We’re counting down the 40 days to NYWIFT’s 40th Anniversary Muse Awards with a look at some of our favorite honorees, all women of vision and achievement who have contributed to the film and television industry. Join us as we look back at #Muse40for40, and buy your tickets for the Muse Awards on Tuesday, December 10th at nywift.org/muse!
#31: Lisa Nishimura
By Kathryn O’Kane
13-year Netflix veteran Lisa Nishimura was the VP of Original Documentary and Comedy Programming when we honored her at 2018; just three months later, she was named the head of Independent Film and Documentary Programming. In 2017, she was named one of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter.
Under her leadership, Netflix has provided a global platform for critically acclaimed documentary work including Making a Murderer; Wild Wild Country; Chef’s Table; Icarus; What Happened, Miss Simone?; 13th; White Helmets and Salt Fat Acid Heat. In addition, her team has produced global stand-up comedy specials including Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife as well as work from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, and Amy Schumer, with forthcoming specials from Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Rock. The current slate of films including Reversing Roe, Shirkers and Quincy, showcases Netflix’s commitment to female documentarians and compelling storytelling.
“I think this is the very reason why I absolutely love and feel so privileged to do the work I do. I get to support incredible storytellers — documentarians, comics – true creators who are the brilliant social commentators of our day.” – Lisa Nishimura at the 2018 Muse Awards
NYWIFT and USA Local 829 member Naomi Wolff Lachter has designed the costumes for feature films, dozens of plays and musicals, and assistant designed on several major TV series. Every day she is on the job, Naomi posts a motivational saying from her whiteboard on her Instagram account, @wolffie78. She offered us insight into her philosophy – and why good vibes are contagious.READ MORE
An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system – and it is a crisis that has been largely ignored thus far. In the Sundance 2022 documentary Aftershock, Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee follow the bereaved partners of two of these women as they fight for justice and build communities of support, bonding especially with other surviving Black fathers. The story is presented within the historical context of racism throughout the U.S. healthcare system, and the deadly tendency to ignore or minimize Black women’s pain and concerns.
NYWIFT Member Paula Eiselt spoke to us about how she and Lewis Lee approached this harrowing topic, and why community activists are the natural heroes of her creative work.
New NYWIFT Board Member Sibyl Santiago says, 'I am humbled and I am very proud to be part of NYWIFT. I’m very proud of this organization. These women are working very hard for all of you and I’m really happy to be able to give back and hopefully work for you as well.'READ MORE
13 members played a key creative role in 11 different projects featured in Sundance this year – and two of them fall under the Executive Producer expertise of prolific NYWIFT Member Sara Bernstein! Bernstein heads to Sundance with Amy Poehler’s documentary Lucy and Desi, which brings the iconic pair’s humanity to life through an exploration of their personal and professional partnership, as well as Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, comprehensive investigation into the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and a look at the families and officials fighting for justice.
We spoke to Bernstein specifically about Downfall and how she hopes her team’s work will make an impact.