Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern is the 40th and current Prime Minister of New Zealand and the
female head of
Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern is the 40th and current Prime Minister of New Zealand and the
female head of
Steven Canals is the creator, executive producer, writer and director of the history making Emmy and Golden Globe nominated and Peabody Award winning series POSE,
which has the largest
cast of transgender
actors in TV history
and is acclaimed for
Niki Caro is a multi award-winning New Zealand film director and screenwriter whose credits include THE ZOOKEEPERS WIFE, NORTH COUNTRY, WHALE RIDER and upcoming MULAN.
Academy Award® winner Geena Davis (THELMA&LOUISE) is the Founder and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the leading research based organisation working in entertainment and media to
achieve gender parity
in film and TV.
Tilane Jones leads Ava DuVernay’s grass-roots film collective ARRAY as President, having worked with DuVernay for over ten years and earning film credits that include Oscar nominated and four-time
Emmy winner 13TH and
Oscar nominated SELMA.
Franklin Leonard is an American film executive and producer of The Black List, a yearly publication featuring Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays.
Heperi Mita is director of the acclaimed documentary MERATA: HOW MUM DECOLONISED THE SCREEN, an intimate portrait of New Zealand filmmaking icon,
of indigenous cinema
and his mother,
Yara Shahidi is an actress and activist, best known for her breakout role in the TV series BLACK-ISH and the spinoff GROWN-ISH, while empowering a generation of activism
through her advocacy
with Eighteen X 18
and Yara's Club.
Dr. Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the Annenberg School for Communication
& Journalism at the
Magda Szubanski AO is a celebrated actor, producer and best-selling author, and was ‘The Most Talked About Person’ in 2017 for her crucial role in advocating for marriage equality
More speakers below with further announcements coming.
Nasreen Alkhateeb is an award-winning director, whose original content has broadcast internationally for over a decade. By illuminating under-represented voices, Nasreen thrives as a leader on diverse storytelling projects that include broadcast, digital, and film.
As a multi-cultural woman of colour, who is differently-abled, survivor of assault, survivor of the gulf war, 1st generation, LGBTQ and raised Muslim, Nasreen has a plethora of lenses she sees the world through. Nasreen’s ability to connect with people relies on commonalities that surpass identifiers like race, gender, religion, culture, and physical ability.
Born in San Francisco, she spent her first seven years in the Middle East and her formative years in the suburbs outside Washington D.C., before moving to New York City to complete her BFA from Pratt Institute. An American with African roots and a Turkoman Iraqi post 9/11, she is constantly translating these worlds, with one foot on three continents. Coming from so many dense layers, Nasreen learned to carve out space and normalise her differences, redefining what it is to be human in life and on screen.
In 2019, her film EAST OF THE RIVER screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and won Honorable Mention at Slamdance, and she directed two national campaigns for NASA and the Women’s March. In 2018, she directed the first 50th year anniversary film for NASA’s Apollo Program. In 2016, Nasreen was awarded Cinematographer of the Year by NASA.
In addition to creating original content for UN Women, TED, NASA, SXSW, Coachella, Discovery Networks, WITNESS, and IFC Films, Nasreen has participated in the Sundance Film Festival, and helped program AFI Docs, the Nantucket Film Festival, the Brooklyn International Film Festival, CINE, TIVA, and the Emmys®.
As a public speaker on new media and storytelling, Nasreen has presented her work to audiences at TEDx, AwesomeCon, StoryCode, Filmgate Miami, Light City Baltimore, NASA Goddard Women in Action, PORTALS, Georgetown University, the George Washington University, Manhattan Mornings, and Pratt Institute. When she is not on set, Nasreen teaches women, girls and LGBTQIA self-defense empowerment.
Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern was born in the city of Hamilton, New Zealand, and grew up rurally. She attended high school before graduating from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Politics and Public Relations.
Post-university, she worked as an advisor in the office of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, in London for the Government Cabinet Office and as an Assistant Director in the Department for Business and Enterprise, and on a review of Policing in England and Wales.
The Prime Minister joined the New Zealand Labour Party at age 18 and entered New Zealand’s Parliament in 2008. Over her nine years as a representative she has been a strong advocate for children, women, and the right of every New Zealander to have meaningful work.
She became the MP for the Auckland electorate Mt Albert in early 2017, and the Leader of the Labour Party in August 2017. As well as Prime Minister, she holds the roles of Minister for National Security and Intelligence, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, an issue particularly close to her heart.
Minnie Baragwanath is the CEO and Founder of the Be. lab, a New Zealand based globally networked centre for access innovation. Eight years ago, she and her incredible team and Board established Be. Accessible, a social change agency committed to the creation of a 100% accessible New Zealand. The Be. Lab, with its emphasis on “Possibility” as the key to social transformation, is the next chapter in that pioneering story.
Minnie’s work as an access innovator and as a social entrepreneur extends over 25 years and has included many diverse roles, from work in the media, to local government, as well as founding and operating a New Zealand based, globally networked social enterprise.
Over the last 5 years Minnie has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit, the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award, the Westpac Women of Influence Diversity award and was placed as a top 10 finalist for the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. Minnie is a Leadership New Zealand alumnus, is currently a mentor on the inaugural Kupe Leadership programme through Auckland University and recently completed the Margaret Wheatley international Leadership program in Italy.
Minnie also recently undertook a comprehensive global study tour that included visits to Italy, Germany, England, America and Singapore in order to study and connect with global access innovators.
Lorrie Bartlett is a partner and co-head of the talent department at ICM Partners, a talent and literary agency representing clients in the fields of motion pictures, television, publishing, music, theatre, branded entertainment and digital media. ICM Partners is one of the predominant agencies in the United States and Europe, with its principal offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Ms. Bartlett’s clients include Academy Award® and Emmy® award winner Regina King (IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, AMERICAN CRIME), Academy Award® nominee Michael Keaton (BIRDMAN, THE FOUNDER); Academy Award® nominee Ruth Negga (LOVING, AMC’S PREACHER), two-time Emmy® award winner Anna Gunn (BREAKING BAD, SULLY), Emmy® award winner Kelly Macdonald (BOARDWALK EMPIRE, BRAVE, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) Emmy® award nominee Laverne Cox (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), Josh Duhamel (TRANSFORMERS, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT), Lucy Liu (ELEMENTARY, CHARLIE’S ANGELS), Rodrigo Santoro (WESTWORLD, 300), Laura Harrier (BLACKKKLANSMAN) and Nazanin Boniadi (BEN-HUR, HOTEL MUMBAI, HOMELAND).
Ms. Bartlett graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs. She started her career at The Gersh Agency in July 1991 as Bob Gersh’s assistant and transitioned from agent to partner. Ms. Bartlett is the first African-American to run a talent department for a major talent and literary agency. She is also the newest member of the ICM Partners Managing Board of Directors.
