DISCRETIONARY FUND

DISCRETIONARY FUNDING

Black Public Discretionary Fund
application is an invitation-only funding opportunity. Unlike our other funding initiatives such as the Open Call, BPM provides discretionary money for unique circumstances.
We are eager to support our community of storytellers especially during the most challenging times in the fundraising process -- securing seed and completion funds.
BPM accepts proposals for feature-length documentaries (one-off or series), shorts (non-fiction or scripted) or limited podcast series for public media distribution. There are no limits on the subject area. However, we encourage work that will promote discourse and engage audiences around a critical social issue. In addition, we welcome proposals that target specific viewers such as children and teen audiences.

GRANT AMOUNT

UP TO $25,000

Funding is only for projects at R&D or Completion stage. Applicants must be previous grantees or emerging producers with a public media distribution deal.

2021 COHORT

ACCEPTING PROPOSALS

SUMMER 2020

All topics are welcome. View the guidelines and FAQs. Applications are currently closed. Check back frequently for updates.

Discretionary Fund Projects

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Producer

Silen Beauty

Jasmín López

Jasmin Mara López is a filmmaker, audio producer, and youth radio educator that works in the US and México. Born in Los Angeles with familial roots in México, her childhood was affected by issues experienced on both sides of the US-México border. This instilled in her a strong passion for immigrant rights, youth empowerment, and social change.

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Director

A Place to Learn

Kevin Shaw

As a director, producer and cinematographer, Kevin Shaw has created award-winning content for national television networks. Shaw was a segment director and cinematographer on” America to Me,” a Participant Media/Kartemquin Films landmark mini-series examining race and education from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James. “ America to Me” debuted to high acclaim at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and premiered on Starz in August 2018, where it was lauded as the No. 1 television mini-series of the year by The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times.

Shaw’s debut documentary, “The Street Stops Here,” aired nationally on PBS and ESPN in 2010 to rave reviews. The following year, Shaw’s Big Ten Network short documentary on a quadriplegic trying to regain the ability to walk won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting Excellence. His cinematography talents were recognized in 2015 with a National Sports Emmy for ESPN’s FIFA World Cup Show Opens and Teases. Later that year, Shaw produced a documentary about the relationship between megastar Shaquille O’Neal and his collegiate coach, Dale Brown.  “Shaq and Dale” premiered on ESPN.

Shaw is a graduate of Kartemquin Films Diverse Voices in Documentary program (DVID) and a 2019 Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow.

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Director & Producer

Through the Night

Loira Limbal

Loira Limbal is an Afro-Latina filmmaker and DJ interested in the creation of art that affirms women of color and builds solidarity across communities of color. Her first film, Estilo Hip Hop, was a co-production of ITVS and aired on PBS in 2009. She is currently the Vice President and Documentary Lab Director at Firelight Media. Firelight is committed to making films about pivotal movements and people in American history. Recent productions include The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Freedom Summer, and Freedom Riders. Firelight’s flagship program -the Documentary Lab -is a fellowship that provides mentorship, funding, and access to emerging filmmakers of color. Limbal is currently directing Through the Night, a feature documentary about a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, NY. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez.For over fifteen years, Limbal has worked in the non-profit sector with a focus on cultural production, access, and representation. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She lives in the Bronx with her two children. (Latinx)

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Co-Producer

Through the Night

Jameka Autry

Jameka Autry is a producer and 2018-19 Associate of the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. She was honored in the inaugural DOC NYC 40 UNDER 40 List in 2018 and an Impact Partners Creative Producers\ Fellow (2017-18). She started her career with the award-winning duo, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, at Break Thru Films and also worked as an integral part of the Original Productions team at Cinereach. Her films have screened at festivals such as Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and New Directors New Films. Jameka has produced MARATHON: THE PATRIOTS DAY BOMBING (HBO) and IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE (Showtime), which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and garnered wins for Best Documentary at both the Nashville Film Festival and Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. Most recently, she was a line producer on ERNIE & JOE (SXSW ‘19), MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. (Sundance ’18) and consulted on Jeremiah Zagar’s WE THE ANIMALS (Sundance ’18) and CNN Films’ LOVE GILDA (Tribeca Opening Night Film ’18). She also spent two seasons helming the docu-series THE FASHION FUND in collaboration with Condé Nast and Vogue, which aired on Amazon.

