Whether you’re cast in a project that shoots abroad or you’re a producer on a quest for locations and tax credits, we’re all finding ourselves traversing the globe more than ever. Getting to know (and joining) our sister Women in Film & Television organizations around the country and the world can be a resource of unending value. From the quickest route to crewing-up with talented women to taking advantage of great events and programing, WIFTs around the world expand our networks and our horizons.
By Kristin Reiber Harris
As a long time member of Women in Film and Video (WIFV), the Washington, DC chapter of Women in Film & Television, I look back fondly on an association that has helped shape my career as an animator, designer and media producer. Today we take for granted the many opportunities women have for supporting and networking with each other. This was not always the case. Innovative individuals in the ’70’s stepped up and helped create this culture.
In 1979, producer/director Ginny Durrin invited women working in media in Washington, DC to join her at her home to talk about how they could support each other. She wanted to change the dynamic that was frequently excluding women from the industry. Durrin became the first president of WIFV and what Ginny and her associates started that night is now a vibrant professional organization with over 1000 members all over the country. WIFV produces over 90 events each year, all designed to enable members to network, share knowledge, find collaborators and exchange ideas.
I joined in 1995 as a fine artist transitioning into motion design and animation; working with digital tools as the industry was also in transition. The support I got from my new associates was pivotal in my career. Equally important were the leadership opportunities WIFV offered. I was soon encouraged to run for the board, serving for two terms. Those years of board meetings, organizing and attending events resulted in friendships and professional relationships still important to me today.
As my volunteer hours grew, so did my opportunities to lead. As a producer of children’s media, I was very pleased to organize the 2005 Kids World Film Festival, one of WIFV’s annual outreach programs for youth. Fifth grade students from a variety of schools in the DC area attended. It all starts for the students with media literacy sessions in their classrooms before the event. This film festival was hosted by the Documentary Center at George Washington University. I curated a selection of films from all over the world and led discussion sessions between the screenings. At the screenings, we challenged the students to evaluate their experiences with the films from a broad perspective. Two of the filmmakers from Cameroon and Netherlands were able to attend. It was inspiring to see enthusiastic students ask the filmmakers questions. I am certain lives were changed that day.
WIFV Roundtables are robust monthly events that are the heartbeat of the organization. Since 2003, I have facilitated the Animators Roundtable on a rotating basis for over six years. Our goal is to bring animators together and share information. Meeting monthly, we provide a wide range of programming to interest a diverse audience of animators, designers, and editors but also producers wanting to learn more about including animation in their projects. Some of the highlights include sessions with Tiny Inventions, NASA scientists, sand animator Corrie Parks, Atlantic animator Jackie Lay and Fired Up producer Elyse Kelly.
Another way WIFV supports its members is the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers. I received the fund in 2017 and welcomed the opportunity to help WIFV support animated docs, a first for the organization. My funded project Anim8Nature: Life Cycles was recently included in the Oaxaca Film Festival New Industry selection.
Congratulations WIFV for 40 successful years! Moving forward I keep one foot in DC and welcome the opportunity to contribute to my new NYWIFT community.
Learn more about our Washington, DC sister chapter at www.wifv.org.
NYWIFT Member Panayiota Pagoulatos shares memories from her trip to Cannes 2022 - her first time back on a plane since 2019! She met with WIFTI leaders from all over the world and shared this sage advice: "If you find yourself at an international market or film festival—whether it’s the first or the fiftieth time—look for your people. Whether a business partnership comes out of it or not, staying connected, sharing your experiences, and hopefully learning a thing or two, that’s the pulse that will help keep you going in this tough-as-nails industry."READ MORE
Cynthia Lowen’s latest documentary "Battleground" offers an eye-opening window into the anti-choice movement, featuring three women from varying walks of life who have dedicated themselves to rendering abortion illegal. Per the Tribeca website: “Told with restraint and balance, director Cynthia Lowen seeks to clarify rather than condemn, and presents a new point of entry for this challenging topic.” While the film itself clearly aligns with progressive pro-choice advocates (who also appear throughout) it offers a fascinating perspective on the sheer systemic power of the anti-abortion movement and the perilous future, felt painfully today, of Roe v. Wade. "Battleground" was Executive Produced by NYWIFT member Ruth Ann Harnisch and co-produced by member Steffie van Rhee, who sat down with us to discuss the premiere and how this film – from this particular perspective – came to fruition.READ MORE
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Signe Baumane’s "My Love Affair With Marriage" is a brilliant animated film for a decidedly adult audience. It’s a semi-autobiographical musical exploration of love, sex, romance, and gender as viewed through the lens of neurochemistry – not your average animated love story! New York Women in Film & Television was proud to present Baumane with a NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant for the film, and even prouder to then see it premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Festival! We sat down with Signe to discuss her wildly inventive, intelligent, and very fun film.READ MORE