Malika Bilal is an award-winning international news journalist, TV host, and moderator based in Washington, DC. She is currently co-host of THE STREAM an Emmy® nominated news talk show on Al Jazeera English, centred on online viewer participation. There, she facilitates live on-air panel discussions while simultaneously bringing in viewer questions, comments and feedback. She also hosts THE TAKE, Al Jazeera's flagship news podcast that brings listeners on a journey behind the major news stories of the week.
A Chicago native, Malika graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She also attended the American University in Cairo. She has reported from across the United States and the Middle East, including Egypt, where she covered that country’s first post-revolution election campaign and subsequent violence, and Saudi Arabia, where she was deployed to cover the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Malika previously worked for Voice of America and has written for the Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio and ESPN.com. Her career has afforded her the chance to interview presidents and prime ministers, Hollywood and Bollywood stars, and artists and activists from around the world. Her favourite interviews, though, are with the people you haven't heard of yet.
On leaving school Philippa trained at Theatre Corporate, spending the next ten years working as a playwright, producer and editor. She was the Director of the NZ Writers Guild from 1993 to 1996.
During this time Philippa studied part-time at University and graduated from the University of Auckland in 1994 with a B.A. in English and History. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland in 2006.
Her work in film includes writing, producing, and composing lyrics for film scores.
Philippa is best known as a principal scriptwriter, along with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, for the screen adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. This is the largest film project ever undertaken in New Zealand. Philippa’s work was honoured with OSCAR and BAFTA Awards in 2004 for best adapted screenplay for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING.
In her career, Philippa has won 13 other awards and received a further 19 nominations, including being named in 2000 by Variety Magazine as one of their ten best writers to watch in the industry.
Her other works include the screen adaptation of THE HOBBIT, KING KONG, DISTRICT 9 and writer/producer on the film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel -THE LOVELY BONES.
Her work has helped bring international recognition to the NZ Film Industry and this was acknowledged by her receiving the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004.
Hailing from The Bronx, Steven Canals is the Creator, Executive Producer, Writer and Director of the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated and Peabody Award winning FX drama series POSE. A 2015 graduate of UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program, he began his journey as a storyteller in high school, producing the documentary short "Turf Violence: What's It All About?" co-funded by HBO Family. Steven went on to earn a BA in Cinema, and a Masters in Student Affairs & Diversity from Binghamton University. He moved to LA in 2012 after a 9 year career in Higher Education. While attending UCLA, Steven served as a Research Assistant at Hungry Jackal Productions. In 2016 Steven was a Staff Writer on Freeform’s Dead of Summer, the same year his short film, AFUERA, premiered at the LA Film Festival. Variety Magazine named Steven a TV Writer to Watch in 2018. Season 2 of POSE aired Summer 2019, and has been renewed for a third.
Writer and director, Niki Caro, is one of the most successful filmmakers to emerge from New Zealand in recent years.
After completing a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland and a Postgraduate Diploma in Film from Swinburne in Melbourne, Caro directed a number of highly acclaimed short films. SURE TO RISE screened in Competition in Cannes in 1994; and FOOTAGE at the Venice Film Festival in 1996. Her first feature film MEMORY AND DESIRE was selected for Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998.
Her second feature film, WHALE RIDER won twenty seven international awards, including audience awards at prestigious international film festivals including Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Seattle and Maui. It won an Academy Award nomination for Keisha Castle-Hughes, then the youngest person ever to be nominated in the best actress category.
Following the international success of WHALE RIDER, Caro directed NORTH COUNTRY, starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson. Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively at the 2005 Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTAs, Satellite Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Caro’s more recent feature length films include THE VINTNER’S LUCK, McFARLAND, USA, starring Kevin Costner, and THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE, starring Jessica Chastain
In her first foray into American television, Caro helmed the movie pilot for Netflix’ ANNE WITH AN ‘E’, a bold and inspired new vision of the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ story, now into its third season.
Most recently Niki Caro has directed the live action version of Disney’s MULAN. MULAN will be released worldwide in March 2020.
Julie Ann Crommett has been working in the Diversity and Inclusion space for a decade. She is currently Vice President of Multicultural Audience Engagement at The Walt Disney Studios, leading efforts to diversify talent in front of and behind the camera, connect creative projects more closely to the communities they touch, and build a more inclusive culture within the Studios. Her team contributed to many projects including COCO, BLACK PANTHER, and ALADDIN. Previously she was Google's Entertainment Industry Educator in Chief, leading their efforts to shift and diversify on-screen perceptions of computer science through storytelling (a position she created). Before that, she worked at NBCUniversal managing behind-the-camera diversity programmes including Writers on the Verge and the Directing Fellowship. Julie Ann has been recognised by The Hollywood Reporter’s “35 under 35”, the IMAGEN Foundation’s Influential Latinos in Entertainment list and as an ADCOLOR Innovator. Outside Disney, she serves on the boards for NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) and Women in Animation. Of Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage, Julie Ann was raised in Atlanta, GA and earned her BA in English at Harvard University.
Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks.
Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s THELMA & LOUISE, in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon ‘Dottie Hinson’ in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.
Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show COMMANDER IN CHIEF.
Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in TOOTSIE. She went on to star in such films as THE FLY, BEETLEJUICE, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, and STUART LITTLE.
Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is now recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media made for children 11 and under.
Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide.
Geena Davis co-founded the Bentonville Film Festival in 2015 to champion women and minorities in media. BFF’s mission is to encourage content creation in film and other forms of media that reflects the diverse — and half female — world we live in. BFF proactively supports content creation by minorities and women with a platform to showcase their work and, with the help of our partners, is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners. The Festival takes place in early May in Bentonville, Arkansas and is research based and commercially driven.
Recently, Davis starred in 20 Century Fox’s THE EXORCIST, a serialized psychological thriller based on the 1971 book of the same name and the critically acclaimed feature film, MARJORIE PRIME.
Davis is an Executive Producer on the acclaimed feature film THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.
Hope completed her MFA in filmmaking at Columbia University where she made three short films that played at festivals worldwide. While in New York she was assistant to Todd Solondz on his film PALINDROMES. Hope’s award-winning thesis film, THE DAWN CHORUS, was selected for Sundance, Edinburgh, London and many other festivals. Screen International made her a Star of Tomorrow and Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the ’25 New Faces of Independent Film’. Since her return to the UK, she has made further acclaimed short works for Channel 4, Film London, the UK Film Council and the National Theatre of Scotland. Her debut feature THE LEVELLING, produced by Wellington Films as part the iFeatures scheme (funded by BBC Films, the BFI and Creative England) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016. At the London Film Festival she was awarded the inaugural IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award in Association with the BFI and in 2017 she won the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Screenplay and was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit.
She is currently developing several features and is a co-founder of Raising Films - a campaign to make the film industry more parent and carer-friendly. She lives in Scotland with her husband and two sons.
Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research focused non-profit working within entertainment and media industry to achieve gender equity in children's entertainment. Di Nonno leads the Institute's strategic direction, management, financial and operational activities. Di Nonno brings thirty years of executive leadership in the entertainment, non-profit, digital and consumer packaged goods industries. Di Nonno is an Executive Producer on the upcoming feature film THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Previously, Di Nonno served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, a leader in streaming content creation and distribution. Di Nonno lead the company’s new business development and streaming platforms for the entertainment, healthcare, and consumer products clients such as Nike, Gatorade, Iconix, and PepsiCo.
Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment where she led global brand marketing, franchise development, acquisitions, digital media initiatives for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia.
As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI a leading research provider of Theatrical distribution measurement and information, Di Nonno drove new digital product offerings, new business development and theatrical distribution and exhibition client management.
Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, having launched the cable channel and established marketing, digital media, e-commerce, and corporate alliance initiatives. Di Nonno developed revenue-generating, integrated marketing programs with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Fuji, Mail Boxes Etc., Universal Pictures, Target, Sony Pictures, Chrysler, and Baskin Robbins. Di Nonno pioneered the Channel’s digital media platforms.
Di Nonno served eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing where she established the company’s first Digital platforms and marketing campaigns. Di Nonno supervised marketing campaigns for all theatrical, direct-to-video and library releases and spearheaded Universal’s launch into DVD and interactive media.
Di Nonno began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity working on the marketing communications campaigns for mini-series, sports and daytime, including “The Winds of War,” “The Thorn Birds” and the 1984 Olympics.
Di Nonno is frequent speaker at global conferences, corporations, academic institutions, and film festivals such as AdWeek, Cannes Lion, CinemaCon, CES, SAG-AFTRA, The White House, The Department of State, UNESCO, the United Nations. Di Nonno has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, FOX 11 News, Fast Company, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, Glamour, MediaWeek, LinkedIn News, Huffington Post, Kidscreen, The Guardian and Wired Magazine.
Opetaia Foa’i hails from the South Pacific and is a Grammy-nominated songwriter as well as singer, guitarist and founder of the Contemporary Polynesian band, Te Vaka. He has dedicated his entire career to the stories of his Polynesian ancestors and is recognised as one of the South Pacific's most influential cultural and musical ambassadors.
In 2013 Foa’i, alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, signed on as songwriter for Disney’s hit animated musical feature film MOANA.
Opetaia has written 9 albums and performed in 40 countries with his band, Te Vaka. His list of awards are highlighted by: Billboard award 2018 - Top Soundtrack (MOANA), American Music Award “Top Soundtrack” (MOANA) 2017, Grammy Award Nomination “Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media” (MOANA: THE SONGS) 2017, New Zealand Music Awards "International Achievement" Award 2017 and 3 x New Zealand Music Awards "Best Pacific Album" (TUTUKI, OLATIA and AMATAGA) 2004, 2008, 2015.
Maria Giese wrote and directed the 1996 feature film When Saturday Comes starring Sean Bean and Pete Postlethwaite, and the award-winning digital feature film Hunger based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winner Knut Hamsun. She has also directed two Golden Cine Eagle-winning short films, and has written three screenplays that have been produced into feature films. She is a member of the Directors Guild of America, Film Fatales, and the Alliance of Women Directors, and is founding chair of the annual Women’s Media Summit.
In 2015 after four years of activism in the Directors Guild of America, Giese became the person who instigated the biggest industry-wide Federal investigation for women directors in Hollywood history. In The New York Times, Manohla Dargis referred to her work as “a veritable crusade.” She is now a subject in several feature-length documentaries including THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. Her new TEDx talk, THE BATTLE FOR FEMALE VOICES IN ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA, and her upcoming book TROUBLEMAKER, describe her work getting the ACLU and EEOC to investigate this issue— the ramifications of which are resonating globally.
Giese holds a BA from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree from UCLA’s Graduate School of Theatre, Film and Television. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious EQUITY AWARD from Stanford University and her articles have appeared in Ms. Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Elle, IndieWIRE, and Film Inquiry. Giese herself has appeared on CNN Global, BBC International, ABC Live, Sky TV UK Live, Bloomberg TV, and NPR. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, The Guardian, among others internationally.
A member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and an Arts Laureate, Rachel House (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga) is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. She has been involved in the creative industry since 1992, both as an actor and a director and she has performed in numerous productions from contemporary Māori plays to Shakespeare, some of which have toured nationally and internationally.
Rachel has appeared in the international award-winning feature film WHALE RIDER, and Taika Waititi's THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, BOY and EAGLE VS. SHARK, as well as numerous television productions including the BBC co-production of MADDIGAN'S QUEST, THE NEW LEGENDS OF MONKEY and HOPE AND WIRE.
She just completed filming anticipated TV series STATELESS and feature film PENGUIN BLOOM.
The voice of Gramma Tala in the film MOANA, she was an important collaborator with filmmakers and an integral part of its translation to Te Reo Māori.
Behind the camera she has worked as an acting and performance coach with teenagers and children on the films BOY, FANTAIL, EVERYTHING WE LOVED, DARK HORSE, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE and Alison McClean’s THE REHEARSAL.
Wellington theatre critics Chapman Tripp Acting awards include Best Newcomer, Best Supporting Actress for Ibsen's ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE and Most Outstanding Performance for Witi Ihimaera’s WOMAN FAR WALKING.
In 2002, she directed HAVE CAR WILL TRAVEL by Mitch Tawhi Thomas. She was awarded Director of the Year at the Wellington Theatre Awards and continued to direct both theatre and television.
Highlights include Neil Labute's MERCY SEAT, the national and Australian tour of award winning HINEPAU for children, Tusiata Avia's internationally toured one man show WILD DOGS UNDER MY SKIRT and the Premiere of Mitch Tawhi Thomas play HUI at the International festival in Auckland.
In 2012 she directed the MAORI TROILUS and CRESSIDA performed at the Globe theatre in London as part of the cultural Olympiad in 2012; she was awarded Director of the Year and Production of the year at the Wellington theatre awards.
She graduated from the Prague film school in 2008 having studied directing, editing, surrealism, cinematography, photography and screenwriting for a year.
In 2012 she was awarded an Arts Laureate as an investment in excellence across a range of art forms for an artist with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth. Rachel received the Te Wai-a-Rangi Award for Arts and Entertainment at the 2018 Matariki Award.
Tilane Jones has worked with award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay for over ten years. Beginning with public relations and promotional company the The DuVernay Agency as well as production entity Forward Movement, then leading DuVernay's grass-roots film distribution collective ARRAY as Vice President. In 2019 she was appointed President of ARRAY. Jones now leads Array Alliance, the non-profit dedicated to social impact and education, as well as The Array Creative Campus, a three-building compound for production and public programming focused on marginalized filmmakers. She will continue to oversee Array Releasing, the company’s film distribution arm, where she has been responsible for the acquisition, booking and marketing of the collective's 25+ films.
Array Releasing has distributed feature films since 2011 including Andrew Dosunmu's RESTLESS CITY and Haile Gerima's ASHES AND EMBERS. Working as Manager of Production for Forward Movement, Jones served as a producer for all of the company’s visual product. Her film credits include: Oscar nominated and four-time EMMY winner 13TH, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, THIS IS THE LIFE, I WILL FOLLOW, AUGUST 28: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PEOPLE, FAMILY FEUD and Oscar nominated SELMA as well as acclaimed fashion and beauty films for Prada and Fashion Fair, THE DOOR and SAY YES, respectively. Her television credits include: BET's “Black Girls Rock,” “My Mic Sounds Nice,” “John Legend Interludes Live,” “Essence Music Festival 2010,” and ESPN Films' “VENUS VS.”
