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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This is the panel entitled “New Faces of Indie Film” that the Film Society at Lincoln Center hosted this past Saturday to celebrate the opening of their new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.

If you look really closely there you can see the one woman — Lena Dunham — in a sea of 10 other guys plus Ted Hope as the moderator.

1 woman, 10 men. I sent a tweet to Ted Hope (who I don’t know, but greatly respect) the moment I read about the panel on June 8 and here was his response: “I think it has to do w what films are coming out theatrically, have NY directors, and Lincoln Ctr relationship. But u r right too!”

The fact that the folks at the Film Society at Lincoln Center — which is run by a woman Rose Kuo — did not even think that this could be a problem is very upsetting. Since the panel there has been an ongoing conversation on the FSLC’s Facebook page with one woman leading the charge (with others joining in.) Some of the responses from the folks at Lincoln Center have been quite defensive and border on the “oh why don’t you girls just shut up, we have done other things that support women. Look we had lots of women in our New Directors/New Film series and we also screened Valley Girls.”

Here’s the deal. FSLC has gravitas. When an institution like this makes women invisible is send a message to other institutions. That’s just the way it is. With your name and prominence comes responsibility and that responsibility includes making sure all your program are diverse by gender and race. Just because you include women in one event doesn’t give you a pass on another. Women (and people of color) should be included at all events as part of the normal way of doing business.

Here’s what Rose Kuo wrote in response to the Facebook comments:

Christine and Christine, you both illustrate valid points. Our staff made the same observations as the panel was being assembled and we were receiving confirmations, declines from panelists. Since there are many more new faces in indie film than we can assemble at any one time, we plan to continue the panel thread through a few more sessions so that we can include doc filmmakers, international filmmakers, etc. especially during this year’s NYFF. We welcome a list of female directors residing in NY. BTW, this year’s New Directors New Films had a strong selection of female directors – all first or second time filmmakers – with world class films.”

They welcome a list of female directors living in NY. What does that mean? Do they have a list of male directors living in NY and they need to supplement because they don’t know women directors? I really hope that they have a list of some women directors living in NY because if you don’t, you are not doing your job. You should care about having a list of women directors as much as you care about having a list of male directors. You should be able to find five female directors living in NYC without a problem. They are here. But just in case you need help in the future, I actually have a list of female directors living in the NY area.

To me, the biggest problem is that we are still having to fight this fight. If it’s this hard to get female visibility at the Film Society at Lincoln Center imagine how hard it is in Hollywood.

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psycho nappy

And here are my comments to Ted Hope:

They look a lot like the old faces in indie cinema. Laughs.

This absurd panel is completely unsurprising to me. I’ve seen these in the ‘90s, the ‘00s and they still exist in 2011. For years I’ve admired Ted Hope’s risk-taking. HAPPINESS, to be quite honest, is the film that made me realize I was a filmmaker all along. I couldn’t believe there was another writer/director who thought the way I did. One who had the nerve to make a film out the horrible wretchedness of humanity. I don’t often feel at home in the world. There are just a handful of moments really made for me. HAPPINESS was one of them. Thank you Todd Solondz and thank you Ted Hope.

But that was then. In 1998. My infancy as an indie filmmaker hoodwinked me into believing producers like Ted Hope actually recognized and understood the nature of talent, subversiveness, originality, and a sincerity in wanting to bring a new story to life. Too bad he can only recognize it in the bland vanilla staple of indie cinema – the stereotypical young, unaffected white male.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. The creative communities, especially in NYC, are often racist, but ironically believe themselves to be super-enlightened…in all their chuckling at Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and all. Yet the Republican Party is way more diverse than indie cinema in New York City. Ted Hope, I want you to explain to me why this is.

Since you apparently don’t know many people outside of your white-bread circle, let me introduce myself. My name is Michelle Lewis. I’m working on a film called SPINSTER à My first feature-film. I’m 44 years old. I’m black. I’m female. And I never get the help, the money, or assistance to do anything. I basically have to make the film on my own. Sorry, I can’t help but think that if I were a young, white male making the same film, I’d suddenly have access.

For a long time I was waiting until I had that access and help and money, so I could make the film exactly as I envisioned it. It took me all this time to realize that it’s more important to make any film. So, yep, I’m the writer/director, but I’m also the craft services lady, the focus puller, my own production assistant…but it gives me great joy knowing that when I’m done, I will have made a feature that offers an alternative to all mayonnaise-y bullshit peddled as new faces in indie cinema.

