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NYWIFT Members in the News

Members, do you have an upcoming screening, event, campaign or other news to share? Tell us! Contact communications@nywift.org.

Member Caris Vujcec is the creator, executive producer and star of The Pepper Project, a new female character-driven series. The pilot episode premiered to a standing room-only crowd at the Producer's Club in New York City in March and premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 7 at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation in Lafayette, CA. It also won the Award of Excellence, Special Mention at the Best Shorts Competition. A story that unwinds the past via important memories – or lack thereof – The Pepper Project features lead character, ex-CIA super-sniper Pepper, as a smart yet fallible, classy, sexy and sensitive badass with a conscience, challenged with solving a series of increasingly dangerous puzzles in order to find her missing sister. Vujcec, who leads the cast as Pepper, raised over $23,000 via Indiegogo, along with private contributions to complete the shooting and post production of the pilot episode. The pilot is being submitted to web and film festivals nationwide, with an expectation of gaining a development deal to produce the series. Follow it on Vimeo, IndieGogo and Twitter.

Member Shira Levin’s third short film, Upside Down, the last of a trilogy, has been selected for several film festivals including in Mumbai, India; Scotland; Massachusetts; Brooklyn (Northside Film Festival); and The American Psychological Association Film Festival. It also won the Audience Choice Award at the Springfield LGBT Film Festival. It’s the story of a 10-year-old girl who befriends a transgender woman in her building, against her mother's wishes.

Member Lee Eypper's short play Angel Cake will premiere in Playsmith's Flash Fest 2015 on June 14 at 7 PM, at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios (311 West 43rd St., 8th Floor). Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased online via Brown Paper Tickets.

Member Desiree Elle’s short film Shaded Reflections has been accepted to the Manhattan Film Festival, where it will screen June 20 at 7 PM in the Dramatic Shorts Program. Tickets may be purchased online. It will also be presented at the Palm Springs ShortFest Film Festival Market June 16-22. It had a screening at the Cannes Film Festival Short Corner earlier this year. You can see more about the film on its website or Facebook.

NYWIFT fiscally-sponsored film An Unknown Country, a documentary produced by member Eva Zelig, is a proud selection of the Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York and will be screened on June 20 at 5:55 PM in Tribeca Cinema 1, 43 Varick Street. The film festival is making free tickets available to the first thirty people who request them by emailing to: grilloproductionsny@gmail.com. Your name and number of tickets requested will be on a comp ticket list at the box office. Tickets are $10 and are available at The Ecuadorian Film Festival website. Read more about the film on our website.

Critically lauded on the festival circuit, Runoff, written and directed by member Kimberly Levin, will premiere June 26 at the Village East Cinema in New York with a week-long theatrical engagement, followed by Los Angeles and other cities and a nationwide release this summer. Runoff tells the story of a woman who goes to desperate lengths to save her family when they're threatened from their land. You can receive updates and ticket information by following the movie on Facebook and Twitter, and view the trailer online.

Congratulations to NYWIFT Board Member Annetta Marion's show, Oprah's Master Class, which won a NAMIC (National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications) Award for its episode about Cicely Tyson.

Member Simi Linton will be honored with a Medal of Distinction at Barnard College’s 123rd Commencement on May 17 for her accomplishments as a writer, consultant and public speaker whose work focuses on disability and the arts. She works with a diverse range of cultural organizations—theatre companies, film and television producers, museums, nonprofit arts organizations, universities and other groups across the country—to improve the way disability is represented and depicted in all art forms. Linton is the subject of the recently released documentary film, Invitation to Dance, which she and Christian von Tippelskirch directed and produced.

Hypocrites & Strippers
, by member Kim Yaged, will be at HERE Arts Center on May 21 as part of the Downtown Urban Theater Festival. Hypocrites & Strippers is a hilarious one-woman tour de force about strippers, identity politics, thongs, lesbians, feminism, and 8-inch stilettos – with lots of soul searching and a touch of air guitar sprinkled in. It promises to be your best one night stand of the Spring! Watch the animated trailer and then order tickets via ovationtix.

Member Valentina Caniglia received the Best Cinematography Award at the 2015 Louisiana International Film Festival for her work on the film Madeleine’s Oil. The film is available to watch on Vimeo. She also was the cinematographer for Trifles for a Massacre, which premieres at Cannes in May.

Before the Bomb
, produced by member Renée Muza, has been accepted into the American Pavilion at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker category. It has also been accepted into the Huesca International Film Festival. Read more about the short on its official Cannes webpage and watch the trailer on Vimeo.

