Tori Baker: Salt Lake Film Society

Tori Baker Salt Lake Film Society Utah Council for Citizen DiplomacyTori sharing her experience at Salt Lake Film Society

Ms. Tori Baker is the Executive Director and CEO of Salt Lake Film Society (SLFS), championing nonprofit films-arts innovation. She is the founder of the National Art House PSA Project, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Alumni, a charter board member of the National Art House Convergence, co-founder of 10KSB Alumni small-business group, and a University of Utah College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumna. She created impact in a changing landscape of film by focusing on programs that build relevancy and look towards the future. Under her leadership, community impact has tripled, programs increased by 96%, and the organization has grown to be one of the largest arts organizations in the state.

We were very excited to have our international visitors from India join Ms. Baker and Salt Lake Film Society to exchange professional experiences about film and storytelling. As a valuable partner with UCCD for the last few years, Ms. Baker’s passion for film helped our guests acquire a taste of local filmmaking. We asked her a couple questions to better understand the time spent with our International Visitor Leadership Program group for Film as a Medium for Social Change in January 2020.

Q1: Do you feel you/your organization had an impact on the group? If so, what do you think that impact was?

We hope we had an impact. Things are changing, particularly in the technology space of film and the storytelling world. We hope our impact was to lend a better understanding of the exhibition side of film, where opportunities are in distribution, and where the theaters mind-set is during selection and programming. We appreciated the connections and the visitors understanding more about the exhibition world.

India Visitors Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy Salt Lake Film SocietyIndian Filmmakers listening to Tori's experience

Q2: Can you tell me about your experience with the visitors? What changed your perception or brought awareness to their culture?

We enjoyed the visit very much. As the local arthouse we have spent time with various communities, and always look to learn from culture. We were surprised to identify that there's no one distribution outfit in America that specializes in Indian film distribution for independent filmmakers and stories. We were interested to hear that there's a separation between Bollywood and the Indian independent filmmaker communities. It was also interesting to learn that the Netflix presence for indie filmmakers means work, but it can be hard to determine the process of how the audiences find the films. We suspected this to be the case, but it was good to have a conversation with individuals who have worked with streaming services. Overall, as filmmakers, there's a lot in common with independent filmmakers in the US, they want to tell unique stories about their lives and culture.