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Cinekid 2021 – Cinekid for Professionals

Industry Report: Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Cinekid’s Industry Forum presents keynote speeches on emotional ecology and inclusion


Cinekid for Professionals hosted contributions from producer Ellen Windemuth and actor-producer Rodney Lam on how they have been making a difference through their work

Cinekid’s Industry Forum presents keynote speeches on emotional ecology and inclusion
Actor-producer Rodney Lam giving his keynote speech at the event (© Corinne de Korver)

Once again, Cinekid, the world’s leading children’s media festival (13-31 October 2021), organised the Cinekid for Professionals programme (19-21 October). Here, over 500 directors, producers, broadcasters and the like gathered to discuss the state of affairs when it came to film, television, cross-media, digital arts and media literacy. The programme was offered in hybrid form, allowing professionals from around the globe to participate. Alongside a variety of case studies, there were also two keynote speeches made by Dutch producer Ellen Windemuth, who has been leading production company Off the Fence for 30 years, and Rodney Lam, an actor and producer at Vizaviz, and the owner of the clothing brand Daily Paper.

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With a specialisation in nature documentaries, Windemuth has lately been receiving heaps of praise for the Oscar-winning Netflix hit My Octopus Teacher. The film, in which her long-time friend and colleague Craig Foster develops a unique bond with an octopus, is about how people can co-habit this planet in a sustainable way. The movie is a perfect example, she claims, of emotional ecology. In her keynote speech, she explained how the production of the picture was only the beginning of a much bigger mission, ultimately taking shape as WaterBear. Initially, it was dubbed the “Netflix for nature”, but it proved to be so much more than that; the interactive streaming platform is dedicated to the future of our planet, reaching young and engaged audiences across the globe. It uses the genre of emotional ecology as a means to do so. The content on the platform is directly linked to NGOs and other strategic partners, ushering audience engagement into the activistic realm. The stories on offer centre on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, giving the platform a clear mission as well. Unsurprisingly, they’re working on new content for the COP26 in Scotland at the moment.

With similar enthusiasm, Lam is using his work to create a better world. In his keynote speech, he brought listeners on board his quest to achieve a more inclusive industry. Being Surinamese himself, he claims to be the product of inclusion, with ancestors in Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Asia, Europe and Indonesia. His clothing brand has stores in Amsterdam, London and New York, and is successful because of this inclusive approach, Lam says, as he actively searches for ways to make cultures meet, or even clash. With a similar approach, he is working on his next film, called Casey’s Kicks, about a white girl living with her black father. “I know we have to keep feeding the beast to earn a living,” he says, “but as makers, we have to invest in the system to change it.” Lam continued by explaining that he is hiring a crew that is as diverse as possible, and is actively choosing not to finance his film with help from the Netherlands Film Fund by doing so. “It is a catch 22,” he says, as he explains the fund’s habit of only granting money to projects that have crews with a proven track record on board. With his new movie, he intends to give upcoming professionals with diverse backgrounds a break and a chance to boost their presence in the industry.

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