a labor of love, because it’s one of the most inspiring and gratifying experiences I’ve ever had.

In 2009, a mutual friend of Diane and Mike Restaino, Dave Mildenberg, shared with me about Joe Restaino’s courageous battle with pediatric sarcoma. Joe was one of the best friends of Dave’s son, Matt, a friendship that started at McCallie School in Chattanooga and continued at the University of Pennsylvania before Joe’s illness forced him to withdraw.

Matt Mildenberg is now Joedance’s board treasurer, continuing his deep commitment to his late friend. Through the ensuing months after Dave told me about Joe, I followed Joe’s journey, and was so saddened about what he and his family were going through. After some time, I wrote on Diane’s Caring Bridge site, explaining to her that we had a mutual friend. I spoke with my brother, then an oncologist at what is now Atrium Health, and learned how serious Joe’s condition was, how awful his journey would be, that there would be no happy ending.

I prayed and stayed in touch with the situation with Dave, who was often updated by his son Matt. I also learned a lot about Joe through Dave and his wife, Janet. One evening at the Mildenberg home, Janet shared her memories of Joe, starting with the first time they met him in downtown Chattanooga, when they were moving Matt to McCallie for the first time.

“Joe was amazing,” Janet said, sadly.

At one time, Diane asked Dave, “who is this Bert Woodard, writing on Caring Bridge?” Certainly a Bertism, as my family would call it, but I already cared so much about the Restainos and their journey, and I had not even met them yet.

When I was 15-years- old, I lost my 16-year-old Godbrother, Martin, who was one of my best friends. He died riding his beloved motorcycle near his home in Lexington, Va. That incident was devastating for my entire family, but especially for my mom, who was my Godmother’s best friend, and for me, who adored my godparents and their four children.

That long six-hour journey from our Garner, N.C., home to Lexington, Va., which was usually a joyful annual ride, full of anticipation of another great visit, was awful. I remember it like it was yesterday. My usual chatterbox, six-person family was silent for the entire journey. All those years later, I saw from afar another family going through the unthinkable.

Diane and Mike and their twin sons, Tony and David, made a promise to Joe in his final days that they would keep fighting for better treatments for rare pediatric cancers. And they have kept their promise in a big way. There is no question in my mind I was meant to know Diane and Mike. That time came when Matt Mildenberg graduated from Penn, where and when Joe should have graduated, and the Mildenbergs hosted a graduation party at their Charlotte home.

As painful as it must have been, Diane and Mike attended to honor their son’s friend. It was planned that I’d meet Diane and Mike that night, and after some time together, amidst the joy of a young man graduating, I offered to do pro bono public relations for Diane and Mike’s inspiring cause. I started my Joedance journey with this amazing couple after they had two Joedance Film Festivals in the books.

What started as a neighborhood fund-raiser was ready for the next step, and I got to tag along.

Diane and Mike and I met with a few people we hoped would be influencers, and she started the laborious process of establishing a 501c3 and putting together a board of directors. When leaving one of the meetings, she turned to me in the parking lot and quipped, “So we are really doing this, aren’t we?And so we did.

I enthusiastically joined the newly-established board, and I watched with amazement as Diane built from scratch the little film festival that could, the little film festival that not only honored her precious son, but contributed significantly to research and therapies at what is now Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s, where Joe received his treatment. Many times like a “pied piper,” at times with minimal help from an emerging board, Diane built relationships, forged partnerships, perfected her media interview ability and … raised money for Joedance to give to Atrium Health Foundation.

On behalf of Joe and for the rest of her family – and for other children and their families that may be going through the unthinkable – Diane advanced the little film festival that could to the stature it enjoys today. That stature includes a venue partnership with Charlotte Ballet (in non-COVID times), a film footprint that now includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, solid sponsorship levels, and consistently growing attendance and donations. She has successfully navigated Joedance through the COVID scare, pivoting to a virtual festival for 2020.

Diane’s leadership has provided Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s with significant help in fighting the awful diseases that are rare pediatric cancers. Beyond the $205,000 donated to Atrium Health Foundation (earmarked for Levine Children’s) to date, Joedance has funded the Healios Project to prevent mouth sores in cancer patients; assisted in funding clinical trials for recurrent osteosarcoma; funded the first line research technician for Levine Children’s pediatric research lab; and funded multiple cancer research internships that have provided critical support to the hospital and catalogued data on integrative medicine.

