NYWIFT Blog

Top Takeaways – NYWIFT Talks: Filmmakers and Activists discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, their life’s work, and hope for the future.

By Janine McGoldrick

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, NYWIFT Talks recently brought together a vibrant panel of award-winning women filmmakers and activists dedicated to fighting systemic racism to discuss their work and the social justice revolution of today.

Curated and moderated by NYWIFT Executive Director Cynthia Lopez, the panel included Dawn Porter, the award-winning documentary filmmaker of Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper and the upcoming John Lewis: Good Trouble, whose work has appeared on HBO, PBS, Discovery, and Netflix among others; Shola Lynch, an American filmmaker best known for the feature documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award-winning documentary Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed; Tami Gold, a professor at Hunter College and a filmmaker, visual artist and activist who has produced many critically acclaimed documentaries, including Every Mother’s Son (about victims of police brutality), that have consistently been at the forefront of social issues; and Yoruba Richen, a documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of race, space and power and whose recent The New Black won best documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award. 

 

Panelist Shola Lynch’s Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed is a Peabody Award winner.

 

The panel discussed many issues faced by people of color, noting that the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, has thrown a spotlight not only on the literal chokeholds used by police, but on all the types of systemic chokeholds imbedded in the healthcare, education, and employment systems across the country.

Everyone recognized that a significant culture shift is happening and offered concrete, actionable items can be enacted immediately by all members of the entertainment industry.

It starts with the gatekeepers. There needs to be more diversity among studio executives, film producers, grant foundations and the like. This doesn’t mean hiring down, it means expanding the search pool and hiring more than just one person of color.

There needs to be a greater focus on correcting miseducation on race and history. Black voices are there in the archives, Black history exists. Once we educate, we can break the type of culture that lives within organizations like police departments.  

We need to examine how our developmental pipeline works and understand the barriers people of color face in getting the training and education needed to enter the industry. Production assistants and interns, for example, need to be paid so those positions don’t continue to be about class and privilege. We need to seed our field with people who are ready to be hired.

Community-driven campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite can have a lasting impact.

 

Members of the industry need to need to be held accountable for a dreadful history of racism in hiring. #OscarsSoWhite began a movement that had to come from the people. It is about money. We can give voice by how and where we choose to spend our dollars.

It is important to recognize that diversity is more than just hiring a few people of color as background extras. Look around your organization and if you can’t make full-time hires, then bring in consultants. For example, there are documentarians who have spent years becoming experts on their topics and they should be valued and brought into the narrative fold when making films like Green Book.

There seems to be no deterrent for the blatant attacks against journalists and filmmakers, so news organizations need to take a stronger stand.

 

The expense of obtaining archival footage can be a significant barrier to filmmakers of color.

 

Funding independent films is challenging and especially hard for documentary projects that rely heavily on archival footage, which can be very costly because it is basically held hostage by corporate interests. Making archives more accessible is extremely important.

The filmmaking community needs to engage more with the philanthropic foundations to push and change them from within. Filmmakers need to advocate for themselves and educate grant makers on which of their policies help and hurt their endeavors. 

Funding and support needs to extend beyond production and continue through the rollout and distribution of the films so audiences of all type have access to view.

 

WIF LA, NYWIFT, and WIFTA just launched the Hire Her Back initiative to promote inclusion in hiring in the wake of COVID-19.

 

NYWIFT is committed to helping make these changes happen and has partnered with our sister chapters in Los Angeles and Atlanta to develop the “Hire Her Back” initiative to ensure diversity continues as the industry begins to reopen. You can learn more about it here

View the entire panel discussion below:

 

The next NYWIFT Talks focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement will take place Friday, June 26th at 12:30 PM with a focus on Visionary New York Media Arts Organizations. Learn more and register

 

PUBLISHED BY

Janine McGoldrick

Janine McGoldrick Janine McGoldrick is a veteran entertainment executive who has created and implemented strategic distribution and communications campaigns for television and film, including the 2017 Academy Award winner "The Salesman." Through her company 2nd Chapter Productions, she works as an entertainment strategist and is developing the documentary film "Unheard: The Ears of Meniere's."

View all posts by Janine McGoldrick

Comments are closed

Related Posts

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Colleen Hughes

Welcome to NYWIFT, Colleen Hughes! As an intimacy director and coordinator, Colleen brings a trauma-informed and human-first approach to scenes of simulated sex, nudity, and hyperexposure. Through her collaboration with trusted colleagues, she is at the vanguard of a movement to bring increased agency and transparency to the entertainment industry. She has collaborated with artists from around the globe, including Maya Hawke on the official music video for “Thérèse,” with over 5 million views on YouTube (also available on Apple Music); Samantha Shay at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Germany; and immersive work with Virgin Atlantic’s cruise line in the Mediterranean, and Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in NYC. Colleen is part of a team of thought leaders in the field of consent and intimacy work. As Director of Core Training at Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (IDC), Colleen led the development of the company’s groundbreaking Consent-Forward Artist training program. She is currently working on a book entitled A Volunteer from the Audience: Consent Work in Interactive Performance that examines the role of agency in immersive performance.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Ise White

Places everyone. Roll camera. Action…Time to welcome our new NYWIFT member, Ise White! Ise is a New York based director and writer who has directed commercials and narrative work spanning action and drama for film and TV. She grew up traveling the world and is trained in the indigenous martial arts of Silat, Wing Chun and Kali. Ise worked for FLOTUS Michelle Obama, became one of the top luxury fashion editors in the world, and has choreographed fight scenes. Read our full interview with Ise below to learn more about her career pivots, guiding principles, and inspiring volunteer work.

READ MORE

Inside Look: NYWIFT’s Tammy Reese & LaKisa Renee Exclusive “Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire” Cast Interviews

The AMC Immortal Universe continues! The much-awaited season 2 of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is set to premiere on May 12th on AMC Networks. The anticipation reaches a fever pitch among fans. To offer a glimpse into the world of this thrilling hit series, NYWIFT Members Tammy Reese & LaKisa Renee recently graced the red carpet premiere at The McKittrick Hotel in New York City, securing exclusive interviews with the cast and producers.

READ MORE

Meet the new NYWIFT Member: Jennifer Buzzelli

Welcome to NYWIFT, Jennifer Buzzelli! Jennifer Buzzelli is a New York-based producer, international distributor and co-producer. With involvement in the film industry since the 90s, she is the founder of production house Jimmy B Media. Read more to discover her experience in leading film distribution and about her most recent project, producing the upcoming documentary, Long Live the Tyrant.

READ MORE
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
css.php