MEET THE FOUNDER
Stephanie Mardesich, Festival Director/Founder
Born and raised in San Pedro, California, Stephanie attended local public and private schools graduating with honors from San Pedro High School where she was active in student government and service clubs. The tradition of service was instilled in her from early childhood as a Brownie, Girl Scout, charter member of the Assisteens, Jobs Daughters (majority member), and part of a family acknowledged for involvement in the cultural life of the community.
She continued her higher education at Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (A.A. Liberal Arts); the University of Southern California (USC) (B.A. English Literature /Humanities); graduate studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (M.A. thesis stage film history, criticism, aesthetics). Further studies include the cours de vacance at University of Dijon, France, and Stanford University. She resided in London, England in 1986-88, where she was a journalist and PR consultant, and maintains close ties with the United Kingdom, traveling there frequently.
Known for her eclectic style, her penchant for film began as a child when she preferred viewing “old movies” rather than cartoons (except for Betty Boop) on television. After producing several acclaimed equity waiver theatre productions in Los Angeles, including the world premiere of Trilogy Blue by J. Paul Porter at Los Angeles Actors Theatre, and L.A. premiere Curse of The Starving Class by Sam Shephard at the Met Theatre She made many forays to produce docu-dramas for the television or motion picture screen and public access television program “Talk About Food and Film.” She was corporate communications director for Digital Productions known for “state of the art” computer graphics and special effects utilizing the Cray Supercomputer (e.g. The Last Starfighter; official credit as “Assistant to Production Executives) prior to her move to the U.K.
Upon her return from abroad she focused her PR consulting in arts and entertainment, and non-profit organizations representing clients such as the International Documentary Association (IDA) and documentary filmmakers; working with YMCA, and other worthy organizations. As an accredited journalist, her byline has appeared in articles and essays about non-fiction film, travel and cuisine. In 2017, she created “Cinema Stephanie” (blogette) to dispatch pithy terse reviews of the “current cinema” with acute perception and positive angle.
With a keen interest in local history and preservation - her family has been in SP for over 100 years with a significant legacy in the fishing industry - she is known as an active community supporter. Her letters to the editor are frequently published in various journals. She also manufacturers a gourmet food item “Stephanie’s Sensations Peppa Jelly” with proceeds going to charitable interests.
In 2016, she was named one of the “Extraordinary Citizens” of California Senate District 35 by Senator Isadore Hall, III. Other commendations include the 2008 Pioneer Woman Award representing Council District 15 by the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women and Councilwoman Janice Hahn; and in 2010 recipient of the Star Award from the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.
Stephanie dedicates her effort on behalf of the LAHIFF to her late parents (retired teacher and “aide de camp”) Lee (Sher) Mardesich and Joseph M. Mardesich,Jr. “a lady and gentleman for all seasons” who always encouraged the values of education, cultural awareness and community participation; her late brother Joseph M. Mardesich,III, political pundit, historian, wine expert and author (see www.whoshothueylong.com); and honors the memory of staunch LAHIFF supporter and sponsor the late Helen (Fistonich) DiMaggio, and best pal fellow USC alumni, and award winning screenwriter the late Clifford J. Campion. She spearheads a writing scholarship at USC film school in his honor to perpetuate the highest standard and quality in screen writing that also sets a standard for the LAHIFF.