Wellywoodwoman (Marian)

I feel sad about the lack of response to this issue, from two influential men in indie film, Ted Hope and Miles Maker; I thought until now that it was just me they hadn’t responded to, and am surprised by their silence, because in the past, over here in New Zealand, I’d always thought they felt goodwill towards and supported women. Here’s my experience to add to the conversation.

When I read one of Melissa’s tweets about the panel, on 3 June, I tweeted Ted Hope a couple of messages and had no response at all. Here they are:

@TedHope Wd be a beautiful gesture, globally appreciated, if you declined to moderate unless panel reflects NY diversity? @melsil

@TedHope If can’t find new indie film women in NY, consider media convergence & check out all those wonderful new webseries women? @melsil

And then I read one of Miles Maker’s posts, and responded to him too. This is what he wrote (
“Ted Hope’s New Faces of New York Panel
Film Society of Lincoln Center · Saturday, June 11, 2011, 4:00pm

As part of FSLC’s free-to-the-public weekend lineup of events celebrating the opening of Elinor Bunin Munroe’s Film Center there will be a special filmmaker panel in the amphitheater focusing on New Faces of New York Independent Film. Moderated by producer Ted Hope (ADVENTURELAND, 21 GRAMS, AMERICAN SPLENDOR), the panel will feature some of the most exciting and provocative filmmakers to arrive on the New York scene in the last few years.”

I responded:
“I share Melissa Silverstein’s concern that in a new center named after a woman, there’s only one woman writer/director on this panel… The panel’s composition, and this post, imply that women are minimally represented among the ‘most exciting and provocative filmmakers’, and as a woman filmmaker I’m distressed.”

No response, again.

How can we ever belong among the ‘most exciting and provocative filmmakers’ when even the men who we think support us do not ‘get’ it enough to engage in a conversation with us?

On the other hand, it’s great to see that lots of us care. And lots of us can provide lists of women filmmakers in New York who are exciting and provocative. Maybe this protest will generate a useful response, as I believe the Cannes protest did last year.


The male-to-female rations are not representative for typical submission levels to festivals from filmmakers therefore it seems unlikely that the panel accurately represented the male/female filmmaker percentage accurately at 90% male.

My personal experience with submissions is that about 40% of all submission are by women and that men and women send in an equal amount of fabulous and crap work. Therefore, an accurate representation would have been 4 women and 6 men per the current rate of male-to-female submission statistics.

The festival I work with does not in any way focus on women or minorities. Rather it focuses on new and emerging filmmakers (which would be the equivalent to the ‘New Faces in NYC’ statistics).

Ted Hope, Eugene Hernandez and John WIldman had received complaints and suggestions to fix the problem days before the event. None of them even bothered to reply to the concern. In fact, the only action taken was to include more men to the panel.

If you want to include more minority men on the male part, fine,. But don’t think it’s okay to add men of diversity instead of including women. It’s not.

Female Anonymous – replacing the white men on the panel is men of different colors doesn’t address the fact that women were not represented. Further, as addressed above, your stats are way off… offensively so.


FSLC should check the facts a bit more carefully. Natalia Almada’s FOURTH film- El Velador- was a part of NDNF this year.
I wonder if the Film Society honestly believe the tired “we don’t know anyone” is a legitimate justification? Google “Latino Filmmakers” and the first hit is NALIP, Google “Black Filmmakers” and the third hit is the Black Filmmaker Foundation, “Asian Filmmakers” – first hit, “Gay Filmmakers” first hit and the list goes on and on. The information is easy to find. FSLC’s interest? Well, that’s another story.

Sujewa Ekanayake

Btw, Francola, the Filmmaker mag’s New Faces lists come with CONTACT INFO for each of the filmmakers. So, FSLC or whoever organized the panel would have had to initially spend just a couple of hours to figure out which filmmakers were in NYC & available for the event, & from that one source, they could have put together a better & more diverse panel than the one that they went with. All in all I think it would have taken 1 person, 1 or 2 days – from first e-mail contact re: event to final confirmation, to put together an awesome, diverse panel of new filmmakers for the event.

