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On The Record: A Panel Conversation with Filmmakers and Survivors

Spotlighting difficult issues at the intersection of free expression, power, race, and gender in hip-hop, On the Record explores the stories of former music executive Drew Dixon, activist and advocate Sil Lai Abrams, hip-hop trailblazer Sheri Sher, as well as other survivors, following their individual decisions to speak “on the record” about their experiences of sexual misconduct by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Join HBO Max for a two-part panel conversation, co-moderated by Mary Ann Marino and Erica Vital-Lazare with award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground, The Bleeding Edge) on using the power of documentary as journalism. The filmmakers’ conversation will be followed by a panel with the survivors and experts about life after the film and the work ahead to protect people who speak out against abuse and injustice. The panel is presented in partnership with PEN America.


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Drew Dixon headshotDrew Dixon is the accomplished former vice president of A&R at Arista Records, a former director of A&R at Def Jam Recordings, the former general manager of John Legend’s label Homeschool Records, and the former manager of recording artist Estelle. She has produced hit records with a number of artists, including Carlos Santana, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Estelle, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Kanye West, and many more. Dixon is the founder of the independent label The Ninth Floor and the tech-enabled beauty startup EverythingDid, and she is the co-creator of the scripted TV series ReciprocityPhoto by Debbie Zeitman

Sheri Sher headshotSheri Sher is an American hip-hop pioneer best known as a founding member of the first all-female hip-hop group, Mercedes Ladies. In 2008, Sher authored Mercedes Ladies, a gritty, riveting true-life novel that Cornell University selected for placement in its rare books archive. She has been featured in several documentaries and referenced in the Ava Duvernay-produced BET documentary My Mic Sounds Nice. Currently, Sher is working on writing a screenplay, launching a clothing line, “The Era,” and continuing to make appearances as a distinguished figure in hip-hop.

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering headshotsKirby Dick and Amy Ziering are two-time Emmy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award-winning filmmakers behind the most groundbreaking investigatory documentaries today. Their Oscar-nominated film, The Invisible War, broke the story of the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military and led to five congressional hearings and the passing of 35 reforms through Congress. Their follow-up film, The Hunting Ground, about campus sexual assault, ignited a national discussion and led to sweeping policy changes at hundreds of schools. Their most recent film, The Bleeding Edge, about the fast-growing medical device industry’s corruption and malfeasance, has already compelled industry giant Bayer to remove one harmful device from the market, and is catalyzing a worldwide debate about regulation and patient safety.

Throughout their filmography, notable accolades they have amassed include: two Oscar nominations, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody, an Independent Spirit Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, the Nestor Almendros Award for Courage and Filmmaking, an Upton Sinclair Award, the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize, and the George Polk Award. Photo by Matthew Takes


Mary Ann Marino headshotMary Ann Marino is the cofounder of Resonance Content, based in Los Angeles. Prior to co-founding Resonance Content, Marino served as the head of production at Amazon Studios, where she delivered 44 feature titles including Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea and Oscar-nominated The Big Sick. Prior to that, Marino led Park Pictures’ West Coast, where her contribution earned an Emmy, an Oscar, and multiple Cannes Film Lions. At Park, she produced indie feature Permanent (Patricia Arquette and Rainn Wilson), helmed by Colette Burson (Hung). Prior to her role at Park, Marino was a producer at Anonymous Content alongside directors like Ang Lee, Alejandro Gonzalez Inñaritu, and Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki. She came to Anonymous Content on the heels of her role as head of production at Tim Burton Productions, where she oversaw Mars Attacks! and James and the Giant Peach, and developed The Corpse Bride under a deal at Warner Bros.

Erica Vital Lazare headshotErica Vital-Lazare is a professor of creative writing and Marginalized Voices in Dystopian Literature at the College of Southern Nevada. She has received grants and awards from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Hilliard Endowment. Her work has been featured in Catalyst, Sojourner, Thrice, and Callaloo II. She is co-producer of the photo narrative installation “Obsidian & Neon: Building Black Life and Identity in Las Vegas” and is the editor of the forthcoming Of the Diaspora, a series revisiting classic Black works in literature with McSweeney’s Press.

This program is generously supported by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

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