Array Instagram: @arraynow
Oscar Kightley is a Samoan born writer/actor and director who grew up in New Zealand and who has helped create critically acclaimed award-winning work for the stage, small and big screens.
The movie he co-wrote and starred in, SIONE’S WEDDING, broke domestic box office records on its release in 2006. The follow up sequel released in 2012 enjoyed similar success.
From 2005 to 2009 he wrote and performed in BRO TOWN, a prime time animated comedy series that earned a massive following, screening around the world.
In 2009 he was made a New Zealand Arts Foundation Arts Laureate. The same year he was given a medal from the Queen in recognition of services to New Zealand theatre and television.
In 2013 he helped write and direct comedy television series SUPER CITY II, which was awesome. His first short film, Tom’s Dairy got love from film festivals including the top prize in Belize!
That year he co-wrote and played the lead in the gritty drama Harry, which received rave reviews in New Zealand and in the United States.
In 2016 you will have seen Oscar on the silver screen in the award winning HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE playing the none-to-bright cop Andy, that same year you will have heard Oscar’s distinctive voice in the Disney hit MOANA where Oscar voiced the part of Fisherman.
Oscar is part of The Naked Samoans who are a comedy troupe that have worked on stage and screen for eighteen years now. They have a following in New Zealand, Australia and the US. They starred in the SIONE’S WEDDING movies, five seasons of cartoon BRO TOWN and TV comedy RADIRADIRAH with their most recent performance at the Auckland Arts Festival in 2018 premiering their latest show, in conjunction with The Conch Charitable Trust, THE NAKED SAMOANS DO MAGIC.
2018 saw Oscar involved in the production of the All Blacks documentary ALL OR NOTHING which was picked up by Amazon.
Since then, Oscar has been focussing on various writing projects and more recently hosted the TVNZ docu-series FOLLOWING TWAIN.
Oscar is currently working on DAWN RAID which is a documentary he is directing, about the legendary Polynesian record label.
Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, who has completed a PhD in TV writing and cultural studies. He is the author of books including THE FAMILY LAW and GAYSIA: ADVENTURES IN THE QUEER EAST, which were both nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.
The TV adaptation of THE FAMILY LAW, created and co-written by Benjamin, and produced by Matchbox Pictures, screened on SBS in 2016. The pilot’s Facebook premiere gained 1.1 million views, with the season as a whole the most-watched comedy on SBS On Demand. THE FAMILY LAW returned for two further seasons, winning two Equity Ensemble Awards (Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series), two Casting Guild Awards (Best Casting in a Comedy) a SPAA Award (Best Comedy Series). Benjamin also wrote on Netflix/Network Ten’s SISTERS, and recently developed and hosted documentary series WALTZING THE DRAGON WITH BENJAMIN LAW.
Benjamin has written for over 50 publications including his Quarterly Essay MORAL PANIC 101.
Academy Award® and two-time Golden Globe® winning producer Jon Landau has produced some of the highest grossing films, including AVATAR and TITANIC. The combination of Landau's thorough understanding of the most complex state-of-the-art technologies, his ability to work hand-in-hand with the highest calibre of creative talent and his motivational ability has enabled him to play a significant role in numerous major motion pictures.
Throughout his career, Landau has also been very instrumental in the licensing and marketing of his films across all platforms globally. He has taken a hands-on approach to bringing innovation, diversity and showmanship to these areas of the process.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Landau is proactively working with companies and individuals throughout the entertainment industry to push technologies to new levels that will allow new stories to be told and then presented in more engaging and immersive ways.
Landau recently produced ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (directed by Robert Rodriguez) and is in production on four AVATAR sequels (all of which are being directed by James Cameron).
Franklin Leonard is a film producer, cultural commentator, professor, and entrepreneur.
He is the founder and CEO of the Black List, the company that celebrates and supports great screenwriting and the writers who do it via film production, its annual survey of best unproduced screenplays, online marketplace, live staged script readings, screenwriter labs, and film culture publications. More than 400 scripts from the annual Black List survey have been produced as feature films earning 250 Academy Award nominations and 50 wins including four of the last ten Best Pictures and ten of the last twenty-two screenwriting Oscars.
Franklin has worked in feature film development at Universal Pictures and the production companies of Will Smith, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He has been a juror at the Sundance, Toronto, and Guanajuato Film Festivals and for the PEN Center Literary Awards. He was also a delegate and speaker at the White House’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. He’s been one of Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise magazine’s “40 Emerging Leaders for Our Future,” The Root’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans, and Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and was awarded the 2015 African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)’s Special Achievement Award for career excellence and the 2019 Writers Guild of America, East Evelyn Burkey award for elevating the honor and dignity of screenwriters.
He is an occasional commentator for the BBC and MSNBC on matters of culture, politics, and race, an associate professor at the American Film institute, a trustee of PEN America, an advisor to Glitch, Inc., and a member of the Associates Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His TED talk was viewed more than one million times in its first two months of release.
Doreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunaxa) MFA, Film Production, is the daughter of renowned international leader, the late, George Manuel.
She is the first Indigenous woman to: hold a position on the board of Directors of Knowledge Network; and to hold the position of Director of a major film centre in Canada. She is the 2019 Woman of the Year for Women in Film and TV Vancouver (WIFTV); the recipient of the Leadership in Education award; and many other film industry and education leadership awards both provincially and nationally.
Doreen hold positions on the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of BC Diversity Task Force, UBCP/Actra & WIFTV Diversity Lobby Group, and YWCA Film Industry Diversity Group. She is a member of the Telefilm Indigenous Working Group, and is a Telefilm partner with the Talent to Watch funding program. She is an advisor and mentor to the Telus Storyhive production fund; a National Screen Institute (NSI) mentor; and a Matriarch advisor to the IM4 virtual and augmented reality training program for Indigenous peoples; and is a founder of the esteemed WIFTV Tricksters and Writers feature film screenwriting program for Indigenous women
In her role as Program Coordinator and Instructor for the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program (13 years), she re-developed the curriculum into a cultural model which examines decolonizing methodology. She has fought tirelessly advocating for funding and programming for First Nations people.
Her work prior to the film industry was prompted by the childhood trauma and abuse she suffered in the Indian residential school. She commitment eighteen years of her life to work on the front line developing and teaching social wellness programming, for substance abuse recovery, anti-gang violence, abuse intervention and prevention, intergenerational grief and childhood trauma recovery.
Doreen has 15 years-experience in the film industry, 33 years-experience teaching and a lifetime dedicated to environmental stewardship. Doreen comes from a long line of oral historians and factual story gatherers from her First Nations traditional background.
Born in Auckland, Shona Martyn is an award-winning journalist, book publisher and editor.
