In partnership with with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Moderated by Richard Peña
Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center
Richard Peña has served as the program director of The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the as director of the New York Film Festival since 1987. In January 2001 France honored him for his service in bringing foreign films to the American public, naming him Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters. He is a Columbia University film professor, and in the past has taught film history and theory at Harvard University, MIT, University of California (Berkeley) and City University of New York. Peña is the host of “Conversations in World Cinema” on the Sundance Channel and he appeared as himself in the 2000 documentary Friendly Persuasion: Iranian Cinema After the 1979 Revolution.
James Schamus, who received his Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley, is a Golden Globe winning and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, producer, and film executive. His long collaboration as writer and producer for Ang Lee has resulted in nine films, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(2000), The Ice Storm(1997), The Wedding Banquet(1993), The Hulk(2003) and Brokeback Mountain(2005). As co-president of Focus Features, Schamus oversees the finance, production, and distribution of numerous films, including 2002's Oscar winner: The Pianist. Schamus has also produced or executive produced many of the most important American independent films of the past decade (among them Safe and The Brothers McMullen), including four Grand Prize winners at the Sundance Film Festival. He is also a widely published film historian and theorist. He was recently named a Nuveen Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago and was a University Lecturer at Columbia.
Michael Moore was born in Flint, Michigan, and studied journalism at the University of Michigan-Flint. He famously returned to his suffering hometown for his first documentary, Roger and Me. The 1989 film chronicled Moore’s ongoing attempt to confront General Motors’ CEO Roger Smith with the devastation he had inflicted on Flint with the company’s massive downsizing. Since then he has made a number of documentaries and films, most notably the 2002 Bowling for Columbine, which used the Columbine school shooting to begin a discussion on violence and gun control in America, and 2004’s hugely controversial Fahrenheit 9/11, which focused on the Bush administration’s response to/abuse of the September 11th attacks. Bowling for Columbine won the 2002 Oscar for Best Documentary, and Fahrenheit 9/11 was the recipient of the People’s Choice Award for favorite motion picture, as well as setting box office records for political documentaries. He is currently in production/post-production on several projects including The Great ’04 Slacker Uprising and Sicko, which will focus on the American healthcare system.
Rory Kennedy is co-founder and co-president of Moxie Firecracker Films, Inc. She is one of the nation’s most prolific independent documentary filmmakers, focusing on issues ranging from poverty to domestic abuse, human rights, and AIDS. Her work has been featured on HBO, A&E, MTV, Lifetime, and PBS. She has directed and produced many films including Pandemic: Facing AIDS, a 5-part series that follows the lives of people living with AIDS throughout the world, American Hollow which documents an Appalachian family caught between tradition and modernity and was broadcast as part of HBO’s America Undercover series, receiving a Non-Fiction Primetime Emmy Award Nomination and A Boy’s Life, about the troubling forces shaping the life of a boy from impoverished Mississippi. In addition to her film career, Kennedy is a social activist and human rights advocate. She has served on the board of directors for a number of non-profit organizations, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, and was a member of the 1999 Presidential Mission on AIDS in Africa.