To herald in the new year, WIFTI is delighted to welcome the new Board of Directors! These accomplished professionals bring a wealth of experience, diversity, and passion to further the mission of empowering and championing women in the film and television industry.
Dr. Susan Liddy – WFT Ireland
Dr. Susan Liddy is a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication Studies in MIC, University of Limerick where she is also the EDII Faculty of Arts Lead (equality, diversity, inclusion and interculturalism). She has been a long-time advocate for gender equality and, in recent years, for diversity and inclusion. She is editor of a number of national and international collections: Women in the Irish Film Industry: Stories and Storytellers (Cork University Press 2020): Women in the International Film Industry: Policy, Practice and Power (Palgrave Macmillan 2020); Women, Ageing and the Screen Industries: Falling off a cliff? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023); co-editor of Media Work, Mothers and Motherhood: Negotiating the International Audio-Visual Industry (Routledge 2021). Susan has published in a range of academic journals and has also written popular pieces for newspapers etc. She has co-authored three industry reports Auditing gender and diversity change in Irish media sectors (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland 2021); The Pursuit of Change: Issues Affecting Parents and Carers in Ireland’s Screen Industries (Raising Films Ireland 2022) and Standing Up and Speaking Out: Exploring Harmful Behaviours in the Irish Screen Industries (WFT Ireland, funded by Screen Ireland’s Stakeholder Funding Scheme). Susan is President of Women in Film and Television International; Chair of Women in Film and Television Ireland; Chair of the Equality Action Committee of the Writers Guild of Ireland; a Board member of Raising Films Ireland and of the Irish Film Institute. She is the Director of Catalyst International Film Festival – a Limerick based festival that prioritises films and filmmakers from underrepresented groups.
Domizia De Rosa – Women in Film, Television & Media Italia
Domizia De Rosa is a media specialist based in Rome with twenty-five years of experience in the field. She is a Board Member of Women in Film & Television International since 2022 and she was appointed Vice President at the end of 2023. She is a founding member of Women in Film, Television & Media Italia (WIFTMI) and was elected President in January 2021. In that capacity, she supervises the Research Area, having previously served as Board Member and Secretary. As contract professor, she teaches Audiovisual Media Policies and New Challenges for the Cultural Industries at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and Digital Cultures at NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. In her former role as Executive Director of Television at Warner Bros. Entertainment Italia, she handled the licensing of the Italian TV rights to the Italian and international players, having held various positions since joining the group in 1995.
Serena Serene Mmifinyana – WIF Botswana
Serena is a professional filmmaker who holds two significant roles in Botswana’s industry: film practitioner and film and television advocate. As a practitioner, her official role is Creative Director at N&M Productions, a film and television administration company based in Gaborone, Botswana. Under N&M she manages local and international productions, including being head writer for The Star (2021), a local police drama on UPicTV, as well as producing the first international online podcast for the MultiChoice Talent Factory, This is Africa (2019). She has also co-written an Angolan feature film, Mutu Mbi (2022) that was screened in Portugal, Brazil, France and Angola and is currently developing an animated feature film which was selected for pitching at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Serena is also a passionate film and TV advocate, who co-founded the Women and Film Guild, a civil society that aims to assist, educate and empower women in the film and tv spaces of Botswana. The guild has since been affiliated under Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), the umbrella body for Women in film and TV chapters around the world which partners with various organisations such as Netflix and IMDB. In 2022, she was voted into the official Board of Directors for WIFTI, and in 2023 was elected as the new WIFTI Secretary, a position that allows her to connect with prominent international stakeholders in the industry, and build a network that can elevate the industry in Botswana.
Grace Maharaj – WIFT Sweden
Grace Maharaj is the Vice President of WIFT Sweden and the Treasurer of WIFTI. She is the founder of Arvet Agency, a pioneering venture aimed at addressing existing gaps in Nordics’ representation across various sectors, including film and television production, gaming, technology, and intellectual properties. With a profound commitment to fostering change, Grace established Arvet Agency to secure intellectual property rights for the development and production of high-concept, genre-driven IPs in film, television, gaming, and interactive media. Boasting a professional background in screenwriting, Grace gained invaluable insights into the Nordic industry model, identifying barriers to entry, such as exclusion through familiarity, that perpetuated a restrictive status quo, and the need to circumvent established systems. To enhance credibility and agency, she pursued higher education, earning a bachelor’s degree in international law, specialising in international humanitarian law, and subsequently obtaining a master’s degree in business administration with a focus on leadership and management in international contexts. With two decades of life skills within and beyond the entertainment industry, she has strategically merged these assets into her professional journey, epitomising a unique blend of business acuity and creative prowess.
