57th Chicago International Film Festival announces Industry Days

The 57th Chicago International Film Festival announced the program for Industry Days, to be held October 14 – 17, 2021, with an impressive list of guest speakers to inspire and illuminate the film and entertainment community. 

Highlights include this year’s Keynote talk with Brenda Gilbert, President and Co-Founder of BRON Studios, which has received six Academy Award wins for films such as JOKER, BOMBSHELLROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ., and JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH; a State of the Industry conversation with Nancy Utley, former co-head of Searchlight Pictures, and Chan Phung, Searchlight’s current Senior Vice President Acquisitions and Production; and a Screenwriting Master Class with Oscar-nominated writer Virgil Williams(MUDBOUND, this year’s A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN.)

Virgil WilliamsBrenda GilbertNancy Utley

This year’s Industry Days will also feature panel discussions, featuring leading film industry executives from such companies as IFC Films, and Decision-Maker Roundtable meetings, where registered badgeholders will get the opportunity to speak in small groups with executives from talent agencies including CAA, Cinetic Media, William Morris Endeavor, and Verve, among others.

“Despite the pandemic, film and TV production continues to flourish in Chicago and beyond, and Industry Days remains a vital place for people from all corners of the industry to come together, both virtually and in-person,” said Chicago International Film Festival Senior Programmer Anthony Kaufman. “We look forward to bolstering Chicago-area and Chicago international Film Festival filmmakers with powerful discussions and substantive meetings.”

All in-person panel events are held on Saturday, Oct. 16, at WoodWind, 259 E Erie St 18th floor, Chicago, IL 60611. Sunday’s in-person networking event will take place at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.

Since its inception in 2015, Industry Days at the Chicago International Film Festival has hosted an impressive lineup of film executives, creatives, and entertainment professionals, including Oscar®-winning director Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE), Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics), Bob Berney (Picturehouse) and Charles D. King (Macro), Hollywood producers Dede GardnerGigi PritzkerJames D. Stern, and Albert Berger, and award-winning and celebrated creatives, including screenwriter John Logan, composer Terence Blanchard, director and editor Sam Pollard, and director and actor Joe Swanberg.

All events are open to registered Industry Days passholders. The full schedule is below. Speakers are subject to change. For more information and to register, VISIT HERE.

Thursday, Oct. 14 (VIRTUAL)

Who Buys Independent Films Anymore, Anyway? (12-1pm CT)
You’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of your investors’ money, not to mention your own time, sweat, and tears into making a film, but now what? What companies are buying films these days and what types of deals and paths to recoupment are possible? Join sales agents, producers, and film company executives for a candid discussion about film sales for independent films during the pandemic and beyond.

Panelists: Matt Miller (THE BETA TEST), Jason Ishikawa (Cinetic), Arianna Bocco (IFC Films), Matt Burke (Submarine Entertainment)

State of the Industry with Nancy Utley and Chan Phung (4-5pm CT)
Where do we go from here? Join former Searchlight Pictures Chairman Nancy Utley, who oversaw the company’s most successful films, with a total of 165 Oscar nominations, including Nomadland, THE SHAPE OF WATER, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, along with Chan Phung, Searchlight’s current Senior VP of acquisitions and production and former director of original independent film at Netflix, to discuss the current state of independent and art-house film at a time of seismic changes in the movie business, from the impact of global streaming to the precarious state of pandemic-era moviegoing.

Friday, Oct. 15 (VIRTUAL)

Is Indie Filmmaking the Best Path to a Career in TV?  (1-2pm CT)
If “Peak TV” continues to dominate the entertainment industry, with top filmmakers making quality content, how do emerging talents get a foot in the door? Should aspiring creators focus on webisodes, writing pilots, and working on episodic shows from the ground up or is making short films and independent feature films the most effective calling card? Experts weigh in.

Panelists: Tim Mason, Jess King, Carl Seaton

Screenwriting Master Class: Virgil Williams (4-5pm CT)
Join Oscar-nominee Virgil Williams for an in-depth discussion of screenwriting craft. A Chicago native, the veteran film/television writer and producer has extensive credits, including Denzel Washington’s upcoming release A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN, an adaptation of Dana Canedy’s bestselling memoir; Dee Rees’ MUDBOUND, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; and the ground-breaking dramas ER and 24 as well as six seasons of CRIMINAL MINDS. 

Moderated by Clayton Davis (Variety)

Saturday, Oct. 16 (IN-PERSON)

Documentary Storytelling Workshop (11am-noon CT) 
Come prepared with your best documentary story idea, and learn about the ins and outs of what makes a great nonfiction film and how to pitch it. A panel of nonfiction experts offer the skills needed to develop documentary projects and offer feedback and encouragement to participants. 

Panelists: Tim Horsburgh, Jeanelle Augustin, Anu Rana, Yvonne Welbon

I’ve Got a Great Script! Now What? (1pm-2pm CT) 
Do you have a scripted project that you want to share with the world? But is it viable? This special fiction development workshop allows aspiring filmmakers to bring their fiction story ideas to a panel of experts, who will offer feedback and advice in a constructive and friendly environment.

Panelists: Eddie Linker, Anna Hozian, Rhyan Lamarr 

How to Make Crews and the Industry More Inclusive? (3-4pm CT)
In Chicago and around the country, there continues to be a lack of equity on film sets, both in front of and behind the camera. While Illinois’ film tax credit program requires productions make “good faith efforts” to achieve diverse crews, what can be done and what strategies are currently being deployed to do more–especially in leading below-the-line positions–to help solve the equity crisis across the entertainment industry. 

Panelists: Troy Pryor, Raphael Nash, Colette Ghunim, Qadree Holmes

Keynote Conversation: Brenda Gilbert (BRON Studios) (5-6pm CT)
Join Brenda Gilbert, President and co-founder of BRON Media Corp, for this inspiring conversation about making an impact in the entertainment industry. Founded in 2010, BRON has been behind more than 100 productions and is proud to have been part of 27 Academy Award nominations and 6 Academy Award wins for films such as FENCES, JOKER, BOMBSHELL, ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ., and JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. Brenda is currently an Executive Producer on several projects, including the Untitled Nicki Minaj series with HBO Max and has produced, or executive produced more than two-dozen projects, including the animated film THE WILLOUGHBYS.

Moderated by Brenda Robinson

Sunday, Oct. 17 (IN-PERSON)

Industry Days Mixer (12-3pm)
Join our outdoor reception-style event at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios for an in-person networking mixer with colleagues in the film and production industry. Festivities will include light bites, sponsored beverages, great conversations, and fun tunes.

Event Sponsors & Partners: Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, SAGindie, Hamilton Watch, Goose Island, Heineken, The Seeker, Camera Ambassador, Cinelease

Health and Safety Protocols
Proof of full vaccination or negative Covid-19 PCR test result is required to attend all Chicago International Film Festival and Industry Days events. Full vaccination means you have received a second dose of an authorized two-dose vaccine, or a single-dose vaccine, approved for full or emergency use from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), at least 14 days prior to the date of the event. As an alternative to proof of vaccination, you may gain entry by presenting a negative PCR COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event. Vaccination policies and testing protocols will also extend to Festival staff, volunteers, and filmmakers. Masks will be required for all staff, volunteers, filmmakers, and audience members in Festival theaters, regardless of vaccination status. Masks must remain on and cover the nose and mouth at all times, except when actively eating or drinking when indoors.

Industry Days Partners and Supporters
Industry Days is supported by Camera Ambassador, Cinelease, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, ComEd, Hamilton Watch, Light Iron, Panavision, and SAGindie. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Illinois Film Office, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE), and the Chicago Film Office. This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. 

For more information, visit their website.

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