– S

Sujewa Ekanayake


Re: your laughable challenge (thanks anonymous for the quick reply) – really??? you are having a hard time coming up w/ 5 names for a list of female filmmakers that can be considered New Faces of NYC Indie Film? I bet that between various folks who work for FSLC, & Ted Hope, & Eugene Hernandez (now works for FSLC, ex-indie wire) they could have EASILY come up w/ 50 names that fit the criteria & 50 additional names of male minority filmmakers to help add even more diversity to the panel. And, for some odd reason, they couldn’t, all they would have to do is call up/e-mail/text/whatever Filmmaker Magazine/Scott Macaulay (sp?)/IFP & they would have been reminded that IFP makes a New Faces of Independent Film list every year, 25 people at a time, & a lot of these people live in NYC. For your enjoyment, here are some of the recent New Faces of Indie Film lists from IFP (you will see that some names from the 10 female filmmakers list provided by anonymous also shows up on this list):

– 25 new faces of indie film 2010:

– 25 new faces of indie film summer 2009:

– 25 new faces of indie film 2008:

— so that’s 75 potential filmmakers for a new faces of indie film panel, & that took me all of 3 minutes or less to find the info…

And, if FSLC wanted to be extremely current, & they contacted IFP/Filmmaker Mag, they probably would have been able to get as many names as they wanted from the 2011 list of Filmmaker’s New Faces, not published yet, but should be out this summer, meaning they are probably already working on it or they have a rough list already.

Plus, the newfangled technologies – twitter, e-mail, blogs, texting – all would have made it ridiculously (sp?) easy for anyone involved w/ planning the FSLC event to get a TON of suggestions for a diverse panel of new faces of indie film HAD THEY WANTED TO. Indie filmmakers are a wired bunch, not hard to get a hold of us these days.

– S


1) Ava Duvernay
2) Victoria Mahoney
3) Audrey Ewell
4) Dee Rees
5) So Yong Kim
6) Nadia Hallgren
7) Paola Mendoza
8)Tanya Hamilton
9) Jennifer Suhr
10) Tina Mabry
(Need I go on??)

That’s literally-swiftly-immediately off the top of my head. No thought. No stutter stepping. No labor. No googling. I balanced each name on my list “job wise” to the members of this panel.

I only answered this question to show how easy it is, but please know this question only amplifies ignorance within this panel’s error.

As if, the logic of “we don’t know any, then they mustn’t exist”. The point is–they exist and YOU DON’T KNOW THEM!

Furthermore, as a resource tool, one can effortlessly each as close as; IFP, Sundance Institute, Latin Film Org’s, ABFF, Asian film org’s, LGBT org’s…and so on… and so on ad infinitum.


This is all well and good to bitch and complain about the lack of women on the panel, but can anyone even offer 5 names of women who fit the criteria (however loosely defined) as New Faces in indie film who should have been included on this panel? I think that might be a lot more constructive than just pointing out that there is a lack of women on a particular panel.


They Make It Up As They Go Along

I see no one from the Lincoln Center has deigned to grace us with their presence to offer apology or plan of action. Indifference or lack of balls? You decide:


I guess the fact that FSLC hosted the NY African Film Festival in April justifies excluding poc. The reader who posted the stats on the elite filmmakers invited to the panel… thank you for highlighting the truth. I’ve always believed, even Chris Rock suggested in the doc, The Blacklist. When you’re of a certain “elk”, you don’t need to do much, or even be the most talented. The natural privilege card guarantees you a spot… deserved or not.

They Make It Up As They Go Along


I don’t really understand what you mean – I’m not very internet-savvy. Please, feel-free to cut and paste it anywhere you want!


@They Make It Up As They Go Along
Can you post your breakdown of Ted Hope’s ridiculous “I think it has to do w what films are coming out theatrically, have NY directors, and Lincoln Ctr relationship.” list on a site somewhere that can be linked to or can Women and Hollywood create a separate article with this list so that it can be referred to for those who don’t read through all of the comments?

I’d like to believe that this exclusionary panel was more from laziness and self promotion than from racisim/sexism/pick-yer-ism. And I think that your breakdown demonstrates this.

FSLC, Ted and the “inclusive” NY film scene – you have been put on notice. Way to make the LA film biz folks look positively egalitarian.

Jackie G

In my opinion, this IS the face of “indie film” — a banal term that is associated with a body of films that are not that exciting to me. I much prefer the work of filmmakers who, despite working outside of the studio system, would probably eschew the label “indie:” Kelly Reichardt, Lynn Hershman-Neeson, Brent Green, Ben Russell, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Roddy Bogawa. The fact that many of these makers are women or people of color– coincidence or not?


