I am pleased to report that Brenda Robinson, the entertainment attorney, producer and dedicated philanthropist from Chicago who has served as Vice Chair of Film Independent’s Board of Directors, will be succeeding Mary Sweeney as the new Chair, and will continue to work closely with the Executive Committee. I have been a longtime supporter of Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and serves to champion creative independence in visual storytelling. And I look forward to continue working with Ms. Robinson and the organization as they support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.
Film Independent also announced three new members joining the Board: Matthew Greenfield, President of Searchlight Pictures; Rhys Ernst, producer and director ("Transparent," "Adam"); and Edward Rada, nonprofit financial executive, coming on as a member of the Executive Committee to serve as Treasurer.
"We are thrilled to have Brenda Robinson as the new Chair of Film Independent’s Board of Directors," said Film Independent President Josh Welsh in a statement. "With her unparalleled passion and advocacy for the arts and artists, Brenda is uniquely qualified to help lead Film Independent. And I’d also like to extend a heartfelt welcome to our three new Board members. We are so thankful and appreciative for Mary’s incredible leadership during her tenure."
"Film Independent has been at the forefront of supporting and amplifying independent visual storytelling for over thirty years," said Robinson. "As a Board member and Arts Circle member, I have seen firsthand its passion and commitment to the arts and entertainment community and I am excited and honored to lead the organization forward in its continued mission."
"It has been an honor to serve as Film Independent’s Chair these past nine years and beyond," said Mary Sweeney. "I’ve witnessed first-hand Brenda’s leadership and dedication to Film Independent’s mission to support creative independence and diversity. I pass the baton to her, confident that she will be an outstanding leader of the Board, as Film Independent moves into a new, hybrid future."
I can attest that Brenda is a very dedicated philanthropist and producer and I know she will be a great asset to Film Independent. I have seen her work tirelessly to support women filmmakers and filmmakers of color in several different organizations. I was pleased to join her, Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker as Executive Producers of the highly acclaimed film "Passing," that announced Rebecca Hall's directorial debut, and also to join as Executive Producers of the upcoming film, "The Empire of Ebony," directed by Lisa Cortes and produced by Roger Ross Williams. She championed films at Sundance through the Catalyst Forum that allowed for more inclusivity. And when The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship supported independent filmmakers through Film Independent's Project Involve program (with such bright luminaries as Lulu Wang, Melissa Hazlip and Sue-Ellen Chitunya), Brenda was a big supporter of those efforts.
But her resume extends far beyond. She is currently a partner at Gamechanger Films, and a member of Impact Partners, both organizations with a mission to advance storytelling. Brenda was a financier on the Academy Award-winning documentary "Icarus," as well as "Won’t You Be My Neighbor" and "Step." She is an Executive Producer on numerous projects in addition to "Passing" and "Empire of Ebony," including: "United Skates," alongside executive producer John Legend; "The Great American Lie" by director Jennifer Siebel Newsom; "Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story," alongside executive producer Steph Curry; and the upcoming "Marian Anderson: The Whole World In Her Hands," directed by Rita Coburn for PBS’ "American Masters" series.
In addition to most recently serving on Film Independent’s Board as Vice Chair, Robinson also serves on the Board of The Representation Project, founded by California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Furthermore, she serves as an advisor to The Redford Center, is a Board member of Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival and is currently the Board Chair of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. She is a member of The Recording Academy and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
Current board members of Film Independent include: Len Amato, Randy Barbato, Adriene Bowles, Mathew Cullen, Vondie Curtis Hall, Eric d’Arbeloff, Rhys Ernst, Javier Fuentes-León, Brenda Gilbert, Matthew Greenfield, Michael Helfant, Laura Kim, Sue Kroll, Karyn Kusama, Kasi Lemmons, David Linde, Mynette Louie, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Ted Mundorff, Gail Mutrux, Sue Naegle, Col Needham, Catherine Park, Edward Rada, Alan Poul, Brenda Robinson, Andrea Sperling and Cathy Schulman.