NYWIFT 2024 FinanceHER Institute

Join us for the NYWIFT 2024 FinanceHER Institute at Film at Lincoln Center, a one-day conference to refine your business strategies.

Gain fresh insights from some of today’s leading experts in the industry and position your projects for optimum success. Hear from industry professionals who have successfully funded their projects and learn what greenlighters are looking for today. .

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Time: 12:00 – 4:00pm ET

Location: Film at Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Amphitheater (144 W. 65th Street)

Ticket Pricing: For NYWIFT Members: $45 / For Non-members: $75

NYWIFT Platinum and Leadership Members attend for free!
(Discount is applied after login)


Become a member today to receive discounted access: email membership@nywift.org to join!

New York Women in Film & Television is a non-profit professional association dedicated to helping women reach the highest levels of creative achievement in television, film and media. In addition to providing services to members, NYWIFT plays a vital role in recognizing the contributions of women in media. To learn more about NYWIFT and our programs, please visit www.nywift.org


Full Schedule and Speaker Bios:

Welcome Address:

Leslie Fields-Cruz, NYWIFT Board President

Leslie Fields-Cruz started at Black Public Media, formerly National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing grant making activities that supported the production and development of documentary programs for PBS. By 2005, she was the Director of Programming, leading the distribution of all funded programs to public television. In 2008, with six independent titles in need of a public television broadcast, Fields-Cruz launched AfroPoP: The Ultimately Cultural Exchange, a documentary series highlighting the variety and depth of the global black experience. AfroPoP has garnered several awards and is the only national public television series focused solely on stories from the black experience. In the fall of 2014, Fields-Cruz became BPM’s third Executive Director. Though she keeps the pulse on the development of program content and its distribution across public media platforms, she is focused on growing BPM’s resources to enable it to support more stories about the Black experience.


Peter Marra, Senior Vice President & Group Director at Flagstar Bank

Peter Marra started his banking career at Republic National Bank in 1987. Throughout his career, Peter has worked extensively with middle market commercial clients, high net worth individuals and their advisors. Peter’s clients have operated in a wide variety of industries including entertainment, temporary staffing, manufacturing, importing and real estate. He possesses extensive experience with personal and professional services firms such as business management firms, law firms and accounting practices. Peter provides his clients with multitude of financial services to assist them in meeting their diverse banking and credit needs. Credit solutions have included working capital lines of credit, term loans and extensions of credit to intellectual property owners collateralized by IP assets such as music copyrights. Peter and his Flagstar Private Client Group are always available to meet with prospective new clients to discuss how their team can assist with fulfilling deposit, cash management and credit needs.


Opening Keynote: To be announced soon!


Panel 1: Meet the Greenlighters

Representatives from leading distributors, foundations, and broadcasters will give an inside look at how they make decisions about what projects to support and promote. These industry stakeholders will provide insights into what catches their eye and the missteps to avoid.

This discussion will include Kent Sanderson (Bleecker Street), Chris White (American Documentary), Marsha Cooke (ESPN Films), Jenni Wolfson (Chicken & Egg Pictures) and more to be announced. 


Kent Sanderson: Bleecker Street

Kent Sanderson is President of Bleecker Street, which he joined upon its inception in 2014. In his role, he helps oversee, under CEO and founder Andrew Karpen, all aspects of Bleecker Street’s acclaimed film slate, which includes upcoming films like The Fabulous Four with Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, and Sheryl Lee Ralph from director Jocelyn Moorhouse; Rumours from Guy Maddin and starring Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander which recently world premiered in Cannes, a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey – The Return, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche; and recent hits that include One Life, Waitress: The Musical, and the Academy Award-nominated Golda. He also directly oversees the company’s production and acquisition curation and dealmaking efforts, as well as the myriad revenue streams outside of the theatrical window, including streaming, non-theatrical, and Bleecker Street’s interest in DECAL, a home entertainment-centered joint venture with NEON that was founded in 2021. He previously served as Bleecker’s Head of Acquisitions and Ancillary Distribution. Prior to joining the company, he held positions at GoDigital, Focus Features, and the William Morris Agency.


