Eight Fellows Selected for Inaugural Film Festival Leadership Lab

FFA and the Chicago-based Full Spectrum Features , have joined forces to present the inaugural Film Festival Leadership Lab. Originally planned as a five-day gathering in Chicago in July 2020, the Leadership Lab will now be held online over ten consecutive weeks, connecting eight selected fellows through a series of weekly touchpoints including leadership training, conversations with film festival industry stakeholders and the creation of an individual project with the potential to impact the industry as a whole. The Leadership Lab will begin the second week of July and will complete just prior to Labor Day. 

“As the Alliance has quickly grown over the last few years, and serves as North America’s only professional affiliation for those who work within the film festival industry, we realized there was a need to cultivate our industry’s future leadership beyond our regular professional development activities.,” said Lela Meadow-Conner, FFA Executive Director. “We’ve been fortunate to engage with wonderful partners including Full Spectrum Features and Stephen Bárczay Sloan, Founder of the Humane Leadership Institute, to execute the program.” 

The inaugural cohort was selected based on their experience, their desire to continue working within the industry – even in spite of the recent challenges of Covid-19- and by recommendations from those who’ve witnessed their capacity as future leaders. The group includes Raquel Chapa (Managing Director, Dallas VideoFest), Faridah Gbadamosi (Freelance Programmer, COVEN Film Festival, OUTstream), Nia Hampton (Founder/Director, Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival), Kiwi Lanier (Education/Outreach Coordinator, Interim Marketing Coordinator, Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema), Skye McLennan (Festival Director, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival), Robin Robinson (Programming Coordinator, SCAD Savannah Film Festival), Logan Taylor (Programmer, Fantastic Fest), and Jamie Webb (Operations Coordinator, Milwaukee Film.) See below for bios.

“In most instances, film festivals are the first channel in an independent film’s life cycle. If we want to diversify the content being put on the silver screen, we must start by strengthening the relationship between film festivals and filmmakers,” said Brian Khan, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement at Full Spectrum Features. “We are thrilled to support these nationwide, future leaders as they develop innovative pilot projects to strengthen programming and operations within their festivals.”

“We at the Humane Leadership Institute are honored to partner with FFA & FSF in support of a new generation of leaders bringing independent voices and stories into this formative moment in our nation’s evolution,” said Stephen Bárczay Sloan, Founder of the Humane Leadership Institute and member of the Board of Directors for the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

The partnering organizations look forward to presenting the outcomes of the Leadership Lab to the film festival community and its stakeholders. The program sponsors include Film Festival Flix and the Laurel Channel, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

2020 Leadership Lab Fellows

Raquel Chapa, Managing Director, Dallas VideoFest (TX)
Raquel Chapa’s first short “Open Season” was made possible by the Southwest Alternate Media Project. She is currently in her 9th year of programming a short film program for the Association of American Indian Affairs. She was an associate producer for the 3rd episode of the We Shall Remain series on PBS, and has worked on documentaries for National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel.  She was accepted into NALIP Latino Producers Academy in the summer of 2010 and to the PBS Production Lab in 2011. She is also a media critic for Native Foodways magazine. Recently she took part in MAP2020: The Further We Roll, The More We Gain an arts festival at locations throughout Dallas – Fort Worth (DFW) commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

Faridah Gbadamosi, Freelance Programmer, COVEN Film Festival, OUTstream (NY)
Faridah is a media and events professional who is dedicated to making media a more inclusive space. She is currently the Director of Programming for COVEN Film Festival, a festival that showcases the work of women and nonbinary filmmakers. Outside of her work at COVEN, Faridah works for many film festivals around the country. From discussing how to deal with attribution and ownership when it comes to hashtags in popular media to the importance of having people of color falling in love front and center in mainstream romantic comedies, Faridah is constantly dissecting and looking for new approaches to improve how we engage with media in an intersectional manner through her critical writing.

Nia Hampton, Founder/Director, Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival (MD)
Nia is a multidisciplinary artist and who has consistently found community with black femme filmmakers in her travels around the world. During her first solo art show “Drapetomania; The Strong Urge to Escape” Nia created and hosted the first Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival as a means to hold space for black femme filmmakers from all over the world. As an international freelance journalist by trade who has written for sites like DAZED, VICE, Paste Magazine, LA Weekly and the Village Voice, Nia hopes that the festival will travel and meet black femme filmmakers where they are, wherever that may be.

Kiwi Lanier, Education/Outreach Coordinator, Interim Marketing Coordinator, Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema (AL)
Kiwi is originally from Kennesaw, GA. She graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a BA in Media and Film Studies in 2014, and received an MA in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been involved with Sidewalk Film Festival since 2012.

Skye McLennan, Fetsival Director, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (CA)
Skye McLennan grew up in Templeton, CA and went on to receive her degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. She also studied TV Documentary in Denmark at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. A dual citizen of Australia and the United States, postgrad she moved to Sydney, Australia and worked extensively in film production design on short films, features, advertisements, music videos and documentaries. She became involved in film festivals as a teenager starting out as a volunteer. Over the next ten years she went on to work in major film festivals including the Sydney, Sundance, Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals. In 2019 she moved back to her hometown and became the Associate Director for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. In June of 2020, Skye was named Festival Director. Skye believes in the power and impact of cinema and bringing diverse voices to the screen and engaging her local community.

Robin Robinson, Programming Coordinator, SCAD Savannah Film Festival (GA)
Robin Robinson is dedicated to independent film. She is the Programming Coordinator for SCAD Savannah Film Festival as well as a programmer for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Mountainfilm. Previously, she’s served as a Programming Coordinator for Mountainfilm and the Nashville Film Festival, where she managed the Screenwriting Competition and worked as a Senior Programmer. She has experience programming narrative, documentary, episodic, new director, and family films. In addition to her programming experience, she has served as a screener, reader, and judge for numerous film competitions and festivals. She received an M.F.A. in Film with a focus in screenwriting at the Watkins College of Film in 2018. Her works primarily focus on the exploration of identity and the pressure to conform to societal masks.

Logan Taylor, Programmer, Fantastic Fest (TX)
Logan Taylor is an Austin-based film professor and programmer. She has worked for numerous festivals in programming and event support including SXSW, Fantastic Fest, Boston Underground Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Cinepocalypse. She also teaches courses in communications and film at Austin Community College. In her free time, Logan (unsurprisingly) watches lots of movies, takes her dog on lots of walks, and eats lots of queso.

Jamie Webb, Operations Coordinator, Milwaukee Film (WI)
After graduating with a Bachelors in Film Studies in the United Kingdom, his home country, Jamie moved to the United States and began a nomadic career working various corners of the film festival circuit. He worked seasonally for respected film festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, Full Frame, and Cucalorus before landing a year-round position managing ticketing operations and festival production for Milwaukee Film.