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Academy award winner Geena Davis joins Inclusion summit

AUCKLAND, AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND, Friday 13 Sept 9am NZT - Academy Award® winner Geena Davis has joined the ground breaking The Power of Inclusion summit. Davis will speak alongside over 35 international and local history makers from the entertainment industry and beyond, at this pivotal event in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand on 3 and 4 October 2019. The summit will present a two day programme on pertinent issues in the inclusion and representation space in entertainment.

Known for her vast acting roles including the iconic Academy Award® winning film Thelma & Louise, Davis is a longstanding advocate for gender parity in the entertainment and media industry. In 2004, stunned by the lack of female representation on screen as well as negative stereotypes perpetuated therein, Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University with the mantra, ‘if she can see it, she can be it.’ A powerhouse organisation, the Institute’s ground breaking research and guidance has prompted significant change in onscreen portrayals at major networks, studios, advertisers, production companies, guilds and agencies. It was recently announced that Davis will be the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the upcoming 2020 Academy Awards®.

Joining Davis is Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Institute. Di Nonno leads the Institute's strategic direction, management, financial and operational activities and is a world leader on inclusion in screen.

New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) CEO Annabelle Sheehan said “It is such an honour to welcome Geena Davis to The Power of Inclusion summit. Her body of work and her activism are an inspiration. The Power of Inclusion hosts a ground breaking line up of entertainment sector speakers, of a depth and breadth not seen before in New Zealand and Australasia. The siren call of the conference has attracted speakers from across the global screen industry and in New Zealand, whose activism and production work are inextricably linked to the core issues of diversity and inclusion. As an industry we have a responsibility to empower, to amplify and to focus on equity in front of and behind the camera.”

The Power of Inclusion summit will present a two day programme of case studies, panels, conversations and keynotes, including:
• Activists striving for equality such as Yara Shahidi (black-ish, grown-ish) who was featured in TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens list and has worked on initiatives with the Obama White House and United Nations, actor Magda Szubanski (Kath & Kim, Babe) who is synonymous with marriage equality success in Australia and Maria Giese, who instigated the largest industry wide federal investigation for women directors in Hollywood history;
• Speakers that represent cutting edge perspectives on LGBTQ+ representation such as Steven Canals, the creator of multi award winning POSE which has the largest transgender cast in TV history;
• Acclaimed indigenous practitioners from Aotearoa New Zealand such as Heperi Mita (MERATA: How Mum Decolonised the Screen) and abroad, like Academy Award® nominated producer Heather Rae (Frozen River) sharing their stories of reclaiming cultural power through the lens;
• Hollywood game changers like Tilane Jones, President of Ava DuVernay’s film collective ARRAY (Selma, 13th, When The See Us) and The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, who seek to amplify stories from under represented communities;
• Acclaimed and award winning creators such as BAFTA winning Niki Caro (Whale Rider, The Zookeepers Wife, Mulan), and Academy Award® winner Philippa Boyens (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, Lovely Bones, The Hobbit) and the Academy Award® nominated Producer of MOANA Osnat Shurer;
Importantly, the programme will proudly showcase iconic and emerging Aotearoa New Zealand creators such as multi-hyphenates Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek (The Breaker Upperers), Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Moana) and Oscar Kightley (Hunt for The Wilderpeople).

The summit will be hosted by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), with support from The Walt Disney Studios.

The NZFC also acknowledges The Motion Picture Association Scholarship programme, which provided 150 tickets for people working or studying in the screen sector who are low or unwaged or belong to a community under represented in the screen sector. Registration for this scholarship has now closed.

For a full list of all speakers, please go to

#powerofinclusion | i: @nzfc | t: @nzfilmcommissh | f: @nzfc

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