Inclusive Film Festival Programming Initiative Programmers of Colour Launches at Sundance

On the heels of the Sundance Institute’s Artist Demographics in Submissions & Acceptances diversity report comes the announcement of the formation of a new collective of film festival programmers comprising people of color, women and LGBTQ people, named POC2 (Programmers of Colour Collective). Currently boasting 85 members from around the world, its stated mission is to stimulate conversation that would lead to a greater representation of diversity within film programming and international film festival staffing.

Appearing together for the first time last night at the Sundance Film Festival, the organization, whose members span five continents and hail from a wide range of film festival programs, also aims to act as a catalyst for transformative change towards a more inclusive international programming pool.

Founding members include Paul Struthers (Director of Exhibition & Programming at Frameline), Hussain Currimbhoy (Programmer, Sundance) Lucy Mukerjee (Senior Programmer, Tribeca), and Themba Bhebhe (EFM Diversity & Inclusion), three of whom who were in attendance during the announcement. They were joined by other influential industry figures like Cameron Bailey (Artistic Director and Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival), Loren Hammonds (Senior Programmer, Tribeca) and Gina Duncan (Associate Vice President – Cinema, Brooklyn Academy of Music).

It’s an initiative that was inspired by years of bias in film festival selections that are demonstrably non-diverse nor inclusive.

‘PROGRAMMERS OF COLOUR COLLECTIVE’ LAUNCHES AT SUNDANCE 2019

Having already confirmed 85 members, POC2 (Programmers of Colour Collective) aims to stimulate conversation around the underrepresentation of people of colour within film programming and international film festival staffing, but also to act as a catalyst for transformative change towards a more inclusive international programming pool.

Set against the snow-filled backdrop of the Park City festival hot-spot ‘Timbers Bar’, many of the recently formed collective’s members assembled for a group photograph: a symbolic first step in a push towards a greater representation of diversity at film festivals’ curating and greenlighting tables.

Those in attendance included founding members Paul Struthers (Director of Exhibition & Programming at Frameline), Hussain Currimbhoy (Programmer, Sundance) and Lucy Mukerjee (Senior Programmer, Tribeca), as well as other influential industry figures including Cameron Bailey (Artistic Director and Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival), Loren Hammonds (Senior Programmer, Tribeca) and Gina Duncan (Associate Vice President – Cinema, Brooklyn Academy of Music). The photo was accompanied by the publication of a full list of the collective’s current members. Spanning five continents and counting among its ranks festival and industry programmers from a diverse range of film festivals, the nascent collective’s list shines a light on a growing generation of such programmers who are calling for a greater recognition of the inclusion of their perspectives.

Spurred by the many cases of (unconscious) bias in film festival selections that are gender-imbalanced, lack representation of people of colour or else portray them or other underrepresented groups in a way that is inauthentic or culturally appropriative, the collective’s objective is for programming pools, and therefore the films selected for festivals, to become truly diverse.

The collective chose to launch at Sundance where, contrary to the norm, diversity is the order of the day in the programming room. POC2 will strive for such inclusivity to become ubiquitous with curating films.