SIFF New Works-in-Progress Forum Returns for 2021 Online Festival

3/29/2021 |
SIFF Press Contact: Jason Baxter, PR Manager |

SIFF New Works-in-Progress Forum Returns for 2021 Online Festival

SEATTLE—Monday, March 29, 2021—The Seattle International Film Festival has unveiled the temporarily-scaled-back 2021 filmmakers chosen for their New Works-in-Progress Forum. The unique New Works-in-Progress Forum was initiated to bring filmmakers and audience together at the crucial moment before locking picture. Unique in its inclusion of the audience voice in the forum, the event brings all partners in cinema together in concert.

“We are thrilled that the New Works-in-Progress Forum is returning in 2021, at the Festival on our virtual SIFF channel,” said SIFF Artistic Director Beth Barrett. “To be able to support these talented filmmakers at this crucial junction of their projects is an honor. The depth of engagement and discussion is unique, and our SIFF audiences appreciate being able to participate in crafting the future of these films.”

Forced to cancel the 2020 edition due to Washington State COVID-pandemic restrictions, the SIFF New Works-in-Progress Forum will be temporarily scaled back this year to present two feature projects from the traditional four: one documentary and one narrative were confirmed for inclusion in the 2021 online edition.

Invited to the 2021 New Works-In-Progress Forum are directors Lisa Leeman, Walk With Me aka Trans*Formed, (USA, Documentary) and Kaltrina Krasniqi, Vera Dreams of the Sea (Kosovo, Narrative).

“It is an exciting time for the future of audience engagement and cinema in what we hope will soon be a post-pandemic era,” said New Works-In-Progress Forum Curator Kathleen McInnis. “The virtual SIFF channel, while clearly not the same as an intimate cinema setting, will allow for an even more robust dialogue between filmmakers, mentors and audience. These are, after all, global storytellers for a global audience.”

The SIFF New Works-in-Progress Forum curates the renowned cinephile audiences at SIFF with handpicked industry mentors from across cinema disciplines to meet filmmakers, and have that relationship help to create the art.

"When I made my first feature documentary, Metamorphosis, in the late 1980’s,” said Filmmaker Lisa Leeman, “I never dreamed I’d end up making a follow-up film thirty years later, chronicling the same person at a whole new crossroads. We filmmakers get so close to the stories we tell and to the people in our films - and I've even become a part of this story, a first for me. So I’m ready to share a rough cut in the safe space of the SIFF New Works-in-Progress Forum. I premiered my last film at SIFF (Awake, 2014), and I know I can trust SIFF audiences, filmmakers, and mentors to give us smart & crucial feedback on how the film is working, before we resume editing the film.”

Vera Dreams of the Sea is my first feature length fiction piece which I have been working on since 2014,” said Filmmaker Kaltrina Krasnigi. “This is a very personal film through which I learned a lot about my mother, her challenges as well as challenges of women worldwide in their quest for economical independence. Currently we are in the final phase of the project and we are excited to share our baby with the great team of SIFF New Work-in-Progress Forum. I'm interested in telling a universal story and we're hoping that this platform will help us do exactly that!”


Lisa Leeman has produced, directed, written and edited award-winning documentaries for the last thirty years. Her work mainly focuses on two areas – faith and spirituality, and what she calls ‘sideways social-issue films – intimate character-driven stories that illuminate contemporary social issues by how they directly affect people’s lives. Her debut feature documentary, Metamorphosis, won Sundance’s Filmmakers’ Trophy and aired on POV (PBS) in 1990

Lisa co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced the award-winning feature documentary Awake, which premiered at SIFF 2014, and screened in U.S. theaters for 48 weeks, and in 17 countries. Awake is one of only 17 films directed by women in the 250 top-grossing films of 2014. Other directing and producing credits include One Lucky Elephant, Who Needs Sleep (with Haskell Wexler), and Crazy Wisdom, a portrait of the renowned Tibetan meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa.

Lisa is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and has served as a judge at the Sundance Film Festival and as the president of the International Documentary Association.

Kaltrina Krasniqi is an award winning Kosovo based film director and researcher working in film, television and digital humanities since early 2000. She is a founding member of Kosovo Oral History Initiative—a digital archive where personal histories of individuals from various paths of life are recorded and published, and a co-founder of the popular Prishtina café—bookshop, Dit’ e Nat’; a non formal setting for promotion of film, literature and music.

She graduated in Film Directing in the University of Prishtina in 2004 and in 2011 completed her MA in Kosovo’s Institute for Journalism and Communication. In 2015 she continued her professional development in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with focus in Film Producing. Her last film Sarabande (2018) premiered in ZagrebDox, was awarded as Best Documentary in Cinalfama Film Festival and was a nominee in short documentary competition at Camerimage Festival 2018.


Beginning in 1976 with the annual Seattle International Film Festival, expanding into year-round programming, and our five-screen SIFF Cinema—SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival is the longest, most highly attended film festival in the United States, traditionally reaching more than 150,000 annually. Renowned for its wide-ranging and eclectic programming, this year’s Festival is presenting over 200 features, short films, and documentaries from over 69 countries.

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