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Issue Date: January 2009

Most Interesting People 2009

Kevin kerwin & kate o’neilKevin Kerwin & Kate O’Neil
Age 38 | We’re the founders and owners of Authentic Films

Why they’re interesting //The married couple created two films that will be distributed in ’09. With Kerwin directing and O’Neil producing, the duo will release Filmic Achievement, a mockumentary inspired by Kerwin’s time at Columbia University School of Film, and Running America, a documentary about two runners trying to break the world record time for running from San Francisco to New York. Authentic Films also produces commercials, music videos and viral content.

Biggest hit //Kerwin and O’Neil were featured on Inside Edition for their Internet video sensation showing a man in a coffee shop freaking out after his computer breaks. Patrons raced out of the coffee shop in a panic as the man stood on a chair and slammed his computer to the ground. The grainy film quality made it look authentic, but it was really an ad for

Why Cleveland? //“I tell people this is the best place to do this because I have time, space and resources,” says Kerwin, a native of Pittsburgh. “It’s kind of like a secret I don’t want to let out.”

The couple that shoots together stays together //Often, the people the couple work with don’t even know they’re married. “I think it’s the easiest part of our relationship, because our roles are drastically different,” O’Neil says.

Kerwin’s side //“It’s easy because I don’t want to do what she does, and she doesn’t want to do what I do.” But that doesn’t mean the arrangement is completely free of tension. “I just get into trouble when I don’t save my receipts,” he says.

His top 3 fims //1.) Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, 2.) Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express, 3.) Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark

Her top 3 films //1.) Steven Spielberg’s E.T., 2.) Lasse Hallstrom’s Chocolat, 3.) anything at the Cleveland International Film Festival

Maria pujanaMaria Pujana
Age57 | I’m ajewelry designer and clinical neurologist

Why she’s interesting //
For most people, becoming a neurosurgeon would be challenge enough for a lifetime. Not for Pujana. After taking a break from practicing medicine, she got an itch to engage her artistic side and began creating jewelry out of gold and natural materials. Saks Fifth Avenue now carries her collection, Marise Jewelry Designs.

Backstory //Born in Spain, Pujana and her family moved to South America when she was 4 years old. When she turned 17, she returned to Spain to attend school. She moved to San Francisco 26 years ago to practice medicine and ultimately took a position with the Cleveland Clinic.

Dad’s advice //
When Pujana was young, she wanted to be an engineer like her father. He told her, “Maria, I don’t see you among machines. I see you among people.”

The healing art //Pujana, now an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, says that about 90 percent of her students are artistic. “The area in the brain that is for music and math is the same.”

Her mantra //“Without passion, you don’t get anywhere.”

Board work //Pujana has served on many boards in town. She is the first Hispanic board member for the Cleveland Foundation.

An early start //When Pujana started designing jewelry, her mother wasn’t the least bit shocked. As a little girl, Pujana routinely accompanied her mother to the jewelry store. Often, when her mother would describe a piece she wanted the jeweler to create, Pujana would draw it. “You designed many, many things I have,” Pujana’s mother told her.

John ewingJohn Ewing
Age 57 | I’m the director of the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque and associate director of film for the Cleveland Museum of Art

Why he’s interesting //
Besides getting paid to watch an average of six movies a week, Ewing loves films so much he has brought more than 6,000 movies to Cleveland from throughout the world since 1986.

Film flashback //“When I was in kindergarten, one of my favorite books was Johnny Penguin. I redrew all the images from the picture book onto a roll of paper, and then I stood in front of my kindergarten class and told the story of Johnny Penguin by advancing the pictures by hand.”

Job perks //“The best part of my job is watching the movies with the audience. ... We do all this work — securing movies and publicizing movies — to turn out an audience and to get people to see these movies that we think are worth people’s time and money. I get the most satisfication seeing other people enjoy the medium of film as much as I do.”

Why film? //“Film is unquestionably the most important art form of the 20th century. Film changed the world, and it continues to. What I like about movies is that they are the synthesis of all the other arts.”