Currently editor of the prestigious arts section, Spectrum, at The Sydney Morning Herald
A former New Zealand Journalist of the Year, Shona was previously arts editor of Vogue Australia, the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald's
She has also worked with the production company Lingo Pictures in Sydney, developing book-to-screen opportunities. Shona's daughter, Evangeline Read, has recently started work as a film editor.
Kiel McNaughton is a director and producer of diverse and innovative narrative content.
After spending four and a half years in front of the camera as a core cast member on New Zealand’s most watched soap SHORTLAND STREET, Kiel moved behind the camera to direct and executive produce the award-winning comedy series AUCKLAND DAZE. He has since directed full seasons of FIND ME A MĀORI BRIDE and THIS IS PIKI and produced the feature films WARU and VAI.
Kiel’s first film as a director will be THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A - an action/adventure film set in an urban cul-de-sac in Aotearoa.
Along with Kerry Warkia, Kiel is co-founder of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions, whose goal is to tell stories unique to Aotearoa, with a passion for innovative content that celebrates diversity and in particular under represented voices.
Born into a movie making family, a career in the film industry was inescapable for director Heperi Mita - not that he didn't try. His media career began in 2007, working in online journalism for the pulitzer prize winning Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He returned to his home country of Aotearoa / New Zealand in 2011, following the death of his mother - indigenous film making pioneer Merata Mita. It was here that he began his career as an archivist with Ngā Taonga sound and vision, the nation's film archive.
The combination of these experiences culminated in his directorial debut with documentary MERATA: HOW MUM DECOLONISED THE SCREEN which premiered at the New Zealand International film festival in 2018. Going on to its international premiere at Sundance Film Festival, it was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s film collective ARRAY and subsequently released worldwide on Netflix. It has also shown at the New Zealand International Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival.
Leanne Pooley has been a documentary filmmaker for over 25 years and has directed films all over the world. In 2011 Leanne’s work was recognised by the New Zealand Arts Foundation and she was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate. Leanne was named an “Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit” for Services to Documentary Filmmaking in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List and she is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars®). Born in Canada, Leanne immigrated to New Zealand in the mid- 1980’s and began working for TVNZ. In 1992 she moved to England where she made documentaries for Britain’s major broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 as well as PBS and Discovery in America. Leanne returned to New Zealand in 1999 and established Spacific Films. Her documentaries have screened in more than 100 countries, won dozens of awards and include topics ranging from rugby to the Pope. (See Filmography.)
Leanne has two films due for release in 2020: THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE for Augusto Entertainment and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT A.I. for Universal Pictures and GFC Films. The former follows suicide survivor and activist Jazz Thornton as she confronts teenage suicide head on. The latter explores the existential risk and exponential benefits of Artificial General Intelligence.
In 2015 Leanne co-wrote and directed the animated feature 25 APRIL. This innovative documentary uses animation to tell the story of the ill-fated WWI Gallipoli campaign. 25 APRIL premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and was one of just nine films in competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival (the world’s premiere animation festival). 25 APRIL is the first New Zealand animated feature to qualify for Academy Award® consideration and was on the 2016 Oscars® long-list.
In 2013 Pooley directed the 3D feature film BEYOND THE EDGE for the General Film Corporation. This film tells the story of Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was a runner-up for the People’s Choice Award for Documentary. Leanne received the “Best Director-Documentary” award at the New Zealand Film Awards for her work on BEYOND THE EDGE.
In 2009 Leanne’s film TOPP TWINS – UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS about the lives of lesbian, singing, twin sister comedy duo, the Topp Twins, won 21 International Awards including Audience Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Gothenburg International Film Festival among others. It has won jury awards at the Seattle Film Festival, New Doc New York, the Nashville Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival among others. It also won “Best Feature” at the NZ Film & TV Awards, and reached over $2 million at the box office making it the most successful New Zealand documentary of all time. (See Awards and Honours.)
Previous documentaries include SHACKLETON’S CAPTAIN a feature length dramatised documentary about Frank Worsley, Captain of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, which was crushed by pack-ice off the coast of Antarctica in 1915; documentary feature THE PROMISE, about euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin - which won the 2006 New Zealand Screen Award for “Best Documentary” - and HAUNTING DOUGLAS about choreographer Douglas Wright. HAUNTING DOUGLAS was Leanne’s first feature length documentary and earned her the award for “Best Director” at the 2005 New Zealand Screen Awards. The film also won “Best Documentary” at the International Reel Dance Awards.
Leanne has served as a judge for the International Emmy® Awards, is a voting member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars®) and has extensive teaching experience and has published several articles on documentary filmmaking.
Heather Rae produced Academy Award nominated FROZEN RIVER. She received the Piaget Producers Award and has been recognized as one of Variety’s Producer to Watch. Rae also produced Netflix Originals TALLULAH starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney and DUDE from Blacklist script by Olivia Milch, Sundance highlights THE DRY LAND starring America Ferrera, feminist comedy ASS BACKWARDS and festival darling I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS from director Leah Meyerhoff.
Rae produced Un Certain Regard film BULL, written and directed by Annie Silverstein. As a director Rae made the acclaimed documentary TRUDELL, which tells the story of Native American movement leader and poet, John Trudell. Formerly Rae ran the Native Program at the Sundance Institute. And recently Rae began an overall producing deal with Amazon Studios. As a speaker and social critic Rae is working from both her settler and indigenous heritage to deepen the dialogue of reconciliation and responsibility in the Americas.
Sue Rowe is a Visual Effects Supervisor at Scanline VFX. Originally trained as a traditional animator, Sue completed an MA in Computer Animation at the NCCA in the UK. From there, she moved from 3D animation to compositing, and now is a Visual Effect Supervisor.
Sue worked as overall VFX Supervisor and as a Facility Supervisor on films including THE MEG
Madeleine is an accomplished actor. She got her start playing a multitude of characters in award winning plays No2 and Bare. She has starred in some of New Zealand’s most successful film comedies including, SIONES WEDDING and SIONES WEDDING 2, Taika Waititi’s EAGLE VS SHARK and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, the UK Western SLOW WEST starring Michael Fassbender, and most recently alongside Elijah Wood in deranged comic thriller COME TO DADDY.
She has numerous TV acting credits including OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, THE JAQUIE BROWN DIARIES and Jane Campion’s series, TOP OF THE LAKE.
Madeleine also has extensive experience on the other side of the industry.
She created, wrote and starred in two seasons of her own critically acclaimed TV show SUPER CITY. SUPER CITY was picked up by US network ABC in 2012 and made into an American pilot in which Madeleine also starred. More recently she directed the second season of hit sketch comedy show FUNNY GIRLS.
Feature film THE BREAKER UPPERERS, which she co-wrote and co-directed was released in 2018 to great popular and critical acclaim in NZ and abroad, and has since been picked up by Netflix International.
Amongst many other things she is currently working on a feature film ‘Pasha: A Journey to Me’ a spin off starring a character from her TV series Super City.
