January 14, 2022
WCSFP HONOURS JANA BENNETT
"Creative, relentlessly positive, warm, caring, determined but disarming, and a privilege to call a colleague and friend: Jana Bennett—who died, too young, this week—was one of the great leaders of factual broadcasting. She drove the renaissance of science television at the BBC and on channels across the globe. Jana was a staunch supporter of Congress and its values, at its centre in its early years, as a frequent panelist, and as a sponsor. We invite you to watch again her very personal interview for Congress '20. She was a true spark of inspiration." – John Lynch, Board Chair, WCSFP
December 1, 2021
CONGRESS '22 SET FOR LIVE EVENT IN GLASGOW, UK, HOSTED BY BBC STUDIOS PRODUCTIONS
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) has announced that its 30th annual Congress, the leading international industry event for science, history and natural history content creators, broadcasters and platform executives, is slated for late 2022 in Glasgow, UK. Congress '22, which will mark the return to a live in-person gathering after two years of virtual Congresses, is generously supported by host sponsor BBC Studios Productions and will coincide with BBC's centenary.
"It's been 15 years since Congress was in Manchester and our return to the UK is long overdue," said Paul Lewis, WCSFP Conference Director. "It's such an incredible hub for creative and innovative factual programming and the ideal place for our community to gather in person after two years apart to get reinvigorated and inspired. We’re thrilled to be working with our long-time supporter BBC Studios Productions to bring Congress ’22 to Glasgow and to celebrate the BBC’s centenary."
"I'm so delighted that we’re able to support Congress coming to Glasgow during a milestone year for the BBC. Glasgow is a thriving home for Specialist Factual programming with brilliant indies, big and small, and world class creative and production talent based in the city," said Tom McDonald, Managing Director of Factual for BBC Studios Productions. "It feels extra special that BBC Studios Productions is the host sponsor for the first in-person congress since 2019 for what will not just a celebration of the BBC’s birthday and a chance to celebrate the independent production sector in the city but hopefully a memorable reunion of colleagues and friends from all around the world."
Congress '22 will offer a full slate of dynamic and engaging conference panels and speakers exploring the latest programming trends, industry intelligence and technology impacting the factual community, along with popular Close Encounters of the Funding Kind sessions that feature presentations by leading broadcast and platform decision-makers, and Speed Dating one-on-one curated pitch meetings. Congress '22 will also mark the return of unforgettable social events for which Congress is renown. Taking full advantage of Glasgow, a city known for its rich history, stunning architecture and remarkable friendliness, Congress '22 will offer members exciting events to socialize and network after two years apart.
BBC Studios is the BBC's main TV production arm, producing bold, British, creative content across a range of genres and specialisms. Its Factual division is the biggest producer of Factual content in the UK, producing world-class Natural History, award-winning Science and critically acclaimed Documentary, History & Arts series. Recent titles include the Emmy-nominated The Year Earth Changed, the Bafta-winning Surgeon's Cut, and Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution. Spanning seven bases across the country, our mission is to reflect and represent diverse voices and creative talent from all over the UK. BBC Studios Productions launched as a commercial business in April 2017, making programmes for other broadcasters as well as the BBC, supporting the BBC’s public service mission and generating financial returns for licence fee payers.
October 28, 2021
RASHEDA ALI, SARAH BURNS & DAVID MCMAHON ON MUHAMMAD ALI DOCUMENTARY
WCSFP is pleased to announce that Rasheda Ali, daughter of the great boxing champion Muhammad Ali, and an internationally known author, speaker, actress, spokesperson and Parkinson’s disease advocate, will appear at Congress ‘21. Ali will participate in a panel discussion about the recent four-part Ken Burns documentary on PBS on the life of her father, which she is heavily featured in, Muhammad Ali. Joining Ali on the panel will be directors David McMahon and Sarah Burns, daughter of well-known filmmaker Ken Burns, who is also a director on the series.
This panel discussion will be moderated by Tom Koch, Vice President, PBS International. Muhammad Ali: A Film by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon is distributed by PBS International.
