Cinefemme is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded by women filmmakers, for women filmmakers in 2002. Cinefemme provides fiscal sponsorship to women filmmakers and artists, as well as peer-to-peer networking, mentorship, and strategies for project fundraising. By advancing women’s careers in film and the arts, we empower women’s voices to create gender parity in the arts and equal representation in the media.
We are an inclusive group for women and women-identifying key creatives. We provide a safe space for women of color, LGBTQ, gender non-binary individuals, women with disabilities, and other diverse voices who need amplification, support and love within our cultural cinematic landscape.
At San Francisco State University, three women met while studying for their MFA's in the Cinema Department. Michelle Kantor, Katrina Parks, and Sirpa Nelson recognized the Hollywood film industry lacked gender parity on the highest level. So, they decided to create their own independent filmmaking model by forming a 501-(c)(3) non-profit with fiscal sponsorship, mentorship, and screening programs, empowering themselves - and other women - to make films without permission. This is how Cinefemme was born.
Executive Director / Founder / Filmmaker
Michelle Kantor co-founded Cinefemme as a graduate student at San Francisco State University and has served as Executive Director since 2007. She is an award-winning director, producer, writer and editor dedicated to advancing women in the professional ranks of cinema. Michelle’s industry credits include work for advertising agency BBDO, Logo’s “Gay for Play Starring RuPaul,” HBO, FYI, OWN, World of Wonder, The History Channel, Sony, Universal, MJA Advertising, and NASA. Michelle's distinctions include Best Music Video at LA Femme Film Festival, Goldfarb Award for Best Student Film, and Thunen Memorial Scholarship from the Illuminating Engineers Society. She holds an MFA in Cinema from SFSU, and BFA in Film Production from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Michelle is also a certified paralegal, artist, mother and writer. The youngest daughter of political refugees who fled Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960’s, she is producing two projects about her family's historic escapes: Red Star documents her father's return on the 50th anniversary of his escape, and The Rebel, a narrative feature film in development.
Treasurer / Program Director - Dinner With Dames / Filmmaker
Jenna Payne is a scrappy, DIY New Yorker who fell in love with movies at a young age. Her first short film is the award-winning "Feline Frenzy," which screened at festivals, and she is currently developing an Appalachian Godfather tale called 'Shiner for television. The ‘Shinerpilot script was nominated to the 2016 #WriteHerList and made the Hot 100 of Capital Fund’s Screenplay Competition. Aside from writing and directing, Jenna has long advocated for gender, racial, and LGBTQ parity inside and outside of the film industry. She strives for inclusion and hopes to also increase minority and overlooked majority representation in her stories and on her sets, as well as on the sets of others. To that end, she created and runs Cinefemme's Dinner with Dames as the Program Director. She hopes to put some serious pressure on the glass ceiling in Hollywood.
Board of Directors
Emily founded Seed&Spark to make a contribution to the truly independent community in which she would like to make moving pictures. In 2011, she had the great fortune of producing her first feature with a remarkable group of women. The spirit, the community and the challenges of that project, LIKE THE WATER, inspired Seed&Spark. Before producing LIKE THE WATER, Emily produced theater, worked as a vision and values strategy consultant for Best Partners, ran restaurants, studied jazz singing at the Taller de Musics, tour guided and cooked in Barcelona, and before that, was a student of Cultural Anthropology and American Studies at Haverford College. Emily was named one of the 2013 Indiewire Influencers, 2014 New York Women of Influence, 2015 Upstart 100, and has brought Seed&Spark into the 2016 Techstars Boston class. Emily tours film and tech festivals around the world as a part of the #StayIndieTour to educate filmmakers and learn their best practices in connecting with their audiences to build a sustainable career. She has personally raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in crowdfunding for film, and contributed to well over 300 campaigns to date. She is currently working on a series about the sexy side of consent called F*CK YES with an incredible cohort of women creators from across the country.
VP of Community / Board of Directors / Filmmaker
Lagueria Davis graduated from the University of Oklahoma in December 2007 with a BFA in Media Art. Since graduating, Davis has established herself as an award winning filmmaker. Her short film "Help Yourself" won the award for best short comedy in the 2009 Trail Dance Film Festival. That same year, Davis wrote and directed her first feature film, "1 in 3". The film screened in the Bare Bones Film Festival (among other festivals) where it won for Best Oklahoma Soil Picture and Best Actress for Shanika Robinson who plays the lead in the film. In 2013, "1 in 3" was awarded a Bronze Telly Award in the Social Issues category. Currently, Davis resides in LA where she works as an experienced production professional. Her credits include work for NBCUni, National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. She is also a member of the board of Alliance of Women Directors and an active member of Women In Film.