Kirsten Schaffer is the Executive Director of Women In Film, Los Angeles the preeminent organization that advocates for women in the screen industries – to achieve parity and transform culture. She has been instrumental in launching ReFrame, an industry wide initiative to advance inclusivity and gender equity, as well as starting a variety of programs at Women In Film to increase the skillset and opportunity for film and tv makers. Previously she was the Director of Programming and then Executive Director of Outfest.
She is widely credited as having grown Outfest into the leading LGBT media arts organization that it is. During Schaffer’s tenure at Outfest, she shepherded three new programs for the organization: The Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, the Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival and OutSet, the Young Filmmakers Project. Kirsten has extensive experience in film programming, small business management and arts administration. She is a graduate of National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program, AIM (Arts Innovation and Management), and the Wells Fargo New Executive Director Institute. Kirsten was named one of POWER UP’s “Top 10 Women in Show Business,” and was the recipient of a “Women in Business” Award from Senator Liu. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ana works commercially as an actor across the platforms of live performance, cinema and television. She works independently as an interdisciplinary storyteller, creating original works of art across the platforms of cinema, live theatre, zines, music, animation and visual art.
Ana captured the world’s hearts in 2018 for her role as Sepa, in the hit feature film THE BREAKER UPPERERS by Jackie Van Beek & Madeleine Sami. The same year she starred in the series WELLINGTON PARANORMAL, the spin-off of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS from directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. Her first short film that she directed and wrote, DANCE OF LONELY BIRDS was shown at WINDA Indigenous Film Festival in Sydney, The Bali Indigenous Film Festival, and at Māoriland film festival
A multi award winning performer and theatre maker, Ana’s zine GULFS was awarded "Best of the Fest" at Wellington Zinefest in 2018.
She is passionate about telling stories from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Ana loves being a part of processes that dismantle existing power hierarchies by cultivating working environments that value kindness, tenacity and personal transformation for both collaborators, and audiences alike. Born and raised in Wellington, Ana describes herself as a, "Dank loner, thespian, cinema appreciating, art inhaling nerd." She is passionate about flexing both her intellectual and emotional muscles in the work that she makes and contributes to. Her favourite cocktail is a dry Negroni, slightly heavy on the Campari, and her favourite cartoon is Ed, Edd N Eddie. Aquarius Sun, Taurus Moon, Capricorn rising. Hailing from Wellington and Tūhoe.
Adjacent to her work, Ana practises Nichiren Buddhism and cherishes long durational walks and swims as a means of reconnecting to source, and an internal state of gentleness.
Yara Shahidi is an actress, model, activist and breakout star of ABC’s Emmy- and Golden Globe- nominated comedy series BLACK-ISH. She stars as popular teen Zoey Johnson, an ambitious, technologically infatuated high school student. Shahidi currently stars on the BLACK-ISH spin-off GROWN-ISH which explores Zoey’s transition into adulthood as well as issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education.
Since BLACK-ISH launched in 2014, Shahidi has been awarded a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, a Gracie Award for Female in a Breakthrough Role and, most recently, highlighted on TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017 and 2018 respectively on behalf of her television contributions and humanitarianism. Shahidi is definitely one of Hollywood’s most heralded young talents as she continues to use her platform to empower and inspire others.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Shahidi actually received her start alongside her mother appearing in several international commercial and print campaigns. Her first major film came when she was offered the opportunity to audition for the role of Olivia Danielson in the Paramount film IMAGINE THAT, opposite Eddie Murphy. She quickly took to the role of the creative and happy-go-lucky daughter to Murphy, bolstering her love of acting.
Shahidi’s extensive film roles include Sony Pictures’ UNTHINKABLE, as the daughter of Samuel L. Jackson; Columbia Pictures’ SALT, opposite Angelina Jolie; Summit Entertainment’s ALEX CROSS, as the daughter of Tyler Perry; and the Weinstein Company film BUTTER, where she starred opposite Jennifer Garner. Shahidi’s most recent film from Warner Bros. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, released this summer explores a love story alongside one of the most pressing issues of the century, immigration.
Off-screen, Yara continues to use her platform to inspire others. Engaged in politics, she launched Eighteen X 18 last year to educate and motivate first time voters to turn out for the 2018 mid-term elections. She also created Yara’s Club in partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership Schools in NYC – a digital meet-up for HS students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement and higher education. She served as a spokesperson for DoSomething.Org and 3M’s STEM campaign, which raised funds for classrooms in need of science and tech resources and worked with the Obama White House around STEM initiatives.
Yara is an advocate for women’s issues, including diversity in media and girls’ education, and has worked with the United Nations Girl Up initiative and spotlighted in the New York Times Variety’s Youth Impact and Next Big Thing issues. The young star was profiled in The Hollywood Reporter’s Young Hollywood issue last fall in which she’s been identified as the new Hollywood guard. She was awarded the Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light organization and was honored at Essence Magazine’s 10th Black Women in Hollywood Awards and received the BET’s Young Star Award in 2017 and 2018.
OSNAT SHURER produced the 2016 Academy Award®-nominated MOANA. Shurer joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2012 as vice president of development, working with filmmakers to move features and shorts through the creative process. As producer of MOANA, Shurer helped manage the film through story, script, music, casting, and production and led the film’s partnership with publicity, marketing, and consumer products. Shurer also created the film’s Oceanic Story Trust, a team of Pasifika consultants from Oceania with whom production collaborated closely throughout the making of MOANA.
Previously, Shurer served as the executive producer of the shorts group at Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for Pixar's short films. While at Pixar, Shurer produced or executive produced a host of hit shorts, including the Oscar®-nominated LIFTED, ONE MAN BAND and BOUNDIN’ (2003). Her credits at Pixar also include video shorts like JACK-JACK ATTACK and THE ADVENTURES OF MR. INCREDIBLE.
Shurer’s duties at Pixar also included training production management, creating and supervising an in-house documentary department to produce DVD bonus material content and other archival materials, as well as overseeing the development of commercials and theme park attractions. For THE INCREDIBLES, Shurer produced and directed VOWELLET: AN ESSAY BY SARA VOWELL and executive produced THE MAKING OF 'THE INCREDIBLES.’ She also produced EXPLORING THE REEF WITH JEAN-MICHAEL COSTEAU for director Andrew Stanton, in conjunction with the release of FINDING NEMO.
At Pixar, Shurer was also responsible for helping to create several cutting edge multi-media shows, including MoMA's impressive PIXAR: 20 YEARS OF ANIMATION, which opened in 2006 and went on travel the world. The exhibit featured ARTSCAPE, a widescreen projection space that provided viewers with a unique digital artistic experience, and ZOETROPE, a dynamic 3D installation, modelled on pre-cinema technology, which used dimensional character sculptures to simulate continuous motion.
Shurer was consulting producer on the 2011 Golden Globe®-nominated feature ARTHUR CHRISTMAS.
Prior to joining Pixar in 2002, Shurer produced and directed film and television in various mediums - live action, animation, live television, and various interactive presentations for museums. She worked on documentaries and narrative films throughout the world, in such places as India, China, Tibet, Japan, Africa, and Europe, with directors ranging from Michelangelo Antonioni to Alfonso Cuarón.