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Producer

Gil Scott Heron

Yvonne Shirley

Yvonne Shirley is a director and producer of narrative and documentary films. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Film Program and is inspired by filmmaking in the social realist tradition. Her short film, Flowers, won Best Short Film in the HBO Short Film Competition at the 2016 American Black Film Festival. Her documentary short, Miasia: The Nature of Experience premiered at the 2017 BlackStar Film Festival. She produced the award-winning documentary short, Black 14, directed by Darius Clark Monroe, which most recently screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Currently, Yvonne is producing and directing the web series, Frame by Frame, for the audio/visual magazine, Topic.com,  and is producing a feature-length documentary on the artist, Gil Scott-Heron, directed by celebrated documentarian, Orlando Bagwell (Eyes on the Prize, Malcolm X: Make It Plain). She resides in the city of her birth, Newark, NJ, where she is collaborating with local artists to develop The Newarkive, a multimedia artistic archive, centering imagery of and by Newark’s African American communities.

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Director

Gil Scott Heron

Orlando Bagwell

Orlando Bagwell’s directing credits include Citizen KingA Hymn for Alvin AileyMalcolm X: Make It Plain, and two episodes in the landmark Eyes on the Prize series. Serving as a program officer at the Ford Foundation for nearly a decade, Bagwell established the $50 million JustFilms fund.

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Fellow

Pops

Garland McLaurin

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Garland McLaurin was a military brat whose passion for images and film emerged at a very early age. From taking childhood photos, to watching the Wizard of Oz or news footage of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, he has always been fascinated by images and their psychological and emotional impact on people. Raised between Oklahoma, Korea, and Florida, he finally settled in Washington, D.C. and in New York.

Stories shared by various people around politics, race, and culture, sparked McLaurin’s interest in storytelling and filmmaking. As a documentarian and cameraman, he has filmed subjects as broad as political and presidential elections, the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, to police brutality and issues affecting veterans. McLaurin’s love for storytelling comes from the form’s power to explore artistically, complex and conflicting social and psychological layers of people and society.

This is reflected in the projects and filmmakers with whom he has worked, including the Peabody Award-winning 180 Days series, the award-winning documentary The New Black (for which he was co-director of production), and the PBS series Coming Back with Wes Moore.

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Fellow

Pixie Dust

Damon Colquhoun

Growing up working-class in New York City meant that Damon Colquhoun existed at a cross-section of classes and types: experiencing the best and worst of the city. Shot at the age of 8 – the bullet fell out of the sky,
just missed his head, and instead ripped a chunk out of his thigh – Damon continued to be known as a happy kid. Death felt as if it would descend upon him. That fear

led to the conjuring of fantastic solutions, his reality reworked into cinematic scope, offering grand answers and deeper meaning.

Damon learned to craft stories at screenwriting workshops of The Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center under the late Fred Hudson (NYU Screenwriting Professor and writer of “The Education of Sonny Carson”). There, Damon learned from writers like Budd Schulberg and Kermit Frazier.

As interesting as Damon’s stories were, they felt flat. He picked up a camera to discover how he saw the world; he explored sound to learn how he processed it; he studied Meisner with Pamela Moller Kareman at The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts to tap into emotion. Then, he dug into post-production at Nice Shoes / Guava VFX, learning to wrap it up tightly.

Finally, he returned to writing. His explorations had sharpened his vision, voice, and craft. Now his stories sing. Mental illness, his current topic of exploration, turns the mean mug and hollow stare of a thug into a person managing an internal beast that has crept into his mind. Damon is currently developing the urban fantasy web series about mental illness in the black community, called Pixie Dust.

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Fellow

Pixie Dust

Shertease Wheeler

Shertease Wheeler, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, debuted in indie films as the producer of Pixie Dust with Filmic Front Productions alongside writer, director, producer Damon Colquhoun. Her true passions are rooted in compelling storytelling, and pulling dark, hard to talk about stories to the forefront for scrutiny and discussion. The youngest of five children growing up in a domestically violent turned single-parent household, Wheeler always viewed writing and movies as her go-to outlets. As a child, she was very shy, and creative writing became her preferred means of self-expression. She liked to observe and record events happening in her neighborhood, and then use those observations as themes for her stories, poetry, and even badly drawn comic books. There were some especially rough days in the household when she relied heavily on her creative writing to create serenity.

