When it became obvious earlier this year that our normally three-day, in-person Film Independent Forum would not be possible in 2020, we couldn’t imagine how successfully our filmmaker community would adapt to a new virtual format. But really, we should’ve known—indie moviemakers are, after all, nothing if not resilient problem-solvers. And thanks to our crack Education and Events teams as well as your interest and dedication, #FiForum20 featured a robust program of online events, more than rivaling any Forum slate of yesteryear.
Now that the dust has settled from a whirlwind week of Zoom-enabled industry panels, keynote conversations, networking events, screening Q&As and more, we thought it appropriate to look back at the Forum that was—and wonder just might lay in store for indie content creators in the sure-to-be wild year ahead.
Below, you’ll find our round up of our favorite moments from the 2020 Film Independent Forum. If you missed anything, no need to worry. All Forum content will remain available to passholders via our On Demand portal through the month of October. Take a look at this year’s complete schedule and list of speakers and panelists for more.
The first LIVE keynote of #FiForum20—featuring an interactive audience Q&A— was about all things indie film distribution. And frankly, we can’t think of anyone better equipped to discuss the topic than NEON President of Distribution Elissa Federoff, who in her thoughtful, incisive hour-long Executive Keynote outlined not just her own career journey through the wild world of theatrical sales, but also some of the strategies she helped develop around the successful launch of titles including Portrait of a Woman on Fire and Parasite. Read the blog here.
LULU WANG & JUDD APATOW
Knocked Up blockbuster-comedy-auteur Judd Apatow is a huge fan of 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award Best Feature winner The Farewell and its director, Project Involve Fellow Lulu Wang—this, despite the fact that Apatow actually fired Wang off her first-ever Hollywood job, sacking her from the set of Pineapple Express in 2006. This anecdote, along with discussions of cross-cultural storytelling, international financing, media representation and more made up Wang and Apatow’s fascinating Filmmaker Keynote. Blog here.
DAWN PORTER ON JOHN LEWIS
A 2014 Film Independent Spirit Award nominee for her debut, Gideon’s Army, nonfiction filmmaker Dawn Porter has steadily established herself as a leading documentarian of the past decade, whose filmography boasts a series of human-oriented, socially-conscious projects including Trapped and Spies of Mississippi. On the occasion of her latest film—a profile of the late congressman, Rep. John Lewis—Porter used her Documentary Keynote to discuss doc funding and distribution, community-building and creative self-care. Read the blog here.
GLOBAL EXECUTIVE KEYNOTE
Look, if you want to talk to someone about international film financing and distribution, there’s literally no one better than Hyde Park Entertainment Group CEO Ashok Amritraj. On Monday, the producer and studio exec sat across Zoom with Variety’s Manori Rivindran to discuss his long and colorful career, in the Forum’s first-ever Global Executive Keynote. Amritraj recounted how he parlayed an early career in pro tennis into an apprenticeship with indie film legend Roger Corman and, eventually, a $2 billion dollar business bringing Hollywood to the rest of the world—and ultimately vice-versa. Read the blog here.
One of the streaming universe’s most critically acclaimed new shows, the Hulu original Ramyhas quickly catapulted its creator—Egyptian-American comedian-turned-showrunner Ramy Youssef—into the center of discussions around Muslim representation on TV. We’re huge fans of the show’s down-to-earth, spiritually-minded, blend of comedy and drama. For Tuesday’s LIVE “From the Motherland to the Diaspora” panel, the recent Emmy nominee joined Film Independent Global Media Makers Fellow Ayten Amin for a wide-ranging conversation touching on faith, filmmaking, Cairo, cancel culture and more. Read our full blog recap here.
‘THE FIGHT’ ACLU Q&A
For our Opening Night, we were thrilled to share with 2020 Forum attendees a special pre-release preview link to Eli B. Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s new documentary The Fight, which chronicles the vital work of the ACLU at the dawn of the Trump administration. In real time, the film follows the construction and presentation of four separate Supreme Court cases related to issues of undocumented immigration family separations, census questionnaires, trans military rights, abortion rights and the 2017 Muslim travel ban. After the (virtual) screening, Film Independent Senior Programmer Jenn Wilson moderated a Q&A with The Fight’s filmmakers and subjects.
The 2020 Film Independent Forum took place online July 31–August 7, and all recorded and on demand content will remain available to passholders through October 31, 2020.
The 2020 Film Independent Forum is supported by Premier Sponsor SAGindie, and University Partner Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television. Film Independent promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work.