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Film Speakers 

From inspiring social change and sharing personal stories, to documenting climate change and revealing the lived realities of underrepresented communities, our film speakers are some of the most acclaimed, inventive, and progressive filmmakers working today.  

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Speakers
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Spike Lee

Oscar-Winning Director of BlacKkKlansman, Do the Right Thing, and When the Levees Broke

Spike Lee needs no introduction. In person, the provocateur and media icon is never at a loss for words. As one of the most outspoken African American voices, he talks candidly, and with authority, about issues of race in mainstream media and Hollywood, using as a backdrop a rare behind-the-scenes look at his celebrated body of work. 
 
Mira Nair

Director of Queen of Katwe, Salaam Bombay!, The Namesake, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Raised in India, schooled at Harvard, and living in New York City, Mira Nair uses her natural grasp of identity conflict to make films that explore race, gender, inter-generational strife, cultural appropriation and displacement. A poignant speaker, she captures beautifully the tug of competing worlds felt by millions of immigrants around the world.
 
Bassam Tariq

TED Fellow and Award-winning Director of The Ghosts of Sugar Land

Where do you seek representation, and how do you make yourself heard, seen, and understood? These questions inspire Bassam Tariq as a filmmaker, an entrepreneur, and speaker. TED fellow and director of the acclaimed films These Birds Walk and the Sundance Jury Prizewinning Ghosts of Sugarland, Tariq investigates the way Muslim Americans live in our polarized world today, transcending religion and politics to tell a deeply human story that affects us all. 
Shalini Kantayya

Award-Winning Filmmaker | Eco-Activist | TED Fellow

Clean tech has to start locally. And it has to happen now. Filmmaker and eco-activist Shalini Kantayya shows us that sustainable energy isn’t just right for the environment, but also promises untold economic opportunities. In her film Catching the Sun, she tells a modern story of innovation—one that’s disrupting outmoded industries and putting power into the hands of those who need it most.
Wanuri Kahiu

Acclaimed Writer & Director of Rafiki | Co-Founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM

When Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film, the Cannes-selected Rafiki, was banned in her home country of Kenya for featuring a romance between two women, she wouldn’t stand for it. An acclaimed filmmaker and co-founder of AFROBUBBLEGUM, Kahiu’s art and talks show that being fun and frivolous includes—and in fact necessitates—being fierce. 
 
Edward Burtynsky

World-Renowned Photographer, Winner of the TED Prize

World-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky creates stunning photos—“reflecting pools of our time”—that explore large-scale social, political, and economic issues, including water, oil, and the upheaval caused by rapid industrialization and climate change.
 
Negin Farsad

Social Justice Comedian, Director of The Muslims Are Coming!

Negin Farsad is at the forefront of social justice comedy—a field that she insists totally exists (or should). A TED Senior Fellow, author of How to Make White People Laugh, and as one of few Iranian-American Muslim female comedian/filmmakers, Farsad uses humor—full-scale ridiculousity—to bridge the racial, religious, social, and immigrant gap. The Wall Street Journal calls her work “smart, funny, and fascinating.”