Yes, Diane and Mike Restaino have kept their promise to Joe in so many ways. Not getting a chance to meet Joe is one of the regrets of my life. But I am so grateful that I have been gifted the opportunity to play a small part in keeping that promise to this amazing young man.

Tickets Are Available

A Brief History of Joedance at This Moment in Time 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

A Brief History of Joedance at This Moment in Time


It’s hard to believe that it’s been over ten years since Joedance started. When our son, Joe, died, and I was left with the remnants of an incomplete life, I decided, with the support of my family, to give Joe’s life some sort of ending. So, I started Joedance. 

It began as a simple idea. Not even a full one; an inkling. Stemming from what our family loved to do together – watching movies. A merging of my son’s first name and Sundance Film Festival, that first summer in 2010 was barebones. Simple. 

Our neighbors gathered, each bringing their own chair and their own snacks. Using a projector, we gathered to watch two films from the past year’s Sundance in memory of our son. People gave what they could. That first summer, in the sweltering heat and the buzz of mosquitoes, we raised just $950. 

It was a natural progression, it seemed, looking back, from that first humid night in August to the Joedance of today. 

We wanted to show more films, so we added an extra night.

We wanted to create a venue to support the local film community, so pledged to only showcase films by regional filmmakers. 

We outgrew the courtyard, so we found a new home with the Charlotte Ballet.

We grew from that first night with fifteen people, swelling to a three-day event with eight-hundred attendees. 

We were not without growing pains. We reached too far some years, before having to take a step back. There was the constant worry of not having enough films to show; then the overwhelming burden of suddenly having too many to choose from. Also, the rain. So many summer storms. So many.

Since our first year, all the money we raised goes to support the clinical research efforts of Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s where my son received treatment. We have founded the Joedance Summer Internship program, are sponsoring a first-line research technician, and funded a clinical trial for recurrent osteosarcoma. We have donated over $205,000. 

We are proud of the work LCH is doing, and we are honored to be able to play a part in their efforts to better treat rare pediatric cancers.

When I founded Joedance, I never had any grand designs. I had nothing but a dead son and suddenly too much time. I did not think I could cure cancer with my efforts, nor do I think we will find a cure in my lifetime. 

I started from where I stood, in the shared courtyard of my townhouse complex; I started by turning to the doctors that took care of my son and asked them what they needed to support their work. Then, I did what I could to meet those needs.

I just thought, if I could make it even a little easier for the doctors working tirelessly on the frontlines, if I could help them even a little, maybe all of this would be worth something. Maybe there could have been a purpose in our loss. 

Written by David Restaino, Joe’s brother, on behalf Diane Restano, Joe’s mom and Joedance Founder | President

Tickets for the 2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival are available HERE

2020 Joedance Film Selections Trailer 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

2020 Joedance Film Selections Trailer

Congratulations to all of the films selected for the 2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival! Enjoy this preview of the films.

Get your tickets >>

Thank You, Filmmakers! 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

Thank You, Filmmakers!

You make Joedance possible. Tickets are now available for our Virtual Film Festival this year HERE

Script written by David Restaino, Joe’s brother.

The Rear-view: Quarantine and Loss of Life 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

The Rear-view: Quarantine and Loss of Life

The Restaino Family

The Restaino Family

Like everyone, our days have fallen into a strange routine. We live according to new protocols. We avoid public places and crowds. We grocery shop as infrequently as possible. We call our boys once a week and expect updates as often as possible in between. We stay home, we stay inside, we stay safe.

And yet, I can’t help but feel this is all so familiar.

Our Zoom calls are on Sunday. We catch up with the boys: Tony out in the-middle-of-nowhere South Dakota, working at a hospital and so busy he’s trying to be everywhere at once; David across an ocean, trapped in the center of London with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

When we ask how they are doing, Tony sighs and goes on a rant about lack of protective medical equipment and safety measures. We always let him vent, because otherwise he’ll fester.

David says, ‘I keep occupied.’

