Institute, Forum, Film Festival

Through the global reach of the Windrider Institute, the Windrider Film Forum serves as a leadership forum, laboratory, classroom and resource provider for filmmakers and those that understand the power of story to change lives and culture.

And NOW, the Windrider International Film Festival joins in honoring emerging filmmakers whose independent voices reflect the human condition with creativity, compassion and respect.

Co-founders John and Ed Priddy joined Will Stoller-Lee from Fuller Theological Seminary and filmmaker / author / educator Dr. Craig Detweiler, to explore the possibilities of an immersive educational experience at the Sundance Film Festival – with the idea that the Sundance Film Festival could provide a dynamic learning laboratory for students, to engage in a cultural dialogue as it takes shape.

In 2005, two institutions, Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University, participated in the inaugural Windrider Forum at Sundance with the assumption that they would simply be guests at the festival, and that their spiritual conversations would be of little interest to the Sundance filmmakers and the broader public.

Many films viewed at Sundance were a visually potent picture of the filmmaker’s heartfelt search for answers – and as we brought these filmmakers back to the Windrider Forum classroom, we shaped our Q&A approach to honor their craft, listen to their stories, and find thoughtful, spiritual themes in their work. Our goal is to create live and virtual community spaces across the globe that allow people to thoughtfully explore the centrality of story in how we make and understand meaning in the world. To that end, Windrider serves as a leadership forum, international student film festival, content provider, producer, laboratory, classroom, and resource provider to inspire people to create, view, and discuss visual media that address life’s ultimate questions.

“We believe independent filmmakers are among the poets and sages of our time …”

— John Priddy, CEO and Co-Founder

The Windrider Institute endeavors to intersect with a conversation already taking place in our culture — one with which people of faith can engage, and thereby enliven. The Institute was founded in 2004 as a collaborative effort among The Priddy Brothers, Will Stoller-Lee, Craig Detweiler and Fuller Theological Seminary and has expanded to include many other partners. The Windrider Institute, Inc. was established as a vehicle to promote the presentation and exploration of the human story through film and visual media.

Windrider, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Boise, Idaho, is founded on the belief that stories are truly the “storehouses” of culture, and that visual media, our culture’s principal form of storytelling, is the most critical, value-defining medium of our age. Windrider focuses on stories because they are the most powerful means of shaping what social scientists describe as the social imaginary. Stories are tied to our intrinsic need for meaning. Stories engage the whole person and create receptiveness in the listener in ways facts and arguments do not.

Our goal is to create live and virtual community spaces across the globe that allow people to thoughtfully explore the centrality of story in how we make and understand meaning in the world. To that end, Windrider serves as a leadership forum, international student film festival, content provider, producer, laboratory, classroom, and resource provider to inspire people to create, view, and discuss visual media that address life’s ultimate questions.

“At Sundance, students learn to look to the hunger, the hurt, and the cries for justice, mercy and hope embedded within these independent and documentary films, and unpack the deeper meanings that inform and inspire them as redemptive storytellers.”

— Dr. Craig Detweiler, co-founder of the Windrider Forum, filmmaker, author and Director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media & Culture.

Windrider was founded on the belief that stories are truly the storehouses of culture and that visual media, our culture’s principal form of storytelling, is the most critical, value defining medium of our age. Windrider focuses on stories because stories are tied to our intrinsic need for meaning, engage the whole person, and create receptiveness in the listener in ways facts and arguments do not. From our modest beginnings in 2005, we have grown to become the largest student group at the Sundance Film Festival (150 participants in 2016) and the largest student ticket-purchasing block at the festival. In that time, over 1,300 students from more than 14 universities and institutions have been trained to understand the power of a well-crafted story—facilitating thoughtful conversations around life’s most important issues—awakening compassion and inspiring change that leads to human flourishing. The Windrider Forum provides a dynamic learning laboratory for students, as , to engage in a cultural dialogue—as it takes shape—one that leads with the heart. Windrider equips students in their calling as redemptive storytellers and cultural influencers and encourages them to pursue excellence in their vocations, work as filmmakers, and ministry leaders.

