By Katie Chambers
New York Women in Film & Television is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season!
A 501(c)3 non-profit, NYWIFT is governed by a Board of Directors, a diverse, accomplished group of women are at the top of their game in TV, film, and media. They steer NYWIFT in advocating for equality, providing unique professional development opportunities, funding women filmmakers, and celebrating women’s achievements.
Globetrotting new NYWIFT Board Member Shruti Ganguly is an award-winning filmmaker and writer based between New York and Oslo. Ganguly was a member of the Obama Administration’s ECCO committee of 30 leaders and creators in entertainment, chairing its Asian Caucus, and is on the Creative Council for Emily’s List. She has produced films that have premiered at Sundance, Venice, Tribeca, Telluride, and Berlin, and is currently writing for Secret Daughter for Amazon Studios, which will star Priyanka Chopra and Sienna Miller.
How did you first get involved with NYWIFT?
I’ve been involved with NYWIFT for several years, but I was very involved with The Writers Lab as a mentor, which is a program that NYWIFT co-produces.
Why do you love NYWIFT?
First and foremost, we are a community of driven women, who are at various stages in our careers, working across different parts of the industry. NYWIFT creates this space for us to come together, learn from each other, and share our experiences. This collective growth is exactly what will change our industry for the better. I also love the programming!
Tell us about what you do outside of the organization.
I’m a filmmaker, and have a production company called honto88 that works across scripted, branded and doc. I built this company with an incredible team of multi-faceted filmmakers — Rachel Kessler, Polina Buchak, Saniya Mirwani and Candace Mitchell. They inspire me every day with their creativity and drive. And I just started a new company called Prism with two partners — Priya Giri Desai and Megha Kadakia — to focus on film and TV for the South Asian market.
I’m based between New York and Oslo, and when it comes to my spare time… I’m into scuba diving, mushroom foraging and jigsaw puzzles.
Rachel Kessler from honto88 directed Tuning Renee Marie a beautiful short doc produced by Polina Buchak that premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival.
What is your fondest memory of working in the entertainment industry?
It’s really hard to pick one, especially in an industry that is so tumultuous. But I do think it’s important to reflect on those moments of joy, positive surprises, and opportunity, because those become armor for the hard times. And there will be hard times.
So now… if I had to pick one, it would be my first opportunity to work in film – on the set of Chameli in Mumbai. I was just 21 and was an intern on set and had no prior experience. I was a sponge absorbing and learning as much as I could. I’m still very good friends with several people from that production.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an animator for Disney, and then I wanted to be a banker.
Shruti Ganguly directed this piece for the MUNCH Museum in Oslo, featuring the work and process of the artist Apichaya Wanthiang.
Inequality in film, television and media has long been a problem, and righting that imbalance has always been a big part of NYWIFT’s mission. What are your thoughts on the challenges we face? And what are some possible solutions you find effective?
There are numerous challenges, from being not credited accurately or appropriately, to financial imbalance and being passed up for opportunities. I think being transparent and open about discussing these injustices is crucial to amending them. We cannot stay quiet, or else the problems remain.
We need to also ensure that the hiring of women, and women of color in particular, isn’t performative — that it’s because they truly deserve that opportunity because their work speaks for itself. And we need to be paid and trusted in the same way as our male counterparts. If we tell stories truthfully, not just on screen, but also in our practice — treating each other with respect, kindness, quashing insecurity and competitiveness — then we will exponentially create more opportunities for each other.
What’s the best movie or series you’ve seen recently?
Succession. The writing, performances, just everything.
What did you do this Summer?
I directed my first feature. It’s a film I had been attached to direct for several years, and it finally happened. Watch this space!
Connect with Shruti Ganguly on Instagram at @shrutirya.
NYWIFT is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! Powerhouse entrepreneur Emelyn Stuart, one of our newest NYWIFT Board Members, is the owner and founder of Stuart Cinema & Café in Brooklyn, which in addition to being a screening space will offer distribution deals to independent filmmakers and be a resource hub for artists. She was named Best Producer at LA Web Fest for her series 12 Steps to Recovery, and her feature Life Is Too Short premiered to sold out audiences in New York during its debut screening and in 2017 it was awarded Best Feature Film domestically and internationally at various film festivals.READ MORE
NYWIFT is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! We sat down with new NYWIFT Board Member Kia Brooks who, as Deputy Director of longtime NYWIFT partner The Gotham Film and Media Institute (formerly IFP), is no stranger to the NYWIFT community! Brooks created The Gotham’s Owning It program that supports women and non-binary media makers and entrepreneurs who break boundaries in the media and entertainment industry, and developed the Expanding Communities program, which provides resources, community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creators.READ MORE
When NYWIFT Board Member Kathryn O’Kane headed off to direct season two of The World According to Jeff Goldblum for Disney+ it was, in her words, “the worst of times” – the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, before vaccines were available and film production felt particularly dangerous and fraught. But the difficult work paid off, and has led to the best of times! Season two of the docuseries, which follows the beloved quirky actor as he pulls on the thread of a familiar topic to unravel a world of fascinating secrets, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special.
We checked in with Kathryn to offer our congratulations, learn more about the filming process, and discuss what’s next for her.