2022 NYWIFT Tech Talks: Day 1: Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Join NYWIFT for our inaugural 2022 NYWIFT Tech Talks discussing digital advances and the people behind these new inventions

We’re proud to host our inaugural NYWIFT Tech Talks in partnership with Company 3 and Entertainment Partners (EP). A 4-day virtual conference with media professionals revolutionizing the tech industry and how it’s helped our industry and everyday life adjusting to the current world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

 4-6pm ET

One day: $15 members / $30 non-members
Four-day Pass: $50 members/ $100 non-members



Welcome Speakers:

Jamie Zelermyer, NYWIFT Board President
Jamie has been a New York based Producer and Production Executive for the past 20 plus years. Currently she is Producing IFP Week 2019 which is a signature program of the Independent Feature Project (IFP). Most recently she was the Program Manager of Made In New York: Pilot Competition, a program founded by The Mayor’s Office of Film Media and Entertainment to tackle gender inclusivity in the television industry. Jamie Executive Produced the two winning half hour pilots and Executive Produced season 1 of the winning show entitled Half Life starring Larisa Oleynik and Nancy Giles. Prior to this she produced Ratter starring Ashley Benson and Matt McGorry which was released by Sony Worldwide in March 2016. She was the VP, Physical Production at Focus Features / Rogue Pictures for six years ending in November 2012. At Focus she oversaw such movies as AdmissionOne DayJane EyreSin Nombre and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Prior to Focus Jamie was a Line Producer and Production Manager working on films such as Igby Goes DownBoys Don’t Cry and You Can Count on Me. Over the years, she has had the privilege to work with a number of notable directors including Steve McQueen, Lone Scherfig, Kenneth Lonergan, Cary Fukanaga and Kimberly Pierce. Jamie is on the board of New York Women in Film and Television, and is an adviser on NYWIFT’s The Writers Lab, a program for female writers over 40 funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. She is a graduate of Bard College.

Cynthia López is an award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. López is the recipient of many coveted industry awards including: 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, three Peabody Awards, and two duPont-Columbia Awards. In addition, she received the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Award for Commitment to Corporate Diversity. Prior to working as Commissioner, López was Executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV, and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Notable partnerships include: New York Times, Reuters, Al-Jazeera Network, Discovery Communications, The Moth, Story Corps, Harpo Studios and ABC News, NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel. López is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and is proud to have spent her career collaborating with independent filmmakers across all portions of the film and television industry. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center, NYC & Company, Museum of the Moving Image and the Tribeca Film Institute Latin America Fund Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Latino Public Broadcasting, Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Hunter College IMA Program.


Keynote Speaker:

Aliesha Staples is the founder and director of StaplesVR an emerging technology company that has grown to cater to an international clientele and has been awarded multiple accolades for its work. Aliesha is highly sought after both locally and abroad as a producer of AR/VR content and has produced projects for studios and television networks including Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, TVNZ and ABC. She was the first female to win the NZ high-tech awards young achiever award in 2017 and the only person who has won the award twice when she won again in 2018, she is a New Zealand of the year innovation finalist and the next magazine woman of the year finalist. Her work spans entertainment, medical, aviation, gaming and more. Aliesha is also the Co-Founder of Click Studios a social enterprise co-working hub designed to curate creative tech companies and grow both the companies in the Click community and the creative technology industry in New Zealand.


Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Virtual Theater started during the 2020 pandemic in which distributors and festivals had to pivot to the virtual space to continue to bring films to audiences. Kino Lorber launched Kino Marquee, CineSend was founded in effort to support film festivals stream their films, Vimeo created a live event function, and more. This response has allowed films to be viewed throughout the world and allowed for filmmakers to participate in panels, etc.



Prior to joining Kino Lorber as SVP, Theatrical and Nontheatrical Distribution and Acquisition in 2016, Wendy Lidell was President of International Film Circuit (InFC), which she founded in 1987. InFC earned a reputation for excellence, winning acclaim for its introduction into the US of filmmakers such as Raul Ruiz, Alexander Sokurov and Hou Hsiao-hsien. From 1999 to 2004, Lidell headed the theatrical division of Wellspring where she released, among others, Russian Ark, which grossed over $3 million.  In 2004, she returned to InFC and released acclaimed films including Darwin’s Nightmare and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. Among her recent releases at Kino Lorber are Beanpole, Synonyms and Bacurau. Lidell has run academy campaigns for four documentaries nominated for Oscars.

Virtual event producer, Kaitlyn Schmitt works with individuals and organizations to amplify their message, branding and connection to audiences around the world through virtual events. She provides an all-in-one experience, transforming traditional virtual and hybrid events into interactive, branded experiences with lasting impact and value. Leveraging the unique few-to-many virtual event platform Perigon, Kaitlyn has been a part of bringing to life numerous award ceremonies, film festivals, galas, film screenings, and international conferences. Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Kaitlyn works out of her home studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she continues to bring her originality, integrity, and passion to every event. Kaitlyn has a degree as an IT-Network Specialist, has 7+ years working in the tech industry and is certified through NYU|TISCH Film & TV Industry Essentials. Kaitlyn is passionate about people, she donates a portion of her time to Family Support Center, Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, Boys & Girls Club and Toys for Tots. When not producing, Kaitlyn can be found kayaking down the Chippewa River or whipping up delicious baked goods with her family. 

Maud Kersnowski-Sachs leads fundraising efforts and strategies for NYWIFT. Working closely with the Development Committee and the Executive Director, she directs corporate, philanthropic, and government partnerships. Maud also manages publications projects for the organization. Maud has led publications for the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and the Association on Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and the editor-in-chief of The Independent Film & Video Monthly. She has covered arts, entertainment, and media for publications from Metropolis Magazine to IndieWIRE, where she also held the post of West Coast Editor. She consults on editorial and development projects for a variety of arts and culture organizations. Maud founded and manages a scholarship and engagement program at Bard College’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and is a member of the Bard College Board of Governors.  She holds a BA in Women’s Studies from Bard College and an MA in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from the NYU School of Journalism.


See the Full Tech Talks Schedule

March 15 @ 4:00pm
4:00 pm — 6:00 pm (2h)



Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.