  • Our award winning WISFF student filmmakers and storytelling creatives are ignited by the supporting Windrider community and receive the critical exposure that only comes from being part of a world-renown festival.
  • The emerging voices of independent film at the Sundance Film Festival are enriched by the most engaging conversations on faith, film and culture, anywhere in the industry.

  • Our ministry students leave Sundance more equipped in how to have open and honest conversations with a variety of people in our culture; changing how our participants seek common ground, respond and initiate with others.
  • Our filmmaking students are challenged to tell powerful stories that transcend traditional religious categories and to be bold in asking the deeper questions all people want to explore.


Windrider is led by a world-class team!


Dan Russell


Dan Russell is a USA Wrestling for Peace Ambassador. Dan as an internationally recognized leader and sought-after coach in the wrestling and MMA worlds, His autobiography “Finish Strong” chronicles his journey in wrestling and life. Dan is the “real deal”. Dan serves on both the National Board for the US Wrestling Foundation and FCA Wrestling. Having spoken at hundreds of schools, colleges, businesses and non-profits throughout the US and overseas, his on-camera presence is compelling, with intensity, authenticity and an engaging personality. Dan Russell’s successful athletic career serves as a relevant foundation for his role as a coach and motivational speaker. As an athlete, Dan was a four-time NCAA Champion as well as a four-time Academic All-American. He was the state high school champion four years in a row and was undefeated his entire high school career. Dan was an Olympic alternate for the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and received the prestigious title “Unofficial Champion of the World” in 1995 at the Poddubny Championships in Perm, Russia. As a coach, Dan has represented the United States in numerous World Wrestling Championships, and he was an Olympic Coach at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. His team brought home a silver medal for the US at the World Cup in Antalya, TURKEY in March 2007. He has been an Olympic Solidarity Instructor for Palau, Guam, and the Federated States of Micronesia. In all, Dan has represented the United States in 45 nations through USA Wrestling.<br />


Michael Priddy


With a passion for entrepreneurship, social enterprise and non-profit organizations, Michael brings experience in organizational and operational management to Windrider Productions. With an emphasis on team building and collaboration, Michael enjoys discovering the stories of organizations and working directly with filmmakers and production crews to capture and deliver those stories in ways that are compelling, entertaining, and artistic. Michael Graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2010 with a degree in Managerial and Organizational Communications and has since been in both the non-profit and private sector. Mentored by his Father John, and Uncles Ed and Mark, Michael has learned the value of collaboration and the power of story as a means to making a difference for the good. Michael resides in Boise Idaho and enjoys spending quality time with friends and family.


Jon Cipiti


Jon Cipiti directed and edited of the feature documentary “The Dating Project,” scheduled for release 2016. Having worked on several award winning feature length and short form documentaries, Jon continues to explore the art of non-fiction story-telling, sharing the powerful voices and stories of those around us. Working with Windrider Productions for the past 5 years he has been able to travel around the world using the medium of film to tell the gently profound true stories of the people and organizations met along the way. Jon continues to tell true stories in artful ways with the hope of bringing important conversations to the forefront.


Hilla Medalia


Peabody Award-winning, three-time Emmy® nominated director and producer. Founder of Medalia Productions, a creative documentary production company operating in Israel and in the US. Her films have garnered critical acclaim and screened internationally in theaters and on television including HBO, MTV, BBC and ARTE. Her range of titles include 'To Die in Jerusalem' 2007 (HBO), 'After the Storm' 2009 (MTV), 'Numbered' 2012 (ARTE), 'Dancing in Jaffa' 2013 (Tribeca, IFC Sundance selects), 'Web Junkie' 2014 (Sundance Film Festival, POV (PBS), BBC) and 'The Go Go Boys' 2014 (Cannes Film Festival), 'Censored Voices' 2015, (Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale), ‘Muhi- Generally Temporary’ 2017 (San Francisco Film Festival). Hilla has been awarded the Paris Human Rights Festival Jury Award, Golden Warsaw Phoenix, as well as the jury award at FIPA and more. She teaches at the IDC and is a regular lecturer at The NY Film Academy, NYU, EWA (European Women’s Audiovisual Network) and the New Fund for Cinema’s Women Greenhouse on the subject of production, directing and crowdfunding. Hilla is a mentor for the NFCT’s Business Card Program for Emerging Filmmakers she acts as lector and judge at film festivals and forums, Hilla is a board member of the Pacific Council, The Israeli Director's Guild and The Israeli Academy of Film and Television. Hilla holds an M.A. from Southern Illinois University.