It never failed her then, and it continues to provide solace to this day. With a professional background in event management and production, Wheeler has applied her event skills and life experiences to the film production process. Managing the smallest of details and coordinating many moving pieces proved beneficial in her work on Pixie Dust.

Wheeler graduated summa cum laude from Hampton University with a BA in print journalism.

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Chronicle

Shukree Hassan Tilghman

Shukree Hassan Tilghman navigates between fiction and nonfiction spaces as a documentary filmmaker and narrative screenwriter. Currently, a writer on the USA Network drama series Satisfaction, Tilghman received his MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University. He has received several accolades for screenwriting including being named to the Columbia Blue List and winning the Faculty Selects Screenwriting Award for his television pilot Big Girls. His original television and feature scripts have placed in film competitions including Bluecat, Austin Film Festival, Anything But Hollywood, and ScriptShark Insider. The documentary filmmaker wrote, produced, and directed the 2012 film, More Than A Month, which follows his humorous cross-country campaign to end Black History Month. Funded by Independent Television Service (ITVS), National Black Programming Consortium, and the Sundance Documentary Fund, the film aired nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens.

In 2013, Tilghman directed The March@50, a PBS series of online, nonfiction shorts about the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. He also is the director of Danielle Mia Beverly’s 2014 film, All the Single Ladies, which looks at Black women and marriage, and was funded by ITVS.

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Chronicle

Isaac Solotaroff

Isaac Solotaroff is a two-time Emmy nominated documentary director and producer. Recently, his 2013 series, Casualties of the Gridiron for Conde Nast Entertainment and GQ.com was the first digital series ever nominated for an Emmy in the category Outstanding Sports Series. His feature-length directing credits include Ballplayer: Pelotero [2012] which was released theatrically in 10 cities and was a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post Critics’ Pick. Isaac also includes the following among his significant works: WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! [2011] for the PBS series Independent Lens, Visioning Tibet [2007] for American Public Television, Los Romeros [2002] for PBS which received an Emmy nomination in 2002 for Outstanding Nonfiction Special, and Belief Amended, Faith Revealed[1999] which was chosen as one of the 10 best documentary shorts in 1999 by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. Isaac is also a managing partner of Endeavor5, a commercial production company based in New York. Before working in documentary and commercial production, Isaac taught high school history in San Leandro, California.

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Fellow

Black Broadway on U

Shellée M. Haynesworth

Shellée M. Haynesworth is an award-winning independent producer, writer, director, and storyteller. Throughout her more than 20-year career, she has produced, written, and developed documentaries, multicultural programs, and digital media projects for clients such as USAID, U.S. Department of Education, Smithsonian Institution, PBS, Black

Entertainment Television, NBC, TV One, HBO/Time Warner, Gates Foundation and King World Entertainment, among others.

As a documentarian and digital storyteller, her focus has been to examine the African Diaspora by shedding light on the untold human stories and hidden contributions of African-American and Latino trailblazers in history, arts, culture, and humanities. Her documentary and broadcast credits include Latino Voices: Art & Culture (PBS/Smithsonian), Latino Music Greats (National TV Syndication), An Evening with Quincy Jones (PBS), An American Reunion: Clinton’s 1st Inauguration (HBO/Time Warner), Women’s Land Rights: A Ripple Effect (USAID/Gates Foundation) and A Tribute to Madiba: Nelson Mande- (a TV One/News One Now special).

More recently, Haynesworth has been exploring new approaches to immersive cinematic experiences and pioneering the next-generation of convergence in new media technology and digital storytelling for African-American themed projects. She is the recipient of several industry awards and in 2013 was nominated for a Capital Emmy award for The Sound: A Chuck Brown Tribute. An active member of the Producers Guild of America, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter), she also serves as an advisory board member for Women in Film and Video (Washington, DC Chapter), and is an alumnae of the University of Maryland, College Park where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Radio, TV, and Film.

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Fellow

Urban Food Chain

Tiffany Judkins

Growing up in the South Side and suburbs of Chicago meant Tiffany Judkins existed at a cross-section of race and class: she was struck by the distinctions. As an artist, her mission is to marry her creativity and desire to advance social justice.

