Amplifying the Message: Social Impact Campaigns for Documentary Films
A panel organized by FilmNorth and Speed Art Museum
Premiering February 2, 2 pm ET
This panel will explore ways that producers and distributors can help support the ideas of filmmakers in using social impact campaigns to stimulate activism to support social/racial justice. Films like John Lewis: Good Trouble that was produced by Participant Media and distributed by Magnolia Pictures will be discussed. Industry leaders will share the development of their social impact campaigns from inception through evaluation. Panelists will also share advice on what filmmakers and their teams can do while in production in order to facilitate a successful campaign to inspire and institute change to help build a stronger, more engaged community long after the film’s credits have rolled. Program length: 60 minutes.
Panelists include Dori Begley, Executive Vice-President, Magnolia Pictures; Melinda Arons, Senior Vice-President for Social Impact, Participant Media; and moderated by Eugene Hernandez, Director of the New York Film Festival, Deputy Executive Director of Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a founder of IndieWire; and Peter Nicks, director of Homeroom, screening at the Speed as part of the Selections from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY and FilmNorth in Saint Paul, MN are each Satellite Cinemas for the presentation of films for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Both organizations have had a strong commitment to social/racial justice and finding strategies to support the vision of filmmakers to reach audiences and inspire change to build stronger communities. This commitment has only been intensified and strengthened by recent events in each of our cities.
Support for this program is being provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and WarnerMedia for FilmNorth as a part of their FilmNorth Forum and through a sponsorship from Rabbit Hole Distillery and individual support from Gill & Augusta Holland, Jeff & Susan Callen, and Unbridled Films for the Speed.
Dori Begley currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Magnolia Pictures. Joining the company as Director of Acquisitions in 2007, she has overseen more than a decade of buys for Magnolia Pictures, Magnet Releasing, Magnolia Home Entertainment and Magnolia International Sales. Begley’s current role was expanded to include the management of strategic partnerships and oversight of theatrical marketing and distribution strategies. Notable releases include the Oscar-nominated documentary RBG; Oscar-nominated and Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters; Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Dawn Porter’s John Lewis: Good Trouble and Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres’ ACLU documentary The Fight. Upcoming releases include Lance Oppenheim’s documentary Some Kind of Heaven, featured at Sundance 2020, and Rodney Ascher’s documentary Glitch in the Matrix, to be featured at Sundance 2021. Begley began her career in 2000 with Sony Pictures Classics working on an eclectic slate of award-winning titles from renowned filmmakers around the globe. She is an Executive Branch member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Vassar College graduate and resident of Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.
Melinda Arons is SVP of Social Impact for Participant Media, where she is instrumental in helping build campaigns in support of the company’s social impact strategy that address the most important issues of our time. Arons started her career at Fox News and spent twelve years at ABC News as a producer for Good Morning America and Nightline, where she ultimately became the Chief Political Producer and Senior Producer. While at ABC she won a Peabody and was nominated for multiple Emmys®. In 2013, she joined Facebook to help build their Media Partnerships team, and left in 2016 to join the Hillary For America presidential campaign as the Director of Broadcast Media. Since the election, Arons has consulted for the International Rescue Committee and for Lincoln Square Productions, the long form unit of ABC News. She attended Georgetown University.
Peter Nicks is an award-winning cinematographer/director known for immersive camera work and cinema vérité style. He helmed the documentaries The Waiting Room and The Force, winning the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award. Homeroom completes a trilogy of documentaries exploring health care, criminal justice, and education in Oakland, California. Nicks received his BA in English from Howard University and his master’s in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
Eugene Hernandez is Director of the New York Film Festival and Publisher of Film Comment at Film at Lincoln Center where he serves as Deputy Executive Director. His duties include strategic leadership, programming special events, and managing emerging artist, industry, and education initiatives. He joined Film at Lincoln Center in 2010 as Director of Digital Strategy to develop digital platforms and content. In 1996, Hernandez co-founded IndieWire, which he built over 15 years as it became the leading editorial publication for independent and international films, filmmakers, industry, and audiences. He was named on Out magazine’s OUT100 list in 2015 and has served as a juror at Sundance, SXSW, and the Film Independent Spirit Awards. He has also worked extensively as a consultant for several nonprofits, including the Creative Capital Foundation; written for major print and online publications; serves on the board of advisors for SXSW, SeriesFest, and Art House Convergence; and is a programming consultant for the Key West Film Festival.