The Art of Festival Programming
Programmers imprint their individual frame of reference on festival selections and play integral roles in shaping film culture and communities. The films that are programmed in our nation’s most revered festivals directly affect what is exhibited, distributed and critically acclaimed. Our assembled panel of world class programmers and critics take a look at the intricacies of festival programming – what makes a film bad or good, believable or outlandish, worthy or unworthy of laurels – and what gets into the festivals.
Ava DuVernay – Award Winning Director/Founder, African-American Film Festival
Releasing Movement (AFFRM)
Shari Frilot – Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival
Roya Rastegar – Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness, Festival Programmer
Bradford Young – Award-Winning Cinematographer
Moderator: Elvis Mitchell – Film Critic, Host of KCRW’s “The Treatment“
Click below to register for the full day of activities on Saturday, June 16, 2012:
Ava DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed 2008 hip hop documentary, “This is The Life.” Winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle, the film was released theatrically and debuted on Showtime in April 2009. The Los Angeles Times raved, “This Is the Life vaults into the upper echelons of must-see hip-hop documentaries”.
In 2010, she wrote, produced and directed the feature, “I Will Follow”, starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick and Beverly Todd. Released theatrically in 2011, the family drama was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “one of the best films I’ve seen about the loss of a loved one.”
DuVernay directed and produced three network music documentaries in 2010. “My Mic Sounds Nice” is a definitive history of female hip hop artists and holds the distinction of being BET Networks first original music documentary. “Essence Music Festival 2010″ is a two-hour concert film for TV One chronicling the nation’s largest annual African-American entertainment gathering. “Faith Through The Storm” is a documentary for TV One about women in New Orleans who have reclaimed their lives after personal devastation during Hurricane Katrina.
Most recently, DuVernay completed principal photography on her second feature, “Middle of Nowhere.” The film will be released in 2012.
Previously, DuVernay worked in the world of film as a marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, forming DVA Media + Marketing in 1999. Her award-winning firm provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Bill Condon, Raoul Peck and Gurinder Chadha.
A UCLA graduate, DuVernay is the founder of AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement and a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She is based in Los Angeles.
Shari Frilot’s films have been featured at the Toronto International Film Festival, Cinevegas, the Tribeca Film Festival, Africa in the Picture in Amsterdam, Festival de Films Gays & Lesbiens de Paris, the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Festival, the International Black Cinema Festival in Berlin and the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festivalwork. Among other awards, she received the Best of Fest at the Inside/Out Lesbian & Gay Toronto Film Festival. Her work has been put in the Permanent Collections of Barnard College, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College and Bates College. Frilot has been a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival since 1998. Prior to that, she co-founded and programmed Mix Brasil and Mix Mexico, the first gay film festivals in Brazil and Mexico, respectively, and was director of Mix: The New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival and Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
Roya Rastegar has a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness, from the University of California. She was a Programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival, and has been part of programming teams at the Sundance Film Festival, the L.A. Film Festival, and the Arab Film Festival. She was a Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 2008-9, and a Co-Director of the Santa Cruz Women of Color Film & Video Festival from 2004-5. She is currently writing a book on the history of American film festivals and contemporary film programming practices.
Bradford Young is a native of Louisville, Kentucky Bradford young received his Bachelors of Arts and MFA from Howard University. As a freelance documentary cinematographer Bradfordʼs credits include, Eventual Salvation, directed by Dee Rees, which won the 2007 Sundance Documentary Fund, and the 2007 Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award. Other docs inlcude Alicia in Africa, directed by Earle Sebastian and The Western Front directed by Zachary Iscol.
Bradford’s feature credits include Black Sheep, White Lies, directed by James Spooner (Afropunk), which made its premiere at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Mississippi Damned, directed by Tina Mabry, which made its world premiere at the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival and was developed at Project FIND’s directors and producers lab. And, Entre Nos directed by Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte, which made its world premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. And most recently Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City and Dee Rees’s Pariah.
Bradford’s narrative shorts credits include, Dee Rees’s, multiple award winning film, Pariah, which showed at over 25 national and international film festivals. Pariah the feature script was developed at the Sundance screenwriters, directors and producers lab. And, Colonial Gods, directed by Dee Rees in Cardiff, Wales.
Most recently, along with Tina Mabry and Paola Mendoza, Bradford was featured as one of the 2009 Filmmaker Magazineʼs 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Outside of his film work, Bradford was also nominated for the 2008 Renew Media Arts Fellowship (Rockefeller Foundation) for his video installation project titled REKOGNIZE!? that combines still photography and documentary footage in a multi-media installation about calculated youth resistance movements in Franceʼs suburbs.
Elvis Mitchell is an American film critic, host of the public radio show The Treatment, and visiting lecturer at Harvard University. He has served as a film critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the LA Weekly, The Detroit Free Press, and The New York Times. In the summer of 2011, he was appointed as curator of LACMA’s new film series, Film Independent at LACMA.