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Urban Food Chain

Artemis Fannin

Wife and mother, Artemis Fannin is a certified holistic health coach, American Association of Drugless Practitioner, and founder of PlantGrowThrive. For Fannin, the concept of Urban Food Chain is more than physical nourishment; it is about the ecosystem that sustains a person or community and the innovators of sustainability production.

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Fellow

The wHole

Ramon Hamilton

Ramon Hamilton is an award-winning writer/director who combines entertainment and storytelling to motivate change. His unique style gives social issues a human face, telling intimate, character-driven stories.

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Fellow

Beyond the Book (Now “Read Awakening”)

Dominique Taylor

Dominique Taylor is a multitalented artist and creator. Her media background includes writing and editing for Blavity.com, Okayafrica.com, and Tea & Breakfast.com, and film, TV, and web production.

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Fellow

Beyond the Book (Now “Read Awakening”)

Stephanie Fields

Stephanie Fields is an Ohio-based, multimedia producer with a background in public media and independent production. When not on set, she writes, studies, and produces stories and projects about Black women writers of the African diaspora.

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Fellow

Street Cred

Sultan Sharrief

Sultan Sharrief, creator and head writer of the project Street Cred, sees potential and finds inspiration in Detroit. Since premiering his directorial debut film Bilal’s Stand at top film festivals around the country, including the Sundance Film Festival, MoMA’s New Directors/New Films Festival, and the Seattle Film Festival, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s Top 25 New Faces in Independent Film, 2010.

Sharrief seeks to develop socially relevant content while empowering youth through filmmaking. At 19, he produced The Spiral Project, a 35mm feature film nominated for a 2006 MTV Movie Award. In 2011, he served as associate producer of Moozlum and co-producer of Destined, which was filmed in Detroit, fall 2014. He serves on the board of the Michigan Theater Foundation and is the founder/curator of the Detroit Voices category at the Cinetopia International Film Festival. He also teaches a new media course at the University of Michigan.

Sharrief is active in Los Angeles and Detroit, developing inspirational and educational content.

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Fellow

Street Cred

Oren Goldenberg

Oren Goldenberg is a director/producer and video artist living and working in the Cass Corridor of Detroit. He is a 2013 Kresge Artist Fellow, whose projects have included Our School, a feature documentary about Detroit’s public schools; Brewster Douglass, You’re My Brother, a film about America’s first public housing project; The Bicyclist, the feature film; and Detroit (Blank) City, a satirical web series, Through his company, Cass Corridor Films, Goldenberg has collaborated with National Geographic, MTV, BET, and Panavision.

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Fellow

The Newark Project

Derek Koen

A self-described father, filmmaker, warrior angel, and “Mr. Get it Done,” who is unafraid, Derek Koen is a son of Newark, N.J. Growing up poor, Derek’s parents modeled ingenuity: his mother made meals, and his father made household repairs, using scant resources. In childhood, creativity was Koen’s toy. He first held a camera in 1988, and ever since has remained enthralled by things unseen to the naked eye, but visible through the viewfinder.

In 2006, Koen and Ouida Washington formed Washington Koen Media, full-service video production and media company focused on creating high-impact, socially responsible media and messaging. Their client list includes the U.S. Department of Justice, The Ford Foundation, Pearson Digital, The Advancement Project, and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission.

Koen directed the 2010 documentary, Beyond the Bricks, and served as co-executive director of a nonprofit organization with the same name.

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Fellow

The Newark Project

Ouida Washington

While studying at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Washington was introduced to 40 Acres and A Mule Film Company. Shortly thereafter, she became an intern, which led to her becoming a production assistant on commercials and music videos. By graduation, Washington had fallen in love with the film set and production process. Although she attained a B.F.A. in Art Direction/Commercial Design, she embarked on a film career, instead.

She produced the feature film Love Poem before becoming director at the Intel Computer Clubhouse for New York-based Children’s Aid Society. The afterschool creative technology program was her introduction to working with public schools. After 3 years in education, she returned to production in 2006, teaming up with director Derek Koen to form Washington Koen Media, which produces high-impact, socially responsible media and messaging projects.