He has been in lockdown and out of work for almost two months. I feel prepared,’ he says once after we ask how he is coping. ‘More than my friends, anyway. I think going through everything with Joe prepared me for this.’

Language is singular and incredible in how it can define the things we cannot touch, describe the things we cannot see: fear and love, hunger and happiness. These are all things we can discuss because of language.

When my son mentioned why he felt prepared, this nagging feeling I’ve had took shape: a strange, perverse sort of nostalgia. The daily contact. The weekly updates. The staying home and staying alone and washing hands so much the skin of our hands dries out. These are not new protocols; we’ve done this all before.

When a patient receives chemotherapy, it destroys the cancer on a cellular level, along with almost everything else. This is understood widely, if only in passing. The same way people know that geese migrate, but not why or where they come from or where they go.

Not many people understand chemo in a practical sense.

My family practiced social distancing and self-quarantining off and on for four years while Joe received chemotherapy.

We never called it that; it was just another step in his cancer treatment. Undergo a round of chemo, go home, and adapt. When people dropped off food, we’d talk to them through our glass storm-door. We kept a bottle of sanitizer immediately by both the front and the back door. We limited our time outside whenever possible. We did all of this until Joe’s white blood cell count returned to normal levels. Then we’d go in for another round of chemo and we’d start the whole cycle over again. This we did for weeks, then months, then years.

Self-quarantining is an active part of cancer treatment, in the sense that it is the only aspect that we had any active control over. The more diligent we were, the safer Joe would be. We could make a difference, we told ourselves, which was more than we ever thought when fighting against something we couldn’t see.

I find my family falling back into the same patterns we had during Joe’s treatment. Mike talks more often; Tony overanalyses; David shuts down all non-essential functions; I distract myself as much as possible.

This is how I know that this quarantine is different; it’s hard to distract yourself from something when it’s the only thing people are talking about. So, now, I think a lot about time. How it moves, how it disappears. How all this time during this quarantine, all the time from the many quarantines during Joe’s treatment, is just gone. I think of Joe and the twenty years he had. I think of the fifty, sixty, maybe seventy years he didn’t get. I wonder where all that time goes. I wonder what it’s being used for now. I wonder how he would have used all that time.

Then I remember Joe when his white blood cell count wasn’t high enough to leave the house, and I realize what many families who have gone through this have probably realized as well. That this self-quarantine is really not so different than the countless we have experienced before. Longer, sure, and the size is unprecedented. In spirit, though, it is the same.

So, we sit still and pay with our present time for the possibility of time in the future. We do our part, and when my attempts at distraction don’t work, I think of Joe sitting in the car, baseball cap low on his head, mask tight over his nose and mouth, after being told again that his counts were too low. His jaw would be clenched, he’d be glaring straight ahead, and say, ‘Not yet, Mom. Not yet.’ Then, we’d drive in silence until, finally, we were home.

Written by David Restaino, Joe’s brother.

Friends of Fourth Ward: Sponsoring Joedance Since 2013 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

Friends of Fourth Ward: Sponsoring Joedance Since 2013


The Friends of Fourth Ward is an active, volunteer-driven, community organization founded in 1976. Its original primary function was to help rehabilitate and redevelop the Fourth Ward.

In many ways, it has achieved that primary goal. The Friends of Fourth Ward now focuses on funding and providing social, cultural, and educational activities for the Fourth Ward community.

If you are a new visitor walking through the Fourth Ward today, there’s a good chance that you would be pleasantly surprised, perhaps even captivated, by this gem of a tree-lined neighborhood.

You can enjoy an array of residential options ranging from Section 8 housing, to luxurious condos, to splendid single family homes, anchored by the soothing Fourth Ward park, and dotted with charming dining establishments. And when you look up you can see the dazzling Uptown skyline only blocks away.

But it wasn’t always like that. In the mid-1830s, Charlotte was divided into four political wards. The northwest quadrant was called Fourth Ward – a prosperous area that was home to merchants, ministers, physicians and numerous churches – formed a strong center of social and religious influence.

