Changing Landscapes: An Evening with Female Directors

Event Type:LifeRaft
Title:Changing Landscapes: An Evening with Female Directors
Join us for an inspiring and academic evening with female directors at the top of their careers
Date:Thursday, March 14, 2013
Time:7:00 PM

Tishman Auditorium
The New School
66 West 12th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue)
New York, New York 10016 

Status:Seats are available
Event Rules:
Event rules

According to recent DGA statistics, 95% of feature films are directed by men and only 5% by women. More than 3100 episodes were produced in the 2011-2012 network season and 2011 cable television series but only 15% of these episodes were directed by women. According to a recent New York Times article, women direct only 15 to 20% of the Broadway shows, a number that is considered a slight improvement to most of the last century. Although the disparity is clear, a generation of women is changing the directorial landscape. The groundwork is being laid for a new game to be played in the business.  Join us for an inspiring and academic evening with women at the top of their careers in TV, Film and Theater.  Hear them speak their minds on why they do what they do, how they did it and where the tide is turning.

This event is presented in partnership with the New School for Drama in celebration of Women's History Month.

*Panel subject to change

Meet the Panelists

Neema Barnette
Prominent, innovative and prolific director and producer, Neema Barnette, has engaged audiences with a body of compelling socially- and politically-charged work that defies the narrow stereotypes of African-Americans usually depicted in entertainment. Working in both television and film, Barnette has earned the respect of peers and critics alike by winning countless accolades. 

WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED ON THE 7th DAY marks Barnette's 11th movie and 3rd for theatrical release. Other credits: “MY SUPER SWEET 16 THE MOVIE” (MTV Paramount 2007). “ALL YOU’VE GOT” (MTV Paramount Films, 2005). The mini series “MIRACLE BOYS” produced in 2005 for the NOGGIN station by filmmaker Spike Lee marks Neema Barnette’s ninth movie directed for the small screen. Neema was the only female director invited to join Spikes directing team.

At twenty-one, Neema made her directing debut at Joseph Papps’ Public Theatre with “THE BLUE JOURNEY” by Oyamo. Finding cinema in her work, Papp suggested she enroll in a Third World Cinema program. After graduating from the program, Neema produced an after school special titled “TO BE A MAN” for ABC Television and won her first EMMY AWARD.

Neema was awarded acceptance into The American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for where she wrote, produced and directed her first film “SKY CAPTAIN.” The film’s innovative style and unmistakable originality propelled Neema into the vanguard of Hollywood’s film and television community. “ONE MORE HURDLE” (NAACP IMAGE AWARD). “THE SILENT CRIME” (four local EMMY NOMINATIONS & AMERICAN WOMEN IN RADIO & TELEVISION AWARD for Directing.) Episode of “What’s Happenin now” that Neema directed got her a NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINATION.  It also made her the first African American Woman in the history of television to direct a sitcom.  This critical breakthrough resulted in subsequent directing stints on HOOPERMAN, THE ROYAL FAMILY, CHINA BEACH (Peabody Award), FRANKS PLACE (Emmy Award), and THE SINBAD SHOW, DIAGNOSIS MURDER, A DIFFERENT WORLD and multiples of THE COSBY SHOW.

Neema won an “International Monitor Award for Best Director” for the Cosby Show episode “The Day The Spores Landed”.   The Delta Society awarded Neema their prestigious LILLY AWARD for exceptional representation of African American images in film.


“BETTER OFF DEAD” got her the attention of Frank Price, then chairman of Sony Pictures, who gave her a two-year housekeeping deal to produce, write and direct “LISTEN FOR THE FIG TREE” an original screenplay. Neema became the first African American woman to get a deal at a major motion picture studio.

Mr. Bill Cosby contracted her to direct several episodes of his one-hour detective series for NBC, THE COSBY MYSTERIES.  An episode she directed for the show received a PEABODY AND EMMY AWARD.

In September of 2003, Neema signed on as Director and Producer of the feature film “CIVIL BRAND” (BLOCKBUSTER AUDIENCE AWARD at The Black American Film Festival in Miami; AUDIENCE AWARD & SPECIAL JURY AWARD at the URBANWORLD Film Festival in NYC; Official selection of The American Film Institutes Film Festival LA; Official selection of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL; Opening Night Gala Feature for the 2003 PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL and winner of its THE FESTIVAL AWARD and SOJOURNER TRUTH AWARD;  Official selection of the PHILLY FILM FESTIVAL and winner of the AUDIENCE AWARD at the Roxbury Black Film Festival in Boston.; selected for DENMARK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in November 2004.) Lions Gate Films released CIVIL BRAND theatrically.

In March of 2006, the Reel Sistas of the Diaspora and NY Women in Film awarded Neema the “TRAILBLAZER AWARD” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art Neema.

