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(Re)Imagining the Future of Independent Film

Jeff Deutchman / Julia Oh / Mathieu Ajan / Lena Waithe / Andrea Riseborough / Tabitha Jackson, Moderator / August 8, 17:30 BST

The film industry is facing unprecedented change in these uncertain times. A lively combination of industry and artist guests dive into the complexities of the current independent filmmaking landscape, reimagining what the future of film can and should look like, and examining everything from rapidly evolving viewing patterns to paths forward in improving equitable practices industry-wide. Jeff Deutchman (EVP of acquisitions and production, NEON) and Julia Oh (senior commissioning executive, Film4) are joined by Mathieu Ajan (BFI NETWORK executive and founder of Bounce Cinema), Andrea Riseborough, and Lena Waithe. Moderated by Tabitha Jackson, Director, Sundance Film Festival.

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Our Panelists

Jeff Deutchman

Jeff Deutchman is the EVP of acquisitions and production for NEON and has previously held senior positions at IFC Films and Paramount Pictures. Throughout his career, he has championed and acquired culturally indelible films including Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Lobster, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Three Identical Strangers, and Amazing Grace. He has also played a role in the discovery of talented directors including Barry Jenkins, Josh and Benny Safdie, Lena Dunham, David Robert Mitchell, Andrew Haigh, Nia DaCosta, and Ali Abbasi. Every eight years, he moonlights as the creator and producer of the Election Day documentary series about presidential election days.

Julia Oh

Julia Oh is a senior commissioning executive at Film4 in London. She runs a slate of features there that include projects from Steve McQueen, Will Sharpe, Julia Ducournau, and Yann Demange. Prior to joining Film4, Julia was a New York City–based independent producer. She co-produced American Honey (Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival) and produced Nasty Baby (Teddy Award at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival). She also worked in development and production at Parts & Labor Films (The Witch) and Killer Films (Carol).

Mathieu Ajan

Mathieu is a BFI NETWORK talent executive and the founder of Bounce Cinema, a pop-up cinema dedicated to bringing communities together and celebrating exciting new filmmaking talent. As a director, producer and photographer Mathieu is also well versed in the creative, technical and development aspects of filmmaking. Mathieu is passionate about championing new talent and has supported many filmmakers in the early stages of their careers.

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe is a multiple-award-winning creator from Chicago who currently resides in Los Angeles. Her credits as a writer, producer, and/or executive producer include Queen & Slim, Dear White People, The Chi, The 40-Year-Old Version, and the upcoming Them. Through her production company, Hillman Grad Productions, as well as partnerships with others, she is dedicated to giving marginalized storytellers the chance to let their voices be heard.

Waithe’s acting credits include Master of None, This Is Us, and most recently Westworld and Bad Hair. She won an Emmy for her writing of Master of None’s “Thanksgiving” episode, based on her experience of coming out, and since then she has become an outspoken advocate for queer representation throughout the industry.

Andrea Riseborough

Actress and producer Andrea Riseborough continues to captivate audiences and earn critical acclaim for her gripping performances and dedication to bringing female narratives to the screen. Upcoming, she will star in Brandon Cronenberg’s thriller POSSESSOR and Zeina Durra’s drama LUXOR, both of which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and were nominated for the Grand Jury Prize – World Cinema (Dramatic). Following, she will be seen in Amazon’s LOUIS WAIN opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy as well as BBC Films’ HERE BEFORE. Previously, Riseborough starred in and produced NANCY, which received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance in 2018, BATTLE OF THE SEXES, the Academy Award-wining film BIRDMAN or (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE), and Tom Ford’s NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Tabitha Jackson

Tabitha Jackson was appointed Director of the Sundance Film Festival in February 2020, having previously served as Director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute since 2013. Throughout her career in film and public broadcasting she has been committed to supporting the independent voice, championing the social and cultural power of artful cinema, and furthering the mission of uplifting a more expansive set of makers and forms.

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