As Executive Producer at American Documentary, Chris White is responsible for producing PBS’s award-winning documentary series POV (Point-of-View), as well as America ReFramed in partnership with GBH WORLD Channel. Having worked at this non-profit media arts organization for twenty four years, Chris has presented over 300 films for national broadcast on public television. And since becoming Executive Producer in 2015, POV films have won 15 Emmys, 14 George Foster Peabody Awards, and have garnered 9 Academy Award nominations, including the films Minding the Gap in 2019, The Mole Agent in 2021, and A House Made of Splinters at last year’s Oscars. In September 2023, at the 44th News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Chris was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Silver Circle, a society honoring members of the television community who have made an enduring contribution (over 25 years) to the industry.

Notable projects and partnerships over the years have included POV’s Diverse Voices Project, providing co-production support and mentorship to emerging BIPOC filmmakers; and the Project VoiceScape Awards honoring young documentarians, produced in partnership with Adobe Youth Voices. Chris is at the forefront of a decade-plus-long relationship with StoryCorps, bringing animated versions of their award-winning oral-history project to public television. And this year marks the seventh season of POV Shorts, showcasing the best in short-form non-fiction film.

Chris was born and raised in New York City, and has a BA in Philosophy from Colgate University.


Marsha Cooke currently serves as vice president & executive producer for ESPN Films and 30 for 30. She is responsible for overseeing development, production, distribution, branding and strategy of all projects under the ESPN Films umbrella, including the 30 for 30 series. Cooke joined ESPN from VICE Media Group, where she served as senior vice president of global news and special projects. In her role at VICE, Cooke developed and produced special news and entertainment projects across VMG digital and broadcast platforms, leading the youth media company in pushing the limits of broadcast news formats and playing a key role in integrating VICE’s forward-thinking values with its award-winning content. Cooke was instrumental in leading VICE News’ first-ever live coverage of the 2020 Iowa Brown and Black Forum, the nation’s oldest and only non-partisan presidential forum dedicated exclusively to addressing issues facing communities of color. With unprecedented candidate attendance and a groundbreaking, engaging format, the program won a national news Emmy. Cooke also previously led IMPACT at VICE, where she directed social good and community engagement in order to build and strengthen VICE’s culture, partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives, with a focus on ensuring the company’s work would affect long standing change in local and global communities. Prior to VICE, Cooke spent 24 years at CBS. She was the first Black Asia Bureau Chief, responsible for coverage across the continent, producing stories for various CBS News shows and she served as VP of news services, in charge of the Newspath newsgathering group serving 200 CBS affiliates nationwide and broadcasters around the world.


Jenni Wolfson, CEO of Chicken & Egg Pictures, is a leader in the art of driving social change through narrative storytelling. Since becoming the organization’s first CEO in 2013, Chicken & Egg Pictures has quadrupled its annual grantmaking, creatively supported a global community of 500 filmmakers, and earned significant awards for impact.

Jenni began her career as a human rights activist with long-term roles in Haiti, Rwanda, and elsewhere with UNICEF and the UN, and was the Managing Director at WITNESS. Jenni wrote and performed a solo play, “RASH,” about her experiences as an activist.

Jenni is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and BAFTA.


Panel 2: Forging A Path to Funding

From GoFundMe to podcasts to nonprofits, there are more alternatives to financing today than ever before. These panelists have successfully navigated nontraditional funding paths for both their narrative and documentary projects production and distribution.

This discussion will include Brian Newman, Jennifer Fox, and Deborah Kampmeier.  Moderated by Cornelia Ravenal


Brian Newman, founder of Sub-Genre, consults on content strategy, distribution and marketing for some of the top brands in the world. Current and former clients include: The Climate Pledge (Amazon), John Deere, Lowe’s, Oatly, Patagonia, Purina, REI, SmugMug, Sonos, Stripe, Sundance, Tazo, WeTransfer, and Yeti Coolers. Brian has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, produces independent films, and writes a popular weekly newsletter on film. Brian is the founder of the Brand/Foundation Alliance, and serves on the advisory board of the Camden International Film Festival. He has served on the boards of Grantmakers in Film & Electronic Media (GFEM, now Media Impact Funders, as Vice Chair and Treasurer); Muse Film & Television, Rooftop Films (Chair) and IndieCollect (Co-Founding Board Member).