Dear female anonymous,

Talking of statistics, women are actually the majority in this country. And if
they are a minority in the realms of film directors, what does that tell you?

Think about it for a minute.

Does it tell you that less women want to/are able to become film directors than men? Why is that, do you think? Do you think it might be because women are not encouraged to be film directors, because it is traditionally seen as a male preserve? And is that the case, because maybe 90% of the people who are presented to us as ‘film directors’ – on TV, in magazines and newspapers, on the internet, at film festivals, on important film discussion panels – are white men?

Hmmmmm… wonder how we go about changing that? Any ideas, female anonymous?

One thing we can do is challenge the institutionalized sexism of this by pointing it out when we see it. But, perhaps you think everything’s fine, and talent will eventually rise to the top, no matter what the color/gender/sexual orientation of the artist. If you think this, female anonymous, I’m afraid I will have to assume you are a man.


@female anonymous

“Were any female filmmakers excluded because they were female” – are you implying they were excluded because they weren’t deemed talented or accomplished enough? Are you saying Lena Dunham is the only female filmmaker in NYC right now who is? See the comment near the bottom of this thread detailing the current projects of the participants and tell me again how half of these men are even qualified to be on this panel. See the comment by Victoria Mahoney on this thread, and tell me she is not MORE qualified (by Ted Hope’s criteria) to have sat on this panel than half the men.

If, by statistics, you mean the number of white male filmmakers in NYC Vs non-white-male filmmakers in NYC, what do you think is at the root of those ‘statistics’? It’s not “negative” intent on behalf of the FSLC and, oh, almost ALL other art institutions on the face of the planet – it’s NO intent. We don’t have greater numbers of diverse filmmakers, because diverse filmmakers are not seen or heard from enough (as demonstrated by this panel) to act as role models to other women/PsOC/LTGBs. But, in the context of making the film world more reflective of the culture and society of New York in 2011, I’m afraid that pretty much DOES translate as negative intent. Or sheer lazyness, if you prefer.

Until the FSLC makes it a positive intent to include more non-white-male filmmakers in every panel, every ‘season’, every ‘festival’, things will never change.

Sujewa Ekanayake

thanks “this is getting tired”, when i can worry about just making my own movies i’ll be glad to do so. as we can see not much has changed since 2007 when i posted a few items re: a similar event. someone needs to push for greater diversity in indie film, i’ll do it when time permits, & luckily lots of other people are steppin up too after the Film Center panel. and i was offering to volunteer at fslc – unpaid – since they are unable to figure out on their own that there are lots of minority & female directors in NYC who would love to take part in a panel about new faces of nyc indie film & who actually make feature length work in nyc that may be of interest to a lot of people. also, this is the comments section, as far as i can tell anyone who is interested in this issue can comment, just because i have things to say about this issue does not mean that takes away the opportunity for tons of other people to say something about the same issue. thanks, however, for the concern. by the way, why is the rest of the indie film scene – & specially the people who usually comment on ted’s posts – silent about this issue. I guess diversity in indie film is not a great concern for them. i guess that’s alright for them.

– S

this is getting tired

Sujewa you seem to be keeping the focus on you. Posting everywhere over and over again, mentioning your blog, trying to get lincoln center to hire you to curate panels. We know what you think now. Let other people have their voice.

Sujewa Ekanayake

Dear Ann,

Your irrational fear of Jewish males is disturbing. Reminds me of ideas that were popular (so I’ve read) in Germany leading up to WWII. Let’s keep the focus on bringing about greater diversity in indie film in 2011 mutli-ethnic USA/NYC, where all kinds of people are on both sides of the issue – some promoting greater diversity, & some not trying very hard to change the segregated status of things, & let’s not give into conspiracry theory fantasies that may provide easy but ultimately false & dangerous & destructive answers. Thanks.

– S

female anonymous

Were any directors excluded because they were female? If not, we may just be seeing statistics in action and not any negatve intent by the organizers.