John Caiella


John joined the Windrider Production team in March 2015 as an editor. Since then, he has worked on multiple projects with Windrider throughout the year in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, New Jersey, Washington and at Windrider’s annual Forum at The Sundance Film Festival. Having studied Electronic Media Communications in his hometown of Syracuse NY, John exercises his abilities not only in the edit bay, but also in the field working with sound design. John lives with his wife Lottie and dog in Los Angeles, California where they enjoy exploring the local food scene and camping the California coast.


Jesse Rayborn


Jesse joined the Windrider Production team in January 2015 as a camera operator for the New Copernican documentary series. Since then, he has worked on multiple projects with Windrider throughout the year in New York, Chicago, and in Vancouver, Washington. Having graduated in May of 2015 from Northwest Nazarene University with a BA in Mass Communication/Film Production, Jesse aspires to be a cinematographer in the filmmaking industry and finds his experience with Windrider to be a valuable step in achieving his goal. Jesse also works as an Editor at a video production company called GoNetYourself which is based in Seattle, Washington. He enjoys all aspects of the filmmaking process, from pre-production to post-production. Jesse currently lives in Meridian, Idaho and enjoys traveling around the world as well as exploring the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.


Marina Plott


Marina is a graduate of Vanguard University in southern California with a degree in communication and an emphasis in cinema arts. She is currently working with several production companies to create promotional content and entertaining new media from Los Angeles to Boise. Her credits include production coordinator, associate producer, post production supervisor, and editor for clients such as Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Disney, Fandango, Amazon, Focus Features, Leupold, and more. Passionate about storytelling and creativity, Marina seeks opportunities to collaborate with filmmakers and individuals who are investing in projects that are breaking new ground in the industry.


Josh Wiese


With a love for documentary filmmaking, Josh’s passion is to engage viewers through well-told stories that make a difference. Josh joined the Windrider team in February of 2014, to produce and lead “ The Refuge,” a short documentary series about Full Circle Exchange’s Job Readiness Program, highlighting the challenges and victories of refugee women in Boise, Idaho. He also directed and edited Windrider’s “New Copernican” documentary series, a 20 episode series in association with the John Templeton Foundation. Josh enjoys being able to pour his creative energy into meaningful projects that he enjoys, especially in relation to social justice. Josh also works at Grid Creative in Meridian, Idaho, heading the company’s most pivotal business ventures and video productions to produce content for industry leading companies. With a BA from Northwest Nazarene University in Mass Communication/Film Production and a wide variety of experience, Josh enjoys working in all areas of production. Josh and his wife Stacey reside in Boise, Idaho and in his down time he goes skiing, camping, serving the refugee community, eating foreign food, and watching the Iditarod. He hopes to find himself overseas someday producing documentary films.


Austin Thomas


A senior at Northwest Nazarene University, Austin joined the Windrider Productions team back in January of 2015. He shares Windrider's passion for storytelling, and is always seeking new opportunities to tell stories that matter. Austin especially enjoys working on projects surrounding millennials and ministries. He recently completed a promotional video for the non-profit Family Promise, telling the story of Homeless families in Lewiston, Idaho. Austin also travelled to Argentina to document a team of engineers building a greenhouse and serving the local community. A love for learning keeps him looking for new ways to expand his storytelling skills. Austin lives in Nampa, and is a four year soccer player at NNU. He also works for the school newspaper, and is a video producer for the Office of Spiritual Formation on campus. When not on the pitch or in the studio, he loves playing piano and tennis. He graduates in May of 2016, with a BA in Mass Communication/Film Production and hopes to stay in the Treasure Valley.