Chicago International Film Festival Announces Dede Gardner as Keynote Speaker

Chicago International Film Festival Announces Dede Gardner as Keynote Speaker

The Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, today announced this year’s Industry Keynote conversation with Academy Award®-winning producer and president of Plan B Entertainment Dede Gardner, whose credits include 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight, both presented at past editions of the Festival. Additionally, Industry Days will host master classes with Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter John Logan (Skyfall, Penny Dreadful, Hugo) and six-time Grammy-winner and Oscar-nominated trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard (BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, One Night in Miami), along with a one-on-one conversation with trailblazing producer and CEO of Gamechanger Films Effie Brown (Dear White People). The conference and all conversations will be livestreamed and feature an interactive component, and will run October 14-18, 2020. Film and industry professionals interested in attending should apply for credentials at

“We are extremely honored to have Dede Gardner, an Illinois native, as this year’s Keynote,” said Anthony Kaufman, Industry Days and Chicago International Film Festival Senior Programmer. “Ms. Gardner has not only produced many recent Festival favorites, including Moonlight, 12 Years a Slave, and Beautiful Boy, but she’s also a powerful force for change in Hollywood and a crucial champion of the most important filmmakers working today. Along with Ms. Gardner, we are also very proud to have with us such other luminary figures as Terence Blanchard, John Logan, and Effie Brown.”

Other confirmed guests include award-winning independent producer Mynette Louie (The Tale), Emmy-nominated producer Deniese Davis (Insecure), entertainment attorney Elsa Ramo (recently named to Variety’s 2019 Dealmaker List), and representatives from the following companies and organizations: Array Now, CAA, Cinetic Media, Endeavor Content, IFC Films, MPI Media, Music Box Films, Neon, Netflix, the Sundance Institute, and many more.

Industry Days is the Chicago International Film Festival’s hub for filmmakers and industry professionals to connect, share ideas, and find inspiration. This year’s Industry Days will offer all of its events virtually, including master classes, workshops on production, financing, and distribution, and networking events.

Whether serving fiction or documentary filmmakers, or those making work for TV or the web, Industry Days offers a focal point for media professionals to make connections and learn from major industry players. Past speakers have included Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, award-winning producers Bob Teitel, Charles D. King, and Gigi Pritzker, and studio executives such as Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker and others.

Applications for Industry Days accreditation are now being accepted at the rate of $100. Industry Accreditation grants access to all Industry Days events, panels, workshops, networking opportunities, curated Decision-Maker Roundtables, and attendance at The Pitch. Industry Days Student accreditation is also available at the discounted rate of $50 for currently enrolled students only.

The Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, takes place October 14-25, 2020. More information can be found at


Wednesday, October 14

5:00pm - 6:15pm (CST): State of the Industry: The Catastrophic Effects and Potential Opportunities of Making Media in a Pandemic
The global pandemic has disrupted the entertainment industry in unprecedented ways. Can independent films survive, and if so, how? Are streaming companies the only ones who can save them, and if not, who? What is our future and how can we make it better? Join this group of seasoned experts as they sift through the current wreckage and reveal much-needed answers and insights. Panelists: Anthony Kaufman (moderator), Mynette Louie (producer, The Tale), Elsa Ramo (entertainment attorney), additional panelists TBD

Thursday, October 15

12:00pm - 1:00pm (CST): How to Make a Good Movie and a Little Profit on a Low-Budget: Case Study on Saint Francis
Director Alex Thompson and writer-star Kelly O’Sullivan made last year’s Chicago hit film Saint Francis; the movie won multiple festival awards, was released by Oscilloscope, received great reviews, but earned just $200,000 at the box office. Get the nitty-gritty details on development, financing, and distribution from the Saint Francis team, and what success really means for a low-budget film. Panelists: Scott Macaulay (moderator), Kelly O'Sullivan, Alex Thompson, Nate Hurtsellers, Ian Keiser

3:00pm - 4:15pm (CST): Screenwriting Master Class: John Logan
Three-time Oscar nominee and winner of Golden Globe, BAFTA, and WGA awards, John Logan has written such films as Skyfall, Spectre, Hugo, The Aviator, and Gladiator, as well as created and produced the television series Penny Dreadful and written dozens of award-winning plays. Learn how to write scripts from a master, indeed.

5:00pm - 6:15pm (CST): Keynote Conversation: At the Vanguard with Dede Gardner, Producer of Moonlight and The Big Short Two-time Academy Award-winning producer and Co-President of Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment, Dede Gardner has produced such award-winning films as Moonlight, Vice, The Big Short, Selma, 12 Years a Slave, and The Tree of Life. For TV, she recently produced Barry Jenkins' Underground Railroad and Dennis Kelly’s Third Day. Gardner will discuss her process for cultivating new talents and developing and producing great works of topical and artistic cinema and television.

