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SFFILM Festival

Shifting Landscapes: The State of Cinema

This conversation about the state of cinema will feature filmmakers and industry professionals.


Live Talk

Wed, Apr 27 at 6:30 pm

Live Talk


Filmmakers are no strangers to challenges. From the devastating impact of the global pandemic to momentous changes within the media industry, the last few years have altered the future of cinema and storytelling. Join us as we gather influential industry professionals and impassioned thought leaders to discuss the state of cinema today and tomorrow and explore innovative strategies and opportunities for filmmakers to endure and thrive.

Moderator Zaki Hasan

Zaki Hasan is an author, film critic, and professor of Communication and Media Studies. His reviews and analyses appear regularly in the San Francisco Chronicle and IGN, and he is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle. He is also co-host of the MovieFilm Podcast, featuring bi-weekly news, reviews, and interviews related to the film industry.

Panelist Karin Chien

Karin Chien is an independent producer and distributor committed to bold voices and innovative forms that help build radical practices of ethical filmmaking. In 2022, Karin joined Louverture Films as a Partner and EVP and is working on a diverse slate of films, series, games and art work. Karin has produced 10 features starring women and people of color, including Circumstance (Sundance 2011 Audience Award), The Exploding Girl (Berlinale 2009) and The Motel (Sundance 2005). Karin is the president and co-founder of Art & Action, a global production company specializing in shoots in Europe and Asia. Karin is the founder and president of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent, contemporary Chinese cinema.

Panelist Sonya Childress

Sonya Childress is a cultural strategist who believes in the transformative power of film. Sonya co-directs the Color Congress, a new initiative to support, resource, and connect BIPOC-led documentary organizations. As Senior Fellow with the Perspective Fund, she conducted initiatives that moved the documentary field towards equity, transparency, and impact. She spent twenty years leading impact campaigns at Firelight Media and Active Voice. Her writing has been commissioned by the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and has appeared in Documentary Magazine and SEEN Journal. She is co-host of A Liberated Lens podcast with Ligaiya Romero. Sonya is a SoCal native of Puerto Rican/African American descent, and a mother of two.

Panelist Molly O’Brien

As the Head of Documentary, Molly O’Brien co-leads NBC News Studios feature documentary and series business. Just before landing at NBC News Studios, Molly was the Executive Producer Special Projects & COO of Fork Films in New York City, a founding producer of Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Initiative in Los Angeles, and adjunct professor at Chapman University where she taught wildlife and environmental filmmaking. She is an Academy Award® shortlisted and prime-time Emmy award-winning producer with over two decades of experience producing documentary series and feature films. She loves botanical gardens, chihuahuas, dance concerts, and documentaries.

Panelist Ryan Werner

Ryan Werner launched and has run Cinetic Marketing since 2014 which is a leader in promoting auteur-driven feature films, documentaries, and series from around the world. The team handles release, award, and festival campaigns year-round. Prior to that, he was SVP of Marketing and Publicity for IFC Films from 2006-2014. He also worked at Magnolia Pictures, Palm Pictures, Sundance Channel, Shooting Gallery, and Wellspring. He has been a programmer with BAMCinematek, Woodstock Film Festival, and the Philadelphia International Film Festival. He is currently the US representative for the Berlinale. He is based in New York City.