Shurer was born in Israel, and as the child of an airline executive, she grew up in many parts of the world. She received a degree in film from New York University in 1983. She resides in Los Angeles, California.
Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D. is the foremost disrupter of inequality in the entertainment industry. Dr. Smith is the Founder and Director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (AII), the leading global think tank studying issues of inequality in entertainment. Dr. Smith’s groundbreaking research examines inclusion of gender, race/ethnicity, the LGBT community, people with disabilities and mental health in storytelling across film, TV and digital platforms. The Initiative releases analyses of top-grossing films (on screen, behind the camera, executive ranks), popular music (artists, songwriters, producers), and impediments facing women and individuals from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in the director's chair. She has authored over 100 articles, book chapters, and reports, and is covered regularly in popular press outlets including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS This Morning, NPR, And many others
Dr. Smith also crafts compelling and innovative solutions to entertainment inequality. She introduced the Inclusion Rider to the entertainment industry via her 2016 TED talk and a 2014 opinion piece in The Hollywood Reporter.
Alice Snedden a writer, comedian and improvisor from Auckland. A 2017 Billy T nominee, she has been head writer of multi series TV3 shows, JONO AND BEN and FUNNY GIRLS, GOLDEN BOY, as well as regularly appearing on panel show 7DAYS, starring series Alice Snedden’s BAD NEWS and presenting as co-host of podcast BONERS OF THE HEART.
Tainui Stephens (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Moetonga) is an independent film and television producer, director, executive producer, writer, presenter and narrator, working in a wide range of genres and is attracted to compelling stories that critique and celebrate the human condition.
In 1980 Tainui secured his first job: investigating officer for the Office of the Race Relations Conciliator. In 1984, he commenced a broadcasting career with Television New Zealand and was to become responsible for over 500 hours of programming. In 2000 he started his own company and expanded his work into film production, radio, voice-work, writing, cultural consultancy, and governance. Today, Tainui continues to contribute to many projects in various capacities.
As a television producer, Tainui’s work includes: TE KŌHANGA REO (1986), KOHA (1987-88), MARAE (1990-93), MAI TIME (1995-2000), WAKA HUIA (1987/1999/2000), ANZAC DAY: NĀ RĀTOU MŌ TĀTOU (2006 -2008), WAITANGI KŌTAHI TE RĀ (2007/2008), IT’S IN THE BAG (2010-2013), MY COUNTRY SONG, MY REGGAE SONG, MY PARTY SONG (2013-2018) and AOTEAROA (2017-2018) - which have helped to give Māori stories and language a permanent media presence.
As a television director and writer, Tainui’s work includes: MĀORI BATTALION MARCH TO VICTORY (1990), the remarkable story of Māori soldiers in World War Two; THE BLACK SINGLET LEGACY (1991), the proud history of Māori in the meat industry; WHEN THE HAKA BECAME BOOGIE (1990-92), about Māori prowess in the world of popular entertainment; THE UTTERLY CONFUSED PERSON’S GUIDE TO BI CULTURALISM (1993), examining the dilemma and joy of mixed marriage; ICON IN B MINOR (1996), a musical odyssey with concert pianist Michael Houstoun and the music of Franz Liszt; THE NEW ZEALAND WARS (1998), with James Belich - a critically acclaimed telling of the country’s civil wars of the 19th century; HE WHARE KŌRERO (2004), celebrating the Māori language with linguist Sir Tīmoti Kāretu; BUB & NEN (2007), a love story of two cultural icons; LET MY WHAKAPAPA SPEAK (2008), profiling Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and the revival of the Māori language through preschool education; TAONGA TV (2010), revealing the epic struggles and achievements of Māori television broadcasting; REQUIEM FOR CHARLIE (2012), portraying the inner demons of a war hero; HITLER & THE GUMDIGGERS (2013), the story of how the Māori tribes of the north contributed to the downfall of Adolf Hitler; TAUMATA 3001 (2019), a revisionist view of recent Māori history set in a distant future.
Tainui’s first film documentary was RERE KI UTA, RERE KI TAI (1986). His own first short film drama THE HILL (2002) was selected for festivals worldwide. He produced Libby Hakaraia’s short films THE LAWNMOWERMEN OF KAPU (2012) and THE GRAVEDIGGER OF KAPU (2018). He was a producer for the Vincent Ward feature films RIVER QUEEN (2005), and RAIN OF THE CHILDREN (2008) and for Toa Fraser’s THE DEAD LANDS (2014). He is also a producer for the television series of THE DEAD LANDS (2019), which has been commissioned by AMC and TVNZ for worldwide broadcast.
Tainui has had much experience serving on industry boards and is a founding member of the Māoriland Film Festival. He is in demand as a speaker and commentator on Māori and indigenous issues. When time allows, he likes to be quiet and play his piano. He is married to filmmaker Libby Hakaraia.
Magda Szubanski has been famous for making Australia laugh for over three decades, but more recently she was named the “Most Talked about Person of 2017” following what many have called her ‘crucial role’ in the complex and difficult 2017 Same-Sex Marriage Survey. Sydney Morning Herald: “When describing her efforts, other equality advocates use terms such as ‘invaluable’ and ‘devastatingly effective’. But popularity alone does not change hearts or minds. What made a difference, they believe, is the way Szubanski campaigned.” She advocated tirelessly, making the case for equality with reason and dignity –her most notable appearances included a pivotal debate on the ABC’s Q&A, interviews on A Current Affair and an address she gave at the National Press Club, 'What it feels like to be an unwilling human guinea pig in a political experiment'. In 2012, Magda came out live on national TV and has been an active and high-profile campaigner for LGBTI+ rights ever since. She is patron of Twenty10, an ambassador for the Pinnacle Foundation and also volunteered for the Orlando Victims’ Fundraiser concerts in Melbourne and Sydney. She has spoken at numerous Marriage Equality fundraisers.
Vogue Australia included her in their list of 2018 “Game Changers” for her work on the Marriage Equality campaign.
Magda has received many accolades over the course of her career, including a Mo Award, seven Logie Awards, three AWGIE Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, two Astra Awards and the AFI for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Australia’s favorite second-best friend, Sharon Strzelecki, a character she created herself. It has just been announced that she has been awarded the 2018 Victorian Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership by Women and Leadership Australia. She is also the 2018 recipient of the nation’s top free speech honour, the Voltaire Award, given by Australia’s oldest human rights organization, Liberty Victoria.
Magda completed a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University, majoring in Philosophy and Fine Arts. After early training with the ABC-TV cult show D-GENERATION, Magda shot to fame in 1989 in response to the huge variety of comic characters she created. For over thirty years Magda has survived and thrived at the top of the show business tree- a notoriously fickle and competitive industry. For three decades she has been a household name as one of Australia’s most loved and respected actors, writers and producers. She was a key player in some of this country’s most successful, iconic and groundbreaking shows - KATH AND KIM, FAST FORWARD, D-GENERATION, and BIG GIRL’S BLOUSE, sketch comedy FAST FORWARD, which played for several seasons and became one of Australia’s highest-rating comedies. She had an emotional journey when the SBS television show WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? did a story on her family’s heritage.