Kirsten Schaffer – WIF LA
Kirsten Schaffer is the Chief Executive Officer of WIF, the pre-eminent organisation that advocates for women in the screen industries—to achieve parity and transform culture. She has been instrumental in launching ReFrame, an industry-wide initiative to advance inclusivity and gender equity, as well as starting a variety of programs at WIF to increase the skill set and opportunity for film and TV makers. Previously she was the Director of Programming and then Executive Director of Outfest. She is widely credited as having grown Outfest into the leading LGBT media arts organisation that it is. During Schaffer’s tenure at Outfest, she shepherded three new programs for the organisation: the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, the Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival, and OutSet, the Young Filmmakers Project. Kirsten has extensive experience in film programming, small business management, and arts administration. She is a graduate of the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program, AIM (Arts Innovation and Management), and the Wells Fargo New Executive Director Institute. Kirsten was named one of POWER UP’s “Top 10 Women in Show Business,” and was the recipient of a “Women in Business” Award from Senator Liu. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Cynthia Lopez – New York WIFT
Cynthia López is an award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. López is the recipient of many coveted industry awards including: 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, three Peabody Awards, and two duPont-Columbia Awards. In addition, she received the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Award for Commitment to Corporate Diversity. Prior to working as Commissioner, López was Executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV, and was involved in the organisation’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Notable partnerships include: New York Times, Reuters, Al-Jazeera Network, Discovery Communications, The Moth, Story Corps, Harpo Studios and ABC News, NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel. López is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and is proud to have spent her career collaborating with independent filmmakers across all portions of the film and television industry. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center, NYC & Company, Museum of the Moving Image and the Tribeca Film Institute Latin America Fund Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Latino Public Broadcasting, Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Hunter College IMA Program.
Yael Beals – WFT New England
Yael Beals began her TV production career at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and now creates compelling TV series and films with award-winning writers and producers. She recently co-produced an acclaimed documentary on Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust and serves on the board of Women in Film and Video New England
Lily Robert is Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). Since she started working at the NFB in 2009, she’s been in charge of public and media relations for the institution as well as for all NFB productions. She holds an MBA and a master’s certificate in marketing and communications from York University and a degree in political science and economics from McGill University. Over the course of her career, she has managed communications and marketing for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as for the Montreal Science Centre, in addition to having worked as Press Secretary in the office of the Mayor of Montreal from 1990 to 1994.
Nadean Rawlins – WIFT Jamaica
Nadean Rawlins’ career in entertainment started over 20 years ago as an actor and since then she has worked in various capacities in theatre, film, and television. In 2015 she started RAW Management, a Jamaican production company and talent agency that focuses on developing and promoting Jamaican stories and talents through advancement and international exposure. Nadean has produced five short films and has two feature films in development. She is the President of Women in Film and Television Jamaica.
Marjaana Mykkänen – WIFT Finland
Marjaana Mykkänen is a director, producer and a media scholar (PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki and M.Sc from Columbia University, New York). She is currently working both with documentaries and research, after a decades long career in the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE where she executive produced, directed, wrote and concept designed over 900 documentaries, programs and episodes of series, often on art and artists. She also directed rock concerts with e.g. Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Geldof, Elvis Costello and ZZ Top. She has directed two theatrical films, From Russia with Rock and Nikita – The Elements of War and was an assistant director in Aki Kaurismäki’s Calamari Union. Her films and productions have won several Koura TV-awards, Telvis and Jussi honours, a National Award in the Art of Cinema and a National Award for Promotion of Knowledge, Golden Chest Grand Prix, Golden Prague, and a shortlisted Prix Europa -nomination.
Mara Luka – WFT Germany
Mara Luka is an actress, presenter and speaker. Most recently she was seen alongside Christoph Maria Herbst in the comedy Anyone Can Be a Teacher. She moderates at well-known film festivals (including Munich Film Festival, Zurich Film Festival or Hamburg Film Festival, Max Ophüls) and organises panels for events. Women empowerment and mutual support are important to her, which is why, in addition to WIFT, she is also active in Pro Quote Film and Into the Wild Mentoring. She has been supporting WIFT Germany as a representative in Berlin since 2019, and was elected to the board in 2021.