Sujewa Ekanayake

In 2007 (fairly certain that was the year) IFC Center programmed the Generation DIY festival – I think it ran for 2 weeks – & I believe all the films featured (about a dozen) were directed by “white” male filmmakers (maybe there was 1 that was directed by a female filmmaker). [btw, Most of the films were forgettable, yet the high profile of the event, plus the ensuing press – such as NYTimes, etc – led to several of those directors having productive careers thus far – getting institutional, press, & financial support – many of them are receiving Hollywood level support now]. And in 2011 we have pretty much the same thing happening w/ the New Faces of NYC Indie Film panel/FSLC – no minority presence, only a token female presence. So, obviously, the existing indie film institutions in NYC & activist personalities such as Ted Hope are not adequate enough to persistently keep a high level of visibility for at least NYC based minority & female indie filmmakers (should be an easy task for the existing institutions & insiders, NYC has a lot of female & minority indie filmmakers, but apparently not). So all this points to an unpleaseant (to some) reality – a new organization or organizations will need to be created, tons of work will have to be put in, to raise the profiles of minority & female indie filmmakers, & to keep that work going on a regular, year in year out, basis until the indie film scene is intergrated (until orgs such as FSLC & IFC Center, etc find it very absurd that panels & programming are kept all-“white” in a city with hundreds, maybe thousands, of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds). So who wants to sign up to do this work? :)

We need, at least in NYC (where this would be easier to do, i think, than in most other places), an organization that consistently champions diversity in indie film – ethnic diversity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Also an org that assists minority & female filmmakers (& also white male filmmakers who use diverse casting & crews, & are concerned w/ the issue)develop filmmaking careers.

Like I hinted, it will be a TON of work. But, w/out it, we will probably be having this very same conversation in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc.

– S


Leon, before I even say this I apologize to everyone in advance. Look at most of the last names.”White Folks” aren’t discriminating against you, Jewish Male Folks for the most part are the people doing the discriminating in this business. As long as you frame it as a black/white thing, they will never be called out on it.


Ok, last comment. There’s more than one Josh on that panel…I’m gonna stop there.

LeonRaymond Mitchell

Please stop calling this laziness, this was intent , 1 woman, no people of color, no women of color, stop making excuses for this B.S. and call it what it is. I can give a list of people that fit the criteria, Why the hell isn’t AVA DUVERNAY on that panel her film is still making the rounds in fest and theatrical outlets, Oh wait a minute her film has Black Cast and that’s a no-no for white folks , even if Roger Ebert gave it an outstanding review. That panels is about pure golden oven baked racism nothing else, White folk want us to go to away, well that is not going to happen, we will just like we do always have our panel, our own crieria and white folk please expect an invite!

Shrinking Violet

What this whole debacle has revealed is that the people who are organizing these things at the Lincoln Center are out of touch with the way society and culture has shifted over the past few years and unless they are prepared to put some effort into educating themselves, they are no longer the best qualified people to be doing their jobs.

The most powerful thing we can all do is NOT let this particular debate die. Everybody reading this needs to use the internet, NOW, to keep this issue in the public eye – post a link to this blog entry on your FB page, tweet about it. Let’s organize – here’s a hashtag we should all use: #FSLCfail.

We have to make it so they cannot continue to ignore this and hope it goes away, which I’m positive is what’s going on even as I write this – note the lack of response from them: they are just waiting for it all to blow over, so they can carry on as usual.

The most insidious aspect, that no one has yet mentioned, is the underlying implication that the FSLC believes that the best new indie filmmakers in New York are all young white heterosexual men. They not only believe this, they are promoting it. We have to stop this lie. Now.


Victoria, by the way…I’m absolutely dying to see “Yelling To The Sky”. When is it coming out? Where can I see it in New York?


Can somebody give me a ballpark date when this is all gonna change or does the film industry plan to be stuck in the 1950’s forever?

WTF. I really liked Lena Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture and I wanted to hate it. It showed a woman’s perspective, with an emotional reality that you rarely ever see. But can I say something…she’s really really privileged and connected and if that’s the only woman who can make it up there. What does that mean for the rest of us.

Women are not a minority, even African Americans and Latinos are a significant portion of the population and minorities only in title. I usually get insulted when people refer to generic white people…but what I finally realized is that is what TV and film portrays. it does not show our diversity and it really does show as a human beings. If Indie film (aka Ted Hope and company) can’t fill this gaping hole left by Hollywood…I don’t know what to say.

Don’t you think the 99% of the population that is not uber privileged white males wants to see themselves reflected in the media?

shelly wilson

Oh it’s not that The Film Society made it so you can no longer comment on their facebook page. It’s that once you stop “liking” them you no longer can. C’est la vie.

shelly wilson

@They Make It Up As They Go Along
No I am not saying what you should have known. I am saying what I know and what should be pointed out if we are truly going to have a discussion on the lack of diversity on indie film panels such as this. I know all but one of these young men. And they are all incredibly heterosexual.

