NYWIFT Talks with Filmmaker Ayana Baraka

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, we sit down and chat with filmmaker Ayana Baraka. We’ll be discussing her new VR film, Greenwood Avenue: A Virtual Reality Experience and her work as a cinematographer in film and television. Moderated by NYWIFT Board Member and Executive Director of Black Public Media Leslie Fields-Cruz

Date: Monday, April 18th, 2022
Time: 4PM ET
Cost: Free


Ayana Baraka was the Director of Photography for Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, which documented the ‘herstoric’ Broadway production of “Eclipsed.” She was also a cinematographer for Oscar hopeful, The Hunting Ground, Emmy nominated film, United Skates, and Giving Voice, which premiered at Sundance 2020. Baraka was named a ‘person on the rise’ in Hollywood by producer Mel Jones. She’s a winner of the 2016 award for Best Cinematography at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival, the 2019 Culture Catalyst award recipient at the Digital Diversity Network’s Innovation & Inclusion Awards, and the 2021 Nashville Film Festival Innovative Storyteller Award Recipient. Baraka is the creator of Greenwood Avenue: A Virtual Reality Experience. It is used as an educational tool to teach Black History in NYC, Chicago, LA, and Tulsa through partnerships with the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, TechRow, and RedFlight Innovation sponsored by Russell Westbrook. Baraka’s foray into immersive storytelling came while attending USC’s School of Cinematic Arts for her MFA. She joined a team of innovators at USC’s Mixed Reality Studio, a Siggraph winning team for creating photo-real animation in virtual reality. Baraka went on to become a 2018 YouTube VR Creator Fellow, 2018 Oculus Connect Fellow, and a 2019 Black Public Media 360+ Incubator Fellow.

NYWIFT VP of Programming Leslie Fields-Cruz (Moderator) 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, Leslie 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, Leslie 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.

Presented in partnership with

April 18 @ 4:00pm
4:00 pm — 5:00 pm (1h)

This program will take place virtually as a webinar via Zoom. Please register in advance, and all registrants will receive a link to attend the webinar the day of the event.

We encourage you to download Zoom in advance.

Free event.



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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.