Their 2010 documentary, “Beyond the Bricks,” looks at young, Black males and their struggles to stay in school.

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Fellow

My Africa Is

Nosarieme Garrick

Nosarieme Garrick is a citizen of the world, with roots in Nigeria and the United States, She is passionate about exposing the rapid cultural and technological advancements exploding among the youth in Africa. As a writer/reporter, she covered African Culture. Her articles helped establish fresh connections between the establishment and young African political, economic, technological and cultural leaders. In 2010, she founded Vote or Quench, a youth empowerment campaign educating young Nigerians on the importance of voting in local and national elections. Garrick also spearheaded the live production of the first youth-centered presidential debate. Before starting My Africa Is as a web series, she interned with the Economist newspaper and was mentored by the company’s CEO on the business of media. She lives to tell stories of young people, living, thriving, inspiring and connecting the world community through My Africa Is.

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Fellow

My Africa Is

Hassatou Diallo

Hassatou Diallo is passionate about the facts. Early in her career, she realized the value of solid research in making one’s voice heard. Born in Guinea and raised in the U.S., she continues to use her skills to advocate for underserved students, women, and others throughout Africa. Their voices are hers also.  Researching and writing for My Africa Is is one of several ways Diallo continues to follow her passion. With a group of other young Guineans living in the U.S., she founded and runs the nonprofit Hope of Guinea. The group provides scholarships to elite schools for underprivileged students in Guinea and follows up with mentoring and tutoring help.

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Fellow

The Life’s Essentials Docu-series

Muta’Ali Muhammad

Muta’Ali Muhammad is an award-winning filmmaker captivated by the human experience and dedicated to inspiring others through his work.  Making films since he was 12, he completed his bachelor’s degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and studied filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Muhammad went on to earn a master’s degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology and subsequently began his career as an independent filmmaker. He has produced several coming of age documentaries on rising stars and multi-platinum recording artists, as well as feature documentaries about social issues.  His work has been featured on BET, VH1, MTV, TruTV and TV One.  Muhammad’s feature-length film Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee — where the rich lives of actor/activists Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis are contrasted with love, art, and activism today — became one of Kickstarter.com’s highest-funded African-American-related documentaries. In addition to filmmaking, Muhammad has earned a patent for IBM Research for a unique graphical user interface. He has appeared on NPR, ABC, Fox News, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show and has been featured in the Daily News, Essence and Ebony magazines.

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Fellow

The Life’s Essentials Docu-series

NJ Frank

Brooklyn born, film producer NJ Frank has an instinctive talent for photography and film. His passion and projects are known for their thought-provoking impact. He began making a name for himself producing major projects for clients including AAA, The Mo’nique Show, Michael Mauldin’s Fastlife 360, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Universal Music Recording artist Bun B., Atlantic Music Recording artist T.I., and Johnson Publications’ Ebony and Jet magazines, to name a few.

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Fellow

Selfies from the Hill

Gregory Scott Williams, Jr.

Gregory Scott Williams Jr. is an award-winning filmmaker from Chicago’s South Side. He has written and directed several short films, most notably Five Deep Breaths, which screened at numerous international film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca and the Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won the Best Narrative Short Award.

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Fellow

So Young, So Pretty, So White

Christiana Mbakwe

Christiana Mbakwe is a British writer/journalist, from London, who writes and reports on sub-cultures and the marginalized.

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Fellow

So Young, So Pretty, So White

Chanelle Aponte Pearson

Chanelle Aponte Pearson is a Bronx-bred, Brooklyn-based artist and filmmaker.

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Fellow

Invisible Universe

M. Asli Dukan

M. Asli Dukan is an independent producer, director, and writer. Her short films have screened at festivals across the country, from the ImageNation Film Festival in New York to the Langston Hughes Film Festival in Seattle. As the founder of Mizan Media Productions, she has produced and directed numerous works including music videos: “Boot,” for Tamar-kali, and “Do You Mind” for Hanifah Walidah, which debuted on LOGO TV in 2008. Dukan holds an MFA from the City College of New York and currently lives in Philadelphia.

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Fellow

Saltbox (now The Hook)

Shirlette Ammons

Shirlette Ammons, executive producer/writer, is a musician and associate producer for Emmy and Peabody Award-winning docuseries, A Chef’s Life, now airing in its fourth season on PBS. A native of North Carolina’s Down East region, she is passionate about collecting, chronicling and sharing stories of the people from her community.

