Artboard 8@2x


MODERATOR: Liz Cardenas

PANELISTS: David France, James Ivory, Kevin Wilson JR., Smriti Mundhra


PANEL 4, 7:30PM

SUBJECT: As filmmakers, many of us wrestle with the notion of success— how to define it for ourselves and how to persevere in a career path that views our work subjectively. Join us for a conversation with artists whose work has been honored by the Academy as they discuss the unique paths and projects that brought them there, what they have learned about themselves as artists and people along the way, and what success means to them.



Liz Cardenas is a filmmaker and actress from Dallas, TX. A 2019 Independent Spirit Award nominee, she was named to the 2019 LATINXT, a highly-curated list of emerging Latino creators from an initiative by Zoe Saldana, Robert Rodriguez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Notable producing and acting credits include Augustine Frizzell’s NEVER GOIN’ BACK (Sundance ’18), starring Maia Mitchell, Camila Morrone and Kyle Mooney; David Lowery’s A GHOST STORY (Sundance ‘17), starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (both A24 films); and Daniel Laabs’ JULES OF LIGHT & DARK, Outfest 2019 Best US Narrative Feature. A former journalist for The Dallas Morning News, she’s written and directed two short films, IMAGO and TREADING WATER, and co-created a series of successful children’s films sold around the world. Based in LA, repped by Authentic, she considers Texas home, where she was raised by her Hispanic father, who immigrated to the US from Mexico, and Irish-American mother.



DAVID FRANCE is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning investigative journalist. His directorial debut, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, is hailed as an innovative and influential piece of storytelling and is regularly screened in university classrooms, and by community groups and AIDS service organizations. Appearing on over 20 “Best of the Year” lists, including Time and Entertainment Weekly, the documentary earned a GLAAD Award and top honors from the Gotham Awards, the International Documentary Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the Provincetown Film Festival, among many others. After a theatrical run reaching over 30 cities, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE was aired on PBS’ Independent Lens, reaching an audience of millions and garnering Academy and Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award. His 2017 film, THE DEATH & LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, a Netflix Original Documentary, won numerous festival prizes and was awarded the Outfest “Freedom Award” and a special jury recognition from Sheffield International Documentary Festival. Critics put it on multiple “Best of the Year” lists (and gave it a 96% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes). David’s latest book, also titled HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (Knopf, 2016), received the Baillie Gifford Prize for best nonfiction book published in the English Language. In addition, France has seen his journalistic work inspire several films, including the Peabody-winning Showtime film SOLDIER’S GIRL, based on his New York Times Magazine story of the transgender girlfriend of a soldier killed in an anti-gay attack. And earlier this year, David premiered his critically acclaimed new film WELCOME TO CHECHNYA at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the special jury award for documentary editing. Reviewers have called it “gripping, essential viewing” and “this is tour de force documentary filmmaking on a level rarely seen and experienced.”



James Ivory is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. For many years he worked extensively with Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant, his domestic as well as professional partner, and with screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. All three were principals in Merchant Ivory Productions, whose films have won six Academy Awards; Ivory himself has been nominated for four Oscars, winning one. Ivory’s directorial work includes A Room with a View, Maurice, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day. For his work on Call Me by Your Name, which he wrote and produced, Ivory won awards for Best Adapted Screenplay from the Academy Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Writers Guild of America, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Scripter Awards, among others. Upon winning the Oscar and BAFTA at the age of 89, Ivory became the oldest-ever winner in any category for both awards.



Kevin Wilson, Jr. is an Oscar Nominated and Student Academy Award Winning Filmmaker based in New York City. His first works as a filmmaker came shortly after directing a sold-out play as an undergraduate student in North Carolina. Since that time, his short films have screened at Film Festivals all over the world including the 55th New York Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, and HollyShorts Film Festival where he won Best Director. In 2017, he won the Gold Medal at the 44th Student Academy Awards for his short film, “My Nephew Emmett,” a 20-minute short film based on the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Months later, “My Nephew Emmett” was nominated for an Oscar for BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM at the 90th Academy Awards. “My Nephew Emmett” also won Wilson a Directors Guild of America Student Film Award and a BAFTA Student Film Award. Having just received an M.F.A. in Film Production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he is in development for his debut feature film.



Smriti Mundhra is an Academy Award-nominated director/producer and one of DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 Filmmakers to Watch. Her latest film, St. Louis Superman , has been nominated for a 2020 Academy Award in the short documentary category. Her debut feature, the documentary A Suitable Gir l , world premiered in competition at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine and was awarded the Albert Maysles Best Documentary Director prize at the festival. Smriti also helmed ad campaigns for Google, the United Nations and Bumble (starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas). She created and executive produced Indian Matchmaking, an eight-part Netflix original documentary series currently streaming on the platform.