By the early 1900s, the trolley had expanded beyond uptown Charlotte, making nearby “suburbs” the neighborhoods of choice. Fourth Ward entered a period of decline that continued until 1976, when the Junior League, UNCC, and a few others undertook a restoration program that fired the imaginations of adventurous urban “pioneers.”

It was these urban pioneers who created the Friends of Fourth Ward in 1976.

Today the Friends of Fourth Ward raises funds to enhance the Fourth Ward community. The organization has also become a vibrant thread in the cultural tapestry of a broader Charlotte.

Pandemics aside, it conducts the annual “Secret Gardens of the Fourth Ward” event in Spring and the well-recognized “Holiday Home Tour” in December. These events, plus contributions from individuals, corporate supporters, and multi-family buildings, fund community programming that benefits the residents of, and visitors to, the Fourth Ward. ‘

The Friends of Fourth Ward also support local causes like the Joedance Film Festival. The Joedance Film Festival “family” has deep roots in the Fourth Ward. The film festival was created to honor the memory and fulfill wish list of Fourth Ward resident Joe Restaino who died of a rare pediatric cancer at the age of twenty.

Diane Restaino, Joe’s mother, created the festival to fund research of rare pediatric cancers at the Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first eight festivals were held in the courtyard of a Fourth Ward condo building on Tenth Street, the last two were hosted at the Charlotte Ballet’s Patricia McBride & Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance theater in the Fourth Ward.

The Friends of Fourth Ward is all about community and the Joedance Film Festival is a key member of our community. 

Joedance Film Festival announces “Reimagined” Joedance Virtual Film Festival 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

Joedance Film Festival announces “Reimagined” Joedance Virtual Film Festival

COVID-19 requires temporary format change


CHARLOTTE, NC (May 4, 2020) – Joedance Film Festival is making a strategic pivot in wake of COVID-19 and will reimagine the 11-year-old event as Joedance Virtual Film Festival, August 6-8, 2020, rather than the traditional venue, Charlotte Ballet.

The plan is to return to Charlotte Ballet for the 2021 Festival.

Joedance Virtual Film Festival will live-stream Thursday and Friday (Aug. 6-7), 7:30-10:30 p.m., and Saturday, for student films, 1-2 p.m. Tickets, which start at $10 (students) and $20 (regular) and $70 (all-access passes), can be purchased through the following link on the Joedance website.

 Proceeds from Joedance Virtual Film Festival will be donated to Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s to benefit rare pediatric cancer research. The festival will feature short films created by filmmakers with a connection to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and/or Tennessee.

 *All events suitable for mature audiences only.*

 Joedance offers two different ways to view the Virtual Festival:

*All-Access Pass | $70.00

  • Purchase an All-Access Pass and get access to all virtual events and virtual screenings in the 2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival.

 *Individual Tickets | $20.00

  • Purchase individual tickets for certain nights of the festival and get access to that evening’s virtual reception, virtual screening, and livestream Q&A with the filmmakers.

 The COVID-19 pivot was necessary, according to Diane Restaino, Joedance founder and President.

“Part of the magic of Joedance is the sense of community and ambience of our nights at the Charlotte Ballet,” Restaino said. “But there is no question that our priority right now is the health and well-being of our filmmakers and audience. Having this year’s Festival virtual is the right thing to do, and I think it will be its own ‘reimagined’ success.”

“Transitioning to a virtual festival was a difficult but necessary choice for us to make as we are committed to keeping our patrons, volunteers, and staff safe. We are excited to bring Joedance to your living room or driveway this year and continue to provide a platform for supporting filmmakers as well as the important work we do with Levine Children’s,” said Joedance Festival Manager Ben McCarthy, who has vast experience with a variety of film festival formats.

Joedance is riding a wave of expansion as it celebrates its 11th anniversary, including adding Georgia and Tennessee to the list of the Festival’s film eligibility list, and adding a student film category, which will be showcased Saturday afternoon on Festival weekend.

Joedance, which includes the annual film festival during the first full weekend in August and related events year-round, honors the memory of Joe Restaino by raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s through an annual film festival featuring directors, producers, writers and actors who share a connection with the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The family chose a film festival to honor Joe Restaino because of his love of movies.

Joedance supports research and clinical trials for pediatric sarcomas, blastomas and brain tumors.

