NYWIFT Talks: Film Festival Practices

Welcome to NYWIFT Talks, a weekly series to bring updated news and vital information about the impact of COVID-19 and current events on the media and entertainment industry. Industry professionals will be in conversation discussing what you need to know about theatrical releases, digital advances, virtual tools, festival opportunities, production updates and more. 

NYWIFT Talks are free for all to attend.

On this week’s NYWIFT Talks, the 2020 pandemic has sparked change within every organization from four day work days, hybrid or at-home work to a better overall mental health change. But, as companies evolve, what about freelance workers? How can we work toward change for fairer treatment towards those working freelance? We speak with film festival workers looking to positively advocate for fairer wages, better work environment, and policy changes.

This conversation includes Emily Foster (Full Frame), Tchernavia Sessum (Producer), Lela Meadow-Conner (Film Festival Alliance), and Barbara Twist (Film Festival Alliance). Moderated by NYWIFT Program Manager Barbara Vásconez.

Date: Friday, November 12th, 2021
Time: 4PM ET
Cost: Free



Emily Foster is the Associate Interim Festival Director and Marketing Director at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an Academy Award-qualifying event and program of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Before joining Full Frame, she served as the Communications & Press Manager at Milwaukee Film. Emily has served on numerous juries and panels, in addition to producing panels and workshops for Art House Convergence. With nearly a decade of experience in the film and film exhibition space, Emily began her career as a contract worker in development, operations, and programming for many organizations, including the Sundance Institute, Seattle International Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, and Milwaukee Film. As a maker, Emily has directed and produced several short films, including two documentaries in contribution to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s George A. Polk award-winning series Chronic Crisis. She earned a degree in Broadcasting & Electronic Communications with a minor in Film Studies from Marquette University.

Lela Meadow-Conner is Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance, a non-profit organization serving North American film festivals and the people who run them. She is also the Founder of mama.film, a village – at the crossroads of art & advocacy – where storytellers, changemakers and nurturers come together to champion humanity through a maternal gaze. Lela has more than 18 years of experience in independent cinema exhibition, with leadership roles at organizations including the Tallgrass Film Association and Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. In 2020, mama.film founded the rePRO Film Festival, which advocates for women’s reproductive justice through film and conversation. In 2021 & 2022 mama.film served as a Satellite Screen for the Sundance Film Festival. She has participated in The Industry Academy, a program of Film at Lincoln Center and the Locarno Film Festival, the Constellation Incubator and holds a degree in the culinary arts. She has served on film juries including AFI and the NAACP Image Awards currently serves on the board of Los Angeles’ iconic Vidiots Foundation, soon to relaunch in the historic Eagle Theatre. Other roles include Co-Producer for Sav Rodgers’ documentary Chasing Chasing Amy, Producer for Nitzan Mager’s Strange Love: Or How I Learned to Stop Swiping and Love the Bomb and Executive Producer for Emily Christensen’s Feminist Foremothers podcast.

Barbara Twist is a filmmaker and exhibition consultant based in Los Angeles.  She has been a consultant for Europa Cinemas, Europa International and IndieCollect, among others. She previously worked with Art House Convergence as the Managing Director, where she first nurtured her passion for Art Houses & Film Festivals. She is on the board of the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Cinema Lamont. She holds an MFA in Creative Producing from Columbia University, and has produced several award-winning short films. Barbara also currently serves as Director of Partnerships for the Vidiots Foundation.

A producer in live event and entertainment, Tchernavia Sessum has managed operations and staff for numerous festivals including the Tribeca Festival, Sundance, Urbanworld Film Festival and more. In September 2020, she launched Pivot PopUp Drive-In as social distanced event for fundraising and watching movies. Prior to the pandemic, she extended her talents to other live events including the YouTube Black Fan Fest, SXSW, Nickelodeon HALO Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Born and bred in Houston Texas, Tchernavia is graduate of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA.



Barbara Vásconez (Moderator) is the Program Manager at New York Women in Film & Television. Before joining NYWIFT, she held the position of General Manager at the Quad Cinema for three years. She has worked for a variety of film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, Hamptons Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, DOC NYC, and the Nantucket Film Festival. Her spare time is spent programming panels and creating unique community engagement opportunities for the New York Latino Film Festival. In 2019, she launched and founded the Ville Film Festival in Somerville, New Jersey. In 2020, she joined the Ecuadorian Film Festival as Co-Director. Her educational goals include working to develop film programs in New Jersey that improve film education for low income students. She works on amplifying the Latinx community and speaking on important issues like immigration and minimum wage. She is committed to the importance of film as a means of community engagement. Barbara has a degree in Film and Video Production from the School of Visual arts in NYC and holds a Business certificate from W.O.R.C in Philadelphia. 

November 12 @ 4:00pm
4:00 pm — 5:00 pm (1h)

Free Virtual Q and A



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#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.