Letter from the Executive Director – January 2021

NYWIFT team members Cynthia Lopez, Katie Chambers, and Maud Kersnowski-Sachs with Gloria Steinem, Julie Taymor, and guests at “The Glorias” party at Sundance 2020


Dear NYWIFT Community:

2021 did not start out the way we had all hoped! The pandemic continues to ravage and impact our daily lives. And while political change in the U.S. is on the horizon, it is difficult to enjoy the sunrise from the current viewpoint.

The recent events in Washington, D.C. have shaken us all to the core. We need to gain our equilibrium, regroup, and continuously reinvent how we do business. This is what NYWIFT is in the process of doing. Each of us needs to employ our creative tenacity in order keep our bodies, minds, and souls strong enough to withstand the current critical tensions of our time. If you feel exhausted, stressed, or hopeless sometimes due to our unsettling daily struggle – you are not alone.

We hope that NYWIFT has provided some inspiration and valuable profiles of women and organizations thriving as examples of the best way to move forward working together.

Thank you so much for your emails, letters of support, and attendance at NYWIFT programs this last year.


 A quick 2020 year in review:


  • Overall attendance was at an all-time high with over 11,000 people enjoying our programs throughout the year.


  • NYWIFT garnered more than 350 new members during the pandemic. Thank you so much for joining us, we know we can make significant strides together in the media and entertainment industry together.


  • NYWIFT Talks was initiated during the pandemic and is our weekly program dedicated to discussing production issues related to the pandemic, financial crisis, and Black Lives Matter Movement. We have curated over 80 virtual programs to date.


  • 830 people attended our NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit and sessions are still available to watch on nywift.org/summit. Our first ever publication, the NYWIFT Creative Workforce Summit Report, will be available for free download next month.



  • MUSE 2020 honored spectacular talented women making a difference and monumental change in the media and entertainment industry. If you need to be uplifted take a few minutes and watch the show – it will also be broadcast via CUNY TV in March as part of Women’s History Month. It is available to watch online at nywift.org/muse.


  • NYWIFT established filmmaker and industry awards at the Sundance Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival in 2020.


  • We partnered with Women in Film LA and Women in Film & Television Atlanta on the Hire Her Back Initiative to provide grants to women in our industry impacted professionally and financially by the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to learn more and apply here.


  • A special thank you to all the foundations and corporations that have supported us during the crisis including new funders: The Academy Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and David Yurman, Inc for designing our 2020 MUSE Award statues.


Despite these successes, for so many of us, 2020 was a year that ached with loss.


Remembering Joan Micklin Silver



NYWIFT mourns the recent passing of longtime member Joan Micklin Silver. Joan was a pillar of the New York City film community. Her first film, Hester Street expanded the marketplace for American indie film, broke down barriers for women directors, and expanded the horizons for representation of immigrants on screen. Joan soldiered on in the face of adversity, directing seven feature films, despite being told her films were “too ethnic” (i.e. “too Jewish”) and that “women directors are one more problem we don’t need.” She persisted, and we are the better for it.

I encourage you to read the beautiful tributes to her life in The New York Times and The Washington Post. NYWIFT had the great honor of interviewing Joan for our Archive Project, a living history compilation dedicated to collecting interviews with amazing and courageous women in film, television and media, both among our membership and throughout the industry.

Please learn more about Joan via an un-edited candid interview, conducted by member and Archive Project leader Norma Davidoff.

Watch it now on our YouTube channel.



Cynthia Lopez

Executive Director

New York Women in Film & Television