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Anthony Haden West
Director/ Producer

Thanks to this film, Anthony is now an award-winning documentary filmmaker but he came to film late after a hectic twenty year corporate career that left him feeling lucky but spent and lacking.

He says that it was when he started seeing 'Film' through the eyes of a student that the desire to live and tell an adventure took hold. 

He was born in Madrid and raised in Paris. His father was English, mother French and is now an American national. He says that he thinks of himself as Euro-trash, only with a blue passport. When talking about his multi-cultural formative years, he says "For 11 years at an international school, I sat next to the children of those who shot down and killed my uncle over Dunkerque and amongst the offspring of those who'd looked the other way as their Jewish neighbours were taken. But we were not there to judge or seek revenge. Casting out the 'others’, nourishing resentment never made sense; we were taught early that this was self-defeating. Compassion and understanding, even for one's tormentors, was the right thing. This wasn't specifically Christian, it was just right."

His career in investment services began as an analyst, collecting information, collating and then communicating his research. These results were published in specialist journals; in excess of 90 publications over 10 years. A few bits and bobs appeared in the Financial Times and Le Monde and then, much later, in London School of Economics and University College London papers. He says ' It was then that I developed a taste for meeting and interviewing people and getting them to tell me stories that I would organise, synthesize and then pass on, albeit in a rather dry language. I acquired a deep connection to the art of imparting understanding.'

When his father died quite suddenly, he had just finished writing a book, 'Living Without God'. Although it was his own story of wrestling with religious authority, the text itself was actually full of faith. Anthony says "Dad’s own interest in 'God' and what it means to humankind was something he passed on to me. I am fascinated by how belief in 'God' can bring us together yet can also incite so much violence in some."

"When New York's twin towers were destroyed, and US foreign policy plumbed new depths, with religiously fuelled rage often in the background, the stage was set for me to break from my bourgeois existence and start my own adventure in faith. Film, rather than prose, has turned out to be my medium." 
Paula Crickard
Associate Producer & Post Production Supervisor

Paula began her career in Film and Television in 1993 with Northern Visions, Belfast, directing her first documentary “The Happy Gordons” premiered at the LLGFF in 1995. Since then she has worked in almost every department of the film production process from script to screen.

Her credits range from producer, director, AD, art department to post production; in drama and documentary, working with companies such as Killer Films in New York, Palomar Pictures in LA and Wild Bunch sales agent in Paris/London.

Paula has extensive knowledge of the technical process for all shooting and delivery formats including 3D. Some of the titles Paula worked with for Wild Bunch and Elle Driver include; “Don’t Look Back”, “Oceans 3D” and “The September Issue”. She recently finished post producing Finite Films feature “Having You” with Anna Friel and Romola Garai, and is associate producer on feature film “Calloused Hands” with Andre Royo and Daisy Haggard.

Paula is permanent producer at Finite Films and TV while freelancing with several high profile companies such as distributor Zodiak Rights and BAFTA winning documentary makers Red Rebel Film.
Simon Sykes, Marc Francis
Simon Sykes graduated from the national film and television school in 1997. These days he mostly finds himself editing Brian Cox talking about the eternal energy flowing through the universe or Yotam Ottolenghi talking about how to marinade a fish. He chipped away at the raw footage of Forgive-us for months in order for the rough outline to be ready for Marc.

Marc Francis is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have been released internationally in cinemas and on television. His films include the Sundance hit ‘Black Gold’ and the critically-acclaimed BBC/ARTE co-production “When China Met Africa”. Marc is the co-director of London-based production company Speak-It Films. His brother supplied this description.
Julie Baines
Executive Producer
Julie Baines has had an extensive career in the film industry and founded the independent production company Dan Films in 1994. Since then, she has established herself as a leading figure in both British Films and international multi-party co-productions.

Julie was Head of Production for The Film Consortium, one of the UK's Lottery Franchises, from 1999 to 2002 where she was responsible for the development, financing and production of a range of feature films as diverse as Michael Winterbottom’s ‘24 Hour Party People’ and ‘In this World’ and the Samuel L Jackson action comedy ‘The 51st State’.

She has just produced a 5 part series about the life of Charles Dickens, which was broadcast on the BBC and screened at a special gala event at the BFI Southbank as part of the UK’s Dickens bicentenary celebrations.

Happy to work with new directors as well as the very experienced, she launched the career of writer/director Christopher Smith with ‘Creep’, which she developed and set up as a UK/German co-production starring Franka Potente. She then went on to produce ‘Triangle’ with Chris as a UK/Australian co-production.

At the other end of the scale, she produced veteran director Nicolas Roeg’s “Puffball” and has worked with a variety of acclaimed directors including Michael Winterbottom, Mika Kaurismaki, Peter Bogdanovich and Deepa Mehta.

