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!


Michael Priddy


With over 8 years of experience in the non-profit and social enterprise space, Michael brings extensive organizational and operational management to the Windrider Institute. Alongside the Windrider Productions team, Michael has lead the completion of over 200 short films for various clients as a producer and director since 2015. Michael is passionate about working closely with clients in discovering their story and collaborating with production crews to bring those stories to life on screen. Michael graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2010 with a degree in Managerial and Organizational Communications and currently resides in Boise, Idaho.


Jon Cipiti


Jon Cipiti is a documentary director who believes story has the power to change the world. Having worked with Windrider for the past 6 years in addition to working on several feature and short form documentaries, including “The Dating Project,” and “Abstraction: The Dianne Collard Story.” Jon has traveled around the world sharing the stories of others. What Jon loves most about Windrider is the opportunity to capture the stories that are seldom heard and bring them to a wider audience, vastly spreading the impact and cultivating a conversation on a global level. His favorite project being the “Silence and Beauty” series Windrider shot in Japan in August 2017. Jon is excited to continue creating stories that change the hearts and minds of the people around us.


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 and Vision and Call Intern. Since then, he has worked on multiple projects with Windrider. 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. His favorite Windrider projects to date have been the short documentary “Abstraction: The Dianne Collard Story” and the video series “Grace Changes Everything” for Trueface, both for their demonstrations of humanity and God’s hand at work in the world. John loves being a part of Windrider for the collaborative atmosphere and the team’s dedication to world class filmmaking.


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 has been in the film industry since 2013 and has worked on amazing projects that have taken her across the country and back again. She has been with Windrider since 2015 as a producer, director editor, and received the Institute’s first Windrider Fellow position. In Marina's eyes, Windrider seamlessly combines the greatness of filmmaking with the rawness of an individual's story. Through Windrider, Marina has had the chance to work on many life changing and inspiring projects. One of her favorite projects is the Trueface series, Grace Changes Everything. Marina also enjoys working with The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, creating new media that promotes Christian higher education around the world. Marina graduated from Vanguard University of Southern California with a degree in Communication and an emphasis in Cinema Arts. She calls Boise, ID home but loves to explore new places.


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 was awarded a Windrider Fellowship in 2017 and enjoys being able to pour his creative energy into meaningful projects that he enjoys, especially those that relate to social justice. Windrider has provided me with an opportunity to be a part of a group of people who ride the complex borders of culture, art, theology and humanity, and stop to tell incredible stories when they find them. My favorite project to date is the “New Copernican” documentary series, a 20-episode series he directed in association with the John Templeton Foundation. With a BA from Northwest Nazarene University in Mass Communication/Film Production and years creating commercials and documentaries, Josh enjoys working in all areas of production. Josh and his wife Stacey are based out of Boise, Idaho, but love to travel the world for film projects.


Stephen Caserta


Stephen is an extremely passionate and dedicated filmmaker with a love for cinematography. Self taught, he began his professional career in college shooting weddings and organizational films, eventually moving up to commercial and documentary work. He is always striving to reach out of his comfort zone to grow and develop as a filmmaker and storyteller. I love working at Windrider because it allows me to be creative and make a difference in the world. My goal is to tell stories that far out live myself and transform peoples lives in a powerful way. Stephen has a BA in Communications from Florida Gulf Coast University, and his wife Sasha are based out of Syracuse, New York.


Aria Swarr


I am honored to be involved with the Windrider Institute, first as a participant in the forum at the Sundance Film Festival, and now as a fellow. Windrider gives the valuable opportunity to be part of a vibrant community of artists engaged in crafting culture together, through the meaningful discussion of faith and film. This intersection is one that reflects my personal journey. I grew up most of my life in Israel/Palestine, a land divided, in constant conflict, and riddled with questions of faith amidst suffering. I’ve spent the last decade creating films that attempt to bring people together on often divisive issues—my short films have featured subjects such as the sex industry in Israel/Palestine to a horseback preacher in gang territories of Fresno, California. I recently graduated with an MFA degree from Stanford University’s Documentary Film and Video Department, where I was inspired to continue crafting films with artistic integrity and a sociological imagination. I am currently teaching at Gordon College in Massachusetts.


Mackenzie Smith


With an extensive background in sports, Mackenzie is all about work ethic and teamwork. She loves to be part of a crew to tell stories and create meaningful films. Mackenzie is a 2016 graduate from Northwest Nazarene University where she received a degree in Mass Communication. Upon completing film school, she began her career as a wedding videographer and as a stage manager in theatre. Mackenzie joined the Windrider team in July of 2017 as a Vision and Call intern. So far her favorite part of the job is traveling with her coworkers - including the trip to Utah for her first Sundance Film Festival where she helped film the Windrider Forum and interviews. Mackenzie has also traveled across the Pacific Northwest alongside her colleagues to capture the stories of various non-profit organizations. In addition to on-site production, she works from home as an editor on some projects. Outside of work, Mackenzie enjoys the outdoors and leisure time with her husband in her hometown of Beaverton, Oregon.


Moses Hooper


Moses seeks to relate truth to his audience by weaving theology, doxology, creativity, and humility into compelling narrative, science fiction, and visual story telling. Moses joined the Windrider team at the Windrider Film Festival in 2016 to run front of house operations. Since then, he has continued to serve in this role, traveling to Park City and Menlo Park for both Windrider Film festivals. Moses’ heart beats to the complexities of human equality, the journey of faith and holistic formation through education. In 2018, Moses invested his time and efforts into capturing and highlighting the unique and diverse narratives of neighboring non-profit organizations through the Pacific Northwest. “Working for Windrider has been like an invitation to feast. Windrider is a community of creatives that are serious about telling stories that broaden our empathy and understanding of life. My favorite Windrider project to date is a min-documentary highlighting the struggle of refugees in Tindouf, Algeria and their partnership with the US Olympic committee in a story called, “Sahara Libre, A Wrestling for Peace Story.” Moses brings a background in military operations and BA in Film and Off-Hollywood’s production from Biola University. Moses brings years of knowledge and commercial production experience to the Windrider team. Moses is based in Portland OR, but will likely remind you He is an Los Angeles native.