Member Lisa James is the production manager on Farm Story, independent television drama pilot shot in NYC and Staunton, VA, and produced by Going to Tahiti Productions and The Writer, Ink. The micro-budget co-production aims to champion women-driven stories that reflect the rich and textured female experience. The trailer is available on Vimeo. The pilot makes its New York premiere May 2 at the Loreto Theatre in The Sheen Center (18 Bleecker Street) Doors open at 6:00pm. The presentation begins at 7:30pm. Show Creators Jessica Ammirati and Terri Viani will be available for a Q & A immediately following the screening. The event is free but RSVP is mandatory. Email farmstorytv@gmail.com to attend.

Xuan VuCan, Pearl J. Park and Ysa Le
Xuan VuCan, Pearl J. Park and Ysa Le
Member Pearl J. Park’s documentary Can, about a Vietnamese-American family dealing with the bipolar disorder of their 33-year-old son, won the 2015 Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at Viet Film Fest, the largest International Vietnamese film festival in the world. The Audience Choice Award is based upon the averages of scores given to the film by audience members. The producer/director Pearl J. Park dedicated the Award to the subject of the film Can Truong, his family, and other Asian Americans dealing with mental illness. In 2012, Can was the winner of an Honorable Mention for the Voice Awards, an award for films respectfully and realistically depicting the experience of behavioral health issues. For its Canadian premiere, Can will screen in a media workshop of the Scientific Program of the 168th American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, ON on May 17 at the InterContinental Toronto Centre.

Member Carolina Ravassa was a production assistant and singer in the satirical #MakeItFair music video that calls for equal pay in the arts and entertainment world. The video involved a cast and crew of more than 70 women, underscoring the wealth of female talent that often goes untapped. #makeitfair is a call for gender equality in the stories we tell, the wages we earn, and the future we shape. You can read more about the project on its website.

Elizabeth's Precious Kitty, co-produced by members Michele Baldwin (who also stars) and Tony Wilkes, will make its world premiere at Theater for the New City. This wonderfully titillating, sensual, fun, erotic, three-person modern day farcical play promises to shock and entertain the audience. The show runs May 7-17 and tickets can be purchased online.

Member Gayle Kirschenbaum’s documentary feature Look at Us Now, Mother! had its world premiere at Through Women's Eyes on April 11 and the Sarasota Film Festival on April 13, both to sold out crowds. The film will next screen at the Jewish Wisdom and Wellness: A Week of Learning conference held by Union College on April 27 and will make its international premiere at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival on May 8, with a special Mother’s Day screening on May 10. Gayle flies straight from Toronto to Tel Aviv for the Israeli Premiere at the DocAviv Film Festival on May 14-15. Read about the film in The Boca Raton Observer.

Business & Employment News Network interviewed member Jen Rudin about her experiences as a casting director. The interview focuses on Jen's experiences with women and diversity in casting. It's available for viewing online. Jen is also the author of Confessions of a Casting Director.

Member Leslie McCleave’s documentary feature How Sweet the Sound: The Blind Boys of Alabama, the first film about this legendary gospel group, will have its world premiere in the Music City/Music Films competition at the Nashville Film Festival on April 18, second screening April 21. The film will also have its Chicago premiere on April 19 at CIMMfest, Chicago International Movies and Music Festival.

8 Stops
, featuring set design by member Dara Wishingard, makes its New York premiere at The Cherry Lane Theatre on April 16-26. OBIE Award-winner Deb Margolin's thought-provoking new solo work is a comedy about death, the private lives of animals, the suburbs, the spiritual exurbs, illness, desire and a subway ride with a motherless child who Deb realizes that she has only 8 subway stops to raise!

As members of Writers on Hudson, NYWIFT members Gayle Kirschenbaum and Lee Eypper will perform in Writes of Spring, an Evening of Spoken Word. The performance is April 24 from 7– 8:30 PM, Upstairs at Bar 2A in the East Village. Further details are on Facebook.

Semiotics of Islam: A Primer for Kuffar, a short film by member Fouzia Najar, can be viewed on Huffington Post as part of their Muslims in America series. The film takes the media to task for its chronic misrepresentation of Islam, while also paying homage to one of the most iconic feminist performance pieces of the 20th century. It premiered at the Queens World Film Festival in March and will screen at the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival on April 11 and the Muslim Writers Collective film screening on April 24. You can read coverage of the film on India.com and Apogee Journal. Follow it on Facebook.

Member Oriana Syed edited Norm Lewis: Who Am I? as part of PBS' Live from Lincoln Center series. It airs April 10 at 9 PM.

NYWIFT member and cinematographer Valentina Caniglia photographed the feature film Mad Women by Jeff Lipsky, which will be released in July via Plainview Pictures. She also photographed the feature film Alto, directed by Mikki del Monaco, which premiered at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on April 26. Valentina has also completed cinematography on The Terrorist – a film by Jon Osman. The trailer is now available online. She also photographed The Dark Side, her second collaboration with writer/director Richard Ledes. The Dark Side is a genre-bending film blending real footage shot during Hurricane Sandy in New York and a romantic comedy, and was an Official Selection of ECU The European Film Festival, World Queens Film Festival and Saint Tropez International Film Festival.

