NYWIFT Blog

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 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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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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Cynthia’s Picks: Sundance Success, Online Shorts, Ledbetter Film

Sundance Success: Thanks to all who attended our two inaugural events at the Sundance Film Festival this year! Be sure to check out the photos of our favorite moments. And congratulations to our NYWIFT community members who took home Sundance Awards – Radha Blank, who won the award for Directing for her debut film The 40-Year-Old-Version...

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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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Cynthia’s Picks: NYWIFT @ Sundance, Oscar Noms, Female Leads

NYWIFT @ Sundance: NYWIFT is thrilled to present two events at Sundance 2020! First, in partnership with AMC Networks, Women in Film LA (WIF) and ReFrame, NYWIFT co-presents the panel “Women on the Front Lines: Changing the Game” with an exciting roster of industry panelists. Then we celebrate the women of Sundance – including all...

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Cynthia’s Picks: Sundance Bound, Annenberg Study, Celluloid Ceiling

Sundance Bound: We are thrilled to see so many NYWIFT members headed to Sundance with films this year! We’ll be announcing a panel in Park City soon – stay tuned for more info. Annenberg Study: For the first time in over a decade, both the number and percentage of women working as directors on some of...

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Cynthia’s Picks: Sundance Fest, It’s Time, Fair Credits

Sundance Fest: Congratulations to all the NYWIFT members with films screening at Sundance! The festival opens on Thursday and runs through February 3rd.  It’s time: Variety noted the uptick in feminist stories featured in Oscar contenders this year. Of course, this female focus didn’t extend to the directing nominations – women were shut out of...

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How to Work a Major Film Festival: A Report from Sundance

NYWIFT member Jane Applegate recaps the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and offers some key tips on how to make the most of any festival experience.

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Terry’s Picks: Chavela Vargas, The Tale, Working Women

Chavela Vargas: In NYWIFT’s latest column with Honeysuckle Magazine, Communications VP Margarita Sophia Cortes profiles the filmmakers behind the critically acclaimed documentary Chavela, about legendary LGBTQ Mexian singer Chavela Vargas. The Tale: We are bursting with pride for NYWIFT Board President Simone Pero, who produced Jennifer Fox’s harrowing and timely film The Tale, about childhood...

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Women Taking Leadership in New Global Fund Backing Female Filmmakers and Their Diverse Stories

It's a whole new ball game at Sundance - women are taking charge! Eos World Fund has announced its newly formed Global initiative to finance visionary female filmmakers around the world in an effort to galvanize innovative stories told by women.

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Signature Move Director Jennifer Reeder is Surrounded by Women Behind the Camera

Signature Move is a multi-cultural romance about life, love and lady Lucha-style wrestling is opening in NYC this Friday, October 13th. We caught up with filmmaker Jennifer Reeder as she heads to Friday’s opening screening event to get her perspective on breaking down doors.

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NYWIFT Member Jill Rosen Talks Entertainment Publicity and Sundance Success

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Focus Features, Amazon, Fox Searchlight and Netflix were among the buyers in a bidding war for Michael Showalter’s dramatic comedy The Big Sick. Amazon won, paying $12 million for the U.S. rights. And NYWIFT member Jill Rosen was right there at the heart of the action building buzz for the breakout film. Rosen explains what goes into being a marketing and publicity consultant, and discusses some of the highlights from Sundance.

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Terry’s Picks: Empowering Advertising, What’s Next, Ideal Location

Empowering Advertising: I loved Audi’s Super Bowl ad touting the importance of equal pay, which leads with the poignant question, “What do I tell my daughter?” What’s Next: The NY Times checks in with three lauded filmmakers from Sundance 2014, to see how the festival buzz shaped their careers. Ideal Location: MovieMaker takes a look...

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Terry’s Picks: Spark Diversity, Rachel Feldman, Sundance Women

Spark Diversity: Crowdfunding and distribution platform Seed & Spark announced the #100DaysOfDiversity initiative, a movement joining creators, audiences, brands, festivals and organizations to actively increase representation in entertainment in 100 days. Rachel Feldman: Deadline has a wonderful interview with Rachel Feldman about her fight to get Fair Fight, about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,...

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Terry’s Picks: Equity, Where’s Rey, Survival Tips

Women’s Equity: Congrats to the team of Equity, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics at Sundance. It’s a Wall Street movie produced, written, directed by and starring women!   Where’s Rey? Even though the female Star Wars: The Force Awakens protagonist is wildly popular with fans, she has been mostly missing from the...

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