NYWIFT Blog

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Samantha Alvarez

Welcome to NYWIFT, Samantha Alvarez, an independent documentary and narrative filmmaker born and raised in the Bronx with six years of camera operating and video editing experience. Alvarez started her career as a multidisciplinary teaching artist. She now works as a video freelancer and recently won the 2022 NYWIFT Outstanding Woman Content Creator at the Nova Frontier Film Festival for her short mixed media documentary, "In the Body." We sat down with her to discuss her latest film, her career, and her inspirations.

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NYWIFT at Sundance: Spotlight on Paula Eiselt

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.  

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NYWIFT at Sundance: Spotlight on Jen Heck

NYWIFT member Jen Heck returns to Sundance this year as part of a special retrospective celebrating the 40th anniversary of the festival’s short film program that welcomes back past Sundance projects. Heck wrote and associate produced the comedic short Hold Up, in which a robber is after more than just money during an NYC convenience store hold up. It originally premiered at Sundance in 2006 and has strong ties to the NYWIFT community, as it was directed by member Madeleine Olnek and features Muse Awards host Nancy Giles in one of the three starring roles.

Jen discusses her Sundance experiences both traditional (i.e. sleeping on the floor in Park City) and virtual, as well as her current projects.

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Best Practice Advice for Targeting Corporate Sponsorship to Help Fund Your Film

Learning the ins and outs of corporate sponsorship for your film projects can seem daunting, but Kim Skildum-Reid lays out all best practice principles to help you create a compelling pitch.

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What’s in Your Toolkit: Nan Gill-Wilson

Producer Nan Gill-Wilson shares the path of her varied career, the story behind her partnership with David Wilson, and how she is coping during COVID-19. 

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State of the Industry: A Conversation of Lydia Darly of the Nova Frontier Film Festival and Lab

The voices of Black, Middle Eastern, and Latinx artists have long been marginalized. But at Nova Frontier Film Festival and Lab, they take center stage. Actor, filmmaker, writer, producer, and film programmer Lydia Darly discusses why she co-founded the festival (where NYWIFT is proud to present an Outstanding Female Content Creator Award), and what she hopes to see from the 2020 edition which, like so many recent events, is going virtual. 

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State of the Industry: A Conversation with Theatrical Booker Clemence Taillandier

Clemence Taillandier is an independent film distribution veteran, having worked as a theatrical booker for over 15 years.  She now operates her own distribution services company and provides theatrical, festival booking and consultation services to boutique distributors including Film Movement and Distrib Films, two distributors specialized in foreign films and documentaries. She has been at the forefront of moving the cinema experience to a virtual space in the wake of COVID-19. 

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What’s in Your Toolkit: Heidi Philipsen-Meissner

Heidi Philipsen-Meissner is a director, producer, writer and actress with over two decades of professional experience in international film, television and communications. She shares insight into how she manages her work in film and television while also raising two teenagers, especially now as her daughter is beginning her filmmaking career as well.

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 A Look Behind the Scenes of “Unintended”

Childhood memories of summers spent in the country are typically happy ones. But for 13-year-old Lea, the main character in Unintended, one summer is fraught with tension and leads to deep unresolved issues. We sat down with the female duo behind the film to discuss its themes of childhood trauma and resilience, as well as the logistics behind its shoot in upstate New York.

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Michele Remsen’s First Feature Film Defies the Odds

Great ideas, even when plentiful, can have a short shelf life when confronted with sobering realities. But NYWIFT Michele Remsen knows how to persevere. As co-star, producer, director, and screenwriter of an anti-romantic comedy that defies expectations, Michele was the force that made it happen: in 12 days, on a shoestring budget.

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State of the Industry: A Conversation with Film Critic Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and film critic who is also the founder and director of the Film Girl Film Festival. She discusses how the COVID-19 quarantine is affecting her livelihood

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What’s in Your Toolkit: Lisa Reznik

Traditional film houses are transitioning to virtual cinema screenings since art houses have temporarily closed their doors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Learn what Film Society of Summit Founder Lisa Reznik found in her toolkit!

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State of the Industry: A Conversation with Film Festival Alliance

For many Americans, regional festivals are their gateway to independent film and filmmakers. How are local festivals continuing to connect artists to audiences during the pandemic? Lela Meadow-Conner, Executive Director, and Barbara Twist, Director of Membership of Film Festival Alliance update us on the rapidly changing industry.

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Top Takeaways: Preserving Your Mental Health During Challenging Times

As a director and producer, NYWIFT board member Kathryn O'Kane is a planner and she's used to solving problems. The biggest challenge she's finding during the COVID-19 crisis is that there’s not enough information to be able to plan. She attended the NYWIFT “Mental Health and Career Sustainability in the Doc World” panel because to learn how producers can come to terms with that and how to relax into the uncertainty of the moment when it goes against our nature. She offers her top takeaways.

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Shifting the Conversation: Mental Health and Career Sustainability in the Doc World

Living in survival mode and keeping it all together for their crew and subjects is what documentary filmmakers are good at, but it often comes at great costs to their own mental health and physical well-being. Member Janine McGoldrick offers a recap of NYWIFT's recent panel on mental health in the doc world, and how some leaders are starting to shift the conversation to address what was once a taboo subject.

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State of the Industry: A Conversation with Ariel Wan of the Michigan Theater Foundation

Ariel Wan, Director of Programming, Marketing and Sales at the Michigan Theater Foundation offers insight into how local art house theaters have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and what they are doing in order to survive.

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NYWIFT’s Ekwa Msangi Tells Her Sundance Success Story

For Ekwa Msangi, the journey to Sundance was relatively fast. While her TV and movie-making career was moving along, it was arguably easier to get a footing for some of her East African-inspired TV projects in Kenya and South Africa than in the U.S. But thanks to the generous support of difficult-to-get awards from the Tribeca Film Festival, IFP and others, her career as a filmmaker catapulted into action when Farewell Amor, Ekwa’s feature film directorial debut, screened in the 2020 Sundance Film Festival U.S. dramatic feature competition. Ekwa talked to us about her experience at the fest.

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What’s in Your Toolkit: Adetoro Makinde

The trip to the Sundance Film Festival can be daunting - but NYWIFT Member and Women Independent Producers (WIP) President Adetoro Makinde has ventured to Park City eight times, so it is safe to say she is a  Sundance pro! We caught up with her on the eve of the festival to try to glean some wisdom...and see what's in her toolkit both at Sundance and on set. 

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