Film credits include BABE, THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE, alongside the late Steve Irwin and THE GOLDEN COMPASS, with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Australian films DR PLONK directed by Rolf de Heer, BRAN NU DAE by Rachel Perkins and starring alongside Ronan Keating in the musical comedy, GODDESS in 2013. In 2017 she starred opposite Michael Caton in Ben Elton’s THREE SUMMERS.
Magda’s many stage appearances include hit productions of GUYS AND DOLLS, the late Nora Ephron’s LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, The Melbourne Theatre Company production of THE 25TH
More recently she has become a best-selling, award-winning author, following the release of her internationally acclaimed memoir RECKONING. Released late 2015, RECKONING won a slew of literary awards including winner of the 2016 ABIA Book of the Year, Biography of the Year, Booksellers Choice Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the Indie Award for Non-Fiction; Winner Victorian Community History Award and was shortlisted for several more awards including the National Biography Award.
Relating the story of her father’s activities as an assassin in Nazi-occupied Poland, Szubanski’s story of intergenerational trauma, migration and coming-of-age as a young gay woman received rave reviews.
THE AUSTRALIAN described it as “a riveting, overwhelmingly poignant autobiography by a woman of genius…Every library should have it, every school should teach it.”
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD wrote, “This is documentary writing of the highest order…Anyone who doesn’t adore Magda Szubanski the clown will be awed by Szubanski the A-grade non-fiction writer.”
THE AUSTRALIAN, “Brave, compassionate—and hilarious…some sort of masterpiece of the form.”
THE GUARDIAN, “She shines just as brightly as a serious writer as she does as a comedian.”
THE BBC WOMAN’S HOUR described it as “brilliant.”
Over the years Magda has campaigned for several charities including Very Special Kids, Starlight Foundation, Oxfam, and Royal Children’s Hospital.
She is a frequent guest on several television shows including THE TODAY SHOW, SUNRISE, ABC BREAKFAST, THE PROJECT, A CURRENT AFFAIR, THE MORNING SHOW, MORNINGS, STUDIO10 among others.
A 25-year Disney veteran, Cathleen Taff leads global theatrical distribution, franchise management, and business and audience insights for The Walt Disney Studios.
Taff oversees worldwide theatrical release strategy for The Walt Disney Studios’ robust slate of motion pictures from Disney, Pixar, Disneynature, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, and Blue Sky Studios. In addition to sales and distribution for the Studios’ films, she leads the franchise management and consumer insights teams, driving collaborative efforts to maximise Disney’s world-class film brands and creative properties across The Walt Disney Company and more closely connect with Disney’s global audience. She also oversees the Studios’ multicultural audience engagement and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Taff joined The Walt Disney Studios in 1994 and has held roles of increasing responsibility and scope during her tenure. Between 1998 and 2003, she served first as Vice President of Finance and later Senior Vice President of Disney Music Group (then Buena Vista Music Group), playing a pivotal role in growing it into a $100 million business. After a five-year stint as Senior Vice President and Controller of The Walt Disney Studios, Taff took on a specially created role building and leading a team focused on identifying and boosting strategic operational initiatives across the Studios, before returning to Disney Music Group in 2009 as Senior Vice President and General Manager. In 2013, she transitioned back to the broader Studios leading Integrated Planning and Franchise Management.
She is a vice president on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, for the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and sits on the Economic Advisory Board for the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Born in Northern California, Taff received a B.A. degree in Business Economics with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a Certified Public Accountant in California. She began her career at Deloitte & Touche.
With a background in devised theatre, Jackie fell in love with filmmaking in her thirties. After making a collection of short films, she premiered her first feature film THE INLAND ROAD in competition at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. Her second feature THE BREAKER UPPERERS (created with Madeleine Sami) premiered to rave reviews at SXSW and opened the 2018 Sydney Film Festival.
Jackie’s directed on television series WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (NZ) and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (US) and has recently created her own series EDUCATORS with comedians Jonny Brugh and Jesse Griffin.
As an actor she is best known for her role as the desperate familiar in Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s vampire documentary, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS.
Jackie and Madeleine were named TimeOut NZ Entertainers of the Year, 2018.
Kerry Warkia (Papua New Guinean / Scottish) is a producer who has been at the forefront of some of New Zealand’s most innovative content for film, television and web.
Passionate about telling Māori and Pacific stories, her second feature film VAI set in seven Pacific island countries and made in collaboration with nine Pacific va'ine (women) had its world premiere at the Berlinale Film Festival 2019.
In 2016 Kerry produced, ground-breaking feature film WARU made up of eight vignettes and made in collaboration with nine wāhine (female) Māori film-makers.
Kerry was acknowledged as “Woman to Watch” at the 2014 NZ WIFT Awards and in 2017, she was awarded the SPADA Independent Producer of the Year Award, a testament to Kerry’s determination to tell a diverse range of stories that ignite her passion.
Currently, Kerry is in post-production on her third feature film an action-comedy called THE LEGEND OF BARON TO'A directed by Kiel McNaughton.
Along with Kiel McNaughton, Kerry is co-founder of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions, whose goal is to tell stories unique to Aotearoa, with a passion for innovative content that celebrates diversity and in particular under represented voices.
Brigitte Yorke is a New Zealand based Unit Production Manager with a storied career in the local film and television industry where she has worked for over 20 years with a primary focus on International Feature Films. Her first production managing role was on
Peter Jackson's THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING in 2003 and from there she has worked on many acclaimed productions including KING KONG, AVATAR, THE LOVELY BONES, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, THE HOBBIT trilogy, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY and GHOST IN THE SHELL. Brigitte is currently hard at work on the AVATAR sequels where she serves as both Unit Production Manager and Associate Producer.
Born in Xi’an, China and raised in Auckland, Julie is a filmmaker and storyteller focused on championing marginalised voices and stories.
She was the 2016 Producer in Residence at Basement Theatre before moving on to independently produce a number of highly successful productions including BURN HER by Sam Brooks in 2018 and OTHER [chinese] directed by Alice Canton, which won the top award at the 2017 Auckland Theatre Awards. In 2017 she directed short documentary EAST MEETS EAST for Loading Docs which has screened at festivals in London and New York.
Earlier this year Julie led the community arts kaupapa Project Pepeha, which introduced Te Reo Māori to Chinese and Sāmoan New Zealanders, taught in Mandarin and Sāmoan respectively, accompanied by a short online film that documented the process. Julie has also worked on a number of short films including being the producer, co-director, and co-writer of short film MYTH OF THE MODEL MINORITY for TVNZ OnDemand, collaborating with a team of 14 writers and 42 actors. Julie was also part of the storyline and writing team for upcoming HEIHEI kids series TALES OF NAI NAI and is currently co-directing a podcast and video series called CONVERSATIONS WITH MY IMMIGRANT PARENTS for Radio NZ.