Rasheda Ali is an internationally known author, speaker, actress, spokesperson and Parkinson’s disease advocate. Her book, I'll Hold Your Hand So You Won’t Fall-A Child’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease, was inspired by her children and her father, Muhammad Ali, who suffered more than 30 years from the disease. As an advocate of stem cell research, Rasheda travels the globe motivating others to make a difference in their communities, raising awareness and funds for neurocognitive disorders as well as promoting love and inclusion through the Muhammad Ali Center. After her father's death, Rasheda and her family were invited by President Barack Obama to attend the first Eid celebration at the White House. Rasheda has participated in countless documentaries and projects such as the Double Helix Medal Awards, Ken Burns, Dateline with Katie Couric, BBC Studios and has been interviewed by numerous media broadcasts and outlets as CNN, The Today Show, MSNBC, Good Morning America, PBS, New York Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough, and many others. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Rasheda served as writer, casting director and host for her own celebrity talk show in Las Vegas where she also formed a media company Raw Dreams LLC in 2007. Most recently, Rasheda was cast in a film and starts shooting this year in Arizona.
Sarah Burns is the author of The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding (Knopf, 2011) and, along with David McMahon and Ken Burns, the producer, writer and director of the documentary The Central Park Five, about the five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted in the infamous Central Park Jogger rape of 1989. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, was named the Best Non-Fiction film of 2012 by the New York Film Critics Circle and won a 2013 Peabody Award. She produced and directed, along with David McMahon and Ken Burns, the two-part, four-hour Jackie Robinson, a biography of the celebrated baseball player and civil rights icon, which she wrote with McMahon. The film aired on PBS in April 2016 and she and McMahon were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program and won a WGA award for Documentary Script. More recently, Burns and McMahon produced and directed a documentary about a housing project in Atlanta called East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story, which aired on PBS in March 2020. She is currently working on a four-part documentary on the life of Muhammad Ali and a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Sarah was born and raised in Walpole, New Hampshire. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in American Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, David McMahon, and their children.
David McMahon has been making award-winning documentary films for more than a decade. With Ken Burns and Sarah Burns, he wrote, directed and produced The Central Park Five, a two-hour film about the five teenagers who were wrongly convicted in the Central Park Jogger case of 1989, which won a Peabody Award and Best Non-Fiction Film of 2012 from The New York Film Critics Circle. In 2016, he again teamed with Ken Burns and Sarah Burns to direct and produce Jackie Robinson, a two-part, four-hour biography of the baseball and civil rights icon, for which he and Sarah Burns were nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Non-Fiction program and won a WGA Award for documentary script. Recently, he and Sarah Burns directed and produced East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story, a two-hour film about a housing project in Atlanta, which premiered on PBS in March of 2020. He is currently working on films about Muhammad Ali and Leonardo da Vinci. Raised in Clarence, New York, and a graduate of the University of Michigan, McMahon lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Sarah Burns, and their two children.
October 7, 2021
SPARK OF INSPIRATION WITH ACCLAIMED ACTOR AND MUSICIAN JEFF GOLDBLUM
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is thrilled to announce that award-winning actor and musician Jeff Goldblum will appear at Congress ‘21 as part of the Sparks of Inspiration series. Currently hosting the second season of National Geographic’s The World According to Jeff Goldblum on Disney+, in which he unravels the fascinating story behind everyday objects in each episode, the famed actor will reflect on his remarkable decades-spanning career driven by his insatiable curiosity to learn. Congress '21 will take place online from November 30-December 2, presented with the generous support of host partners ARTE GEIE and l'Eurométropole de Strasbourg, and major partner Wellcome.
Jeff Goldblum is a stage, film, and television actor, as well as a musician. Currently, Jeff hosts National Geographic’s The World According to Jeff Goldblum. The series premiered on November 12, 2019, on Disney+, and the second season is set for release this November. Next, he will reprise his role of “Dr. Ian Malcolm” in the newest Universal Pictures franchise film, Jurassic World: Dominion, which is slated for June 10, 2022. Additionally, it was recently announced that Goldblum has joined the cast of HBO Max’s Search Party for its fifth season in a recurring role as ‘Tunnel Quinn.’ His debut jazz album, Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra The Capitol Studios Sessions, released on November 9, 2018, both internationally and in the United States by Universal’s Decca Records and The Verve Label Group, respectively. His second album, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, released on November 1, 2019. Both albums ranked #1 on Billboard’s jazz charts.
