First speakers for Cinekid Industry Forum 2020 revealed

Leading youth media industry event Cinekid for Professionals reveals the first inspiring speakers for its 2020 Industry Forum, running online Monday 19 October to Wednesday 21 October.

Among many others, speakers such as visual artist Nicholas Mirzoeff, professor of psychology Alison Gopnik and spoken word artist Akwasi will attend. Subjects vary greatly from tokenism, the responsibilities of makers and the pressures faced by the digital generation.

This year more than ever it has become clear that society needs the creative sector. Media content is consumed both extensively and speedily because our demand for it has never been greater. How do we as creatives operate in this new reality as we create content for new generations? Cinekid for Professionals invites guests to reflect on these major issues this year, as we contemplate a future that may be uncertain, but also full of creative opportunities.

Nicholas Mirzoeff is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race and global/visual culture. His book How To See The World was published by Pelican in the UK (2015) and by Basic Books in the US (2016) and has been translated into ten languages. It was a New Scientist Top Ten Book of the Year in 2015. Nicholas is one of our keynotes and will talk about what he is seeing in the world today: think whiteness and visual interaction, statues and removal and the question of ‘erasure’.

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She will reflect upon what it’s really like to see through the eyes of a child. Are babies and young children just empty, irrational vessels to be formed into little adults, until they become the perfect images of ourselves? On the contrary, argues Alison.

Multi-talented Akwasi, born in Amsterdam with roots in Ghana, is a storyteller at heart,  whether via rap, poetry or by making television programmes. He will talk about the responsibilities of media-makers when it comes to creating for young audiences.

Dawid Marcinkowski and Katarzyna Kifert are award-winning director duo The Kissinger Twins who explore the intersection of narrative and technology. They create award-winning campaigns, movies, interactive experiences, cinematic VR, video games and Instagram stories. They will present their new project The Portal and inspire us as they explain how to tell interesting stories in unexpected ways. How do you explore youth audiences on Instagram? What is the narrative potential on such platforms? And to what extent can you incorporate user participation? 

Wa'qaar A Mirza is co-founder and global CEO of Safi Ideas and Safi Productions. He is an accomplished British entrepreneur, author, speaker, producer and director with over 30 years’ experience in direct response marketing strategy. Wa'qaar advocates that broadcasters should not play it safe; children should see programs that offer a diverse range of human characters in real-world scenarios to help them identify with the diverse communities around them through communication and creativity. He will talk about how we need to move past tokenism, the lack of diversity in children’s programming and the importance of showing broad representation in media to young children, given how racist ideas form at a young age.

Sandhya Nankani is the founder of Literary Safari, a studio based in New York City that has been creating inclusive kids' media and curricula since 2008 for clients in the education and entertainment space. She is also the creator and executive producer of the new hit kids and family show The Story Seeds Podcast. She will talk about what media- and filmmakers can do to shape children’s world view and self-perception.

Steye Hallema is a composer, director, inventor and son of a magician who tries to create magic with the newest media and technology. Imaginary Friend, his latest VR production in development, is an international collaboration with France and Belgium. The viewer is the fantasy of the protagonist in this surreal interactive and cinematic Virtual Reality experience. The story is told entirely from your point of view as an imaginary friend. Steye not only shares this special new project with us, but also the struggles he experienced during the making of it.

Dylan Yamade-Rice is acting Head of Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art. Dylan is a researcher and artist specialising in play and stories for children. She will happily share her perspectives with media makers – both academically and artistically.

Safi Graauw is a self-taught (creative) director and cinematographer with an academic background in earth sciences. Interweaving a strong narrative and sense of aesthetic in his imagery, his commercial work combines popular culture with a sense of entertainment. His documentary work advocates purpose-led ideologies and intersectional environmentalism. Safi thinks out of the box when it comes to reaching an audience and will inspire the industry with his insights from another discipline.  

Shamira Raphaëla is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her documentary Lenno and the Angelfish won Best European Children’s Documentary at the ECFA in 2019 after picking up the Award for Best Children’s Documentary at IDFA 2018. Shamira will talk about the responsibility you have as a filmmaker, the considerations you must take into account when dramatizing someone's personal story and how you deal with imposed restrictions from institutions when making your film. 

Doortje Smithuijsen is a philosopher and journalist. She studies modern people, who they are and how they live. Doortje is currently developing a new documentary about 10 years of Instagram, which will be broadcast on Dutch television in October. Doortje will talk about the pressures experienced by the digital generation.

All extended biographies can be found here. Many more speakers will be announced shortly on this page.

Industry Forum
At Cinekid’s Industry Forum, more than 40 experts within the field of global children’s media will share their ideas and tips & tricks with the audience. During a series of 40-minute sessions, they will talk about the development of their projects, how pitfalls were avoided and how the right roads were discovered and taken. From diverse backgrounds, these experts will offer their own take on, and experiences within, children’s media – from creation to distribution and from research to games.

The Industry Forum will take place online from Monday 19 until Wednesday 21 October. The full programme will be published online by October 2nd. Would you like to attend the online Industry Forum? Please request your Cinekid for Professionals accreditation through this page.