Panelist Bios


Melissa Houghton
Director, Women in Film and Video
Melissa J. Houghton joined Women in Film & Video (WIFV) as Executive Director in August 2005. Since that time, membership has grown to more than 1,000 media professionals; program provision now averages 70 professional development offerings per year along with the Image Makers program for high school students and the Kids World Film Festival for 5th graders. WIFV has added fiscal sponsorship of independent media projects, a web pilot mentoring initiative, management of Women in Film & Television International, and the Carolyn’s First Decade Fund to its portfolio of programs that benefit members. In 2015, WIFV launched a fundraising campaign to establish a Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers. The first grants will be awarded in 2016. She excels at putting WIFV resources, connections and advocates at the service of WIFV members.

Houghton joined WIFV after a short stint as a non-profit administration consultant with clients in the mid-Atlantic and a 14-year association with the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) where she started as an unpaid intern and left after an 18-month position as interim President. At the AAF, Houghton managed the national Accent on Architecture initiative, including producing four one-hour PBS format television programs, a chapter grants program promoting public outreach, and coordinating the national awards program. She served in several curatorial and administrative capacities at The Octagon Museum during her time at the AAF. Houghton graduated from Beloit College with a BA in History and from the University of Virginia with a MA in Urban Planning and Certificate in Historic Preservation. Prior to graduate school, Houghton taught high school and served several years as the executive assistant for a prominent tax/estate attorney in Boston. She has served on the boards of the DC Architectural Foundation, DC Film Alliance, and Wide Angle Youth Media. She is currently a member of the WETA Community Council and has just joined the FAVS Advisory Board at George Mason University and the Advisory Board for The Actors’ Center.

Mary Liza Dino
Chairwoman, Film Development Council of the Philippines
Liza Diño, sometimes credited as Liza Dino, is a Television, film and stage actress who has appeared in numerous films for both independent and commercial acting studios in Manila. Her first movie was entitled Two Timer (2002) under Regal Films where she acted opposite Ara Mina and Albert Martinez, followed by Xerex (2003) with Aubrey Miles and Jake Roxas under the direction of Mel Chionglo. Since then, she has appeared in a number of films with other major film outfits like Star Cinema and came out in movies like Pinay Pie (2002) and A Love Story (2007) with Aga Muhlach, Angelica Panganiban and Maricel Soriano.

Her passion for the independent film movement was ignited by playing the lead in her first independent movie COMPOUND (2006/2010) directed by Will Fredo which was nominated as best picture in the Golden Screen Awards and was showcased in various international film festivals. She followed her work with more independent films: Baliw (2006) by Redd Ochoa which competed in the Montreal Film Festival, Sinungaling na Buwan (2007) by Ed Lejano for Cinemalaya, Rome and Juliet (2007) under the direction of Connie Macatuno for CINEMAONE, and Sa Pagdapo ng Mariposa (2008) by Will Fredo.

A University of the Philippines Alumni taking up BA Speech Communication, Liza started venturing into acting as a theater actress for Dulaang UP where she appeared in stage plays such as Passion of the Christ (2006) under Tony Mabesa, Shakespeare’sWinter’s Tale (2002), and Divinas Palabras (2000), both by Jose Estrella, to name a few. During this time as a student, she joined Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant and won as Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism International. She then represented the Philippines in the Miss Tourism International pageant in 2001. It was after her reign as a beauty queen that she joined GMA 7 artist center and appeared in a number of Television shows and soap operas. She has guest starred in shows like Kakaba-kaba adventures, Da De Di Do Du, Pira- pirasong Pangarap and telenovelas like Habang Kapiling Ka, Te Amo, Atlantika and Bakekang.

A trip to Spain in 2005 inspired her to explore another art form: Flamenco. Passionate by nature, she found an alternative form to express her emotion and love for arts by learning the art of dancing flamenco. Under the tutelage of world-renowned flamenco dancer Clara Ramona, Liza became a dancer of her company. Together with the CLARA RAMONA and COMPANY, Liza performed with the group all over Asia and the US.

