Already known as an international leader in progressive thought and policy, New Zealand is gearing up to lean into that role by hosting the first annual Power of Inclusion Summit in Auckland on Oct. 3 and 4.
“New Zealand is generally a bit unusual, innovative and dynamic in the way they think about social justice and how to be together,” says Annabelle Sheehan, CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission, which is organizing the event with Women in Film and Television International, with support from Disney Studios. “Our purpose here is to bring people together, in New Zealand’s welcoming and inspiring setting, to really talk around the table about how we can challenge people and think about what we’re going to be doing next to support change.”
The two-day event will feature keynote presentations, panel discussions and case studies addressing a broad range of urgent issues related to screen industry representation. And the program’s roster of more than 35 international speakers is as high-profile as it is appropriately inclusive, spanning politicians such as New Zealand’s trailblazing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; industry figures from home and afar, including Mulan director Niki Caro, Blacklist founder Franklin Leonard, producer Charles D. King (Sorry to Bother You, Just Mercy) and Philippa Boyens, the Oscar-winning co-writer and producer of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies; as well as interfaith, indigenous, LGBTQI and differently abled individuals, film professionals, activists and thought leaders.
The Power of Inclusion Summit will employ some of the practices it advocates. A complimentary creche, or nursery, will be available throughout the confab for children under 5. Breastfeeding wherever mothers feel comfortable is welcomed, and the summit also will provide a breastfeeding space.
“Personally, I’m touched to be invited to speak, but I’m also excited to be able to just listen to some really smart, heavyweight industry practitioners from all over the world talk about these vital issues,” says Jackie van Beek, who, along with Madeleine Sami, will helm Netflix’s upcoming rom-com Hope, starring Aubrey Plaza (Sami also will speak at the summit).
“When you look at the news these days, so much of it is so alarming and brutal,” van Beek adds, “so it’s going to be really nice to be part of something that’s about making people feel safe, empowered and represented.”
This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.