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Filming on the Frontlines: How to Manage Risky Situations

This panel, produced by NYWIFT’s Documentary Committee, will examine the danger to filmmakers and their subjects when filming in volatile situations and regions. Are filmmakers taking extra precautions in filming given the fact that the press has become a target today? What are the advantages and disadvantages for women filming under these circumstances? These questions and others will be explored by an esteemed panel of filmmakers who will share and discuss their experiences in the field.


Carol Cassidy
is an independent multimedia producer focused on human rights, especially those of women and girls. She has worked in war zones, refugee camps and areas of extreme poverty in places including Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Gaza, Uganda, Bolivia and Peru. Cassidy has also worked with PBS, BBC, CNN, the United Nations, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and others. Her honors include recognition and support from the American Film Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts, ITVS, IFP and others. She is the author of Girls in America, a book of interviews based on her documentary film series focused on adolescent girls. 

Kirsten Johnson
is a cinematographer with over 25 years of experience.  She has traveled to over 86 countries for her work.  Her credits include Citizenfour and The Oath (Dir: Laura Poitras), The Invisible War and Derrida (Dir: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering), Pray the Devil Back to Hell (Dir: Gini Reticker, Prod: Abby Disney), 1971 (Dir: Johanna Hamilton), Farenheit 9/11 (Dir: Michael Moore), and Profit and Nothing But! and Fatal Assistance (Dir: Raoul Peck). Johnson is currently working on A Blind Eye, using footage from documentaries she has shot over the years for other projects examining how her work as a cinematographer has impacted the people she has filmed and changed the way that she herself sees.

Beth Levison
is an independent producer/director based in New York City and the recipient of two national Emmy Awards and three Peabody Awards.  Her independent documentary feature debut Lemon (Zurich Int’l Film Festival 2011; PBS VOCES series 2012), executive produced by Impact Partners and Russell Simmons, screened at some 40 domestic and international festivals and was selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase in 2014. She was also a consulting producer on the award winning Marina: The Artist is Present (Sundance Film Festival 2012; HBO 2012).  Levinson has directed and produced projects for HBO, PBS, Sundance Channel, National Geographic Television, and others.  She is currently producing The Trials of Spring, a feature-length documentary and six short films about the role of women in the Arab uprisings in Egypt,Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, scheduled for completion in 2015 (Dir:Gini Reticker).

Claire Ward
is a producer and shooter for VICE News. In 2014, Ward produced interactive live streams and short documentaries from the riots and protests in Ferguson, MO following the shooting death of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Ward also shot The Architect (2014), an exclusive interview with Dr. James Mitchell, designer of the CIA's controversial enhanced interrogation program. Most recently, Ward was in South Korea filming a clandestine balloon launch at the North Korean border, in which North Korean defectors launched thousands of pro-democracy leaflets with the intention of reaching Pyongyang. She has produced and filmed documentaries in Russia, Bosnia, Estonia, Peru, Jamaica, Zambia and across the United States. 

Savanna Washington (Moderator) has over fifteen years of experience as a writer and director. As a community activist, Washington has used her life and her filmmaking to affect change. In 2013 she filmed in North Korea for her current documentary, Playing Frisbee in North Korea, for which she received a $25,000 grant from the Korean Issues & Insights Endowment. She is currently an Assistant Professor at City University of New York, teaching Video Arts Production, Screenwriting, and Introduction to Contemporary Media.

Produced by Ana Breton, Carol Cassidy, Marcia Rock and Savanna Washington

Special Thanks to NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

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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