Quartet of filmmakers are WIF’s Focus Award honorees

Director/producer Shira Piven

Chicago native Shira Piven, now of LA, is one of four prominent leaders in film and advertising who will be honored at Women in Film Chicago’s annual Focus Awards at a luncheon Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. 

The three outstanding local leaders receiving the honor are Susan Credle, Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer; Erin Sarofsky, film company owner and creative director, and Cristina Varotsis, feature producer and unit production manager on features and TV shows. 

Director/producer Piven is a member of the family that founded and operates the 40-year old Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston. In addition to being a writer/producer/director Piven is, needless to say, also an actress and acting coach.

Her recent project is a feature length doc, “The Perfect Conversation,” in collaboration with her brother, actor Jeremy Piven and European basketball player Tarvis Watson.

She also recently directed her second feature, “Welcome to Me,” starring Kristen Wiig.  Her first feature, “Fully Loaded.” won several national film festival areas.  She has produced several shorts, directed and was a contributing writer to the political web series “Tastes like Home.”

Susan Credle, who joined Leo Burnett from New York in 2009 after 26 years at BBDO, is recognized as having raised the bar for the creative department and producing some of the agency’s most memorable campaigns in decades.

Sarofsky helped spin the Hollywood spotlight on Chicago with her stream of titles for blockbuster movies, such as $700 million grossing “Guardians of the Galaxy” and for TV series including “Shameless,” “The Killing” and “Brooklyn Nine Nine.”

Award-winning producer/unit production manager Christina Varotsis is the production manager for “Shameless” filming in Chicago recently finished production work on “Lost River,” Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut.  Her long list of Chicago-made films include “Sirens,” “The Promotion,’ and “The Merry Gentlemen.”