The legendary Director/Producer of The Academy Awards, Gilbert Gates, hired Neema as a Professor at UCLA’s School of Film & Television in 1997. For fifteen years, Neema has been teaching television directing and producing for multi camera and single camera. She teaches both undergraduates and graduates.  In September 2002, Neema also became an associate professor at the USC School of Cinema.

Neema was one of ten prestigious artists selected to judge the American Film Institutes “Best Films Award” in 2002.

Neema serves on the DGA African American Steering Committee and is a member of The Black Filmmakers Foundation since its inception. She is an active AFI alumnus and serves on the panel of the AFI Independent Film committee. Neema was on the executive board of the IFP Gordon Parks Scholarship fund and is a judge for the NAACP Feature Film Award and serves yearly as a judge for the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.

In February 2004, WOMEN IN FILM honored Neema along with Diane Carroll and Delores Robinson at their Breaking Ground Breakfast in Beverly Hills.

On November 30th, 2009 in New York City, Congressman Charles Rangel declared NEEMA BARNETTE DAY in her hometown of Harlem.  Over 1000 fans gathered to pay tribute to Neema’s talent and history-making success.

Neema operates her own production company, HOPE ENTERTAINMENT. She served as EXECUTIVE PRODUCER for the feature film “CUTTIN DA MUSTARD.” Neema is also Executive Director of Live Theatre Gang, a young urban theatre and performance company.  She lives between New York and Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, playwright Ah’Keisha McCants.  Neema has just completed writing the screenplay “When All Is Said and Done” adapted from a short story by rapper/writer Queen Pen. 

Liz Diamond
Liz Diamond has taught at Yale School of Drama and served as a Resident Director of Yale Repertory Theatre since 1992. She has served as the Chair of the Directing department since 2004. Among the more than 50 productions she has directed at Yale Rep and nationally are many US and world premieres, including, most recently, Jordan Harrison's Futura, Catherine Treischman's Crooked, Lucinda Coxon's Happy Now?, Octavio Solis' Gibraltar, Marcus Gardley's Dance of the Holy Ghosts, and, early on, of Suzan-Lori Parks' The America PlayThe Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, and Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom. Productions of classical and modern works include Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession, and Pinter's Betrayal.  She has also directed major new translations of Racine's Phedre, Moliere's School for Wives, Brecht's St Joan of the Stockyards, and Strindberg's Miss Julie. Ms Diamond has directed documentary theatre projects in collaboration with Anna Deavere Smith at the Institute for the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University, the Yale School of Medicine, and the Lincoln Center Institute. She has been awarded the OBIE and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction. She has taught directing at La MaMa Umbria, the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where she is a Visiting Professor. After completing her MFA at Columbia University in 1983, Ms Diamond worked as a free lance director and served as the Resident Director at New Dramatists in New York. In 1978, while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Ms Diamond cofounded the Projet de Theatre Rurale Voltaique, which grew into the Atelier de Theatre Burkinabe and still thrives today.

Leigh Silverman
Broadway: David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish; Lisa Kron’s Well. Recent world premieres: The Madrid (MTC); Chinglish (Goodman Theater, Jeff nomination; West Coast/Hong Kong tour); In the Wake (Center Theatre Group/Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Public Theater, Obie Award, Lortel nomination); No Place to Go (Public Theater); Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award); From Up Here (MTC, Drama Desk nomination); Yellow Face (Center Theatre Group/The Public Theater); Coraline (MCC/True Love); Hunting and Gathering (Primary Stages); Well (The Public Theater; Huntington Theatre; ACT); Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons; Seattle Repertory Theatre); Oedipus at Palm Springs (NYTW); also Golden Child (Signature Theatre) and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Second Stage Theatre); and many regional productions.  West End: Wit.  Upcoming: The Call (Playwrights Horizons); American Hero (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Kung Fu (Signature Theatre).

Rose Troche
Rose Troche is an award winning writer, director and producer of both film and television. Her first feature, Go Fish was released to wide acclaim, garnering awards at The Berlin, London, Rimini and Deauville Film Festivals. It also won the prestigious Open Palm Palm at New York’s Gotham Awards. Bedrooms and Hallways followed, receiving the audience award at the London Film Festival. 2003 saw the release of Troche’s third feature, The Safety of Objects, which received stellar reviews and went on to open the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and win best feature and best actress (Patricia Clarkson) at the Deauville Film Festival. In 2003 Troche completed the pilot for Showtime’s The L Word and went on to direct, write and co-executive produce the series through six seasons. Troche also directed the pilot for the popular teen series, South of Nowhere where she remained as a consulting producer, and director. She has also directed award winning series including, Six Feet Under, Ugly Betty and Law & Order. In 2011 she executive produced Hunting Season, an 8 part web series. Troche produced Concussion, Stacie Passon’s debut feature to be released in the fall. She also wrote and directed Elliot King is 3rd a film for the ITVS series Future States. She is also set to go into production on her fourth feature,Wendy Drinks Beer for Breakfast in the spring of 2013 and is slated to direct Black Kid, starring Vera Farmiga and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def)q.