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Points of View

Alton Glass

Alton Glass is an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of GlassRock Entertainment. An alumnus of Oculus Launch Pad and the Google/YouTube VR180 grant program for immersive content creators has directed, produced and created projects for BET, Netflix, TV One, Disney, and Toyota. In 2014, he made American Black Film Festival history by winning an award in each category his film CRU had been nominated. In 2017, he won a “Breakout Star of The Year” Award for Tech Innovation at Black Enterprise’s Tech ConneXt Summit.

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Points of View

Donovan DeBoer

Donovan DeBoer has more than 15 years of expertise in new media development, creative direction, film marketing, branding, and high performance design concepts. The award- winning filmmaker has written and directed several films, commercials and music videos as well worked as a freelance creative director for many high profile brands including Pepsi, Naked Juice, Quaker, NXGEN and InvisiPay. In 2011, Donovan and two other entertainment professionals, started KickStream Creative, a branding, marketing and development company for television, film and new media.

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Mentor

Points of View

Michael Premo

Michael Premo is an artist, journalist and filmmaker who also is the executive Producer of Storyline, a nonprofit production company that crafts original stories to make sense of complicated issues, provoke discussion and inspire actions that address society’s biggest challenges. Recent projects with Storyline include the multi-platform project 28th Amendment: Housing is a Human Right, the participatory documentary Sandy Storyline, and award-winning short film and exhibit Water Warriors. In addition, Michael has created original film, radio, and theater projects with numerous companies including Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Foundry Theater, The Civilians, and the Peabody Award winning StoryCorps. Michael’s photography has appeared in publications like The Village Voice, The New York Times, and Het Parool, among others. For the Corporation for Public Broadcasting he helped produce Veterans Coming Home, a multi-platform public media series distributed by PBS. Michael is on the Board of Trustees of A Blade of Grass and A Center for Story- Based Strategy.

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Fellow

Greenwood Ave

Ayana Baraka

Ayana Baraka is an award-winning cinematographer who the Amsterdam News labeled a “person on the rise” in 2015. She became IATSE Local Camera Union qualified in 2013 and has worked on several feature and documentary films including The Hunting Ground, Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed (by Dania Guriria, featuring Lupita Nyong’o), Black Nativity, and The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2016, she won an award for Best Cinematography at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival. Ayana is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts film program and holds an MFA in Film and Television Production.

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Mentor

Greenwood Ave

Rachel Falcone

Rachel Falcone is a documentary director/ producer and multimedia artist who is the director and co-founder of Storyline, a nonprofit production company that crafts original stories to make sense of complicated issues, provoke discussion and inspire actions that address society’s biggest challenges. She has produced and directed stories about a range of topics, including the housing crisis, economic inequality, and environmental justice. Rachel is currently co-directing the participatory web documentary and exhibition Sandy Storyline (winner of the Tribeca Film Festival’s inaugural Award for Transmedia) and producing Water Warriors, a short film and exhibition about a community’s resistance against the oil and natural gas industry.

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Fellow

Heroes of Color

David Heredia

David Heredia has been freelancing professionally since 2006. He has worked for Walt Disney Animation, Warner Brothers Animation and DC Collectibles. He now runs Heroes of Color, LLC, named after his award- winning educational video series Heroes of Color, which has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, and recently licensed an episode to PBS Online. An upcoming children’s book based on the series is scheduled for release later this year. Through his company, David promotes inclusion and diversity through art and animation.

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Mentor

Heroes of Color

Kimson Albert

Kimson Albert was born and schooled in New York City and has been directing and producing animation on various animated projects for TV and film for more than 20 years. Starting his career on MTV’s Beavis And Butthead, he served as supervising animation director on Adult Swim’s The Venture Brothers (2015), and most recently working on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe (2013-18). He is currently the supervising animation director on Cartoon Network’s OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes (2018). He lives in Burbank, California.

