Your foundation

What is the IFF Panama Foundation?

IFF Panama Foundation is a restless and ingenious non-profit organization that, in addition to promoting your Festival, seeks :

to be a key driver for the cinematographic positioning of Panama, the strengthening of the film industry in Central America and the Caribbean and its social, environmental, and economic.

How did your Foundation come about?

The IFF Panama Foundation was founded in 2012 by a multidisciplinary group of professionals from Panama and Canada —including Diana Sánchez, today artistic director of the renowned Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF— who wanted to establish a significant festival for our nation and our cinema.

It is because of that early Anglo-Canadian collaboration, because of Panama’s own multiculturalism and because of our deep Anglo-Caribbean influence, that we adopted the distinguished and bilingual name IFF Panama, with an accent on the a.

What do we do?

IFF Panama Foundation develops an innovative series of programs, projects and initiatives that seek to strengthen regional cinema in all its stages —audience, training, productions, dissemination, analysis, reflection— and thus, through cinema, generate changes that have a positive impact in its participants at the personal, community, regional and environmental levels.


These programs, projects and initiatives include Cinema in Classrooms, Cinema Sanitas, ForCinema, Su Mirada, Primera Mirada, Humanity in Virtual Reality, IFF Panama Film Match, the Copa Airlines Channel and, of course, your IFF Panama International Film Festival.

About us?

We are an interdisciplinary group of people fascinated by the creative and transformative potential of cinema, divided into a multifaceted board of directors and a dynamic crew:


Our board of directors guides and supports the executive management of the Foundation and is made up of:

Copernican filmmaker Pituka Ortega de Heilbron as President of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Festival;

Creative industries entrepreneur KC Hardin as vice president;

The dancer and dance manager Patricia Galindo as secretary;

Banking specialist and cinephile María de Lourdes Castro de Arias as treasurer;

The architect Johann Wolfshoon and the cultural and childhood manager Marcela Álvarez Calderón as vocal promoters of the power of the arts and cinema.

Lawyer Alexis Williams Arosemena and businessman Carlos Alberto Motta, faithful believers in the development of creative industries, as directors.


Our human team executes —off camera— the day-to-day actions that make your Foundation and your Festival possible. Run credits!

Encore, filmmaker, and star lover Pituka Ortega-Heilbron as executive director and president of your Foundation and Festival.

Cultural promoter and expert in media and creative industries Bernardo Ordás Guardia as co-director.

The multi-talented Juan Albarrán as star in-house videographer.

Top brass executive Doris Cochez as administrative coordinator.

Joshua Samaniego, current production assistant for the Foundation and future screenwriter for the nation.


We have an advisory team that, citing the late Navigator, is “di beste of di beste of di beste”, which is essential to put together each Festival:

Rob Brown Founder of Panama International Film Festival.


The famous film producer Raffaela de Laurentis (among many other films, she is producer of Dune, USA 1984, by David Lynch).

Renowned Scottish actor Angus McFaden, who has played everything from Zeus to Macbeth. What an envy!

Here we are
at your service



For all of us, these last three years have been… tenacious. But thanks to an alliance that we consolidated months before the pandemic, we have been able to move forward, fulfilling and even expanding our mission.

We are talking about our alliance with the Technology and Innovation Laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank, BID Lab, through which we have promoted —and continue to promote— cinema as a tool for social and economic development in Panama, Central America and the Caribbean, this beautiful region written “with C and C for Cinema”.

Throughout 2020, 2021 and now 2022, our Latin American Film Project of Panama, Central America and the Caribbean —or FIP/BID LAB Project— is carrying out community programs such as Cinema in Classrooms and Cinema Sānitās, as well as industry events and awards such as IFF Panama Film Match, Su Mirada and Primera Mirada, which benefit technically, emotionally, spiritually and financially not only filmmakers and related “of C and C” but also children, adolescents, youth and adults throughout our community and region.


Bravo BID LAB, bravo and a thousand thanks!


Our crew also includes a specialized team that is developing the different components of our ambitious FIB/BID LAB Project, described below.

Development project manager, movie lover and volleyball player Fabiola Aguilar as manager.

Mariana González Leal, a lover of the arts in all its expressions and passionate about working with children, as project assistant.

The producer and cultural manager Karla Quintero Taylor and the producer Lorena López, both non plus ultra, as expert advisers

The motley crew —or Bande à part?— of filmmakers Meilyn Esquivel Hernández, Aldo Rey Valderrama, Joaquín Horna Sosa, and Enrique Castro Ríos as mentors of the always beautiful and challenging program Cinema in Classrooms.