FILM INDEPENDENT WELCOMES DAN STERN TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chaz Ebert, Kasi Lemmons and Lulu Wang Join Advisory Board - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Saturday, January 27, 2024

FILM INDEPENDENT WELCOMES DAN STERN TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chaz Ebert, Kasi Lemmons and Lulu Wang Join Advisory Board

Chaz Ebert, member of the Advisory Board

Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization behind the upcoming 39th Spirit Awards, announced that Dan Stern has been elected to the Board of Directors. Stern is the founder and CEO of Reservoir Capital Group, as well as the Chairman of the Board of Film at Lincoln Center (FLC). Additionally, it was announced that Chaz Ebert, Kasi Lemmons and Lulu Wang are joining the organization’s Advisory Board. The announcement was made by Film Independent Chair of the Board of Directors, Brenda Robinson.

Kasi Lemmons, member of the Advisory Board

Stern brings his passion for the arts and his acumen for fundraising and finance to the organization’s board. In addition to his work with FLC and the New York Film Festival, he serves on other non-profit boards including The Actors’ Gang, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He has participated in the formation and development of numerous business entities including most notably Starwood Capital, best known for creating and building Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

New Advisory Board appointee Ebert is a lawyer, producer and philanthropist and the CEO and publisher of Ebert Digital, which publishes For many years she funded the Chaz and Roger Ebert Fellowship at the Spirit Awards and has also been a supporter of Project Involve, Film Independent’s program which recently celebrated 30 years of promoting diverse voices in creative storytelling. Lemmons is an award-winning director, writer, actress, and professor as well as a former Film Independent Board member and officer, who won a Spirit Award for her debut feature Eve’s Bayou in 1998. Wang is a Film Independent Fellow (2014 Project Involve), the recipient of the 2014 Chaz and Roger Ebert Directing Fellowship, and won Best Feature at the 2020 Spirit Awards for her film The Farewell.   

Regarding new board member Stern, Robinson said “Dan brings extraordinary value to the board. His passion and experience in the nonprofit arts space, coupled with his expertise in the financial sector, make him uniquely well-suited to help us navigate the ever-evolving economic realities and challenges that face artists and the arts today. A longtime supporter of Film Independent, we are thrilled to have him join us in this official capacity and welcome his continued support of our mission in amplifying independent storytelling.” With respect to their three new Advisory Board Members, Robinson stated, “It is a privilege to welcome three dynamic and talented industry vets to our Advisory Board. Chaz, Kasi, and Lulu are at the forefront of independent artistry and each brings a unique and valuable perspective and knowledge to our organization.”

A respected entertainment attorney, producer, and philanthropist, Robinson has been Chair of the Board of Directors since 2022. She successfully steered the organization through the latter half of the pandemic, helping identify new allies, new opportunities in virtual programming, and global initiatives that have helped put the organization on a secure strategic and financial track.

“Under Brenda’s visionary leadership, the Film Independent Board and Advisory Board have been our bulwark as we navigate the challenges facing arts nonprofits today,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “With her strategic acumen and commitment to collaboration, she continues to strengthen Film Independent’s foothold in the independent creative community. The addition of Dan’s voice and perspective will further energize our continued mission and its impact. Furthermore, we are so pleased to have Chaz, Kasi, and Lulu bring their extensive experience to our Advisory Board.”

Film Independent supports a global community of artists and audiences who embody diversity, innovation, curiosity, and uniqueness of vision. A champion of creative independence in visual storytelling, Film Independent is dedicated to fostering the careers of talented artists from around the world. Now celebrating its 30th year, its Artist Development Program has been uplifting fresh voices and unique perspectives by connecting creators to the resources and networks they need to advance and build sustainable and thriving careers in today’s landscape.

Film Independent’s Board of Directors is comprised of leaders from the film community and beyond, who serve in a volunteer capacity and make strategic decisions on the direction and vitality of the organization. The Advisory Board is comprised of a respected group of film industry executives, creatives, and thought leaders who function as a valuable sounding board for the Board of Directors and Executive Leadership of Film Independent. The current board of directors is comprised of Len Amato, Randy Barbato, Adriene Bowles, Mathew Cullen, Vondie Curtis Hall, Eric d’Arbeloff, Rhys Ernst, Javier Fuentes-León, Brenda Gilbert, Matthew Greenfield, Michael Helfant, Laura Kim, Sue Kroll, Karyn Kusama, David Linde, Mynette Louie, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Ted Mundorff, Gail Mutrux, Sue Naegle, Col Needham, Catherine Park, Alan Poul, Ed Rada, Brenda Robinson, Andrea Sperling, Cathy Schulman, and Jeffrey Soros. The current Advisory Board members are Ed Carroll, Don Cheadle, Bill Condon, Peter Rice, Ted Sarandos and Forest Whitaker.

For over 40 years, Film Independent has helped filmmakers get their projects made and seen. The nonprofit organization’s core mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling in all its forms and to foster a culture of inclusion. We support a global community of artists and audiences who embody diversity, innovation, curiosity, and uniqueness of vision.

In addition to producing the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the organization supports creative professionals with Artist Development programs, grants, and labs. Signature mentorship program Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from underrepresented communities. 

Education events and workshops equip filmmakers of all ages and experience levels with tools and resources. Global Media Makers, a cultural exchange program produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, provides career-building opportunities for international film professionals. And year-round screening series Film Independent Presents offers a robust program of unique cinematic experiences, including screenings, conversations, Live Reads, and Bring the Noise musical events.


For more information or to become a Member, visit


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