To date, Joedance has donated more than $205,000 to Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s in 10 years, including $35,000 in 2019.

Joedance Film Festival Submissions

Joedance Film Festival annually showcases short and feature-length films. Eligible filmmakers have to:

  • reside in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee;

  • be originally from North, Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee; or

  • be connected to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee (films, cast or crew).

To donate to Joedance, visit, or mail contributions directly to: Joedance Film Festival, 301 W. 10th Street, Unit 407, Charlotte, NC 28202.


Joe Restaino

Joe Restaino died of osteosarcoma on January 8, 2010, at the age of 20. A resident of Fourth Ward in Charlotte, Restaino graduated with high honors and was a varsity swimmer at The McCallie School in Chattanooga in 2008 before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania. He was treated for the first occurrence of the disease in 2006 during his high school sophomore year. The cancer recurred in 2008 during his senior year at The McCallie School. The second recurrence of his cancer happened his freshman year at Penn. Joe withdrew from school to be with his family.

During the 2008 graduation ceremony at McCallie – which Joe Restaino was able to attend between cancer treatments – he received the Campbell Award, one of the school’s highest honors, voted on by the student body. In 2007, Joe Restaino established the Bone Cancer Awareness Walk at The McCallie School and continued to raise money for pediatric cancer research. (That walk is now held jointly with Girls Preparatory School of Chattanooga and has been renamed Mission: Remission.) In August 2010, eight months after Joe’s death, his family established the Joedance Film Festival to support the research and clinical trials for rare pediatric cancer at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s.


2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival Announcement 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival Announcement

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We shared a BIG announcement today via Facebook LIVE! We’re going virtual…

In case you missed it, check out our announcement (Live from the heart of North Tryon construction ). We look forward to virtually continue our mission in memory of Joe Restaino by raising funds for rare pediatric cancer research and clinical trials at Levine Children’s in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Our virtual film festival allows us to reach more people in more states…help us spread the word about our virtual film festival this year! As always, we thank you for your continued support and we look forward to making the 2020 Joedance Virtual Film Festival the best one yet!

Tickets are on sale >> HERE

Watch our live announcement .>> HERE

A Small But Powerful Window of Time 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

A Small But Powerful Window of Time

Joedance | March 9 , 2020


Launching year eleven of Joedance has been surreal. I was not even a teenager yet when I met Joe, just before we started high school together at McCallie in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was 20 when he died. It strikes me what a small and powerful window of time we spent together, now that I’ve been on the Joedance board for a longer amount of time than I spent as Joe’s friend.

The organization is still driven by his mom Diane, but it’s also taken on a life of its own and gotten bigger, fancier and farther reaching than we ever could have anticipated. If anything, the Film Festival we’ve built may have gotten too boujee for Joe’s taste (among the things I am thankful that Joe did not live to see: the popularization of the word boujee and the selfie stick, and the bankruptcy of miniature hamburger restaurant Krystal). But we made some vivid, fun memories in that short window.

One night he and I went to see a horror movie at Northlake Mall a few minutes up the highway from his Fourth Ward house in Charlotte. It scared us both so much that we drove back with all the lights on in the car, then sat in his basement watching the most boring History Channel documentary we could find (with all the lights on) for a couple of hours to recover.

During high school, I remember an overnight Relay for Life event held at UT Chattanooga that ended over breakfast at a 24/7 downtown diner with many of the same “North Hutch” crew (our McCallie dorm) that continue to populate Joedance receptions to this day. It was the first time for many of us to connect a personal tragedy – Joe’s recent cancer diagnosis – with an uplifting charity fundraiser. A spark of the “miracle” of Joedance that persists to this day, turning something negative into something transcendent, hopeful and productive. Back then we had Joe himself to motivate and inspire. While we can all see the eloquent locution in the chapel talk videos (, I’d like to also remind that the guy could eat like a horse.

Another favorite memory is from the bus rides freshman year at McCallie to Chattanooga’s Hamilton Place Mall on Saturdays. None of us had cars or drivers licenses, or much money. We would primarily just wander around and try samples from the food court. But one thing sticks out: whenever a suitable classic rock song would come on the radio during the 15-minute drive home, Joe would start singing along, loudly. Sometimes to himself, but once when “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who came on, our entire bus transformed into a chorus, belting at the top of our lungs. It wouldn’t have happened without Joe; I still think about it each time that song comes on.

