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NYC's Film Society's "New Faces Of Indie Film" Panel Faces Indie Film Community's Wrath

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 14, 2011 9:06 AM
7 Comments
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Several folks sent this to me today... it's a photo from a panel that took place over the weekend at Film Society's Lincoln Center (FSLC), here in NYC; a panel titled today's "New Faces of Indie Film" which was moderated by super indie film producer Ted Hope.

If nothing about the above photo and panel title sets off any alarms with you, then maybe reading some of the comments that were posted on the FSLC's Facebook post about the Saturday panel (HERE), or Melissa Silverstein's "What's Wrong With This Picture" post earlier today HERE, will help.

I really don't have much to add to this; what can I say... I'm still sick with a cold, and just don't have the will. Besides, these are matters we've discussed in a variety of posts on Shadow & Act since the site was created.

What I will do instead is give a shout-out to those folks who did challenge the FSLC panel makeup (especially those who mentioned Shadow And Act in their responses), whether on the Facebook post or on Melissa Silverstein's indieWIRE site, and everywhere else this was posted. Those folks have pretty much spoken for me.

Here are a couple.

First from Victoria Mahoney:

Dear Ted Hope, Per your response [“I think it has to do w/ what films are coming out theatrically, have NY directors, and Lincoln Ctr relationship. But u r right too!”]. I’m a New York Director. I have a relationship with Lincoln Center. I have an indie film coming out this year called YELLING TO THE SKY, shot completely in NY, 35mm, in 18days; about as Indie as it gets. Played this past Thursday at Gen Art. World Premiered at Berlin, 2nd American Woman in 60yrs invited into Main Competition. Our Gen Art screening (3 days prior to this panel, in the exact same city) sold out in 4 days. Was the 1st in the line up to do so. I have another question, where’s the actual “reflection” of New York? If that’s the aim. Not ONE single [African American] in NEW FACES OF INDIE FILM [In NY?!] If you don’t know an abundance of Indie women filmmakers ask Melissa Silverstein. If you don’t know an abundance or any African American Indie filmmakers, ask Indiewire/ShadowandAct, they can both provide a list the length of your arm, considering their sites are dedicated to reshaping industry imbalance. The title of this panel is offensive on so many levels, to mountains upon mountains, of diverse talent underneath your nose. Here’s a tip, next time go get “a woman/of color”, just one—that way, all of us die on the vine, Indie film lovers, will see you at least—made an effort.

And from Sujewa Ekanayake:

Also, for FSLC's future use, all of the following sites regularly write about NYC based minority filmmakers, as new works get released: indiewire's blog Shadow & Act, Filmmaker Magazine's blog, Ted Hope's own Hammer to Nail, the main indiewire site itself, as mentioned before diyfilmmaker.blogspot; also 1 Way Community blog, AsianAmericanFilm.com (now knows as APA POP), and probably programmers of many of the local/NYC festivals have contact info for filmmakers of all backgrounds who use diverse casts & crews in their movies, or are from a minority background or are female. Good luck with the next NYC indie filmmakers panel FSLC, looking forward to it. The first one, though it lacked diversity, was entertaining & educational.
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7 Comments

  • sick of favoritism | June 15, 2011 12:53 PMReply

    In all honesty, Tambay is in no position to talk. As an award winning ethnic writer and filmmaker, I have experienced this same kind of playing favorites when it comes to this very blog. I have sent in links to HIGH LEVEL production shorts, trailers and so on to Tambay and never so much as got a response... yet you see him talking about the same filmmakers and posting their works... low end or not on this blog over and over again.

    What point is it to complain about others when our own people treat us the same way. It makes me angry because I enjoy this blog very much... but it makes me feel uneasy as an artist with over 17 years in the industry and a filmmaker who has personally produced over 40 shorts, two feature films and an online series... and I can't so much as get a look on this blog.

    I'm done.

  • Lynn | June 15, 2011 10:02 AMReply

    @FilmGuy "Don't wait, create" I couldn't have said it any better myself. I agree w/ you on so many levels "we" are always complaining about the white man not acknowledging us as people in so many fields of work. @ sick of favoritism I feel your pain sometimes we ignore our own people of color and don't offer any opportunities. As much as I love S & A I agree w/ FG S&A needs to create their own panel that showcases emerging
    emerging African-American filmmakers from all over.

  • shelly wilson | June 15, 2011 5:03 AMReply

    No I don't think Ted Hope's explanation explains away anything. So no people of color, or women, or LGBT filmmakers work in teams? Are you kidding?
    Let me repost what I wrote on Hope's blog earlier:
    I hope this sparks some thought and maybe some people start to realize how hard it is for a filmmaker who isn’t for example young, male, straight, white, rich, and/or already an indie film darling to see this kind of thing happen.
    And it’s not rare. It happens all the time. Just look through any year’s Sundance catalogue to see how mediocre your film can be and still get in if you fit the above criteria.
    Now I understand the casting for new teams thing I suppose, but there is no deep secret behind “teams” such as these that needs to be delved into. These teams aren’t because of some kind of deep creative vision in most of these cases. They are kids who went to Dalton/some other prep school together, or kids who went to NYU/some other film school together, or in one case kids who went to GW together, or in another case brothers. They should be explored as teams in the future if any of the teams last 10 more years. What they are now is young, photogenic, and hip. The kind of people film press and older indie producers have been fawning over forever.
    None of this is surprising or new. But the people who have been brave enough to point it out in so many places is what is new. And let’s not stop pointing this stuff out when it happens. That’s the only way this kind of thing will change. And then people will give an iota of thought before they program a panel like this again. This has turned into panel-gate in some quarters.

  • Miles Maker | June 15, 2011 1:08 AMReply

    I attended. Right in the front row to the left of the white guy [Lol!] at the end of the frame. I tweeted my sentiments and included @tedhope because I'm honest and forthright about my opinions.

    Ted explained himself at the panel. Per Hope, this collective was assembled because pairs and threes of them are currently working together as producing partners. The panel was originally conceived by Ted Hope to address the need for creative collaboration amongst filmmakers with these participants as examples--however Hope discovered the panel name had been changed while the panelists were retained, and this occurred beyond his control to affect.

    And there you have it!

  • FilmGuy | June 14, 2011 11:43 AMReply

    The struggle comes from waiting for the white guys to bestow recognition on you. I find this is backwards thinking. There are so many minority filmmakers in NYC that there should be a Shadow and Act panel. Don't wait, create.

  • MulletLove | June 14, 2011 10:16 AMReply

    Doesn't surprise me. This is one of the issues I've had with the "indie" film scene for a number of years now. And hell, there isn't even diversity in the white males featured here! All of 'em these reedy, weedy, beardy dudes wearing goofy shoes and/or glasses. What's up with that?

    Yep, the more things change, the more they don't.

  • Richard Iton | June 14, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    Get better soon, Sir. And thanks for the posting.

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