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Diverse Voices in the Global Film Industry

In association with the Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF), this panel focuses on the challenges and opportunities arising from an increasingly globalized film market, with a specific focus on the issues of diversity and inclusion. Gender equality needs to be highlighted, but in what other areas do we also experience challenges where diversity matters when it comes to filmmaking?

Established professionals from the US, Asia and Europe will discuss their experiences in raising funding, shooting international projects, financial and creative benefits they received, and the complexities and challenges involved in logistical and cultural differences and how this all relates to diversity and access. The panel will be followed by the opening night red carpet of the Nordic Film Festival where the members of NYWIFT will mingle with the festivals' international guests.

Jaspal Binning
is a New York based British-Indian actor/director/producer/creator. His acting accolades include series regular on the Netflix Series Brown Nation, lead on Lifetime Movie Network's I Love You But I Lied and lead in the independent movie Ovum. As a director he won the Best Director Award (Shared) at New York Television Festival for Doomsday, which is distributed by Sony's The Orchard and released internationally. As a creator, Binning is in pre-production for his new TV sitcom called Where you From? and hard at work on his next conceptual TV series Asian Invasion and his British-Indian independent feature concept Bipolar.

Karma Deki
is the first female director from the Kingdom of Bhutan. She has directed feature films, as well as TV series for the Bhutan Broadcasting Service. Deki actively participates on the International Jury in the Thailand International Destination Festival, in Bangkok. Her latest feature Kushuthara was one of the first Bhutanese features to screen outside the Kingdom. Deki is currently working on her fifth feature, shooting in New York, with a star-studded Bhutanese cast.

Birgit Gernböck
is a hands-on independent producer who works side by side with all creative departments involved in getting a film made from development, to production, to completion, to festivals and distribution efforts, both in the US and international arena. While at Columbia University, Gernböck received two producing awards for her outstanding work. Her work has premiered at TIFF, NYFF, Telluride, Austin IFF, Miami FF, San Francisco IFF, and Warsaw. Gernböck produced the short And The Whole Sky Fit In The Dead Cow's Eye (directed by Francisca Alegria) that received the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. She also produced Sonya Goddy’s feature directorial debut Holy New York, which is currently in post-production. The film is a stylized independent drama shot on location in New York starring Victor Rasuk, Ione Skye, Gillian Zinser, and iO Tillett Wright.  Gernböck is currently in post production for Darya Zhuk's feature film Crystal Swan, shot on location in Minsk, Belarus in collaboration with Vice Media and supported by the German Film Fund.

Cornelia Ravenal
is a writer-producer with work produced at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and regional theaters, published in newsmagazines in Asia and North America, and screened at over 25 film festivals. A founder of Wilderness Films, she has originated, developed and/or produced over a dozen film, TV and theater projects.  Credits include the off-Broadway New York Times' Critics Pick Nirbhaha (2015) and the upcoming documentary Moving Stories, directed by Sundance winner Rob Fruchtman. In 2013, she initiated the Ravenal NYWIFT Grant for a women director over 40 and founded the Women Producers Group, now WIP (Women Independent Producers).

Rachel Watanabe-Batton
(Moderator) is president of Contradiction & Struggle, a production company connecting cinema, causes, capital and audiences by telling stories by and about women, people of color and immigrants. She has been a champion of diverse filmmakers since her days as development assistant at Spring Creek/Warner Bros with Paula Weinstein. She received the Made in NY Award from Mayor DeBlasio and the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) for her work as chair of the Producers Guild of America Diversity Committee. Her projects include Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl with legendary director Julie Dash; The Secret Life of La Mariposa with award-winning director Maria Agui Carter, and 1850, a limited series set in antebellum New Orleans.    

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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