A gathering and celebration of women working behind the scenes in film and media


On Monday, November 18, the second Emerson College Women in Film & Media Summit, organized by filmmaker and Visual and Media Arts professor and associate chair Cristina Kotz Cornejo, will bring together award-winning women filmmakers working in behind the scenes roles in the film industry to share their experiences and discuss how a new generation of film/media makers can effectively contribute to the changing landscape in media.

The all-day event, including discussions and networking with award-winning producer Linda Reisman (Leave No Trace, The Danish Girl), composer Germaine Franco (Coco; Little, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), producer/distributor Karin Chien (Circumstance; Jack & Diane) and many others, is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis at the Paramount Center (559 Washington Street, Boston, Mass.). The event will also be live-streamed. For more information, visit the Emerson College 2019 Women in Film & Media Summit website.

“I am once again excited to have the opportunity to bring together a group of talented and diverse women working in various aspects of the media industry to share their career experiences and engage in a dialogue with students and the community-at-large,” said Kotz Cornejo, who held the first summit at Emerson in 2015. “While there are some efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive industry, the statistics tell us it’s not happening quite fast enough.”

According to the 2018 Celluloid Ceiling Report, an annual study sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in 2018, women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 18% in 2017. Last year, only 1% of films employed 10 or more women in the above roles. In contrast, 74% of films employed 10 or more men. Women accounted for 8% of directors, down 3 percentage points from 11% in 2017. This is 1 percentage point below the 9% achieved in 1998. According to Dr. Stacey L. Smith, author of USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative’s annual, “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair” report, “women of color are nearly invisible in film production – whether as directors, producers, or in below-the-line crew positions.”

The Summit is sponsored by Emerson’s co-curricular student organization, Women in Motion, which Kotz Conejo has advised for the last 13 years, Emerson’s Department of Visual and Media Arts, the Office of the President, and Academic Affairs with support from the School of the Arts.


10:45 a.m.: Opening remarks/welcome

11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (Bright Family Screening Room): Strategizing Your Creative Future, a panel featuring Maryam Keshavarz, writer/director (Viper Club; Circumstance); Nicole Dorsey, writer/director (Black Conflux); Germaine Franco, composer (Coco; Little, Dora and the Lost City of Gold ); Linda Reisman, distinguished producer-in residence and creative producer (Leave No Trace, The Danish Girl; Affliction); moderated by assistant professor & filmmaker Julia Halperin.

2:00 to 3:15 p.m. (Bright Family Screening Room): The Changing Landscape of Inclusive Storytelling, a panel featuring Karin Chien, producer/distributor (Circumstance; Jack & Diane; Stones in the Sun); Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studios Executive; Devynne Lauchner, set decorator/production designer (Clemency; If Beale Street Could Talk; Cold Case Files); Michèle Stephenson, filmmaker/artist (The Changing Same; The Nikki Giovanni Project; Hispaniola); moderated by assistant professor and filmmaker Rae Shaw.

4:30 to 5:45 p.m. (Bright Family Screen Room): Access & Equity in Emerging Media with transdisciplinary artist Rashin Fahandez; artist/animator Anya Belkina and Director of MIT OpenDoc Lab Sara Wolozin; moderated by assistant professor and artist/scholar Dr. Sarah Zaidan.

The day will culminate with a free special Emerson College community-only screening from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the Bright Family Screening Room of independent feature film Black Conflux.

Following the screening, summit organizer Kotz Cornejo will moderate a Q&A with Black Conflux writer and director Nicole Dorsey. Black Conflux premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival and has just begun its festival run. Set in suburban Newfoundland in 1987, Nicole Dorsey's debut feature is a dreamy account of two converging lives. Fifteen year-old Jackie (Ella Ballentine) is navigating from vulnerable adolescence to impending adulthood. Dennis (Ryan McDonald) is a socially inept loner with a volatile dark streak and delusional fantasies of adoring women at his beck and call. (Ravi Srinivasan of TIFF)

About the College

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic as well as its new Global Portals, with the first opening last fall in Paris. The College has an active network of 51,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit Emerson.edu.