Board of Directors
Founder and President
Cristóbal Krusen was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, the third of four children. Early in life, he showed a keen interest in literature, reading many of the classics while still in grade school and cherishing the ambition that one day he would become a writer. He entered Harvard University in 1971, majoring in English literature, intent on making his mark as a poet and novelist. A growing interest in photography and filmmaking, however, led him to transfer to New York University where he changed majors and graduated with a BFA in Film and Television in 1976. He later attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he received his MFA in Film in 1989. Click here to read his master's thesis: The Role of Film in the Process of Conversion to Christianity.
Cristóbal has worked as a writer/director of film and television for more than thirty years, helming productions in more than twenty countries. He founded Messenger Films in 1988 and is best known for the films Final Solution, More Than Dreams, Undaunted and most recently, Sabina K. Over the last several years, he has also begun fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a writer.
Working in multiple languages, Cristóbal is known for a poetic style and the ability to draw intimate performances from actors. Above all, he is a storyteller who delights to engage his audience while addressing the deeper needs of the human heart. Cristóbal and his wife, Cheryl, live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
For more of his story in his own words, click here.
"I have witnessed the excellent spiritual and artistic track record of Messenger Films and its founder since before the year 2000. My confidence in the integrity of both has never wavered."
"I support Messenger Films because it is another way to reach people with messages of hope who would otherwise never darken the door of a church."
"I see the heart for God of the man who founded Messenger Films."
"Messenger Films uses the media to come alongside the lost and reach them in a way they do not immediately reject."
"In a world desperately seeking hope, Messenger Films creates stories captivating the heart of viewers and providing a glimpse into an abundant life worth searching for. It is a privilege to be part of an organization that creates beautiful stories of hope."
"Messenger Films has the distinction of producing high quality, inspiring and thought-provoking films. As a filmmaker, Cristobal Krusen is one of the best directors in the Indie film world!"
Chris Bueno has more than forty years’ experience in film and television production and distribution.
In 2004, Chris co-founded the Carmel Entertainment Group, handling distribution for numerous faith-based films and television programs and series, including Fireproof (the #1 indie feature film of 2008), Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Courageous, Faith Like Potatoes, No Greater Love, Dear Francis, Secret of the Cave, Drive Thru History and The Lee Strobel Documentary Series, which Chris also produced.
Chris and his wife, Denise, established Ocean Avenue Entertainment in 2009, and since that time the Buenos have represented some of the very best films in the faith-based category. In 2012, Ocean Ave established a direct relationship with Netflix, licensing numerous films and series to the streaming giant, including Thou Shalt Laugh (Series), Drive Thru History (Series), Mighty Macs, To End All Wars, 23 Blast and many more. In September 2016 In-Lawfully Yours became the first ever worldwide premiere of a faith-based movie on Netflix.
In late 2014, Ocean Ave become a full-service distribution company with the release of 23 Blast. Since then, Ocean Ave has distributed numerous films on platforms ranging from Peacock TV to Amazon Prime. Titles have included Seven Days in Utopia, To End All Wars and most recently, Small Group.
Jeff Diercks is Managing Director and Founder of InTrust Advisors, a boutique multi-family office located in Tampa, Florida. The firm’s primary focus is to remove the burden of financial planning, and day-to-day management of complex tax, investment, and estate structures, for its clients. Prior to founding InTrust, Jeff was the Chief Operating Officer of a dedicated family office with responsibility for over $150 million in liquid assets.
From 1990-1995, Jeff was Managing Director of Tunstall Consulting, Inc., a regional investment banking firm providing strategic business planning, mergers and acquisitions, and business financial services. While at Tunstall, he assisted his clients in raising over $150 million in institutional debt and equity.
With over twenty years of experience working in the world of high finance, Jeff is frequently quoted by the financial press on topics ranging from hedge funds strategies to the state of the stock market. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, and is a Certified Public Accountant in Indiana (inactive). He and his wife, Cathy, are the parents of two grown daughters adopted from China.
Andy Eckert is widely known as a leader of change who values diverse skills, divergent opinions, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. He fosters a spirited team by frequently recognizing success and establishing a competitive and fun workplace.
A keen entrepreneur, Andy earned his start in the business world with General Mills, serving in a number of sales and marketing leadership positions spanning fifteen years. In 2002, he joined the Tennant Company where he filled several executive roles including Vice President, Americas in 2009 and Senior Vice President, Americas in 2013. Andy is also the past President and CEO of Imperial Plastics – a leading engineered plastic component supplier to numerous Fortune 500 companies. In 2018, Andy became Chief Marketing Officer at RexVid, an innovative mobile app that makes it easy to collaborate and aggregate videos for any occasion. He started ARC Angle with two partners in 2020 with a goal of helping small to mid-cap manufacturing companies navigate and thrive in the “new normal” of a post-pandemic world.
Andy and his family live in Lakeville, MN. His interests include biking, the craft beer industry, and public speaking.
David Kithcart Jr.
David Kithcart Jr. has worked in the field of television and film since 1985, first as a lighting director and later as a spot and show producer. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design as well as an MA in Biblical Studies and Communications (Emphasis on Film).
For nearly twenty-five years, David has worked at the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, VA as a features story producer and since 2011 as Director of The 700 Club’s Features Department. He is also the President of his own filmmaking company, LightSeed Productions.
David’s passionate faith in God is complemented by his commitment to the creation of inspirational, mainstream, and personal stories that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. He has a strong work ethic and believes in diligently seeking after perfection in the work he and those around him do. David is a devoted husband and the proud father of two, all of whom his world revolves around.
Cheryl Krusen, a citizen of Jamaica, Belize, and the United States respectively, is an international law specialist and attorney-at-law with more than forty years of experience in the legal profession. Her work has taken her on assignment to more than seventy countries of the world.
Cheryl is the author of Bringing Justice Home: The Road to Final Regional Appellate Court Establishment. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Law Bulletin. Her career has included such notable roles as Crown Counsel and Magistrate in Belize; Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of Jamaica; Legal Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister of Jamaica; and Head of the Legal Unit/Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica. From 2002 – 2010, Cheryl worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana. She is presently an Associate Adjunct Professor of International Law at the University of Minnesota Walter Mondale Law School.
Married to writer/director Cristóbal Krusen, the couple have six adult children and nine grandchildren in a blended and international family.
A native of Paraguay, Maggie Riffler has more than twenty years’ experience in the communications industry. Her career began in the music business working extensively in the development of Spanish and Portuguese albums with Integrity Music and other music labels in Latin America.
Maggie has an entrepreneurial heart and over the course of her career has had the opportunity to oversee the dubbing and subtitling of many film projects into Spanish and Portuguese. She has also translated books into Spanish for the Latin market.
Currently, Maggie serves as a media advisor to several companies in Latin America and is also pursuing her coaching certification in Functional Medicine. Her passion for wholeness is ignited by educating people about a healthy lifestyle for the spirit, mind and body. She also leads a wellness group with the non-profit organization Healing StrongTM