Priya Giri Desai


New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) is inviting filmmakers, industry leaders, and emerging artists to share insights and address issues around representation in kids’ entertainment for its third annual industry forum, Toward a More Inclusive Future.

The series of three free and public panels will take place virtually on June 14, 21, and 28. Panels in this year’s series will place particular focus on the business of kids’ media and the inherent value of engaging historically excluded voices in all aspects of the production of media for young people, from idea to audience.

Toward a More Inclusive Future launched in 2020 as an outgrowth of the organization’s ongoing commitment to providing thought-provoking, intelligent stories to all audiences. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary year, NYICFF has amplified countless often underrepresented voices and stories through its annual slate of short and feature films from around the world. In addition to its regular programs, NYICFF’s special programs, including Celebrating Black Voices, ¡Hola NYICFF!, and Breaking the Binary have further highlighted these voices both within the context of the Festival programming and on their own.

“We know the impact seeing yourself authentically reflected on screen can have on young people,” said Executive Director Nina Guralnick. “And we know that more of those stories can be told authentically if those voices are in writers’ rooms, leading productions, and even designing marketing campaigns.”

“We’re thrilled to see more awareness and intentionality around supporting diverse stories and creators in children’s media,” added Maria-Christina Villaseñor, NYICFF Programming Director. “We want to devise more onramps for emerging creators, share ways to mindfully support their ongoing development and success. With over 25 years of identifying talented filmmakers and partnering with industry producers, platforms, and educators, we’re doing what we can to connect the dots with honest conversation, inspiration, and actionable ideas.”

2022 Industry Forum Events
June 14
Small is Mighty: Women Forging Paths in Animation
Panel will shine a spotlight on multitasking animators forging their own, distinct paths to get their work made, including the director-producer team of Mascha Halberstad and Marleen Slot, who launched their own stop-motion studio, Marieke Baauw of the celebrated Oscar-nominated design and animation trio Job, Joris, & Marieke. We’ll look at creative business models that complement animation and enhance value proposition while slaying industry biases. PLUS: discover how small is mighty, from the Netherlands to New York.

Panel features Mascha Halberstad (director of NYICFF 2022 feature OINK), Marleen Slot (producer, Viking Film), and Marieke Baauw (Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Job, Joris, & Marieke)
June 21
Fostering a Diverse Workforce
Panel will kick off the conversation with BIPOC filmmakers whose successes we celebrate and whose insights we will glean. Emerging and aspiring creators and students will leave with a roadmap for how to get their foot in the door. PLUS: best practices for studios and platforms to identify and support new talent telling diverse stories.

Panel features NYICFF Award-winning filmmakers Camrus Johnson and Huda Razzak, Priya Giri Desai (talent recruiter and NYICFF board member)
Moderator: Laura Ordoñez (Common Sense Media)

June 28
Science and STEM on Screen
Whether you are an educator, a change maker, a science and film nerd, or just love a good lab coat, join us to discover the profound impact that representation can have in supporting science-based careers and study and the outsized impact of representing diverse stories for women and girls to pursue STEM careers. PLUS: how to use these films and related materials to spark real change in the classroom and beyond.

Panel features Kerri Grant (Executive producer, Netflix’s Ada Twist, Scientist), Nic Yulo (award-winning writer and filmmaker, director of NYICFF 2022’s Knights in Newark and Horizon), Liam Cohen (PhD candidate in experimental condensed matter physics, NYICFF attendee), and Scott Cohen (actor, NYICFF board member, parent to Liam)

Toward an Inclusive Future launched in February 2020 and took place over two days in New York City. The 2021 edition was held virtually over five weeks in April and May. Previous guests and participants have included Karen Rupert Toliver (Hair Love), Elizabeth Ito (Netflix’s City of Ghosts), Lindz Amer (Queer Kid Creative), Madeline Di Nonno (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media), Frank Abney (Canvas), Halima Lucas (Nickelodeon Writing Fellow, Amelia’s Closet), Reginald De Guillebon (President, Folimage), Miguel Puga (The Casagrandes), and many more.

All 2021 panels are available to watch for free at

Additional speakers and participants to be announced. For complete panel descriptions and to register, visit


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