Lena Rammou – WIFT Greece
Lena Rammou is an expert on Audiovisual Sector and MEDIA Consulting. Lena is the President of WIFT GR, while the period 2021-23 she was Vice President, and 2018-2020, she was the Secretary General of WIFT GR. She is also the Artistic Director of the Film Festival “50/50 Equity in Cinema”. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of WIFT International. She holds a Film Production degree from Hunter College, New York, and a Masters in Multimedia & Audiovisual Business Administration. Her thesis focused on the transition of South Eastern European film industries from state protection to a market economy. A seasoned professional in the European audiovisual sector, Lena has held key roles at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, serving as the General Coordinator from 2010 to 2016 and currently as the European A/V Programs Consultant since 2007. During her tenure, she spearheaded several artistic events and fundraising efforts, generating over 15 million Euros. Her diverse experience includes being the Editor in Chief of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival Official Catalogues, Executive Director of the Mediterranean Film Institute, and Project Manager for EUFORIA. She has also been instrumental in promoting Greek and European cinema through collaborations with organisations such as the MEDIA Desk Hellas and the Greek Film Center.
Lauren Simpson – WIFT Victoria, Australia
Lauren’s film story started with a specialist film study at California State University Long Beach. She backed that up with a Bachelor of Film and Television from Swinburne University and MBA from the Australian Institute of Business. Her career has been varied and rewarding, working with Filmlnk Movie Magazine, Event Cinemas and as an accomplished Service Producer produced high-level commercial and narrative content for companies all over the world.
Today she’s the founder of Iris Arc Pictures – where she produced the independent feature film Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism which was picked up by XYZ Films and Umbrella Entertainment and subsequently released as a Tubi Original. ‘Godless’ has been enjoying a prestigious festival run and celebrated its World Premiere at the Overlook Film Festival, won the Audience Choice Award at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival and was voted Top 3 in the Audience Awards at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2023.
The work Lauren is doing to advocate for gender equality and diversity in the film industry is just as significant. As the President of Women in Film & Television Victoria (WIFT Vic) she enjoys finding new ways forward for women and women identifying people across the screen industries, proudly advocating for representation on and off the screen.
Rouzie Hassanova – WIFT New Zealand
Rouzie Hassanova is an award-winning female writer/ director based in Aotearoa New Zealand after 20 years in London. Her remote residency and Muslim upbringing bring a fresh vision to her work. She is passionate about authenticity and collaboration, crafting true performances with strong themes and a striking vision. Her debut film RADIOGRAM won the Audience Award at the Sofia International Film Festival, the Best Debut Award at the Golden Rose Film Festival, and the Special Mention Award at Vukovar International Film Festival. The feature continued its international journey, including the festivals at Haifa, Dubai, Heartlands, Istanbul, and Transilvania, while streaming on Amazon Prime and SBS Australia. Her collection of shorts includes SONG FOR SERBIA, TREE WITHOUT A ROOT, VICKY the musical, and THE PORTRAIT which have screened at festivals like Show me Shorts, Raindance, In the Palace, Galway, Big Sur, Sofia, and Wairoa Māori Film Festivals winning multiple awards and nominations around the world. Rouzie is also a creative leader with over fifteen years of experience in international film finance, distribution, production, post-production, and drama development. Having worked with writers, directors, and producers in New Zealand and globally, Rouzie brings market and storytelling insight. Some of the companies she has worked for are; Sweetshop & Green, Libertine Pictures, New Zealand Film Commission, Great Southern TV, Mister Smith Entertainment, and HanWay Films.
Rubaiyat Hossain – WIFT Bangladesh
Rubaiyat Hossain is one of Bangladesh’s handful of female filmmakers, known for her critically acclaimed debut feature film Meherjaan (2011) which faced political and cultural wrath in Bangladesh for its anti-war narrative, and its criticism of masculine nationalism from a feminine point of view. Her second feature film Under Construction (2015) premiered at New Directors Showcase at Seattle International Film festival and was theatrically released and well received in Bangladesh. Her third feature film Made in Bangladesh (2019), premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and was distributed by Pyramide Films. Rubaiyat uses a feminist lens to deconstruct the otherwise phallocentric institution of cinema. She has completed her B.A. in Women Studies from Smith College, USA and M.A. in South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania.
Osnat Bukofzer – WIFT Israel
Osnat Bukofzer has worked in the international film industry for the past 44 years, purchasing and distributing international and Israeli films, being a screenplay doctor, and a Film project developer. Osnat has also served at the Israeli Film Council, overseen by the Ministry of Culture. In the last years, Osnat has been the Director of International Affairs and Co-Production expert at the Israel Cinema Project, Rabinovich Foundation, the largest film fund in Israel. She has also been the Artistic Director of the Israeli Pavilion at Cannes Film Festivals overseen by the Israel Ministry of Culture. Osnat is the WIFT Israel President and a Board Member at WIFTI International.