Kimby Caplan is an award winning avant-garde and documentary filmmaker whose work has screened at venues across the country, including the SXSW Film Festival, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Her film, LISTEN, received a 2005 Student Academy Award and also qualified to be nominated for an Academy Award. A documentary lensed by Caplan, Cubamerican, about Cuban Exiles featuring Andy Garcia and Steven Bauer has screened nationally, with a PBS run in 2014-2015. Recently Caplan just wrapped as Second Unit DP on About Scout, an Indie feature starring Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn, and Danny Glover, which opens in select theatres in Los Angeles and New York in March, 2016. Caplan is an MFA Cinematography graduate of American Film Institute and resides in Pasadena, CA.
VP of Events and Membership
Heidi Honeycutt is the programmer and creator of the “Rack Focus” series at the American Cinematheque including the prestigious women directors’ genre film festival Etheria Film Night (@EtheriaFN). When she’s not doing that she’s a film journalist, author, and active member of the film community in support of women directors.
Music video producer, international model, writer, singer, broadcaster, actress, red carpet correspondent and founder of The Fearleaders. Your typical L.A. girl. With fond memories of playing hopscotch on the stars on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard, she was born into an entertainment family. Both parents were musicians and her grandparents owned the historic Hollywood Professional School, famous for its legendary attendees such as Judy Garland, Betty Grable, and Melanie Griffith. Josi utilized her degree in marketing to land her band on dozens of major networks including VH1, Oxygen, USA, Comedy Central, TLC and Playboy TV. As the founder of The Fearleaders, the bad-ass cheerleading squad for The LA Derby Dolls, she again put her marketing skills to test and landing the squad on shows such as MTV, NBC, SPIKE TV, A&E, KTLA and The CW. Her “grindhouse” style music videos have won “Best Music Video” at The Fetish Film Festival, featured at Horrorhound Film Festival, headlined clubs and galleries. Having traveled extensively to over 35 countries she has gained a sincere appreciation for life and will soon be filming her first international documentary film in 2017. Josi’s other passions are yoga, philanthropic work, animal rescue, pit bulls and gore.
Sophia Cowley is a 21-year-old writer, film enthusiast, feminist, and yogi who is continuously seeking balance and intersection between these areas of interest. Sophia recently began as an outreach volunteer for Cinefemme, following a desire to help women, women-identified and gender-queer artists find freedom in filmmaking. She is interested in film as an instrument for personal and societal healing. Sophia also contributes to the independent online film magazine, Film Inquiry, and recently worked as a videographer at a yoga center near Portland, OR. In her spare time, she makes video art with an old SHARP hi8 camera.
Program Director - The Test Podcast
As an Equity & SAG-AFTRA member, Michal's performed in dozens of plays & over fifty principal / starring roles for radio, television, & film. She's the voice, likeness, & performance capture artist for Tracey De Santa, one of 7 main characters out of a cast of 1000, in the billion dollar video game Grand Theft Auto V. Her starring role in the L.A. Premiere of White Hot at Hollywood Fringe earned her a Best Actress Award & her Ovation nominated company, The Vagrancy, Best Ensemble, with knock-out reviews in ‘LA Weekly’ & ‘The Examiner.’ Performance highlights: roles in Spike Lee’s Inside Man & Quid Pro Quo with Vera Farmiga, recurring on One Life to Live, three separate characters for Law & Order: Criminal Intent, & a performance art piece for The Whitney Museum of American Art. She's in development on her first feature as co-writer / producer / actress, Born That Way, a Sundance Screenwriting Lab second rounder & a Big Vision Empty Wallet Kickstart Diversity Program winner. She's the official Host of The Women’s Independent Film Festival & a Judge on the LA based monologue competition TV show, Tomorrow's Thespians. The Test was born out of a curiosity & love for women trailblazers everywhere. bornthatwaythemovie.com
Program Director - The Test Podcast
Jessica is an actress, comedienne, screenwriter and director. She loves creative, honest expressions of all kinds and genres, but has always had a special place in her heart for comedy. She went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied acting and directing for theater. After graduating she directed for several theater companies, including three plays in the NY Fringe Festival. Around that time she trained and performed improv and sketch comedy at a variety of theaters, including Upright Citizens Brigade. She also worked as an Assistant and Reader at a couple of production companies, including for producers Ed Saxon and Peter Saraf at Magnet Entertainment. She later went to the Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program, where she wrote, directed, and produced a strong body of film and TV projects. Many of her films, pilots, and web series have been honored in a variety of festivals and contests. As an actress she’s played a wide range of characters in theater, film, TV and web series. Some career highlights include: Semifinals in the Sundance Writers Lab, a Student Academy nomination, an Audience Choice Award in the Columbia Film Festival, and an award in the New York TV Festival (NYTVF).