Goldblum's film credits include: The Mountain (2018 Venice Film Festival), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Isle of Dogs, Thor: Ragnarok, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Le Week-End, Adam Resurrected, The Life Aquatic, Igby Goes Down, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Nashville, The Tall Guy, The Big Chill, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Deep Cover, Next Stop, Greenwich Village and The Fly. Additionally, Goldblum directed the short film, Little Surprises, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film, Live Action. On television, his credits include Will & Grace and Portlandia. Goldblum appeared in the Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of Domesticated; The Pillowman on Broadway; the West End’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue; and Speed the Plow at the Old Vic Theatre.
Jeff Goldblum will appear as part of the Sparks of Inspiration series, a recurring series of sessions at Congress featuring ground breakers who offer glimpses into their worlds, discuss their innovative projects, reveal the sources of their creativity and speculate on what the future will bring. This session will be moderated by Nutopia's Arif Nurmohamed.
September 30, 2021
SPARK OF INSPIRATION & PANEL DISCUSSION WITH KATIE EWER, SENIOR IMMUNOLOGIST AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY'S JENNER INSTITUTE AND INVESTIGATOR IN OXFORD/ASTRAZENECA VACCINE CLINICAL TRIALS
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is pleased to announce that Katie Ewer, Associate Professor and Senior Immunologist at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, will appear at this year’s Congress as part of the Sparks of Inspiration series. Ewer was on the Oxford University team that developed the COVID-19 vaccine for AstraZeneca and will share with Congress members her experience working on the vaccine under incredible pressure with the whole world watching. After her talk, Ewer and others involved in the documentary titled Vaccine: The Inside Story (BBC) and Race for the Vaccine (CNN Films) will participate in a panel discussion. Congress ’21 will be held online November 30-December 2, presented with the generous support of host partners ARTE GEIE and l'Eurométropole de Strasbourg, and major partner Wellcome.
Katie Ewer is an associate professor and senior immunologist at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford. The Jenner Institute is an internationally renowned centre for the development of vaccines agai nst a number of diseases affecting low and middle-income countries and diseases with significant global public health impact, such as malaria, flu, HIV, TB and outbreak pathogens. Katie leads a program of immunology studying vaccine-induced immunity to malaria and emerging pathogens, including Ebola and COVID-19. The vaccine programs have clinical trials at many international partner sites in several LMIC including The Gambia, Senegal, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania and Burkina Faso and her team collaborate with scientists there and across the world.
Katie was educated in the UK and trained as a microbiologist in Oxford. She has a PhD in Immunology, for which she worked on the development of new tools to diagnose tuberculosis. After four years at DEFRA (a British government department), she returned to Oxford in 2008 to work at the Jenner Institute to study immune responses to vaccines and determine what types of immune responses protect people from disease. She is one of the investigators on the UK clinical trials of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine and her research focuses on studying the T cell responses to the vaccine.
Katie Ewer will appear as part of the Sparks of Inspiration series, a recurring series of sessions at Congress featuring ground breakers who offer glimpses into their worlds, discuss their innovative projects, reveal the sources of their creativity and speculate on what the future will bring. Ewer will be interviewed by Catherine Gale, former virologist and co-director of Vaccine: The Inside Story.
September 9, 2021
SPARK OF INSPIRATION: ACTOR, AUTHOR & NEUROSCIENTIST MAYIM BIALIK & PODCAST CO-CREATOR JONATHAN COHEN
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is pleased to announce that Mayim Bialik, celebrated actor, author, neuroscientist and podcaster will appear at this year’s Congress. Well-known to audiences for her award-winning role on TV’s The Big Bang Theory, Bialik studied neuroscience at UCLA and earned a PhD in the field in 2007. Most recently, she was named a permanent co-host of the international quiz show phenomenon Jeopardy!, now in its 38th season. Bialik will be joined by Jonathan Cohen, the co-creator, co-host and executive producer of her mental health podcast Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown. Together, they will present a Spark of Inspiration about their incredible journey of healing and well-being based on science and personal experience. The session will be moderated by award-winning science communicator Trace Dominguez.