Another memory was Joe’s hand in helping my high school rock band win “the battle of the bands” at McCallie senior year. We and another band were voted by the judges to advance into a final round rock-off (one song each to claim the title). The competition produced a Jimi Hendrix cover which seemed a sure winner based solely on artistic merit. But we followed up with “Let it Be,” and – naturally, as another of Joe’s favorite songs – he started singing along. He stood up, and the rest of the crowd followed suit. Verve, joie de vivre, monkey-see-monkey-do. Whatever you want to call it, I give him credit for bringing the room to their feet, and ensuring that the judges name us the winner. Time flies. A few years later, we spread his ashes into the Battery in Charleston with his friends and family. A few years after that – this past November – one of us in the North Hutch crew got married in Charleston (we took groomsmen pictures at the Battery). Our cohort has grown up. Joedance has now been raising money longer than Joe himself fought cancer.

But in honor of the work that he did while living and that his family has done in his memory, I invite you to join me in donating $20.20, or any amount you can, to celebrate the next chapter of Joedance. Together we can continue to grow the mission of funding, thereby advancing research into areas of rare pediatric cancer that would otherwise not offer much hope to the kids who fight them. Joe was a renaissance man. Swimmer and a poet. Iconoclast and fiercely loyal friend. I have always thought the unusual refraction of Joedance – turning the enthusiasm and creativity of a bohemian film festival into cold hard research dollars funding interns and the like at Levine Children’s Hospital – was fitting. Let us continue to reach through the arts to the sciences, in continuation of Joe’s fight.

In friendship and remembrance,

Matt Mildenberg

Joedance Film Festival and KP Films to host special Filmmakers Moment roundtable Sat., Feb. 29 at McColl Center for Art + Innovation 150 150 Joedance Film Festival

Joedance Film Festival and KP Films to host special Filmmakers Moment roundtable Sat., Feb. 29 at McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Joedance | February 15, 2020



FROM: Bert Woodard, For Joedance Film Festival, 704-280-0977 (cell),

CONTACT: Diane Restaino, President/Founder, Joedance Film Festival, 704-877-4919,
Patti Price, President/Producer/Director, KP Films,

CHARLOTTE – Joedance Film Festival and KP Films will co-host Filmmakers Moment, Sat., Feb. 29, 2020, 2-5 p.m., at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, 721 N. Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte.

Filmmakers Moment, a roundtable format, is dedicated to bringing top-notch industry connections and knowledge to moviemakers.

Admission is $10. Tickets are available at

Here are the details:

Date: February 29, 2020
Time: 2-5 p.m.
Where: The McColl Center for Art + Innovation
Address: 721 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Price: $10. Tickets are available at

“We are thrilled to bring top names in the entertainment business to Charlotte,” said Patti Price, President of KP Films.

The Filmmaker’s Moment panel includes:

Marc Gold: Marc Gold is an in-demand entertainment executive and producer of Fresh Cats Productions and currently oversees development, marketing, and finance for high-quality independent films ranging from $500,000 to $15 million. Instead of accepting a full ride scholarship to the prestigious New York School of Visual Arts, Gold served his country in the U.S. Navy and then settled in the world of finance where he spent 20+ years in private equity and co-founded several leading California companies. The visionary filmmaker, former weapons expert, and finance executive returned to the film industry in 2014 with a unique arsenal of skills, developing, packaging, and financing projects.

Hal “Corky” Kessler: The industry trades have written that what Corky has set up through Rubenstein Business Law is a “one-stop shop” firm for the entertainment industry. In 2017, Kessler was named the top entertainment lawyer in the United States. He has represented several authors and negotiated publishing deals with several major publishers, including Random House and Doubleday. He has assembled and built winning teams for more than 30 entertainment and other business ventures. Kessler has also developed, packaged and executive produced more than 20 feature film, theater and television projects, including “The Sum of Us,” starring Russell Crowe, which won the Australian Academy Award for Best Film, and “Certifiably Jonathan,” starring Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, Howie Mandel, Rob Reiner, Jim Carrey, Sara Silverman and others.

