14th Annual Film Independent Forum to Open with Olivia Wilde’s ‘Booksmart’

Contact: Melanie Bates, Film Independent
Tel: 323 556 9338 or mbates@filmindependent.org

Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323 645 6800 or seanna.hore@ginsberglibby.com



Keynotes with HBO Films President Len Amato and Writer/Director Nisha Ganatra

April 26 – 28 at LMU Playa Vista Campus

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 9, 2019) — Film Independent announced the keynotes, films and panelists for the 14th annual Film Independent Forum. This year’s edition will spotlight an Executive Keynote by Len Amato (President, HBO Films) and a Filmmaker Keynote delivered by Nisha Ganatra (Late Night, Transparent). The Forum takes place the weekend of April 26 – 28 at the LMU Playa Vista Campus and Harmony Gold Theater.

The 2019 Forum will open with a screening of Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, followed by a conversation with Wilde. Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, Booksmart is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation. This year’s Forum will also feature a Saturday Night Screening of Justin Chon’s Ms. Purple, a poignant drama about Asian American sister and brother, Kasie and Carey, who were raised and are now seemingly stuck in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Abandoned by their mother and brought up by their father, they continue to struggle with deep emotional wounds from the difficulty of the parental dynamic.

Panels at this year’s Forum range from film financing and distribution, documentaries, case studies, episodic, branded content, music videos, and fiction podcasts, featuring Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), Hiro Murai (Atlanta), Effie T. Brown, (Dear White People), Tom Nunan (Crash), Heather Rae (Tallulah), Daniel Kwan (Swiss Army Man) and Aneesh Chaganty (Searching) to name but a few participants.

“Once again, I am thrilled to congregate our community to explore the work of the most interesting creators this year,” said Maria Raquel Bozzi, Senior Director of Education and International Initiatives. “From our screenings of Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart and Justin Chon’s Ms. Purple to our keynotes by acclaimed writer/director Nisha Ganatra and HBO Films President Len Amato, our Forum program’s diverse slate of speakers reflects this exciting moment for film and media across many platforms.”

The 2019 Film Independent Forum is supported by Premier Sponsors SAGindie and Cast & Crew and University Partner Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.

Additional Speakers Announced:

Claire Aguilar, Director of Programming and Policy, Int’l Documentary Association
Minhal Baig, Writer/Director, Hala
Eli Barraza, Creator, The Far Meridian; Co-Founder, The Whisperforge
Ben Berman, Director, Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary
Emily Kai Bock, Director, A Funeral for Lightning, Lorde: “Yellow Flicker Beat”
Skye Borgman, Director/Cinematographer, Abducted in Plain Sight
Wendy Calhoun, Co-Executive Producer, Empire
Seth Caplan, Producer, First Girl I Loved, The Young Kieslowski
Lisa A. Callif, Esq., Founding Partner, Donaldson + Callif
Bikram Chatterji, Managing Director, Maximum Fun
Charlene deGuzman, Actor/Writer, Unlovable
Antonio D’Intino, Literary Manager, Circle of Confusion
Jim Frohna, Executive Producer, It’s Not About Jimmy Keene
Melissa Haizlip, Director/Producer, Mr. Soul!
Danielle Hinde, Owner/Executive Producer, Doomsday Entertainment
Jordan Horowitz, Producer, La La Land
Caleb Jaffe, Writer/Director/Co-Editor, It’s Not About Jimmy Keene
Samantha Jayne, Creator/Actor, Quarter Life Poetry
Max Knies, Producer, City Beats with Santigold: Citizens Bank
Diana Kunce, Executive Producer, It’s Not About Jimmy Keene
Missy Laney, Director of Development, Adult Swim
Folayo Lasaki, VP/Head of Marketing, SoulPancake
Liz Manashil, Writer & Manager, Creative Distribution Initiative, Sundance Institute
Sal Masakela, Host, ESPN X Games, VICE World of Sport
Rich Mento, Casting Director, Ashes in the Snow, Warm Bodies
Robert McFalls, Producer/Editor, The Advocates
Sev Ohanian, Writer/Producer, Searching; Producer, Fruitvale Station
Arturo Perez Jr., Writer/Director, Quarter Life Poetry
Natalie Qasabian, Producer, Searching, All About Nina
Peggy Rajski, Dean of School of Film and Television, LMU
Kristin Sauchak, Vice President, The Outcast Agency
AJ Schnack, Director/Producer, Speaking Is Difficult, Nomination
Colleen Scriven, Creator/Performer, Lesser Gods
Lauren Shippen, Creator, The Bright Sessions
Mischa Stanton, Co-Founder/Executive Producer, The Whisperforge
Anam Syed, Head of Marketing, Alamo Drafthouse
Rahdi Taylor, Head of Artists in Residence, Concordia Studio
David Wilson, Co-Founder, True/False Film Fest

For a full schedule of events and to register, visit filmindependent.org/forum.


Now in its 14th year, the Film Independent Forum is the preeminent conference for independent filmmakers and content creators in Los Angeles. Off-the-record conversations with working filmmakers make this the must-attend spring event for filmmakers and industry professionals. If you are anywhere near production or close to entering the festival circuit, join your peers for a weekend of solution-driven strategies, success stories and opportunities to connect one-on-one with working artists and industry pros.

The 2019 Film Independent Forum takes place April 26 – 28 at the LMU Playa Vista Campus.

Conference passes are $195 for Film Independent Members and $265 for non-Members. For more information about this year’s Film Independent Forum, to purchase a pass or become a Member, please visit filmindependent.org/forum.


Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

Through annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.