Film festival founder and director, 60
Why she's interesting: The Chagrin Falls resident started the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in 2010 as a tribute to her only child, David Ponce, a film student at Chapman University in California, when he died of leukemia at age 20. The five-day event has made MovieMaker Magazine's list of 50 film festivals worth the entry fee for three consecutive years and draws thousands to Chagrin Falls each October. Honored Tradition: David's The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort, a documentary about children with HIV or AIDS living in a South African orphanage called Sparrow Village, is on the festival schedule every year. His mother recalls that he wanted to film the place ever since he was in high school, when their church youth-group minister returned from a visit there. He finally made the trip in mid-2006, right before he was diagnosed with leukemia. "He found joy there. And he did not expect that at all." Irish Blessing: Ponce, a CPA, was so devastated by her son's 2006 death that she couldn't work for a couple years. Motivation to start the festival came at the 2008 International Film Festival Ireland, one of the half-dozen events that screened David's documentary. "It just was so clear to me that this is what I could do to honor David and honor that spirit." Screen Saver: Every year, Ponce and festival volunteers turn seven village venues into movie theaters. "It's very much like what Sundance does. But we're at one-hundredth of their budget." Mix It Up: The festival schedule, which ranges from serious to downright quirky, reflects her son's interests. As a sixth-grader, he made a video on the bathrooms of Paris while accompanying his father on a business trip. "He had that kind of dry sense of humor. He saw the absurdity of, Here we are in the City of Light, the beauty and focusing on the bathrooms.' " Director's cut: One of her favorite directors is Hemal Trivedi, who went into Pakistan to tell the story of the Red Mosque. "She risked her life to tell the story." snack of choice: "Of course, popcorn, because of the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop."