SXSW Panel Explores Multicultural Film Festival Collaboration | Shalom Austin

SXSW Panel Explores Multicultural Film Festival Collaboration

The Jewish Outlook

Mar 14, 2023

On March 13, 2023, panelists talk on the topic “Activating Diverse Communities Through Film” at SXSW 2023. L to R: David Finkel, Austin Jewish Film Festival (AJFF), Hanna Huang, Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), Todd Hogan-Sanchez from aGLIFF (Austin’s LGBTQ+Film Festival), Alka Bhanot, Indie Meme Film Festival, Gabriel Ornelas, Texas Film Commission. Photo Credit: Wendy Goodman

By Wendy Goodman 

A panel discussion at SXSW 2023 brought together film industry experts to explore the topic of diversity and representation in Austin-area film festivals. The panel shed light on the significance of cross-cultural exchange, shared experiences and the power of collaboration in promoting diverse voices in cinema.

Austin Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) Director David Finkel was among the panelists. Other panelists included Alka Bhanot from Indie Meme Film Festival, Todd Hogan-Sanchez from aGLIFF (Austin’s LGBTQ+Film Festival) and Hanna Huang from Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), which was moderated by Gabriel Ornelas of Texas Film Commission.

With over 40 film festivals in the Austin area, Finkel described how the panelists connected through their shared experiences, “It became clear that the five of our festivals share a lot of things in common. We represent certain communities that unfortunately have oftentimes been discriminated against or worse. But by coming together, we are able to do a lot of things to help each other.”

The panelists emphasized that multicultural film festivals play a crucial role in showcasing underrepresented stories and bridging cultural gaps. By collaborating and sharing resources, these festivals can amplify their impact and reach a wider audience. The discussion highlighted the importance of fostering a sense of community among festivals and creating networks that support and uplift filmmakers from various backgrounds.

They shared their experiences of successful collaborations between the different film festivals. They discussed joint programming initiatives, co-curating film selections, and sharing best practices to enhance the overall quality and visibility of multicultural cinema. By sharing insights and learning from each other’s experiences, festivals can collectively work towards dismantling barriers and promoting diversity in the film industry.

“We are creating those opportunities for people to have conversations. We are breaking down those barriers,” said Finkel.

“I believe that at the core of what we all do is giving a platform for storytelling for people to see their lives on the screen. I always say a film inspires, educates and sometimes it just entertains, but it can be this really powerful vehicle to create social change… We have the ability to find the stories that generate the dialogue, that generate the debate, that give people a perspective,” said Hogan-Sanchez.

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