Expanding the traditional understandings of how black cinema plays and sells in international markets from the perspective of professionals and filmmakers successfully distributing lack content around the world.
NIKKOLE DENSON-RANDOLPH is Vice President, Specialty & Alternative Content
AMC Theatres. Denson-Randolph joined AMC Theatres in August 2009 after accumulating more than a decade of business development experience in the entertainment arena. In her current position, Denson-Randolph oversees the strategic development and implementation of AMC’s specialty programming efforts and initiatives in addition to alternative content programming and expansion. One of her most recent endeavors includes the launch of AMC independent, a program designed to provide AMC Theatres’ guests with diverse, creative, on-screen storytelling from around the world as well as socially and culturally relevant stories that represent their very own interests.
She served as the Director of Business Development for the Starbucks Coffee Company from August 2004 until February 2009, where she fielded, developed, and negotiated music, film and book offerings for Starbucks Entertainment. Key initiatives included the inaugural book development arrangement between Starbucks Entertainment and Hyperion Books for the distribution of Mitch Albom’s bestseller For One More Day in Starbucks locations across the country, and a partnership with Lionsgate, in which Starbucks was involved with marketing and promotion of “Akeelah and The Bee.”
Prior to her work at Starbucks Entertainment, Denson-Randolph served as President of Magic Johnson Entertainment and President of Magic Hallway Pictures, where she was instrumental in building the corporate infrastructure and promoting the Magic brand to unparalleled heights. During her tenure, she was responsible for negotiating several multimillion dollar revenue generating alliances such as, the 24-Hour Fitness Partnership, The “Original Coors” and Coors “21 Means 21” campaigns. As a result of Denson’s accomplishments at MJE, Mr. Johnson entrusted her with the responsibility of rebuilding and revitalizing MJE’s entertainment division. In less than two years at the helm, she turned Magic Johnson Entertainment into a serious Hollywood player.
Her accomplishments include overseeing MJE’s production and development relationship with the successful Fox Searchlight release, BROWN SUGAR; orchestrating a production pact with Jersey Films on the feature KEEP IT COOL; spearheading the Showtime documentary, CROSSOVER, with Penny Marshall; making the successful transition to producer on HAIR SHOW; co-producing and developing the MTV reality series WHO’S GOT GAME; brokering a four-picture partnership with RKO Pictures; and creating a development slate of film and television products that have solidified MJE as a player within the entertainment industry. Denson-Randolph’s savvy, creative management efforts spawned an internal surge straight to the divisions’ bottom line, which grew more than 100 percent from its initial capital investment. Most recently, she led the exhibitor negotiations and AMC-exclusive release of the Kevin Hart stand-up comedy film “Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain”. The film’s success and its theatrically-exclusive distribution model were noted by major industry publications as one of the independent film success stories of 2011. During her tenure at AMC, she has been a featured panelist at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Variety Film Marketing Summit and other notable industry events.
Denson-Randolph earned her bachelor’s from the University of California at Davis. In 1995, she obtained a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from The University of San Francisco, and has been a member of the California State Bar since 1996. She and her husband, John, currently live in
Los Angeles, California.
AMAL ELWARDI is Senior Vice President of Acquisitions of IM Global. Ms. ElWardi assisted CEO Stuart Ford in managing the international division at First Look Studios prior to IM Global’s inception. For IM Global she currently evaluates script submissions and finished films for sales agency acquisitions as well as assists in creating international film sales forecasts, monthly and market sales reports and outlines deal memos for worldwide deals.
ElWardi has attended all major theatrical markets and festivals worldwide, coordinating company presence, organizing distribution of materials to international clients and press and providing marketing and promotional support. As a part of IM Global’s team, she has assisted in bank loan closings with financial institutions in order to facilitate gap financing of feature films. Prior to First Look International, ElWardi assisted the C.E.O. of FilmBank Capital in conducting research for financial structuring and valuation analyses for single picture and film slate financing with Castle Rock Entertainment and Warner Brothers Studios.
MARY HILL is a film acquisitions and marketing person by day and an aspiring publicist by night. Mary received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana. Following graduation, she freelanced at major film festivals (Cannes, Venice, and TIFF) promoting such nominated and awarded films as, Rachel Getting Married, Precious, Bright Star, and Outside the Law for the top UK publicity agency, Premier PR. She currently acquires and markets independent horror and thriller films for the foreign and domestic sales and distribution company, Imagination Worldwide. She also promotes upcoming talent and projects in California and Texas.
ELIZABETH POWELL is Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at IM Global. Prior to IM Global, Powell was vice president of business and legal affairs at a leading independent film sales company, where she was the lead attorney responsible for negotiating and documenting agreements with producers, financiers, distributors and financial institutions. In addition, Powell attended theatrical markets and festivals worldwide, including the Marché du Film in Cannes, Toronto International Film Festival and the American Film Market, to provide immediate legal drafting, negotiation and support to the sales team.
Powell began her career assisting a business affairs agent at William Morris Agency and served as a law clerk at the Screen Actors Guild. Powell is a member of the California Bar. She received a J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, CA and a B.A. in Communications with concentrations in Television and Film Production from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Powell currently serves on the Legal Committee for the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) and Co-chairs the Entertainment Law Committee of the Langston Bar Association.
SUDZ SUTHERLAND (Writer/Director) works on both sides of the fence as a freelance writer and director for Dramas and Documentaries. Home Again, Sudz’ sophomore feature film, is the follow up to his multiple award winning and Genie nominated debut feature film Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. He is currently developing two other feature films, Colourblind and Operation Red Dog.
Sudz recently directed “The Phantoms” for Dream Street Pictures in 2011 airing in Fall 2012 and co-created his first television series, “She’s The Mayor” with Jennifer Holness and Min Sook Lee.
Previous to this, Sudz was involved with the feature film Toronto Stories, an anthology in conjunction with three other directors and was invited to TIFF for September 2008. On the TV side, he also completed the dramatic miniseries “Guns” for CBC based on four families caught up in illegal gun trafficking. Starring Colm Feore and Elisha Cuthbert “Guns” won five Gemini Awards including Best Writing and Directing.
Sudz also wrote and directed the triple Gemini award-winning (Best Direction, Best Supporting actress, Best Television Movie) “Doomstown,” an MOW for CTV/Sarrazin-Couture.
Sudz’ episodic television directing work includes “Heartland” and “Wild Roses” for CBC, the pilot and second episode of “Da Kink in my Hair” for Global, “Degrassi: The Next Generation” for CTV, “The Famous Jett Jackson” for Disney, “Drop the Beat” for CBC, “Skin Deep III” for Life Network, “Tell It Like It Is” for W Network, “Brand New Life” for NFB/YTV and “Canadian Geographic for Kids” for TVO.
Sudz’s powerful half-hour dramatic debut, My Father’s Hands screened at The Toronto International Film Festival. It went on to win prizes in Canada at the 2000 Yorkton Film Festival (four awards including best drama, script, direction and best actor), and internationally, including the $20,000 HBO Short Film Award at the Acapulco Black Film festival. The film was also nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Short. In addition, Sudz co-directed the National Film Board’s documentary film, Speakers for the Dead.