Nancy Puetz: Nancy Puetz, a producer and writer, is the founder and director of the acclaimed Franklin International Independent Film Festival. She is the Vice President of Women in Film.Television International, and President of Tennessee Women in Film. She is currently in production with the feature Documentary film “Pray to Love,” and in pre-production with “The Allotment” and “The Weight of Money.” She has produced a number of independent Documentary film projects and award-winning narrative films and enjoyed many opportunities to work with national and international filmmakers she admires. She advocates for women in the film industry.

Michael Slifkin: With more than 25 years of successful experience in the film, television and entertainment related industries, Slifkin is a Founder and Partner of the Archstone Companies, which include Archstone Distribution (World-Wide Sales and Distribution Company with more than 150 title library), Tombstone Distribution (Genre Specific Distribution/Sales Company), Archstone North America (Domestic and Theatrical Distributor), Archstone UK (International Sales and Distribution Company), and Archstone Pictures (Content Production Company). Slifkin’s background includes extensive experience in all areas of physical production, project financing, project acquisition, contract preparation and negotiations, budget preparation and supervision, project development/packaging, management and supervision, business management, and the development of numerous corporate strategic alliances and business ventures. Prior history includes extensive work with numerous well known and respected individuals and organizations including: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Rob Reiner, Albert Band, Sandy Howard, DeLaurentis Entertainment, Hemdale Film, Orion Pictures, 20th Century Fox, MGM/UA, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Columbia Tri-Star, Universal Pictures, Victory Pictures, Mega Communications, Warner Brothers, Grindstone, New Line and many others.

Tina Treadwell: As President of Treadwell Entertainment Group, Treadwell develops and manages the careers of groundbreaking talent. She also develops and produces film, television, and theatrical projects for her clients through collaborations with leading directors and producers. As the former Vice President of Talent Development and Alternative Programming at Disney Channel, Treadwell oversaw talent development, talent relations and casting as well as the development and production of music specials, reality series and documentaries. Also, at Disney, she developed and was the creative executive in charge of production for the network’s In Concert Series. She spearheaded 14 music specials for artists such as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, LeAnn Rimes, Backstreet Boys, Aaron Carter and most notably ‘N SYNC. Treadwell also served as executive producer and casting director for “ELLE: A Modern Cinderella Tale,” starring Sterling Knight (Disney’s “So Random”), Kiely Williams (star of Cheetah Girls), Thomas Calabro (Melrose Place) and Ashlee Hewitt (Nashville Star).

Joedance, which includes the annual film festival during the first full weekend in August and related events year-round, honors the memory of Joe Restaino by raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s through an annual film festival featuring directors, producers, writers and actors. Joedance supports research and clinical trials for pediatric sarcomas, blastomas and brain tumors.

Joedance has expanded its film eligibility footprint by accepting films throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The territory expansion is designed as further steps to position Joedance as a major film festival in the Southeast region, and to mirror the service footprint of the organization it benefits, Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s.

Joedance is also committed to raising awareness of the regional film industry by showcasing films from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The Restaino family chose a film festival to honor their son because of his love of movies.

To date, Joedance has donated more than $205,000 for Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s in 10 years, including $35,000 in 2019.

To donate to Joedance, visit, or mail contributions directly to: Joedance Film Festival, 301 W. 10th Street, Unit 407, Charlotte, NC 28202.

KP Films is an independent film studio located in downtown Monroe in the historic Secrest building. KP Films has a large green screen studio, a full sound production studio for actors and for musicians, as well as an editing suite, and a screening room.

KP Films is dedicated to bringing more film opportunities to North Carolina through building their own studio space, acquiring professional film equipment from cameras, to lighting, to sound and to drones, both aerial and submersible. KP Films is an award-winning studio that will be filming a $3.5 million feature to the Charlotte/Monroe area early next year.

KP Films is committed to supporting young filmmakers through its 501c3 Teens in Film program. Teens in Film is a full scholarship film camp for middle school and high school students. Through the camp, students work with top film professionals in the area to write, film, and produce their own short film.