Jennifer Fox is an internationally acclaimed producer, director, writer and camerawoman. Her film, The Tale, which she wrote, directed, and produced, received two Emmy nominations, three Critics Choice nomination, one Golden Globe nomination, and many more. It featured an all-star cast including Laura Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Ritter and Common. The film premiered to critical acclaim at Sundance 2018 and was purchased by HBO Films. Her other groundbreaking films include: Beirut: The Last Home Movie (Grand Prize Winner & Best Cinematography, Sundance Film Festival; Frontline WGBH), the ten-hour An American Love Story (Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals, Gracie Award, Primetime PBS/BBC/ARTE), the six-part, Flying Confessions of a Free Woman (IDFA and Sundance Film Festivals; Sundance Channel), and the feature My Reincarnation (Emmy Award nominated, IDFA and Hamptons Film Festivals; IDFA Audience Award; Premiere POV). Fox has been hired to write several screenplays including The Other Doctor Gilmer and The Climb for Netflix and is currently developing the series Ruth’s Ghosts. She executive produced many award-winning films including Love & Diane, On the Ropes, She’s Lost Control, The Pathological Optimist, and the soon to be released The Girl from Koln. Fox appeared in several films about filmmaking: To Heck with Holliwood!; Cinema Verite: Defining the Moment; and Capturing Reality: The Art of the Documentary. Fox teaches master classes and in universities internationally. Her films have been shown in retrospectives around the world.


Deborah Kampmeier is an award-winning filmmaker who has written, directed, produced and edited four independent feature films and multiple shorts. Her first feature, Virgin, starring Elisabeth Moss and Robin Wright, was nominated for two 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. Her second feature, Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning and Robin Wright was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. In addition, Kampmeier, is a highly sought after television director, having directed dozens of episodes of tv. This spring she returned to HBO’s critically-acclaimed period drama The Gilded Age, and recently directed the Western thriller Outer Range starring Josh Brolin, for Amazon. Kampmeier is the founder and CEO of The New Myths Film Fund, an investment, production, sales and marketing platform for female identified filmmakers.



Cornelia Ravenal came to film by way of journalism in India, scriptwriting in Sweden and directing in France. As a writer, she’s written scripts for Charles B. Wessler (GREEN BOOK), Lars von Trier’s Zentropa (Dogme 95), and has co-written adaptations of Swedish novels. Producing credits include the award-winning documentaries MOVING STORIES (Amazon Prime) the offbeat doc FIVE FEELINGS ABOUT FOOD, and the off-Broadway play NIRBHAYA, a NY Times Critics Pick. Her short films and documentaries have screened at over 70 festivals worldwide. Her projects have received grants from NYSCA, IFP and the Swedish Film Institute, been selected for incubators at ASCAP and BMI, and been recognized by the Academy Nicholl Fellowship and the Writers Lab funded by Meryl Streep. She’s currently writing a graphic novel. Previously, she was a journalist, including two years as a US Correspondent for India Today, India’s leading newsmagazine. She began her career writing for musical theater with OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN (book, music and lyrics), the longest running show in the history of New Playwrights’ Theater. As a changemaker, she’s founded and run several professional groups, including Women Independent Producers, which began in her living room and now has several hundred members. She’s also inaugurated grants including NYWIFT’s Ravenal Feature Film Grant for a woman director over 40. Her extended family comes from Eastern Europe, South Asia, Scandinavia, and the Middle East and embraces all five of the world’s major religions, bringing a wide range of influences to everything she supports or creates. 


Closing Keynote: To Be Announced! 


The NYWIFT 2024 FinanceHER Institute is brought to you by


June 26 @ 12:00pm
12:00 pm — 4:00 pm (4h)

Film at Lincoln Center – Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Amphitheater
144 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023



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.