Also did The Film Society just make it so you can no longer comment on their facebook page. Wow.

They Make It Up As They Go Along

@shelly: sure. But, for all I know, one or more of those guys may actually be gay. I was referencing what they look like (and I can’t tell who’s gay by looking), because I suspect a large part of this problem is our collective ‘image’ of what a ‘new’ film director looks like, based on what we’ve been shown over 5 decades of privilege.

shelly wilson

and to who said “the “default setting” is that hot, new film directors = young, white men. As it has been for the past, oh, 50 years. ”

Let’s amend to “young straight white men who are hopefully photogenic.”

Also Hope does have an EP credit on MMMM so that’s why all 3 of those boys were there. Self promotion wins out over diversity again.


Dear sister creators! What if us women staged a weekend of boycotting the all boy films? Just try one weekend ! We advertise this action, and then we all do something else, like supporting the female characters driven shows. One weekend when we can sink their male on male//fighting/killing / exploding/on fire burning/exclusive plots masquerading as the main culture. Its just unforgivable, that men allow themselves this blatant sexism. These are good jobs if you can get it. No heavy lifting, only heavy thinking. Women need to be reflected in our culture or little girls get the idea that women are not “interesting enough” to be included in the entertainment industry. yes ,shunning women on the wide screen, has a underlying message,
” You don’t count! and there isn’t anything you can do about it. haha. ” I watched this most of my adult life and i am calling a boycott,women stop going to see the glorification of the single gender plots, movies, plays, even cartoons. Uniting nationally to show our financial power is long overdue.

shelly wilson

At least there was one woman. Where were the lgbt and filmmakers of color? This is an embarrassment of epic proportions.

They Make It Up As They Go Along

Yes, Robb – the “default setting” is that hot, new film directors = young, white men. As it has been for the past, oh, 50 years.
I don’t care that the FSLC has other panels planned for the future, THIS was the ‘hot new directors’ panel that they opened with; the one that mattered in the eyes of the American indie film community – and beyond, since this kind of profile-raising counts for everything as far as Hollywood and the various prestigious film festivals around the world go. The FSLC should really be ashamed of this and massively apologetic, rather than defensive and in one case, offensive (one of the organizers referred to a woman who complained as having “a bee in her bonnet”, which is a really good way to go about proving you’re not a sexist asshat).
As if these guys need any extra help getting their films out there – they already have every advantage going for them: they are young, white men. And if you read my comment below, the proof of that statement is there for all to see, because over half of them are not even qualified to be on the panel, and THREE of them have never even directed a feature! Yet, they are young, white men, so they LOOK like exciting indie directors.
It is just beyond my comprehension that in 2011, we are still having to draw attention to this bullshit. I’m sure the FSLC loves to think of itself as a progressive institution, championing diversity and film art; I used to think so, too – but this panel has really pulled back the curtain, eh?


Thanks, Melissa for the great post. And a big thank you to those women and men who are leading the charge on Facebook.

Rose Kuo and The Film Society at Lincoln Center need to stop paying lip service to equality and start taking equal responsibility for patriarchy and racism. They need to put accomplished feminist women filmmakers on the panel NOW. NO EXCUSES.


I cannot help but think there is a default setting here and even though I don’t suspect any malicious intent they boys need to be called out for this oversight or blindness to their sense of privileged lack of access. You got to just love how so many people thrive on their sense of victim-ness (“…oh we are so indie and so misunderstood”) while at the same time overlooking the gross indifference they show themselves. It is critical to stand up and call this out when you see this happen so blatantly.

Shola Lynch

And let’s not even talk about race….


TMIUATGA, thank you for shooting down the default excuse for having all those guys up there. I agree with you that this fiasco was at best the result of laziness. So sad that in 2011 we still have to point this shit out. And c’mon, in this day and age where one could Google practically anything, NO ONE should get away with the “give us a list” excuse.

Aaron Aites

If the panel had truly cared about representing the new faces of NY indie film, they needed look no further than the woman who lead the charge on facebook – award-winning NYC filmmaker Audrey Ewell. And I know that she reached out to them in advance with an offer to provide contact info for other women directors in NY.

