NYWIFT 2021 Finance Institute Day 1: The Anatomy of a Fundraising Campaign

Join us for this three-part virtual finance series 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 documentary and narrative projects. During this three-part finance institute, panelists will provide insider perspectives and frank advice on what it takes to get noticed. We will take a critical look at fundraising campaigns, the art of the pitch, and what industry and foundations are looking for during the pandemic. 

Day 1: Monday, September 13th, 11:30 AM EST – 1PM EST (virtual program)

Learn how to pitch with us! This panel will provide insight into how to successfully fund your project using real-world case studies. From creating a sample role to being your own advocate we’ll get in depth with how to make your next project a reality.

This discussion will include Sini Anderson, Amber Sealey, Ekwa Msangi and Diane Paragas. This will be moderated by NYWIFT Board Member, Yvonne Russo

For NYWIFT Members: $40 per day; or $100 for a 3-day package ($20 discount)
For Non-members: $45 per day; or $120 for a 3-day package ($15 discount)
Become a member today to receive discounted access: email membership@nywift.org to join



Sini Anderson (Director) is an award-winning film director. Her first feature-length film, The Punk Singer, a documentary about Kathleen Hanna, premiered at SXSW in 2013 and was acquired by IFC Films which distributed a theatrical release in 111 American Cities. Sini’s second feature-length film, So Sick, 2014-2020 is the final phase of production. In 2018 Sini completed a short documentary about American photographer Catherine Opie. The film, Catherine Opie b. 1961, premiered at LACMA’s ART|FILM Gala in November of 2018 and since then a director’s cut has been completed and toured the festival circuit winning awards along the way including HBO’s “Best Documentary Short” at the Provincetown International Film Festival, the “Excellence in American Profiles Award” at San Francisco International Documentary Festival, and the festival-wide “Vimeo Staff Pick” at OutFest Los Angeles. The film also screened in 2019 at the Hamptons International Film Festival in the NYWIFT “Women Calling the Shots” program Women  and at DOC NYC. 

Amber Sealey is an award-winning filmmaker attached to direct The Education of Shelby Knox (OCP/Act 4 Ent/Double Nickel/Neal Baer) and a comedy pilot she wrote called Sistered (Kids At Play). She has written scripts for Duplass Brothers/Donut Productions and has been supported by Sundance, Film Independent, Women In Film. She is a fellow of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. She was selected for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, the NBCUniversal Directors Initiative, the WeForShe DirectHer program, Film Independent’s Directing Lab, and their Fast Track program. Her short film, How Does It Start , premiered at Sundance and (among other awards) won Best Narrative Short at Sarasota FF, and is being turned into a feature film with Vanishing Angle and Alec Baldwin attached as an EP. Her feature No Light & No Land Anywhere won a Special Jury Award at the LA Film Festival. EP’d by Miranda July, it won the Indie Vision Breakthrough Award at Twin Cities FF.Her second feature, How to Cheat, won Best Performance at LAFF.

Ekwa Msangi is a Tanzanian and American filmmaker whose award-winning and critically acclaimed feature film Farewell Amor premiered in competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, garnering 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, is being distributed by IFC Films (North America), MUBI and Netflix Africa (Worldwide). Msangi has written and directed for both television and film, and along her journey has been awarded the NYWIFT Director’s Award, the 2020 Durban International Film Festival award for Best Screenplay, and was named a 2020 Sundance Momentum Fellow as well as a 2020 BAFTA Breakthrough. Most recently Msangi won the 2021 Indie Spirit “Someone To Watch” Award. 

Diane Paragas is a Filipino-American documentary and narrative film director whose work is rooted in the stories of real people. Paragas began her career as a director in television working for MTV International, and she went on to produce the cultural series Living Asia for Discovery Channel. Her first documentary film Kabayan was released on PBS and explored the Filipino-American experience. She also produced for the Peabody Award- and Emmy Award-winning Egg the Arts Show, as well as programs for Bravo, BET, and CBS. Her most recent documentary Brooklyn Boheme, co-directed by Nelson George, celebrated the African-American art movement that launched the careers of Spike Lee, Chris Rock, and Rosie Perez, to name a few. The film won the Black Reel award for Best Television Documentary and premiered on Showtime. Paragas wrote and directed her debut narrative feature Yellow Rose, which stars Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga and tells the story of a Filipino-American girl pursuing her country music dreams under threat of deportation. The film was selected as the Opening Night Film of the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and won the NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant and the inaugural ABS-CBN Cinematografo Grant. Yellow Rose won Grand Jury Prizes at LAAPF, Bentonville Film Festival, CAAMFEST37, AAIFF, Urbanworld, PAAFF and Toronto Reel Asian where it also took the Audience Award. The film also won the Audience Award at Hawaii International Film Festival. Yellow Rose was picked up for worldwide distribution by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and was be released theatrically in 2020.

Yvonne Russo (moderator) is an award-winning producer, director and writer of film and television specializing in inspirational Indigenous and cross-cultural stories. As an independent producer, Russo has worked on a diverse range of productions in over 16 countries from Rajasthan, India, to the East African Nation of Rwanda. Recent credits include Woman Walks Ahead; the HBO mini-series Lewis and ClarkViva Verdi!; and Rescuers: Heroes of the Holocaust. She’s a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair of the Producers Guild of America Diversity Committee. She is also a Sundance Institute Lab Fellow and Tribeca All Access Program Fellow, and is on the board of The Language Conservancy, which works to revitalize endangered languages. She’s a contributing author for The Huffington Post and Produced By Magazine. Yvonne Russo is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Tribal Nation.


September 13 @ 11:30am
11:30 am — 1:00 pm (1h 30′)



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.