Shakira Refos

Shakira Refos


“I’ve always been active in the arts in some way,” arts educator, organizer, and activist Shakira Refos says. Her mother, a dance performer, instilled in her a love of the arts when she was a child—Refos recalls being mesmerized by a stage production of Carmen at a really young age—and although she remained “a theater kid at heart,” Refos’ career path initially led to museum work. Finding that industry too “stodgy and stale,” Refos transitioned into a livelier field: independent film. “Independent film and festival production is so dynamic,” says Refos, who is coming off her second season as the Associate Programmer of Documentaries at the iconic Tribeca Film Festival, a job she performed while also working full-time with the California Film Institute in Marin. “The conversations about art shift with every festival season and I strongly believe in the impact of film. The constant movement in themes and reinventing ways to connect with audiences with every event fits well with my personality.” Before joining Tribeca, Refos served as Director of Education and Community Engagement with a regional film festival in Sarasota, Florida, where she was also a leader in the community’s Black Lives Matter movement. Her commitment to social justice also informs how she curates film. “I approach my role with a lot of humility in the sense that I’m aware of being a gatekeeper in my industry. I’m at the service of filmmakers and audiences, reminding myself of this and leading with curiosity.” This approach, she says, helps her keep “my head on straight when people pedestalize my role as a curator. Practicing gratitude for the work I get to do is a huge priority.”

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