Browse By

Join NYWIFT For Second Annual Creative Workforce Summit: Documentary Makers, Industry and Funders in Conversation

Join NYWIFT for our second annual Creative Workforce Summit: Documentary Makers, Industry and Funders in Conversation.

This four-day free virtual program consists of keynote speakers, panels, and film screenings, and will bring together some of the most unique and diverse voices of women working in the entertainment industry to establish forward-moving strategies to create change and mobilize support and leadership for the future.

The NYWIFT Summit takes place with support provided by the Ford Foundation and the NEA Foundation as well as a curated film screening and panel series produced in partnership with International Documentary Association.

Advocacy through the Ages

This year the summit will be two-fold: first, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. Set just a few weeks prior to the U.S. election, the event will look at how to inform, update, and galvanize women voters about the history in securing the right to vote and highlight women in politics that have pushed for the women’s rights and for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The summit will also recognize the contributions made by female documentary filmmakers and their efforts to create social, cultural and economic change in history, specifically addressing the opportunities and challenges filmmakers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting financial crisis as well as the Black Lives Matter Movement. Additional programming including panels and participants will be announced in the coming weeks.

Keynote speakers will include: 

  • Abigail Disney: Chair & Co-Founder, Level Forward Films
  • Sheila Nevins: Executive Producer, MTV Networks
  • Marcia Smith: President & Co-Founder, Firelight Media
  • Laverne Berry: Former NYWIFT Board President, Attorney and Central Character featured in Capturing the Flag


Review the schedule below, and click through to see speaker bios and register for each daily event.

DAY 1: Tuesday,  October 20, 2020 from 4-6 PM EST

Welcome Address by Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice

Maria Torres-Springer, Vice President of US Programs, Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice

Special Keynote Address: Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Panel: Women Documenting the Vote

This panel takes a critical look at films that address voter suppression and voter participation. These case studies will tackle issues of access, financing and urgency, and will encourage women filmmakers to use their craft to make a difference in the upcoming election. Moderated by Yahaira Jacquez, an award-winning journalist for Reuters.  


Lisa Cortes & Liz Garbus: Co-Directors, All In: The Fight for Democracy
Marjan Safinia: Director/Producer, And She Could Be Next
          Grace Lee: Director/Producer, And She Could Be Next
Dawn Porter: Director,  John Lewis: Good Trouble

Closing Keynote: Laverne Berry: Former NYWIFT President, Attorney and Central Protagonist in Capturing the Flag

Register for Day 1

DAY 2: Wednesday,  October 21, 2020 from 4-6 PM EST

Panel: Unionizing Nonfiction Labor

This panel examines the lack of organized labor for documentary and reality tv makers, the benefits and potential pitfalls of organizing, and collective bargaining opportunities that could exist in the documentary world.


Andrew Greenberg: Lead Organizer, WGA-East
Susan Margolin: Founder of St. Marks Productions and of New Video/Docurama Films,
and Co-Chair of Documentary Producers Alliance Investment Waterfall Committee
Johanna Vanderspool: Founder of The Non Fiction “Union”
Maggie Bowman: Director of Programming, International Documentary Association (IDA)
Caty Borum Chatto: Executive Director, Center for Media & Social Impact

Register for Day 2

DAY 3: Thursday,  October 22, 2020 from 4-6 PM EST

Opening Keynote: Marcia Smith: President, Firelight Media

Panel: Authorship: Our stories, directed, produced and written by us

Women and BIPOC documentarians discuss new opportunities to tell their own stories through traditional (feature films, streaming, and cable networks) and new non-traditional (mobile phones, virtual conversations, and social media) formats. Emphasis on social justice storytelling, who gets to tell whose story, how filmmakers are adapting to the challenges of the pandemic, and the significance of telling stories now during the thriving Black Lives Matter movement and on the eve of the presidential election. Moderated by Simon Moya Smith, a writer, activist and professor of New Media, and Citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation.


Yvonne Russo: Director, Untitled Annie Mae Aquash Documentary
Nadia Hallgren: DP & Director, Michelle Obama Documentary Becoming
Maria Agui Carter: Writer/Director/Producer, President of Iguana Films
Maria Finitzo: Award winning Documentary Filmmaker, Kartemquin Films
Shalini Kantayya: Director, Coded Bias

Register for Day 3

DAY 4: Friday,  October 23, 2020 from 4-6 PM EST

Opening Keynote: Abigail E. Disney: Filmmaker and Activist

Panel: Executive Function

Decision makers at networks, funders, and production companies discuss the future of funding and greenlighting nonfiction projects, the challenges of the pandemic from their perspective, and how social justice movements and politics influence their decisions. Moderated by MP Dunleavey, Editorial Director, Finance at The New York Times. 


Carrie Lozano: Documentary Film Program Director, Sundance Institute
Dana Merwin: Program Officer for International Documentary Association (IDA) Enterprise Fund
Monika Navarro: Senior Director of Artist Programs, Firelight Media
Sandie Pedlow: Executive Director, Latino Public Broadcasting

Closing Keynote: Sheila Nevins: Executive Producer, MTV Networks

Register for Day 4


Leave a Reply