NYWIFT Blog

NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Producer Steffie van Rhee

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.

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NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Filmmaker Violet Du Feng

Violet Du Feng’s "Hidden Letters" tells the story of Chinese women trying to balance their lives as independent women in modern China while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Connected through their love for Nushu—a centuries-old secret text shared amongst women—each of them transforms through a pivotal period of their lives and takes a step closer to becoming the individuals they know they can be. Hot off her 2022 Tribeca Festival premiere, Director Violet Du Feng, an Emmy-award winning documentarian, spoke to us about Nushu, modern-day China, women’s equality, and her filmmaking process.

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NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Filmmaker Signe Baumane

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.

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NYWIFT Member Spotlight: Petra Terzi

NYWIFT member Petra Terzi is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning film producer. She has produced concerts, performances, and film festivals with an emphasis on cultures, human rights, and the arts. Get to know Petra and her work in our latest Member Spotlight!

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NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Editor Véronique N. Doumbé

Longtime NYWIFT Member Véronique N. Doumbé comes to the 2022 Tribeca Festival as the editor of Carrie Hawks' short film Inner Wound Real, which was supported by Black Public Media. The 15-minute experimental animated short relays the story of three BIPOC folks who self-injure, then find new ways to cope. Doumbé discusses the editing process and what she hopes audiences will take away from this powerful film.

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What’s in Your Toolkit: Naomi Wolff Lachter

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.

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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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Meet the New NYWIFT Board Members: Sibyl Santiago

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.'

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NYWIFT at Sundance: Spotlight on Sara Bernstein

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.

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NYWIFT at Sundance: Spotlight on Rachel Lears

Rachel Lears returns to Sundance on the heels of her 2019 festival smash-hit Knock Down the House, which sold to Netflix for a record $10 million, making it the biggest documentary sale ever brokered at a film festival. The film followed female insurgent candidates hoping to topple incumbents in an electric primary race for Congress, and focused heavily on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she became the youngest member of the U.S. Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez now appears again in Lears’s To the End, this time as an established leader raising up another generation of young activists. We spoke to Lears about her process, watching Ocasio-Cortez develop as a politician, and why she still has hope in the face of the climate crisis.

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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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Meet the New NYWIFT Board Members: Audrey Rosenberg

New NYWIFT Board Member Audrey Rosenberg says 'The whole community of creators in New York is really special and there's an aspect of the term “Keeping It Real” that I feel is always very appreciated. It’s a special experience to be in our industry and be a New York biased person and in my case, it’s been an incredible experience and gift to be able to live here and work in this incredible community of people. I am highlighting the special nature of being in the industry in New York. And I think there's something to it. It’s part of what NYWIFT taps into so I’m incredibly honored to be part of it and to be on the board.'

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Meet the New NYWIFT Board Members: Okema T. Moore

New NYWIFT Board Member Okema T. Moore says 'I also represent those of us that didn't come from this world but fell in love with it, and scrapped and scraped our way to get further along. I think I add another element of heart and safe space to what NYWIFT is.'

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Meet the New NYWIFT Board Members: Kim Jackson

New NYWIFT Board Member Kim Jackson says 'I'd like to use my skills to support other women and support the success of other women. I think the issues that NYWIFT is interested in tackling which is equity is very very important.'

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Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It

NYWIFT member Kristin Reiber Harris reflects on life lessons gleaned from the indomitable Rita Moreno after watching the new documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.

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Journal from the Woodstock Film Festival: Daughter of a Lost Bird

NYWIFT member Fran Montagnino shares a taste of her experience at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival, including the poignant screening of Daughter of a Lost Bird, winner of the NYWIFT Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking.

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Crystal R. Emery: Exposing Racism in Healthcare as America’s Most Lethal Pandemic

What makes COVID-19 even deadlier? Racism in medicine. NYWIFT member Crystal R. Emery’s documentary The Deadliest Disease in America traces the history of racism in American health care from the brutal medical experimentation forced upon enslaved peoples to the modern-day inequity in fatality rates and access to treatment experienced by people of color during the pandemic.

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Helping a Mentee Spread Her Wings

Each and every individual whom I’ve mentored has been special—and I’m proud of them all in what they have achieved; however, one mentee and her achievement in particular stands out for me. Her name is Sophie Meissner and her achievement is a short film called, Keep Your Head Up, Sweet Pea!

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