As discussions about reforming and expanding the cinematic canon rage on, some argue that it’s time to do away with it entirely—to imagine new and equitable structures, instead of trying to fix the old flawed ones. Our NYFF58 roundtable Free Talk, Outside the Canon, turned the spotlight on individuals and initiatives that bypass gatekeeping institutions, choosing instead to build alternative, collective, and grassroots methods of film distribution and exhibition. Participants included Abby Sun (curator, the DocYard, My Sight Is Lined with Visions), Vanessa McDonnell (co-creator, The Eyeslicer; programmer, Spectacle Theater), Rooney Elmi (co-founder, No Evil Eye microcinema; founding editor, SVLLY(wood)), Ajay Ram (Upside Film Festival), and Thomas Beard (co-founder and director, Light Industry; programmer-at-large, Film at Lincoln Center). In an impassioned chat moderated by NYFF Talks programmer Maddie Whittle, the panelists spoke about dismantling hierarchical ways of working, creating spaces for Black and Brown film history, and the need for sustainability and financial equity in film culture.

Watch the conversation below, presented by HBO. Visit our NYFF58 playlist for more talks and Q&As.