6:15pm - 7:15pm (CST): Networking Hour

Friday, October 16

11:00am - 12:00pm (CST): Film is Global: Accessing International Sales in Uncertain Times
How can U.S.-based filmmakers connect with international sales agents, and what do they need in place before they can make those deals and harness distribution in foreign territories? Find out from these experienced sales agents about how they seek out films and how the pandemic is affecting foreign sales. Panelists: Sata Cissokho (Memento International), Edward Parodi (Film Constellation), Joe Yanick (Yellow Veil Pictures)

2:00pm - 3:00pm (CST): Making the Leap: From Web Series to Studio Projects
More and more filmmakers are transitioning successfully from independent web series to episodic deals at major entertainment companies. Join Samantha Bailey, co-creator of Brown Girls; Deniese Davis, producer of Issa Rae's “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” and HBO’s Insecure, and Makiah Green, Manager of Original Series at Netflix, for this candid and informative discussion on getting networks’ attention and navigating the studio world. Panelists: Aymar Jean Christian (moderator), Samantha Bailey (Brown Girls), Deniese Davis (Insecure), Makiah Green (Netflix)

5:00pm - 6:15pm (CST): GameChanger: A Conversation with Effie Brown
CEO of Gamechanger Films, which is the first film financing fund by and for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities, Brown is also an award-winning film, television, and digital producer as well as a champion for inclusion and diversity in Hollywood. Producer of such award-winning projects as Real Women Have Curves and Dear White People, Brown will discuss her work as a creative executive, advocate, and celebrating our differences while bringing us closer together.

6:15pm - 7:15pm (CST): Networking Hour

Saturday, October 17

12:00pm - 1:00pm (CST): Don’t Panic I: How to Make Films in the Pandemic
What are the protocols, precautions, and costs, and technical, practical and ethical issues involved in making media now? Filmmakers on the frontlines break down the details. Panelists: Garrett Bates (producer), Nausheen Dadabhoy (cinematographer), Roxanne Taylor (producer)

2:00pm - 3:00pm (CST): Don’t Panic II: How to Fund Films in the Pandemic
With economic uncertainty and insurance issues unresolved, what are the ways that filmmakers can fund movies now? From grants to private equity to branded content, these experts offer some options that may still be available. Panelists: Nicole Bernardi-Reis (moderator), Yvonne Welbon (Chicken & Egg), Brenda Robinson (GameChanger), Brian Newman (Sub-Genre), Josh Foster (Cinetic Media)

5:00pm - 6:00pm (CST): Don't Panic III: How to Release Films in the Pandemic, from Festivals to Platforms to Theaters The coronavirus has completely upended the standard pipeline for releasing movies. With the future of theatrical moviegoing still uncertain and U.S. film festivals pivoting to streaming, how can filmmakers be strategic and effective in getting their films out to their audiences? Panelists: Dan Rybicky (moderator), Tilane Jones (Array Now), Aijah Keith (IFC Films), Liesl Copland (Endeavor Content), Darcy Heusel (Neon)

6:00pm - 7:00pm (CST): Networking Hour

Sunday, October 18

1:00pm - 2:15pm (CST): Master Class with Terence Blanchard Oscar nominated and six-time Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force for three decades. From his expansive work composing the scores for Spike Lee’s films, ranging from Jungle Fever and Malcolm X to BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods, along with his memorable music for such films as Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet and Regina King’s upcoming One Night in Miami, Blanchard creates and amplifies stories with sound in mesmerizing and powerfully emotionally ways. Blanchard will offer inspiration and insight into his work.

3:00pm - 5:00pm (CST): The Pitch A curated selection of filmmakers with new narrative projects in active development will take part in a competitive pitch session. The winning project will receive an awards package of in-kind services from Chicago-area production facilities and organizations—to include consultation, production, and post-production services. Pitch Host: Angie Gaffney (IFA Chicago) Pitch Judges: Ilyse McKimmie (Sundance Institute), Brownwyn Cornelius (producer, Clemency), Yvonne Huff Lee (Co-CEO, Lagralane Group)

5:00pm - 6:00pm (CST): Post-Pitch Networking Hour

Industry Days is supported by Camera Ambassador, Gamechanger Films, IFA Chicago, Keslow Camera, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. 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.

The Chicago International Film Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago, takes place October 14-25, 2020. More information can be found at