SPOTLIGHT June 2020: Nisha Ganatra, Filmmaker Focus on Inclusion and Parity

Nisha Ganatra has built a successful career anchored in inclusion, putting a full spectrum of voices and talents on display in her work and walking the walk in a way only a select few women working in the industry dare to do. She is helping to change the future for women in film.

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SPOTLIGHT May 2020: Karen Cooper, Film Curator, Programmer, Activist

Kudos to Karen Cooper for 50 years of fine film programming at Film Forum, the independent art cinema she founded and has grown, over the years, from a 50 seat venue in a walk up apartment on NYC’s Upper West Side to it’s current four-screen home on West Houston Street. Cooper has never sought the limelight for herself, yet her vision, commitment and activism have illuminated New York’s cinema scene for filmmakers and moviegoers for decades.

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SPOTLIGHT April 2020: Ruth Carter, Costume Designer, Style Setter, Mentor

Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter has carved a monumental career for herself in an industry that rarely had people of color working in her profession. Women of color, rarer still. Carter has been breaking barriers and building her reputation in the film industry for over 30 years. She’s reached the height of her aspirational dreams, turning what she’s most passionate about into her life’s work. She’s changed society through the films she’s chosen and cleared the way for acceptance of women of color in collaborative artistic positions of power in Hollywood.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2020: Cynthia Lopez, NYC Cinema Activist, Advocate and Administrator

Cynthia López combines her love of film with her commitment to public service. Consistently advocating for women and diversity, she puts progress in motion. She’s shaped NYC’s cinema landscape for two decades, serving as executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer for POV, as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and, currently as Executive Director of New York Women in Film and Television.

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SPOTLIGHT February 2020: Sara Zandieh, Filmmaker, A SIMPLE WEDDING

As Hollywood moves to course correct in wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Iranian-American director Sara Zandieh checks off a lot of requisite boxes, especially the one marked: TALENTED. After changing her career from journalism to writing and directing narrative films, each of her stepping stones has been a milestone.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2020: Ava Duvernay, Filmmaker and Cinema Crusader

It’s hard to think of a more galvanizing, charismatic woman in film than Ava DuVernay. The 47-year-old producer, director, writer, distributor, and crusader for social justice has broken through boundaries and expanded professional and personal possibilities for women — especially women of color — working in film, and everywhere else. DuVernay has our greatest respect for her artistry, her dedication to freedom and equality for all people, and her innovative leadership by example.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2019: Leslie Iwerks, Filmmaker, THE IMAGINEERING STORY

Leslie Iwerks is either Disney royalty, or a Disney brat, depending on whether you’re talking to fans or the director herself. She’s the grand-daughter of animator and inventor Ub Iwerks, one of Walt Disney’s oldest friends, creator of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and co-creator with Disney of Mickey Mouse. She is the daughter of technical innovator, lifetime Oscar Award winner, and Disney Legend Don Iwerks. As documentary director/producer, she has a distinguished career in film and an Oscar nominee for her work on The Pixar Story.

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SPOTLIGHT November 2019: Jen and Sylvia Soska, Canadian Twin Filmmakers, RABID

For far too long, women horror film directors have been considered an oddity. Key figures in the contemporary ‘women in horror’ movement, Canadian filmmaking twins Jen and Sylvia Soska established themselves as noteworthy directors and screenwriters with their 2009 debut feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk. The film’s cult status has changed the horror genre landscape and perceptions about female horror directors. The Soska effect continues with this year’s Rabid.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2019: Issa Lopez, Filmmaker, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID

Writer/director Issa López is an exciting new voice in genre film, although she’s been a successful figure in the Mexican film industry since the early part of the 21st century. Her aesthetic is anchored in a blend of magical realism and the grittiness and stark reality of the real world, all seen from a horror-drenched version of the female gaze. She found success early in her career writing rom-coms and comedies that broke box office records, but left that all behind to focus on creating genre films true to her own creative inclinations, most recently resulting in the brilliant Tigers Are Not Afraid.

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SPOTLIGHT September 2019: Justina Walford, Filmmaker, Founder of Women Texas Film Festival (aka WTxFF)

Justina Walford considers herself a writer, first and foremost. She’s successfully produced her own screenplays and theater scripts, but AWFJ shines our September SPOTLIGHT on Justina Walford in recognition of her feminist film activism as founder and Artistic Director of the annual Women Texas Film Festival (WTxFF), a sterling celebration of cinema that showcases films made by and about women.

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