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Film Speakers 

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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.
 
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. 
 
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. 
 
Sarah Lewis

Author of The Rise, Guest-Editor of Aperture’s “Vision & Justice” Issue

When we view race and justice through the lens of culture, we can enlarge our notion of citizenship, of who belongs and who counts. Sarah Lewis, an intellectual star and powerful speaker, has sparked a national conversation with “Vision & Justice”—the landmark issue of Aperture dedicated to photography of the black experience that explores “what humanity looks like.”
 
Patti Smith

Punk Rock Legend and Author of Just Kids, winner of The National Book Award

Named one of the most influential people in the world in Time Magazine’s TIME 100, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer, and fine artist. A seminal American artist, Smith has produced a body of work whose influence branches out through generations, across disciplines, and around the world.
Eman Mohammed

TED Senior Fellow and Photojournalist

What kind of courage does it take to become the only female photojournalist in the Gaza Strip? TED Fellow Eman Mohammed was only 19 when she began shooting photos for a local news agency—and then the Gaza War broke out. Her talks reveal how she overcame cultural bias, sexual abuse, and physical danger to become one of the most powerful journalistic voices documenting the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 
 
LaToya Ruby Frazier

Photographer speaking on family, communities, and environmental racism

For LaToya Ruby Frazier, art is a weapon—a catalyst for social justice. Her photographs and videos document today’s America: post-industrial cities riven by poverty, racism, healthcare inequality, and environmental toxicity. Bridging the personal with the social, her gorgeous work amplifies the voices of the vulnerable and transforms our sense of place and self. 
 
Teju Cole

Professor of Creative Writing at Harvard | Author of Blind Spot | Photography Critic for NYT Magazine

A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole was born in the US and raised in Nigeria—a biographical fact that informs much of his work. His first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second, Every Day Is for the Thief, was named a Book of the Year by The New York Times.
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.
 
Molly Crabapple

Painter, Writer, and Author of Drawing Blood

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer whose work has been described as “God’s own circus posters,” by Rolling Stone. Crabapple’s art engages injustice, subversiveness, and rebellion. The New York Times calls her book, Drawing Blood, “captivating” and “refreshingly honest.” 
 
Gabriel Barcia-Colombo

New Media Artist | TED Senior Fellow

How is technology reshaping our relationship to time, memory—even death? Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s interactive artworks ask bold questions about what it means to live, and die, in today’s frenetic world. 
 
Candy Chang

Urban Space Artist Behind the "Before I Die" Walls

World-renowned artist and urban designer Candy Chang engages communities to share everything from their greatest hopes to their deepest anxieties in public. The Atlantic calls her artwork Before I Die “one of the most creative community projects ever.” 
 
Titus Kaphar

2018 MacArthur Fellow | Award-Winning Painter and Sculptor

With more urgency than a headline, Titus Kaphar’s artworks capture the spirit of social justice and change in America today (exemplified in his Time cover portrait of the Ferguson protests). Working from personal history toward a wider lens, he exposes racism, inequality, and a criminal justice system that is anything but just.