mamafilm milestones

mamafilm was founded in 2019, as a pop-up cinema experience – in a shipping container – in Wichita, Kansas, screening more than 30 mission-aligned independent films over 6 months. Originally designed as a place for nurturers and our allies to come together for communal film viewing and conversation, the organization has evolved organically, as both the independent film industry, and the world around us, continues to change at warp speed. 

2020 brought changes for our organization, as we opened the doors to a new pop-up location, but like the rest of the planet, we were forced to rethink it all when March rolled around…

That summer, we launched rePROFilm – first as a virtual film festival – featuring 25 films dedicated to reproductive justice, with special guests including activists Martha Plimpton and Amber Tamblyn. Since then, rePROFilm has grown into a monthly virtual publication, featuring a short film, an original interview podcast, curated playlist and other small bites of media to ignite conversation and action around reproductive health and justice. Since its inception, rePROFilm has featured the works of more than 60 filmmakers telling incredibly courageous – and often personal –  stories. 

In 2021, mamafilm was selected as one of 30 Satellite Screens for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, bringing official selections to the Starlite Drive-In in Wichita, and in 2022, we were  chosen as one of only 7 Satellite Screens for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and presented films in Lawrence, KS at the historic Liberty Hall. That same month, mamafilm was one of 567 organizations (from 7500 eligible applicants) to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Rescue Plan.

That fall, we went nomadic, to bring intentional and impactful cinematic events –  in partnership with like-minded organizations – to meet audiences where they are. Collaborators have included Array, Collective Power for Reproductive Justice, Fishtrap, Inc., Cleveland International Film Festival, Kansas Birth Justice, Trust Women, Wichita State University Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Wichita Art Museum. 

Artist support initiatives have included the Story Lab Mentorship, commissioning the award-winning Feminist Foremothers Podcast (SeriesFest, 2021) and film festival consultation services. mamafilm has served as a fiscal sponsor for films including the documentaries Chasing Chasing Amy (Tribeca, 2023) and the short My Name is Anabel (2023). mamafilm has also supported the development and production of fiction short films including Run Amok (2023) and Cow Heavy And Floral (2024) and the feature film The Spice Poet, in partnership with LunaMax Films and Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures. 

mamafilm team

Lela Meadow-Conner is an Independent Exhibition Executive, Impact Curator and Creative Producer, and the Founder of mamafilm, which curates and produces bold, socially-conscious entertainment through a maternal gaze.
Born as a microcinema in a shipping container, mamafilm now operates as a pop-up cinema. In 2021 & 2022, mamafilm served as a Satellite Screen for the Sundance Film Festival, in Kansas. The organization’s signature program – rePROFilm –  is a virtual series that connects storytellers and advocates who celebrate bodily autonomy.
Lela began her exhibition career two decades ago as a co-founder of the Tallgrass Film Festival, has worked at the Woods Hole and Bentonville Film Festivals, spent five years as the Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance, and currently serves as Board Chair of Art House Convergence, and board member of Vidiots Foundation. She is the co-founder of The Popcorn List – an annual survey of highly-enjoyed independent films without distribution.
Recent producing credits include the award-winning feature documentary Chasing Chasing Amy (Tribeca, BFI London, 2023), the 2024 Academy-qualifying/Vimeo Staff Pick narrative short Run Amok and the award-winning podcast, Feminist Foremothers. She has several projects in development including the feature-length version of Run Amok; the experimental documentary Monstrous Me, the video-first podcast series Green Tide Rising and the narrative feature The Spice Poet – with Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures.
Lela has participated in The Industry Academy, (a program of Film at Lincoln Center and the Locarno Film Festival), the Brand Storytelling Certificate Program and holds a degree in the culinary arts. She’s served on film juries including AFI and the NAACP Image Awards, is a frequent panelist for industry organizations including The Gotham, SXSW and Ghetto Film School and has been quoted as a trade expert in publications including the New York Times, Filmmaker Magazine, IndieWire and Box Office Pro. She’s a proud member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and the Documentary Producers Alliance.

KylieB (she/her) is a queer, Korean Kansan who cultivates creative communities. Pulling on her experience in live event production, digital management and tech support — aka “moral support for artists” — she supports artists of all mediums to execute their programming.

Her work has bridged gaps in Wichita through initiatives including CreativeRush, MULTIBUBBLE, and Down to the Wire™ a 24-hour film race with her latest programming series: Puppet Open Mic + Puppet Karaoke. She has worked as the Media/Project Facilitator for Horizontes , exhibited with WSU Shiftspace, Wichita Festivals, and has been a Curatorial Resident for Paul Artspace near St. Louis. KylieB works as the Digital Director for mamafilm, A/V Tech for The Screening Womb, and the podcast editor for rePROFilm. As an occasional musician, #CleotheCello makes special appearances with Josué Estrada. You can find her producing events and engaging artists in the community with Harvester Arts, Ulrich Museum of Art and as a Zoom Tech for Artist INC (Live, Express, ALF).  |  Follow on IG @kblivnfree