Welcome to the NYWIFT community, Grace-Mary Burega! Grace-Mary is a composer for film, TV, and video games as well as a woodwind multi-instrumentalist on saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Her compositions have been on TV PSAs and in short and feature films, and she has scored over 30 films to date. Grace Notes is her media composing company, specializing in custom music for a variety of projects such as documentary, horror, comedy, animation, and more. Grace-Mary is a recent Masters in Film Scoring graduate of Berklee Online. She is the Secretary of Women in Film and Video of New England and Secretary of the Female Composer Safety League. Grace-Mary spoke to us about her favorite projects, latest game obsessions, and how Women in Film organizations have shaped her career.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.
Let’s welcome Sheherzad Raza Preisler to NYWIFT! She is a native New Yorker who attended undergrad at Columbia University, where she majored in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies and followed the pre-medical track. After an identity crisis, Sheherzad fell in love with all things filmmaking and is now an MFA candidate at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. Much of Sheherzad’s work deals with growing up Muslim in post-9/11 America. She spoke to us about her unusual path from pre-med to science writing to filmmaking, how storytelling is innate to her culture, and her post-graduation plans.READ MORE
Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to new member Tavia Mapp-Deterville, the CEO and Founder of the TaviaMD (TMD) Agency! TMD, founded in 2005 and based in New York City, is a premier voice in the public relations industry, launching successful and creative campaigns for a diverse clientele of entertainment, music, fashion, and lifestyle professionals. Mapp-Deterville also founded The Future is Female, a 501(c)3 organization that empowers women entrepreneurs through networking and events. We spoke with her about her business – and got some great advice for media entrepreneurs and working moms!READ MORE
The 2022 Tribeca premiere "Sansón and Me" traces a young immigrant’s path from coastal Mexico to a life sentence for murder in California. The harrowing tale does not unfold in a traditional documentary format, but instead uses evocative recreations – many of them featuring members of Sansón’s own family as actors – to explore the meaning of a life fragmented by poverty, borders, and incarceration. We spoke to producer Su Kim about the team’s unusual, wildly creative, and ultimately deeply powerful approach to sharing Sansón’s story.READ MORE
Sophia Loren Heriveaux (b. 2000 – making her one of our youngest NYWIFT members) decided when she was in 7th grade that she was going to be a filmmaker. She is now a director-producer based in New York City and is interested in content of all kinds. Heriveaux spoke to us about her dual Tribeca 2022 premieres - two short films featuring two very different coming of age stories - and her experiences as a multi-hyphenate content creator coming up in the industry.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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!READ MORE
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.READ MORE
This summer, hundreds of professional filmmakers in New York City will join forces to create six short films as part of the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge (WWFC). A grassroots initiative founded in 2017 by filmmakers Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre, WWFC aims to address the lack of women and nonbinary people behind the camera and on screen through a variety of programs, including its signature film challenge. This will be the organization’s fifth film challenge, and the first since the pandemic forced productions across the country to shut down.READ MORE
We kick off our Tribeca coverage with a conversation with Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and VP of Programming! Cara previews exciting changes to this year's festival - including a new name! - as well as some special appearances and events.READ MORE
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.
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.'READ MORE
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.
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.
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.