Brave New World: Remimagining Film Festivals in a Time of Crisis

When SXSW cancelled, it sent shockwaves through the indie film world. But the creative forces that have kept independent film vibrant over the decades are rising to meet the current crisis. Until we can once again gather in large crowds, the show is going on. Film festivals are moving online or reviving older forms such as using drive-ins for locations to gather at safe physical distances.

This April 30, 2020 panel brings together a group of creatives to discuss how people and organizations are responding nimbly and re-imagining ways to connect and support filmmakers and audiences. We will explore the possibilities for evolving out of this crisis to create more fluid and far-reaching concepts of film promotion, audience engagement, and distribution.

Join us for a conversation with Lori Cheatle, Maori Karmael Holmes, Brian Newman, Alison Willmore, Jeffrey Winter and Michelle Materre (moderator).



Lori Cheatle is a producer of over 25 award-winning films and the founder of Hard Working Movies, a director-driven production company with an appetite for bold, high-profile narratives. She most recently produced Us Kids, directed by Kim Snyder, which premiered at Sundance 2020. Other films include Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., (Sundance Special Jury Award, IDA Award, Grierson Special Commendation); I Am Another You by Nanfu Wang (SXSW Jury awards); Kiki by Sara Jordeno (Sundance, Berlin Teddy Award, Full Frame Human Rights award); Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart directed by Jeremiah Zagar for HBO/Sky Atlantic (Sundance, London BFI); Amy Hardie’s Edge of Dreaming; Doug Block’s audience award winner 112 Weddings, and 51 Birch Street, which was named one of The New York Times 10 Best Films of the Year. Lori received the 2019 Sundance I Amazon Producers Award for her work in non-fiction.



Born in Los Angeles, Maori Karmael Holmes is a curator, filmmaker and writer. She founded BlackStar in 2012 and serves as its Artistic Director and CEO. Included in Essence Magazine’s 2019 Woke 100 List, she is also a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow. She has organized programs in film at a myriad of organizations including Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The Underground Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art—where she most recently organized screening programs in conjunction with the 2019 Biennial. Other projects include KinoWatt (2011-2012) and Black Lily Film & Music Festival (2006-2010). As a director, her works have screened internationally including her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop. She has also directed and produced works for, Visit Philadelphia, and singer-songwriter India.Arie. Her writing has recently appeared in The Believer, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, and How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. Maori received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and her BA in History from American University. She serves on the board of American Documentary (POV); the advisory boards of Ulises, Vidiots, and Lightbox Film Center; and was a juror for the 2019 Full Frame Film Festival and the 2019 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Maori also serves as Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Curator-at-Large at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a Creative Strategist with Blackbird.


Brian Newman, founder of Sub-Genre, consults on content development, distribution and marketing to help connect brands with filmmakers with audiences. Clients include: Patagonia, REI, IBM, Yeti Coolers, The New York Times, Shopify Studios, Stripe, Unilever, and Zero Point Zero. Brian is the producer of The Outside Story (Tribeca Film Festival 2020), and Love & Taxes, and executive producer of Shored Up. Brian has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, and is the founder of the Brand/Foundation Alliance.






Alison Willmore is a film critic at New York Magazine. She previously worked as a critic and culture writer at BuzzFeed News and the TV editor at Indiewire. Her writing has also appeared in the AV Club, Salon, Time Out New York, and Movieline.








Jeffrey Fabian Winter (Co-Executive Director, The Film Collaborative) is drawn to The Film Collaborative and the act of championing independent film because of his love for the process by which good movies can effect positive change in our world today. Jeffrey’s areas of specialty include niche distribution, niche marketing, and festival/non-theatrical/special events distribution. Recent films include Kirby Dick’s 2013 Oscar Nominated documentary The Invisible War, 2013 Sundance Award-winner A River Changes Course, 2012 Sundance Award-winner Valley of Saints, and 2011 Sundance Award-winner Undertow (Contracorriente). Other career highlights include five years managing strategic investments and U.S. sales/acquisitions for the largest media conglomerate in Spain (under the banners Maxmedia, Sogepaq, Sogetel, and Sogecine); several years handling grassroots marketing for L.A.’s two largest film festivals (the Los Angeles Film Festival and AFI FEST); a long tenure handling non-theatrical/festival/educational screenings for Wolfe Releasing (the world’s largest catalogue of LGBT films); and 11 years as a panel programmer/programming consultant for the Sundance Film Festival’s Digital Center (now called New Frontier on Main). Jeffrey is also the former principal of the San Francisco-based film/video production company Please Louise Productions, where he directed and produced commercial video for numerous companies including Microsoft, Lucas Films, and the California Bar Association; and created/produced the 38-part documentary series FLIQ VIDEO, in association with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and The United Way. 


Michelle Materre (moderator) is the Associate Professor of Media Studies and Film at The New School, where she has been teaching since 2001. Materre is currently the Director of the Media Management Graduate program in the School of Media Studies. Her professional background spans more than 30 years’ experience as film producer, writer, lecturer, arts administrator, distribution/marketing specialist, film programmer, media consultant, Caribbean film scholar, and college professor. In 1992, Materre co-founded one of the first African American owned film distribution companies, KJM3 Entertainment Group, which directly managed the marketing, positioning and distribution of over 23 films by filmmakers of African descent including Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust and Raol Peck’s L’Homme Sur Les Quais (The Man By the Shore). Her critically acclaimed film series, Creatively Speaking, featuring work by and about women and people of color, is now in its 25th year. In 2015, Creatively Speaking co-presented the unprecedented film series Tell It Like it Is: Black Independents in NYC 1968-1986 with The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which was awarded the Film Heritage Award by the National Society of Film Critics. A second series presented in 2017 at BAMcinematek, One Way or Another: Black Women Filmmakers 1970 – 1991, was acknowledged by Richard Brody of The New Yorker as “The Best Repertory Series of 2017” as well as awarded the “Film Heritage” Award of 2017  by the  National Society of Film Critics. Materre is a member of the Board of Directors of Women Make Movies and a former member of the Board of Directors of NYWIFT.


Produced by Nina Streich, Savanna Washington, Kelly DeVine, Nyasha Laing, and Peggy Kennedy