Mayim Bialik is most recently known for her award-winning role as Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit CBS comedy, The Big Bang Theory. During her nine-year run on the show, she received two Critics Choice Awards, four Emmy Award nominations and a SAG Award nomination. Following the iconic show ending, Bialik signed a multi-faceted deal with Warner Bros. TV Group which includes a two-year production deal for her production company, Sad Clown Productions. Mayim has additionally taken on the role of TV show host in stepping into the legendary shoes of the late Alex Trebek to co-host Jeopardy!. Outside of the realm of television, she’s written her first screenplay titled As Sick As They Made Us; which recently wrapped production in New Jersey. Bialik is also directing the film which stars Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergman, her Big Bang co-star Simon Helberg and Dianna Agron. From playing the young version of Bette Midler’s character in Beaches to her turn as Blossom Russo in the iconic ‘90s sitcom Blossom, Bialik has appeared in numerous beloved roles throughout her dynamic acting career. In 2020, she launched her podcast on mental health titled Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown, which has become a notable forum for both talent and intellectuals to discuss the important role mental health plays in all of us. An acclaimed author, Bialik has written two #1 New York Times best sellers, Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, and Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. She has also written a parenting book, Beyond the Sling, and a cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table. Bialik is a frequent contributor to a variety of Jewish publications and is syndicated through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and 70 Faces Media, writing and recoding videos about all things Jewish. Following the end of Blossom, Bialik left acting for 12 years to earn a BS in Neuroscience from UCLA in 2000 with a minor in Hebrew & Jewish Studies. She went on to complete her PhD in Neuroscience, also at UCLA, in the fall of 2007.
Jonathan Cohen, co-creator, executive producer, and co-host of the Mayim Bialik's Breakdown podcast, is a writer, poet, producer, father, and futurist who imagines and designs new applications of technology. Jonathan started his career writing and producing before joining a global innovation and design firm where he built a storytelling and communications department that delivered insight, strategy, and experiences for Fortune 300 brands. Currently, Jonathan is also the co-founder of Lotic AI, a behavior change system seeking to increase self-knowledge while connecting the mind and the body. With over two decades of training in mindfulness and healing, Jonathan finds ways to fuse storytelling and somatic experience. Cohen and Bialik met 10 years ago at a birthday party and began a connection fueled by shifting the collective understanding of mental health and emotional well-being. Jonathan’s formal education includes a BFA from the University of Victoria and an MFA from The American Film Institute’s Conservatory.
August 26, 2021
TV PRESENTER AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE DOCTOR DR. RONX IKHARIA AND SCIENCE TV HOST AND STEM ADVOCATE JUSTIN "MR. FASCINATE" SHAIFER TO FRONT WHAT'S THE BUZZ
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) is pleased to announce that television presenter and emergency medicine doctor Dr. Ronx Ikharia (The Unshockable Dr. Ronx, BBC3), and Justin “Mr. Fascinate” Shaifer, a rising star in STEM education and advocacy with appearances on WGBH, Travel Channel, TEDx and social media, will team up to host this year's What's the Buzz. Both with an inspirational background story, the unique life experiences of each host have shaped their perspective as a science communicator. An exciting video review from around the world of the latest trends and technologies in science and factual, What’s the Buzz will kick off Congress '21, which will be held online November 30-December 2, presented with the generous support of host partner ARTE GEIE and major partner Wellcome.