In 2008, Liza decided to move to the US to build a family and pursue her culinary aspirations. She completed a certificate program in Culinary Arts at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts and is presently working as an aspiring chef at SPAGO Beverly Hills, owned by the famous TOP chef Wolfgang Puck. Liza juggled between acting and cooking by appearing in short films and commercials in the US. She starred as the delusional Imelda Marcos in the short film Imelda and Gunter (2009) directed by Ramon Sanchez which also did some festival rounds in the US and has shot commercials for KCAL insurance (2008) and 24/7 debit card (2011) with Manny Pacquiao. A thriving Filipino community in Los Angeles also allowed Liza to still tap into her performing skills by working as a host in various major Filipino-American social events. At present, she is the spokesperson and director of Public Relations for Miss Philippines USA beauty pageant.  Her latest film project, a Flamenco dance movie under the helm of Will Fredo entitled In Nomine Matris, was released 2012. Liza Diño leads the movie together with heartthrob Biboy Ramirez and Italy trained opera singer Al Gatmaitan. The movie also stars Flamenco master Clara Ramona and Philippine thespian Tami Monsod.  In 2014, she played a cameo role in The Legal Wife as Nicole’s mother in flashbacks, and later became part of the cast of Mirabella as Aster.

Angie Gates
Director, Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment
Angie M. Gates has been appointed to serve as the Director of the newly formed Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment. Director Gates most recently served as the Director of the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development before that office merged (on October 1, 2015) with the District’s Office of Cable Television. Before that, Gates served as the Director of Inauguration and was the former Director of Operations for Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Transition Team. During Mayor Bowser’s campaign, Gates was the Traveling Chief of Staff.

Gates made history as the first African American General Manager of the Historic Warner Theatre, located in the heart of the nation’s capital. Her extensive experience includes work with President of the United States Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Gates began her career as a film specialist for the New Orleans Film Commission and her film projects include Interview with a Vampire and Pelican Brief. She is the former Associate General Manager of the Historic Saenger Theatre, located in New Orleans and she previously served as the Director of Engagement Relations and Marketing for the Theatrical Division of Clear Channel Entertainment. Gates received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and a Master of Arts Administration Degree with a Special Concentration in Sports Management, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of New Orleans. Gates serves as a Board Member of the New Orleans Theatre Association and Negro League Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the DC Chapter of the Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences (The Grammy’s).

Kimberley Bush
Festival Director, Reel Affirmations & DC Shorts
Kimberley Bush has recently been named The DC Center, Washington DC’s Community Center for the LGBTQ Community’s Director of Arts and Cultural Programming as of January 2017. Her previous position was Film Festival Director of Reel Affirmations Film Festival: Washington DC’s International LGBTQ Film Festival as well as the Executive Director of DC Shorts Film Festival.

During Reel Affirmations’ 23 years, it has been ranked in the top 5 LGBTQ film festival in the country. Kimberley’s intense involvement with Reel Affirmations has spanned 10 of those 23 years fulfilling roles of Film Festival Director, Director of Programming, Director of Marketing, Director of Development, Director of Outreach, Member of the Board of Directors, curator of its monthly film series Reel Affirmations XTRA and chairperson of its grant program which raised funds to provide filmmakers with seed money and finishing funds for their projects. The LGBTQ film festival remains a vital and successful monthly and annual film event that not only screens documentaries, narratives, short and feature length films, but also brings together community with filmmakers to share life changing dialogue and hosts filmmaker celebrations.

At the helm of the DC Shorts Film Festival, Kimberley works with her small yet talented team to champion short filmmaking. The DC Shorts Film Festival is a thirteen-year-old, 11 day film event that screens 100’s of short films from around the globe, offers extensive educational opportunities to the filmmaker, actor and film aficionado, holds free film screenings to youth/families throughout all 8 wards in DC, host filmmaker roundtables/panel discussions and celebrations honoring the film festival and its participants. Kimberley personally believes that Film Changes Lives. It is her dedication to providing venues for filmmakers to share their vision, talent and life stories that has allowed both film festivals to achieve the accolade of being voted 2 of the top 3 film festivals by Washington City Paper’s Readers Poll in 2016.