His guilty film pleasure //Dumb and Dumber. “It isn’t a beautifully made film, but it’s funny as hell.”

Marc stolarskyMarc Stolarsky
Age 47 | Pet trust lawyer

Why he’s interesting //He is one of the few Ohio lawyers who drafts pet trusts. He is also a survivor of stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Pet trusts? //“It’s been a law here in Ohio for two years that you can have a trust for a dog or horse, or possibly even a fish or tarantula,” says Stolarsky. “The trust can dictate anything, from who will take care of the pet to a choice of veterinarian.”

Extreme animal lovers //“Pet trusts can get crazy.” For example, hotel mogul Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, Trouble, and singer Dusty Springfield requested that her cat be fed with imported baby food. “Some people think of their pets as kids.”

Brush with death //Eight years ago, doctors found several tumors in Stolarsky’s body. “When I was diagnosed, there was a 50 percent cure rate.” Stolarsky underwent 32 weeks of chemo and began to get better, but two years later, the cancer reoccurred. He then underwent a successful stem cell transplant.

Super strength //Weighing 220 pounds, he’s able to bench press 300 pounds 30 times. “I think it’s genetic.”

But that’s not all //Marc is writing a book on pet trusts,doing charity work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and mentoring cancer patients through the Cleveland Clinic Fourth Angel program.

Twyla garrettTwyla Garrett
Age37 | I’m the CEO of Garrett Entertainment

Why she’s interesting //Garrett, the owner of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm for national disasters, was back home for a vist when she discovered how rundown the Flats had become. So last year, she opened an entertainment complex in the Stonebridge Condominiums building that includes a martini bar, coffee shop and mini-mart. She also financed the project herself.

From real bombs to cherry bombs //As a foreign military sales manager for the Defense Department, Garrett traveled the world selling defense equipment to other countries. Now she spends a quarter of her time selling drinks. “To me, a business is a business. But I have to say, owning a martini bar is much more fun.”

Giving back //To staff her entertainment complex, Garrett went to Cleveland’s Workforce Development Division, a city-run job training and placing facility. “Growing up on 93rd and Kinsman, I know what it’s like not to be given the best opportunities.” Two of her staffers were formerly homeless, and one is now her general manager. “There are few people I would trust running this business while I am away. He’s one of them.”

On what the city needs //“Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a good friend and mentor of mine. We talked a lot about the future of Cleveland. ... What Cleveland needs is a fresh start. A mayoral candidate with no drama or connections to county commissioners. An outsider with Cleveland roots.”

Matt swingosMatt Swingos
Age 37 | President of Swingos

Why he’s interesting //
Aside from being the owner and chef at the famous Swingos on the Lake and Swingos Grand Tavern, he is also the master palate behind the extensive wine menus at the two restaurants — an inventory that totals more than 22,000 bottles. And while he’s traveled the world as a wine consultant, helping small wineries in countries such as South Africa market their region, Matt’s focus now is his award-winning wine programs at his Cleveland restaurants.

The secret to a great wine program //“A lot of patience, education and sacrificing of seven years of personal paychecks.”

Note-taking //Swingos has taken more than 500,000 — one for every kind of wine he’s tried since the early ’90s. “They are all in boxes, and it’s a mess. ... They’re in binders on notepaper and bar napkins.”

Best glass of wine //He sampled a 1900 Château Margaux Bordeaux that was “as fresh as if it was made yesterday.” He can’t say the same for an 1811 Château Lafite Rothschild from Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection that Swingos sipped on New Year’s Eve 2000. “It was like salad dressing.”

Waffles to wine //Swingos was 8 when he was given his first job at the restaurant — making waffles for the 1,000-plus patrons who came to brunch.

Favorite wine and food pairing //Firm, fresh oysters with Chablis, because the Chardonnay grape of the wine shares similar saline flavors with the salty oysters.

Saving bottles//“If I never sell the La Tache from Burgundy, I’m going to drink them. They’re in the $20,000 range.”
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