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Fellow

A Good Man

Michael Fequiere

Michael Fequiere is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer and producer whose films have screened in festivals worldwide (TIFF, AFI Docs, CPH-DOX, PBS, IDFA, and Blackstar). His short film Kojo attracted a Fox Inclusion Emerging Artist Award in 2017 and was featured in BPM’s AfroPop Series X in 2018. Michael has worked as a producer, director and photographer at Townsquare Media, a digital media agency where he made branded content videos featuring Janelle Monae, Jidenna, Joey Badass, G-Eazy and more. He currently works as a Producer at CNN’s Great Big Story, a video network dedicated to cinematic storytelling on short-form documentaries from around
the world. His photography has appeared in XXL magazine and online in PopCrush and Loudwire.

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Mentor

A Good Man

Joe Brewster

Joe Brewster is a producer, director, and psychiatrist who uses this training as the foundation in approaching the social issues he tackles as an artist and filmmaker. A Rada Film Group co-founder, he creates stories using installation, narrative, documentary, and print mediums. Brewster’s American Promise was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African American Film Critics’ Association Award. The film’s companion book Promises Kept received the 2013 NAACP Image Award. A recipient of fellowships and grants from the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, MacArthur Foundation, and John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Joe is a Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee.

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Fellow

Listen to My Heartbeat

Nyjia July

Nyjia July was named among Source Magazine’s “25 Women to Watch” in 2015. The Washington, D.C. native majored in documentary film and digital journalism at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and has worked on the Emmy-nominated Brick City, was a CPB diversity fellow and a digital producer with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and has been a field and segment director with numerous production companies. Her first documentary, Just Us, examines the epidemic of generational imprisonment.

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Mentor

Listen to My Heartbeat

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon is a documentary filmmaker from NYC. Her editing debut won an Emmy for WGBH’s Greater Boston Arts series and she has continued to distinguish herself
on award-winning films, web and television programs. She is the co-producer and editor of Documented, the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. The film had record viewership for its CNN broadcast, and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary. Sabrina’s latest film, BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, won Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color at the African Diaspora International Film Festival. Other producing and editing credits include Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, and America By the Numbers: The New Mad Men. In addition to her work as a documentary filmmaker, Sabrina produces media for nonprofit and grassroots organizations, and engagement campaigns that leverage documentaries for tools for social change. She is the co-chair of the Black Documentary Collective and serves on many media panels and juries.

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Fellow

Commuted

Nailah Jefferson

Nailah Jefferson is a native of New Orleans whose documentary film work reflects the community that raised her. Her first film, Vanishing Pearls, chronicles an obscure African- American oyster-fishing community’s fight for justice after the catastrophic BP oil spill in 2010. Nailah’s first narrative film, Plaquemines (now on Cinemax) won the inaugural Create Louisiana $50k Short Film Grant and was an American Black Film Festival HBO Shorts finalist. Nailah will devote her fellowship to working on a lyrical documentary about Danielle Bernard Metz. In 1993, Danielle, then a mother of two young children, was sentenced to triple life plus 20 years for her role in her husband’s drug ring. After serving 23 years in prison, she was finally freed under President Obama’s Clemency Initiative in 2016. Nailah’s film documents Danielle’s fight to reconcile her present with past regrets.

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Mentor

Commuted

Yoruba Richen

Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker whose latest film, The New Black, recently premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and won audience awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. Her previous award-winning
work includes Promised Land, Sisters of the Good Death and Take it From Me. A Guggenheim fellow, Yoruba also is a professor of documentary film at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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Fellow

The Chicago Franchise

Randall Dottin

Randall Dottin is an award-winning filmmaker whose graduate thesis film A-Alike was licensed by HBO for a two-year broadcast and won numerous awards, including the 2004 Student Academy Awards’ gold medal for Best Narrative Film. In 2007, his short film Lifted was sponsored by the Fox Searchlab, which is Fox Searchlight’s program for emerging directors. In March 2009, he was named one of the Top Ten New Voices in Black Cinema by Indiewire magazine.

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Mentor

The Chicago Franchise

Byron Hurt

Byron Hurt describes himself as a “humanitarian who cares about the voiceless and the oppressed.” The award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, and anti-sexist activist is the former host of the Emmy-nominated series, Reel Works with Byron Hurt. His documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS’ Emmy-award winning series Independent Lens. Byron’s latest film, Soul Food Junkies, won the CNN Best Documentary Award at the American Black Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. Soul Food Junkies aired nationally on PBS’ Emmy- Award winning series Independent Lens in January and April 2013. A member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Hurt’s next film is called Hazing: How Badly Do You Want In?

