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Dawn Hudson

Job description: Executive Director, IFP/West

Breakthrough: Took over management of the Los Angeles Film Festival (formerly the Los Angeles Independent Film Fest); shepherded the Independent Spirit Awards into becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest award shows

In the works: Revamping the L.A. Film festival to make it much more “fun and informal” while adding foreign film sections, prizes and more

There was a time, not too many years ago, when Dawn Hudson had to call companies and plead with them to buy tables for the Indie Spirit Awards. But those days are over as requests for seats and tables now start flooding in before Christmas for the show, which is seen as an the edgier, hipper counterpart to the Oscars.

Hudson says the owner of one of Hollywood’s biggest management companies recently told her he would have liked to attend this year’s event — if there was space.

“It took a few years to keep refining what best expressed the organization,” says Hudson, who hopes John Waters will continue drolly hosting the event.

Because of the success of the Spirit Awards, the org as a whole has been able to broaden its programs. This year saw the first editions of the Director’s Lab and Producer’s Lab, joining the already popular Screenwriter’s Lab.

One program particularly close to Hudson’s heart is the Project/Involve mentorship for filmmakers of color and gay and lesbian filmmakers.

“I think that unconscious sexist attitudes exist in the independent film world almost as much as in the studio world,” says Hudson. “We are trying to create alternative networks for filmmakers meeting other filmmakers and financiers — it’s about lowering the barrier to information and access. Maybe because I’m a woman, I’m more passionate about supporting alternative voices, including women.

“The arts are a way you can change society,” Hudson adds, “And I think independent film is an effective vehicle for change.”

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