Victoria Mahoney

Dear Ted Hope, Per your response [“I think it has to do w what films are coming out theatrically, have NY directors, and Lincoln Ctr relationship. But u r right too!”].
I’m a New York Director. I have a relationship with Lincoln Center.I have an indie film coming out this year called,YELLING TO THE SKY, shot completely in NY, 35mm, in 18days; about as Indie as it gets. Played this past Thursday at Gen Art. World Premiered at Berlin, 2nd American Woman in 60yrs invited into Main Competition. Our Gen Art screening (3days prior to this panel, in the exact same city) sold out in 4days. Was the 1st in the line up to do so.

I have another question, where’s the actual “reflection” of New York? If that’s the aim. Not ONE single [African American] in NEW FACES OF INDIE FILM [In NY?!]
If you don’t know an abundance of Indie women filmmakers ask Melissa Silverstein, If you don’t know an abundance or any, African American Indie filmmakers, ask Indiewire/ShadowandAct, they can both provide a list the length of your arm, considering their sites are dedicated to reshaping industry imbalance.
The title of this panel is offensive on so many levels, to mountains upon mountains, of diverse talent underneath your nose.
Here’s a tip, next time go get “a woman/of color”, just one–that way, all of us die on the vine, Indie film lovers, will see you at least–made an effort.

They Make It Up As They Go Along

Ted Hope says: “I think it has to do w what films are coming out theatrically, have NY directors, and Lincoln Ctr relationship.”

So, I did a bit of research on imdb to see whether the people picked for this panel fulfill the first two criteria. Here’s what I found:

Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie – NO
Last feature, Go Get Some Rosemary 2009; nothing in production

Jody Lee Lipes – NO
Last feature NY Export: Opus Jazz 2010; nothing slated for release this year (Confederacy in pre-production, slated for 2013)

Lena Dunham – NO
Tiny Furniture 2010
Girls is not slated for a theatrical release (TV)

Benh Zeitlin – NO
Has only directed shorts, no theatrical features listed at any stage of production

Ray Tintori – NO
Has only directed shorts, no theatrical feature releases listed at any stage of production

MIke Cahill – YES
Another Earth slated for July 2011

Antonio Campos – MAYBE
Simon Killer listed as “in post-production”

Sean Durkin – YES
Martha Marcy May Marlene

Josh Mond – NO
Not a director (produced Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Gavin Wiesen – YES
The Art Of Getting By, slated 17 June 2011

So, that’s 3 – maybe 4 – out of 11 of them. I don’t blame Ted Hope, he’s a good guy and a tireless promotor of indie film; and, as he said to Melissa “u r right”. To me, this is a very, VERY disappointing example of the FSLC paying lip service to equality, but actually putting NO effort into doing anything about it. And I actually mean NO effort. Because, if they had actually put any effort into assembling this panel with equality in mind, there would be more women and persons of color in it – OBVIOUSLY.
There are award-winning, emerging women features directors in New York right now who have features about to play theatrically. This means, going by the stated criteria, these women are, in fact, MORE qualified to be on this panel than SIX of the men who were. If that is not an actual, measurable, OBVIOUS example of sexism in the film industry (due to laziness, if nothing else) – what is?


I’m the “one woman leading the charge” referenced here. I SERIOUSLY wish it hadn’t been necessary to do so. It was not fun, but it in the year that Lynn Ramsay releases her first film in what, 8 or 9 years, I just couldn’t let it slide. But it shouldn’t have been required. (Maybe it’s those NYC subway signs that get stuck in my head, those “if you see something say something” signs… maybe it’s that I was born with a big mouth and a justice streak,,, maybe it’s that it was just so obviously WRONG.) I now pass the baton to the next lady or gentleman who sees something.

Sujewa Ekanayake

Nice post Melissa. I’ve been writing about this massive lack of diversity on that panel event since it happened, here’s a letter to FSLC: Hopefully the organizers of the next indie film panel event that happens in NYC, not just at FSLC but at any institution, will take a look around for minority, female, & other pro-diversity filmmakers – not hard to find, there are many in the city.

– S


Or how about having a list of female directors who live in AMERICA? The title of the panel is not “New Faces of NYC Indie Film”. Independent Film extends beyond NYC and I know many indie female filmmakers, including myself, who would be ‘willing’ to fly to NYC to participate in a panel such as this.

The response that they will attempt to provide more panels that include “doc and international filmmakers” implies there aren’t enough female American narrative filmmakers available to participate. Not true.

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