2023 Film Independent Forum to Open with Justin Simien Keynote, LA Premiere of ‘Frybread Face and Me’ and Inaugural Changemaker Award

Press Contact: Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby

Gladys Santos, Ginsberg/Libby


Changemaker Award to be presented to Honorees
Smriti Mundhra, Pamela Ribon and Kim Yutani

LOS ANGELES (August 18, 2023) — Today, Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, announced the 2023 Film Independent Forum, the preeminent conference for independent filmmakers and content creators. This year’s edition of the annual event, beginning on Friday, September 29, 2023 at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in Los Angeles, will be held entirely in-person for the first time since 2019. The Forum will kick off with a screening of Billy Luther’s Frybread Face and Me, executive produced by Taika Waititi, followed by a Q&A with writer/director and Film Independent Fellow Luther (Miss Navajo, Dark Winds) and a Filmmaker Keynote by writer/director and Film Independent Fellow Justin Simien (Haunted Mansion, Dear White People) the next day. The full program will take place over the course of two days, September 29–30, 2023, during which the inaugural Changemaker Award will be presented to three outstanding Film Independent Fellows: Smriti Mundhra (Documentary Lab 2016, Grant Recipient 2016), Pamela Ribon (Directing Lab 2017) and Kim Yutani (Project Involve 2004).

Designed to inspire and empower filmmakers with tools and connections they need to get their projects made and seen, the Forum offers a robust slate, including screenings, panels, workshops, one-on-one meetings, a welcome reception, and networking opportunities for filmmakers. Conversations and panels will delve into best practices for financing, production and distribution of both film and television, and explore new tools and formats that offer significant opportunities for experimentation and success.

“As the film industry adjusts, recalibrates and shifts, our community is essential to fostering creativity and sustainability for all those working in this most collaborative art form,” said Maria Raquel Bozzi, Senior Director of Education and International Initiatives. “The Forum is the perfect communal space to exchange ideas and celebrate the extraordinary talent and achievements of filmmakers like Justin Simien and Billy Luther, alumni of our Artist Development programs.”

The opening day of the 2023 Forum will feature a happy hour welcome reception, followed by the presentation of the Changemaker Award, which exemplifies Film Independent Artist Development’s mission to champion independent voices and create impactful, positive change by highlighting the extraordinary work of Film Independent program alumni, whose efforts have made wide-reaching impact on the industry and in their communities.

Film Independent launched its first Artist Development program in 1993 with Project Involve and, in the thirty years since, has been supporting talented creators who provide fresh voices and diverse perspectives to independent film and television by connecting them to the resources and networks they need to advance their projects and build sustainable careers.

“We are so thrilled to launch the Changemaker Awards to celebrate past Artist Development Fellows who have come full circle on their journey and now make tremendous impact on our culture both through their work and in their commitment to support future generations of storytellers. Smriti Mundhra, Pamela Ribon and Kim Yutani couldn’t more aptly embody the spirit of the Changemaker Award, and we are so excited to spotlight their impact at our inaugural celebration,” said Angela C. Lee, Director of Artist Development.

Forum passes are on sale now: $149 for Film Independent Members, $189 for non-Members and free for Arts Circle Members. Filmmaker Pro and Arts Circle Members also receive priority registration for Industry Connect sessions. For more information about this year’s Film Independent Forum, to purchase a pass and/or become a Member, please visit filmindependent.org/forum.

The 2023 Film Independent Forum is supported by Premier partners Directors Guild of America and SAGindie. The event’s Principal partners are HieronyVision and film payroll platform Wrapbook.


For over 40 years, Film Independent has helped filmmakers get their projects made and seen. The nonprofit organization’s core mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling in all its forms, and to foster a culture of inclusion. We support a global community of artists and audiences who embody diversity, innovation, curiosity and uniqueness of vision.

In addition to producing the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the organization supports creative professionals with Artist Development programs, grants and labs. Signature mentorship program Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Education events and workshops equip filmmakers of all ages and experience levels with tools and resources. Global Media Makers, a cultural exchange program produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, provides career-building opportunities for international film professionals. And year-round screening series Film Independent Presents offers a robust program of unique cinematic experiences, including screenings, conversations, Live Reads and Bring the Noise musical events.

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