Claudia Weill
Claudia Weill is a film, television, and theatre director.

After graduating from Harvard in 1969, she made 30 shorts for SESAME STREET (still on the air) and directed documentaries, notably THE OTHER HALF OF THE SKY: A CHINA MEMOIR, with Shirley MacLaine, 1975 (Academy Award Nomination) and THIS IS THE HOME OF MRS LEVANT GRAHAM (Kennedy Journalism Award). She produced and directed her first feature, GIRLFRIENDS, in 1979 with Melanie Mayron, Chris Guest, Bob Balaban, and Eli Wallach, which she sold to Warner Brothers after winning multiple awards at Cannes, Filmex, and Sundance. Next she directed IT’S MY TURN for Columbia Pictures, with Jill Clayburgh, Michael Douglas and Charles Grodin, winning the Donatello (European Oscar) for Best New Director.

Claudia has directed television since 1983, most recently Episode 6, “BOYS”, 2nd season of HBO GIRLS. She is also well known for multiple episodes of THIRTYSOMETHING (Emmy, Humanitas Awards), MY SO-CALLED LIFE, CHICAGO HOPE (Reynolds Award), ONCE AND AGAIN and TV/Cable movies, JOHNNY BULL with Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst and Kathy Bates) and FACE OF A STRANGER with Tyne Daly, Gena Rowlands, (Emmy).

As a theatre director, she has worked at Williamstown, The O’Neill, Sundance, ACT, Empty Space, MTC, Circle Rep, EST and the Public Theatre where she was nominated for the Drama Desk Best Director Award for the premiere of Donald Margulies’ FOUND A PEANUT. Most recently she directed WHAT A PILL (Atik) for the EST YOUNGBLOODS and before that The BELLE of BELFAST (Edelman) at EST LA, MEMORY HOUSE (Tolan) w/ Kathy Baker, END DAYS (Laufer) w/Amy Aquino, TAPE (Belber) w/Michael Urie and ADAM BAUM AND THE JEW MOVIE (Goldfarb) w/Tony Shaloub at the Vineyard Playhouse, HUCK AND HOLDEN (Rajiv Joseph) at the Black Dahlia, LA BELLA FAMIGLIA at ACT, TWELFTH NIGHT and ACT A LADY (Harrison) at Antaeus and the West Coast Premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner, DOUBT w/Linda Hunt at the Pasadena Playhouse,

Ms Weill is on the faculty at USC where she created and teaches Advanced Directing in the Graduate School of Cinema; she has guest taught directing for film, television and theatre at Columbia, Harvard, NYU and Cal Arts. Last year she was a Juror with Elvis Mitchell for the Nashville Film Festival and directed several of the “Game Changers” films for the DGA 75th Anniversary. She regularly mentors young writers and directors around the country, serves on the Directors Executive Committee for the Academy of Arts and Sciences, is preparing a documentary about the art and craft of directing and producing a New Play Reading Series (January 2014) for the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. 

Melissa Silverstein - Moderator
Melissa Silverstein is a writer with an extensive expertise in the area of women and Hollywood. She is the founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, one of the most respected sites for issues related to women and film as well as other areas of pop culture. She is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Athena Film Festival -- A Celebration of Women and Leadership -- at Barnard College in NYC. The third annual festival took place from February 7-10, 2013.

Melissa recently published the first book from Women and Hollywood, In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, which is a compilation of over 40 interviews that have appeared on the site.

Her work has been featured on CNN, the BBC as well as in Newsweek, Salon, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, NY Times, and many other publications. Women and Hollywood was named one of the top 100 websites for women by ForbesWoman in 2012 and 2011.  In 2011, Melissa was named one of the Top 100 Arts tweeters by the Times of London and in 2010, she was named one of 10 film critics to follow on twitter by Flavorwire.  In 2008, Women and Hollywood was named by More Magazine as one of the “blogs to watch,” and in 2009, it was named “Best Hollywood blog” by

Melissa has experience working on social media marketing campaigns and events for a variety of films.  Recent films include: My Week With Marilyn, The Iron Lady, Gloria Steinem: In Her Own Words, Dancing Across Borders, Bright Star, The Boys are Back, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, Cheri, Sunshine Cleaning, Last Chance Harvey, Revolutionary Road, Hounddog, The Duchess, A Previous Engagement, Then She Found Me, The Business of Being Born, Becoming Jane, Bend it Like Beckham, and The Hours.

She has also worked on several high profile public education campaigns including Take Our Daughters to Work Day and the Pro Choice Public Education Project, and she was the founding project director for The White House Project and prior to that was the chief of Staff at the Ms. Foundation for Women.  She is on the advisory boards of the Women’s Media Center and Women, Action & Media (WAM!) and is a member of NY Women in Film and TV.<