Julie has a commitment to training and frequently guest lectures on film courses in the UK, in particular at the National Film and Television School. She is also regularly invited to speak at industry events.
Shelly Bancroft
Executive Producer
Shelly Bancroft is Acquisition Consultant for the film fund Premiere Picture; their principal point of contact for producers for sourcing, tracking and assessing projects in the process up to selection. (Titles includes Midnight’s Children, Hyde Park on the Hudson and The Joneses). She is, in addition, Film Consultant for Imagem, the independent music publisher and an “Expert” Assessor for the MEDIA Programme.

Until 2006 she managed the in-house feature film development slate of Matrix Film Finance, including initiating and managing their co-development venture with Recorded Picture Company. She was Head of Creative Affairs (Europe) for MGM-Pathe and Director of Development at Enterprise Pictures. Her personal credits include award-winning films Queen of Hearts and The Passion of Darkly Noon.

She originally trained as a film director on the MA course at the Royal College of Art Film School. Her industry appointments include being a member of the interview panel for the NFTS Producer Course and an Assessor for the Arts Council of England Lottery Fund. She has been a tutor in MA Screenwriting at the Northern Film School and on the International Producer Workshop at EICTV, Havana, Cuba. She has her own projects as a producer and has worked in the UK and US as a Film Development Consultant/Creative Producer.

Shelly is also a figurative artist and a sculptress.
Matt Young
Further Editing
Matt Young is a freelance video editor and compositor who assisted for nearly two years on the post production of Forgive-US.  Initially brought on-board to cut an early trailer, he stayed to work on early cuts as well as streamline the organisation of the mountain of footage shot for this film.  In addition to editing, Matt wrote and directed the short films "Headquarters" and "The Bigger Picture," and produced "The Watchers," which won Best Short at the 2012 New Media Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA.  He hopes his next feature is as rewarding and enlightening as Forgive-US.

Yaniv Dabach
Director/ Director of Photography
Yaniv Dabach was born and raised in Israel and is currently based in Los Angeles, California. He moved to New York City in 2001 to study at the School of Visual Arts where he directed and edited 'With You!' a feature documentary drawing on his experience playing on the only gay rugby team in NYC.

After graduating, he started working as a co-director on this feature documentary, following modern day American missionaries working in Africa.

He has edited several short narrative films such as Miggy N’ Lil, and music videos. While working on a short documentary for the Obama 2008 campaign, he was introduced to Ross Katz and was hired to work on Katz’s HBO short documentary about Chance Phelps.  Katz subsequently hired him to edit 'Road, Movie' a Hindi feature directed by Dev Benegal. He then began working on reality television projects such as History ’s 'Picked Off' a spin-off of the record breaking 'American Pickers', and also National Geographic’s 'The Last Days of Osama Bin Laden'.  In 2012 he moved to the West Coast to edit the independent film 'Grantham and Rose' produced by Michael Uri and directed by Kristin Hanggi.

Dabach is currently editing two web series, 'The Assistant' created and directed by Cheryl Hines and Rachel Harris, and 'Coogan Auto' created by Rob Riggle. He is also developing new projects.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson
Folk and soul singer, songwriter and cellist
“Cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson has to be heard to be believed. Her self-assured style blends a honey-sweet vocal delivery with bewitching cello-playing.” Time Out
“… a huge talent … like a young Cassandra Wilson would have sounded if she also happened to be a fine cellist.”  Jazzwise 

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is an English folk and soul singer, songwriter and cellist. Nominated for a 2012 MOBO Award, she is a performer of extraordinary versatility and her live shows are intimate journeys that chronicle her experience as a woman in the 21st century.

In 2008 she was a participant in the London Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme in addition to becoming an Emerging Artist in Residence (EAR) at London’s Southbank Centre and graduated from Trinity College of Music in London with a First Class Degree in Classical Composition. In 2009 she was a featured artist with Courtney Pine’s Afropeans: Jazz Warriors and in the following year became the only non-American to win Amateur Night Live at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC.  In 2011 she was commissioned by Joanna MacGregor on behalf of Bath Festival to create a new programme in response to the work of Nina Simone.  In 2011, having won the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund Scholarship, she completed a Masters of Music in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music.

Last year she released her debut recording, Truthfully­, produced by Marc Mac (4Hero) and has since recorded one of those featured songs with the Kronos Quartet.  As an arranger and orchestrator Ayanna has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra on ‘Belief!’ a concert featuring Hugh Masekela, the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Urban Classic (2012) conducted by Jules Buckley and featuring Ms. Dynamite, Skepta, Fazer and Devlin and was also the assistant orchestrator on the original Urban Classic (2006) which brought together leading UK Grime artists and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Charles Hazlewood.
Bjarni Biering Margeirson
Though the Icelandic composer, Bjarni Biering Margeirsson was born in Reykjavík his talent has been uniquely influenced and crafted by informative experiences outside the land of ice and fire. 