Member Yaara Sumeruk's short film Ringo was staff-picked the week of March 23 on Vimeo and got over 30,000 views that week alone. Ringo is a dark comedy about a lonely middle-aged mother who hires a young male prostitute for an evening. It premiered at The Locarno International Film Festival. Watch the film here.

Member Richarda Abrams spoke on a panel of playwrights to a sold out crowd on March 23 at the League of Professional Theatre Women's Networking Monday's Roundtable Discussion: Writing Plays By, For and About Women. The event was held at TheaterLab. Pictured left to right: LPTW Board Member/LPTW Networking Committee Co-Chair/ Actress/Playwright Richarda Abrams, Playwright Fengar Gael, Playwright Lee Hunkins, LPTW Co-President/Dramaturg/Playwright/Moderator Maxine Kern.

Member Leah Streetman was interviewed in a recent International Business Times article about expanding new music exposure in non-traditional places through television tie-ins. Leah is the president of Triton Creative Group, an entertainment agency specializing in music supervision and licensing for Film, TV, and Advertising. Their talent division includes a diverse roster of musicians, composers, and screenwriters.

NYWIFT Board Member Maura Kelly interviewed member Erin Day about her work as the Festival Director of the New York Television Festival. This interview is part of Maura’s “Disruptive Women” blog series for The Huffington Post.

Congrats to member Lilian Mehrel, winner of the Nancy Malone directing award, for her film The Lonliest's mention in the New York Times!

NYWIFT member Ann Deborah Levy’s experimental video Rain Painting, featuring images of the landscape seen through the rain “painted” windows of a car, will screen at International Video Art Festival, Camaguey, CUBA, March 31 – April 4 in a program of experimental documentaries guest-curated by NYWIFT member Tova Beck-Friedman. More info on Ann's work can be found here.


NYWIFT member Ann Deborah Levy's experimental video On the Train to Kutna Hora...and Back, which features images of the Czech countryside, often abstracted by dreamlike reflections, shot from a train, will screen in New York City on March 25 in the Another Experiment By Women Film Festival at 6:00 PM. Tickets are $6.00 at the door. For more information on Ann Deborah Levy’s films click here and for more info about the event click here.


Member Meredith Riley Stewart's original web series Southern Dish premiered at SXSW on March 15! To view the trailer of the web series click here.

The 18th annual New York International Children’s Film Festival chose member Hanna Hemila's hand drawn animation feature film Moomins on the Riviera as part of their official competition section. The film screened on March 14 at the School of Visual Arts Theatre and on March 15 at the IFC.

The film is based on Tove Jansson’s original comic strips written for London Evening News in 1955. The film premiered in London Film Festival in October 2014 and has been sold to over 40 countries for theatrical distribution. The film was received extremely well in Finland during the autumn 2014, it was just released theatrically in Switzerland, in France and in Japan. The English are to launch the film in May with 250 copies. Hanna Hemila is the producer, co-director and co-writer of the film. The director of the film is French Xavier Picard, who is also the co-director and one of the writers. Other writers are Leslie Stewart, Annina Enckell and Beata Harju.

Congratulations to NYWIFT Board Member Annetta Marion's show, Oprah's Master Class, which won in the category of Outstanding Variety Series at the 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards! 

NYWIFT Member Jennifer Snowdon did the make-up for over 40 of the interviewees of the PBS documentary August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, including James Earl Jones! She was called to work on the project by fellow NYWIFT members Nicole London (Line Producer) and Caroline De Fontaine-Stratton (Associate Producer).

Carl's True Love, a short play by NYWIFT Member Lee Eypper, will debuted at The Many Faces of Love:  A Valentine's Day Monologue Festival on February 13. The festival featured an array of monologues expressing the many sides of love: celebration, obsession, possession, passion, heartbreak, loss, regret, jealousy, exhilaration, gratitude. The event was produced by Writers-A-Go-Go in association with Hudson Warehouse.

, co-produced by NYWIFT member Thea Kerman and directed by Afia Nathaniel, was Pakistan's Official entry to the Academy Awards 2015. Dukhtar (Daughter) is a thriller set in Pakistan. The story follows a mother on the run with her ten-year-old daughter on the eve of the child’s forced marriage to a tribal leader. They are relentlessly hunted for bringing dishonor to their families. As the chase intensifies, the mother meets a truck driver whose destiny entwines with hers and kindles a forbidden attraction. The trio embarks on an epic journey through the stunning landscape of Pakistan where the quest for freedom comes with a price.

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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 Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts