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Event Details

At Tropfest, we believe diversity fosters greater innovation, stronger connections and more creative outcomes.

Join our panellists; Award-Winning Director of ‘Gayby Baby’  Maya Newell, CEO of Ausfilm Debra Richards, Award-winning Producer Marian Macgowan and Director and Western Sydney University Lecturer Dr. Amin Palangi, Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia, Lena Nahlous,  Director and President of Directors' Guild, Samantha Lang and Screen Australia Senior Development and Production Executive, Nerida Moore to discuss new and practical ways of encouraging diversity within the film industry.

Maya Newell, Director, Producer, Writer

Maya Newell is an Australian filmmaker with a focus on documentary storytelling. Her award-winning short ‘TWO’ won Best New Documentary Talent of Australia at AIDC2011. Her subsequent films ‘Growing Up Gayby’ and ‘Gayby Baby’ – made in collaboration with Charlotte Mars – tell the story of same-sex families from the perspective of the kids.
‘Gayby Baby’ was selected for Good Pitch Australia 2014, premiered at Hot Docs, screened at Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, was nominated for an ACCTA, AWGIE, and was the winner of Best Documentary at the 2015 ATOM awards. In the years of making ‘Gayby Baby’ and in the controversy following the banning of the PG film in NSW schools, Maya has regularly felt the need to speak out indefence of diverse families like hers.

Debra Richards, CEO at Ausfilm 

Debra Richards has been CEO at Ausfilm for over six years and works with the Sydney and Los Angeles based Ausfilm team to motivate international filmmakersto locate their productions to Australia. Debra Richards works closely with, and provides advice to, the Australian Government, its agencies and state governments screen agencies on issues concerning the industry sector that services offshore production in Australia.

 Marian Macgowan, Film producer, AFTRS Lecturer

Marian Macgowan’s film repertoire includes South Solitary, Boxing for PalmIsland, Blessed, Death Defying Acts, Lilian’s Story and Two Hands, whichwon an AFI and Film Critic’s of Australia award for Best Film in 1999, and Ragein Placid Lake which was nominated for four AFI Awards in 2003. As well as running her own company, Macgowan Films, Marian Macgowan’s other roles have included Head of Producing at the Australian Film and Television School. Marian Macgowan has also worked both in the UK and Australia as a commercials and documentary Producer and has directed several short films.

Dr. Amin Palangi, PhD, Western Sydney University Lecturer, Director

Dr. Palangi is an Iranian-Australian filmmaker, founder of Palangi Productions, Director of Persian International film festival in Australia and the Convergent Media Lecturer at the Western Sydney University. He holds a PhD in film studies from Australian National University, MA in script writing from Australian Film Television and Radio School and is member of the Screen NSW advisory committee. His debut feature documentary Love Marriage in Kabul was finalist of the Walkley Awards for excellence in journalism, winner of Audience Award at Sydney Film Festival, Best Documentary at Canberra Film Festival, Best Director from Australian Directors Guild, and Australia’s first Golden Phoenix from Fajr International film Festival.

Samantha Lang, Director and President of Directors' Guild

Samantha Lang works through her production company Handmaid Media. She is international film director, writer, and visual artist who has worked in Australia, France and the US over the last 20 years. Her films have screened at major international festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, Locarno, and have received international recognition at the highest level, competing at the Cannes Film Festival for the prestigious Palme D’Or. In Australia, her films have been awarded many times including - at the Australian Film Institute Awards and the Sydney Film Festival and in 2015 – her film Carlotta was nominated for five AACTA awards and won three.As well as being a creative practitioner, she has mentored, supervised and lectured postgraduate film students and emerging film directors in her capacity as Head of Directing at AFTRS (2010-2016) and also through her involvement with at SNSW, HIVE at AIFF, and SA. In 2015 she was elected as President of the Australian Directors’ Guild and in 2016 was on the taskforce at Screen Australia that rolled out the Gender Matters Initiative to redress gender and diversity imbalance in the sector.Samantha’s current projects include a screen adaptations  of Kill The Messenger by playwright, Nakkiah Lui (Brilliant Stories initiative), and Laurinda by novelist Alice Pung, as well as a TV adaptation of Anna Krien’s Night Games (with Aquarius Films).

Lena Nahlous, Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia

Lena Nahlous is the Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia and has managed arts, screen and digital media initiatives that have engaged thousands of people, particularly  women, refugees, migrants and young people. Lena was Executive Director of Information and Cultural Exchange for 12 years, where she grew the organisation more than ten-fold. She established Switch Digital Arts Centre, Artfiles — employment and engagement program for Western Sydney artists, the Digitales Australia initiative, and co-founded the Arab Film Festival.  Lena was a recipient of an Asialink Arts Fellowship to Hong Kong and was a graduate of the Asialink Leadership program. She sat on the NSW Government Arts Advisory Committee for two terms, participated in the Australia 2020 Summit and was named as one of Sydney's 100 creative catalysts.

Nerida Moore, Senior Development Executive Screen Australia

As Senior Development Executive, Nerida manages the development team working across script, online and talent development programs and is currently helming the Gender Matters Initiative.  She also works across production investment. Prior to Screen Australia, Nerida was the Senior Development and Production Executive at Screen NSW and ran the production investment fund, the story development fund and Screen NSW's suite of professional development programs including Aurora and the Emerging Filmmaker Fund.


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Event Location



Level 9, 169 Macquarie Street, Parramatta, NSW, 2150

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