Moving to Mozambique at the age of thirteen he continued his studies of classical piano, but was soon drawn into composition after discovering the freedom of Jazz and building on his childhood explorations of electronic music programming. His early musical heroes were the French Impressionists, and like them he was drawn to harmonic exploration and the creative freedom of improvisation. 

In 2003 he transferred to Michaelhouse in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, where he continued competing, giving recitals and also toured the UK in a jazz band with Tandile Mandela, playing a fusion of Big Band and African music. Deconstructing his classical repertoire and keenly sensitised by the repetitive rhythms and melodic sound world of African music, he began the search for his voice as a composer.

Back home playing in gigs and festivals and with tours to northern Europe, he fully immersed himself in the Icelandic music scene. He co-founded Shadow Parade, playing, composing and producing. Then, inspired by the endless creative potential of modern recording technology, he returned to his classical roots and studied composition at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, specializing in music for the screen and other visual media. Here he explored his interest in film composition and found tutelage under Úlfar Ingi Haraldsson and the Oscar nominated Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. 

During this time he enjoyed a six months Erasmus exchange at the Royal Conservatory in Aarhus, Denmark, where he had the opportunity to work with the Danish Institute for Electro-acoustic Music (DIEM). The culmination of his studies was a re-edit and re-score of the seminal 1928 film The Crowd, which was rapturously received by the Icelandic Academy.

On completion of his studies in Iceland, he travelled to the UK for an MA in Composition for Film and Television at the University of Bristol, where he composed music for the Bristol Ensemble and deepened his knowledge of composition, orchestration and film. 

Since living in the UK, Bjarni has been involved in numerous musical projects ranging from large orchestral works, to writing and producing popular music and dance tracks. His most recent film project was scoring the feature length 'Having You' starring Anna Friel and Romola Garai, which he composed in collaboration with the award-winning composer Simon Bass. 

Not satisfied with involvement in the creative aspect alone, Bjarni recently founded Maven, a music agency specialising in the composition and production of music for film, ads and video games. He met his business partner while living and working on a start up in New York in 2011 and they already have a talented roster of DJs and some exciting upcoming projects.

In addition to his newest business venture, Bjarni is working on a string quartet, the score for a short film and the production of a folk tale operetta. This year he has been busy travelling to New York, Berlin and Reykjavik for work, and has an upcoming trip to LA. The rest of his time, he can be found in London, where he lives with his wife. 
Nathan Torok
Further Editing
Nathan Torok is originally from Niagara Falls Ontario. He studied American History at St. Francis Xavier University before being awarded the Chancellor’s International Scholarship to complete his masters in Journalism at The University of Sussex. His short documentary, ‘Beautiful Difference,’ traveled to festivals around the world, including the We Care Film Festival in India, which travels to over fifty locations throughout India and Asia and is partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation.

His dissertation documentary for his masters was awarded best film for the graduating class of 2012. He is now in production on a feature documentary focusing on the idle lives of the remnants of a dying sawmill town in southern Alabama. He is based out of London, United Kingdom, where he works as an editor, and continues to make films.
Jeffrey May
Trailer Editor
Born and raised in Gonzales, Louisiana, Jeffrey May got his BFA in film and video production from the Savannah College of Art & Design. His first short documentary, Renaissance Douce, won Best Documentary at the 1996 Savannah Video Awards (later renamed the Savannah Film Festival).

Relocating to London, he established himself over the following 15 years as one of the premier editors and colourists in the UK, working on many fantastic films and television programmes, including the award-winning documentary Deep Water. Keeping his finger in the directing pie, he shot two music videos for London based rock band Ciccone. Deciding to return to writing and directing full time, he returned school - this time to Kingston University for a Master's degree and PhD in film production. There he wrote and produced several short films, music videos and documentaries on every format from Super 8 to 16mm to RED camera.

Never far from his roots, production has begun on a followup film to Renaissance Douce, this time a feature-length documentary entitled Au Bout Du Monde, this is funded in part by a grant from the UK Arts Council
Laïla Chakir
Executive Producer
Laila’s background is literary and linguistic. For many years now, she has carved out a well-rounded and dynamic career in various sectors including Finance, Media and Tourism and has specialised in buttressing senior executives.

Born in Casablanca, Laila’s early school years were spent in an institution managed by Dominican sisters qui instilled a warm regard towards faith and tolerance. From her Berbère roots, through to her dual culture and her cosmopolitan upbringing (her schoolmates were of very varied origins, nationalities and religions), she has kept a taste for understanding ‘the other’ and has fostered deep respect for all interpersonal differences.

Laila and Anthony Haden-West have knitted a deep friendship which has been ongoing for over 2 decades. Enthused by the courageous work undertaken by the director in his film ‘Forgive US’, she says that it was with great pleasure that she accepted to join the team to contribute to the development of the project. She has focussed on all Francophone aspects of the film from the French version of the website to taking on board the intricacies of producing the film for French audiences.
© 2024 Forgive US