Richard Peña with Tom Bernard and Michael Barker. Photo by Eugene Hernandez / FSLC.

On October 6 in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Sony Pictures Classics executives Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom spoke with NYFF Selection Committee Chairman Richard Peña about their experiences in the film industry in the two decades they’ve spent operating the company. In that time, Sony Pictures Classics has become a champion distributor of independent and foreign-language films to American audiences.

Peña began the presentation by introducing a short reel of memorable Sony Pictures Classics films, noting that the company produces about a third of the releases they distribute. Afterwards, the panelists spoke about their life-long love of cinema, their commitment to bringing lesser-known films to the public’s attention, and the most important lesson they’ve learned in their time with the company: “filmmakers come first.” The Q&A was followed by a screening of James Ivory’s magnificent Howards End, adapted from the classic E.M. Forster novel of the same name.