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Inclusive Film Festival Programming Initiative Programmers of Colour Launches at Sundance

Called POC2 (Programmers of Colour Collective), the organization aims to stimulate conversation around the underrepresentation of people of color in film programming.

POC2 Sundance

POC2 members at the Sundance Film Festival

Abraham Ferrer

On the heels of the Sundance Institute’s Artist Demographics in Submissions & Acceptances diversity report comes the announcement of the formation of a new collective of film festival programmers comprising people of color, women and LGBTQ people, named POC2 (Programmers of Colour Collective). Currently boasting 85 members from around the world, its stated mission is to stimulate conversation that would lead to a greater representation of diversity within film programming and international film festival staffing.

Appearing together for the first time last night at the Sundance Film Festival, the organization, whose members span five continents and hail from a wide range of film festival programs, also aims to act as a catalyst for transformative change towards a more inclusive international programming pool.

Founding members include Paul Struthers (Director of Exhibition & Programming at Frameline), Hussain Currimbhoy (Programmer, Sundance) Lucy Mukerjee (Senior Programmer, Tribeca), and Themba Bhebhe (EFM Diversity & Inclusion), three of whom who were in attendance during the announcement. They were joined by other influential industry figures like Cameron Bailey (Artistic Director and Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival), Loren Hammonds (Senior Programmer, Tribeca) and Gina Duncan (Associate Vice President – Cinema, Brooklyn Academy of Music).

It’s an initiative that was inspired by years of bias in film festival selections that are demonstrably non-diverse nor inclusive.

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival

Courtesy of TIFF, Photo by Matt Barnes

“As a collective, we’re forward-looking and focused on connecting people with opportunities,” the founding members said in a statement. “Whilst we seek to diversify the current festival programming pool, we also want to create a network of new talent from all of our communities that feeds into those pools and creates its own programming activities. We want to be a portal where other collectives with similar interests can connect with us, offer advice and who we ourselves can advise on festivals, programmers and films. Essentially, we’re a new door into the industry for other POC groups and filmmakers.”

The organization’s stated goals include researching the international film festival programming pool to identify gaps in equality, mentoring schemes and outreach with historically underrepresented groups, creating an internal database of POC programmers, and organizing regular gatherings at major international film festivals.

“Spurred by the many cases of (unconscious) bias in film festival selections that are gender-
imbalanced, lack representation of people of colour or else portray them or other underrepresented
groups in a way that is inauthentic or culturally appropriative, the collective’s objective is for
programming pools, and therefore the films selected for festivals, to become truly diverse,” the announcement read.

Kicking things off will be a POC2-organized panel taking place during the Berlin International Film Festival (Feb. 7th – 17th), specifics to be released later.

Ultimately, the organization’s main goal is to diversify film festival lineups, so that they fully represent the international audience they cater to, which should foster richer conversations, and lead to a better understanding of each other.

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