Program Director - Bluestocking Film Festival
Artistic Director Kate Kaminski is a screenwriter, director, and independent filmmaker whose films have screened all over the world. As Gitgo Productions, she and partner Betsy Carson have produced more than 30 films, including 4 low-budget features and numerous short fiction and non-fiction films. Gitgo’s 53-episode improvised Willard Beach was the first web series produced in Maine. In 2011, Kaminski founded the Bluestocking Film Series, a one-of-a-kind event and Maine’s only women in film festival. Kaminski holds a bachelor’s in Psychology from University of Texas at Austin and a master’s in Film from Boston University. She teaches production, film studies, and screenwriting part-time at University of Southern Maine and Maine College of Art.
Brittany “B.Monét” Fennell is a graduate of Spelman College. She studied writing and directing at New York University and was granted the Graduate Film Department Fellowship. She associate produced a short film “Strings Attached” that premiered at Cannes Court Metrage. Recently, Fennell shot a feature length documentary called Little Sallie Walker about Stephanie Person, the first African-American professional skateboarder. She also worked at Beyoncé’s production company Parkwood Entertainment. Fennell recently completed the documentary #RiseUpOctober with Dr. Cornel West, about #BlackLivesMatter. Currently, she is developing her short film “Q.U.E.E.N.” into a feature and working on a short film for the Bureau of Creative Works that will be featured on VHX in 2017.
Advisory Board Member
Maria wrote and directed the 1996 feature film When Saturday Comes starring Sean Bean and Pete Postlethwaite, and the award-winning digital feature film Hunger based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winner Knut Hamsun. She has also directed two Cine Gold Eagle winning short films and has written three screenplays which have been produced into feature films. In 2011 she turned her attention to the underrepresentation of women directors in United States media. She began researching and writing about viable legal strategies to remediate illegal discrimination against women in Hollywood, citing Title VII. Finally, in 2015 after 4 years of activism in the Directors Guild of America, Giese became the person who instigated the biggest industry-wide Federal investigation for women directors in Hollywood history, going on now. Giese holds a BA from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree from UCLA's Graduate School of Theatre, Film and Television. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious EQUITY AWARD from Stanford University. She founded the activist-agitator web forum Women Directors in Hollywood, and her articles have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Elle, Film Inquiry, IndieWIRE. Giese herself has recently been profiled in Bloomberg TV, ABC Live, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Fortune, and The Hollywood Reporter, among others.
Advisory Board Member
Program Director - Get Write! Film & TV Writing Workshop
Jessiline Berry is a filmmaker and founder of FemmeMaker Productions, an organization dedicated to empowering women in Film/TV, and providing script consulting to writers and production companies. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and Columbia University’s MFA Film program, Jessiline is also an alumna of the Cosby Writing Program and the Film Independent Screenwriters Lab. The National Black Programming Consortium called her, “a writer/director to watch,” and she’s worked in varying capacities for Synthesis Films (Making a Murderer), Character Studies Productions (Rose), BET Networks, and Lee Daniels Entertainment. Jessiline has assisted and taught BFA, MFA, conservatory style and continuing education courses for Columbia University, the Ghetto Film School LA, and the New York Film Academy. Additionally, through FemmeMaker’s “Fade Out” service, Jessiline conducts a host of workshops aimed at helping writers stay spiritually, emotionally and financially centered while helping them move from script development to final draft.
Heide Foley has served on the Board of Directors since its founding, and served as CFO for many years. A filmmaker and traveler, she has produced documentaries on Kazak Nomads in Mongolia and the King of Tonga and has directed a short film on the artist Jean Varda. She earned her BA in Liberal Arts at Arizona State University where she studied intermedia with Muriel Magenta in the Herberger Institute School of Art. She earned a certification in Graphic Design from the NY School of Visual Arts and was the Art Director at Mondo 2000 magazine. She is currently a financial professional working as an asset manager specializing in budget forecasts and performance analysis. She also manages site specific areas for large public events for Dominic Phillips Event Marketing.