Dr. Ronx Ikharia trained as an emergency doctor in the UK after working as an Expedition Field Medic in India. A trans nonbinary doctor, they describe themselves as a queer, black, androgynous intersectional feminist. Extremely community focused, Dr. Ronx uses their personal life story to inspire others. They volunteer their time to give inspirational talks, using their life experience to encourage and motivate young people to think about their desired future careers positively. A captivating speaker, they grab the attention of young minds with their humour, enthusiasm, encouragement and approachable nature. Dr. Ronx’s first children’s TV presenting job was Operation Ouch! on CBBC in 2012. In 2020, they worked on the BBC3 program The Unshockable Dr. Ronx and filmed their second series of Operation Ouch with Maverick TV. Dr Ronx also presented the highly acclaimed Channel 4 investigative documentary Is Covid Racist?, which looks at why Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic NHS workers have been hit harder by Covid-19. In 2021, Dr. Ronx had two poignant and important documentaries air: The Truth About Boosting Your Immune System on BBC One, which looks at how we can defend ourselves against Covid-19 and how to boost your strength during cold and flu season; and the Channel 4 documentary Are Women the Fitter Sex?, which asks why more men are being affected by Covid-19 than women. Dr Ronx can also be seen presenting Series 9 of Operation Ouch! on CBBC.
A rising star in STEM education and advocacy, Justin "Mr. Fascinate" Shaifer is a LinkedIn Top Voice in Technology with a talent for inspiring Generation Z. Far from camera shy, Justin has hosted science TV shows with WGBH, Travel Channel and Al Roker Entertainment. Justin’s goal "to be for STEM what ESPN is for sports" and to inspire young people to "embrace their inner nerd despite their surroundings," springs from his own life experience. Self-taught and fascinated by science, Justin earned scholarships from NASA and NOAA that covered 100 per cent of his tuition and room and board at Hampton University. Justin graduated with a degree in marine and environmental science, earning the department's highest GPA while also serving as student body president. Inspired to pay his success forward, Justin co-founded the STEM Success Summit, a large-scale conference for diverse STEM students that secured sponsorship from Best Buy and General Motors. Kickstarting his professional speaking career with a popular TEDx Talk How to Speak Generation Z, Justin continues to reach millions with his content, keynotes and workshops, and his work has been featured in Forbes, Variety, Essence and other media. Justin regularly speaks to corporate stakeholders, students and educators around the world about innovative technology, Gen Z and recruiting diverse STEM professionals. From "Innovative Tech and The Future of Society" to "How to Speak Gen Z" his keynotes earn rave reviews while changing the way we see science, STEM and innovators.
July 29, 2021
CONGRESS REGISTRATION OPEN: EVENT TO TAKE PLACE ONLINE WITH SPECIAL IN-PERSON HUBS IN SIX INTERNATIONAL CITIES
Secure your spot for Congress '21, taking place online from November 30 to December 2, presented with the generous support of host partner ARTE GEIE and major partner Wellcome.
This year's event will feature a robust program of online sessions and panels, dynamic virtual networking, on-demand access to recorded content, and more!
Plus, registered members will have the chance to attend in-person social networking hubs in six international cities, subject to local health and safety regulations and guidelines. Plans include a central hub in Strasbourg, with local support, as well as additional locations in Canada, the USA, the UK, Asia and Australia. Cities and details to come!
Save today with early bird pricing, group rates, or special rates for emerging producers and students.
June 10, 2021
SUBMIT TO THE BUZZIES
Submissions are now open for The Buzzies, celebrating excellence in science and factual storytelling. There are awards for long, short and multiplatform formats, individual achievements, and innovation and impact.
Winners will be announced during the 2021 event, which will take place November 30 to December 2 as an hybrid event with online sessions and live networking events.
Each winner will receive a signature statue and registration for a future Congress.
All who submit are eligible for a Congress '21 registration discount.
December 11, 2020
CONGRESS '20 WRAPS & THE BUZZIES WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Our first online edition of Congress is a wrap! The dynamic three-day event welcomed a record number of 1,248 members from more than 50 countries. Thank you to host partner ARTE, the European cultural channel; signature partner PBS, PBS International and NOVA; and major partner Wellcome; as well as all the partners, session producers, speakers, and staff who made the event a success.
During the event, we announced the winners of the inaugural edition of The Buzzies, our awards celebrating excellence in science, history and factual storytelling. Winners include:
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Alison Leigh
- Emerging Producer of the Year - Alexandria Christos
- Mentor of the Year - Melanie Wallace
- Diversity Leadership Award - Akanksha Sood Singh
- Best Science Communicator - Vanessa Hill