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Fellow

Changing State

Leola Calzolai-Stewart

Leola Calzolai-Stewart is a co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based Flowstate Films. Her first independent project, The Last Song Before the War, examines the role of Mali’s Festival au Desert in promoting peace and development in Timbuktu. Her second film, Dear Walmart, offers an intimate look at a diverse group of Walmart employees who stood up, fought back, and won better wages and respect inside America’s largest private retailer.

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Fellow

Changing State

Kiley Kraskouskas

Kiley Kraskouskas is a co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based Flowstate Films. Her first independent project, The Last Song Before the War, examines the role of Mali’s Festival au Desert in promoting peace and development in Timbuktu. Her second film, Dear Walmart, offers an intimate look at a diverse group of Walmart employees who stood up, fought back, and won better wages and respect inside America’s largest private retailer.

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Mentor

Changing State

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez

Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez is a graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts who honed her craft as a writer, director and editor as an assistant editor for such esteemed directors as Spike Lee, Milos Forman, Alan J. Pakula, Ted Demme, and Robert Redford. As an editor, she’s cut numerous shorts, DVD special features, feature films and documentaries. Her most recent work includes Los Bandoleros (directed by Vin Diesel) and Antonia Pantoja, Presente! (directed by Lillian Jimenez). Sonia recently finished editing Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch, a feature documentary about renowned global feminist Charlotte Bunch, directed by Tami Gold. Sonia is also the editor on the weekly ABC News tech show, Tech This Out!

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Fellow

A Love Supreme: Black, Queer and Christian

Katina Parker

Katina Parker is a filmmaker, photographer, journalist, and writer living in Durham, N.C. Her documentary credits include Ferguson:A Report from Occupied Territory, which she co-produced and filmed (Fusion – ABC/Disney); and Whose Streets?, a film documenting Ferguson activists during the year after Mike Brown Jr. was killed by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson. Katina received her MFA in film production from the University of Southern California and her MA in Speech Communications from Wake Forest University. She formerly taught at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and has won a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship and two Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist grants.

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Mentor

A Love Supreme: Black, Queer and Christian

Michéle Stephenson

Michéle Stephenson is co-founder of Rada Film Group. A graduate of McGill University and Columbia Law School, she uses her background in critical studies, race and human rights to inform her documentary work. Her Panamanian and Haitian heritage has also fueled her passion to tackle stories on communities of color and human rights. Her film American Promise was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African American Film Critics’ Association Award. The film’s companion book Promises Kept received the 2013 NAACP Image Award. An early pioneer in the Web 2.0 revolution, Michéle used video and the internet to structure human rights campaigns and train people from around the globe in video Internet advocacy. Her work has appeared on PBS, Showtime, MTV and other outlets. Her honors include the Silverdocs Diversity Award and the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media.

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Fellow

The 3,000 Project

Keith McQuirter

Keith McQuirter is an award-winning producer and director with credits in documentary film, digital and broadcast commercials. In 2017, his film Milwaukee 53206 — which chronicles the lives of those living in the zip code that incarcerates the highest percentage of black men in America — won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the Urban world Film Festival, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Media for a Just Society Award. He also co-produced the five-part Peabody Award-winning and Primetime Emmy-nominated docu-series Brick City for the Sundance Channel.

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Fellow

The 3,000 Project

LaNora Williams-Clark, Esq.

LaNora Williams-Clark, Esq., has spent nearly two decades advocating for prison/sentencing reform. Her journey began at U.C. Berkeley where she did research on mandatory minimum sentencing and the War on Drugs. She went on to assist in creating the nation’s first offender reentry clinic at NYU School of Law. Under the guidance of her mentor, constitutional law scholar Derrick Bell, she eventually left the practice of law to launch Muse Creative Arts Agency, LLC, which supports the efforts of writers and creators using film and theatre to tell underrepresented stories about the Black experience.LaNora’s first book, Becoming the Muse, was published in 2016 and her second is scheduled for release later this year.

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Mentor

The 3,000 Project

Chris Hastings

Chris Hastings passion for television started at age 10 when he produced Kids News, a daily news show at his elementary school outside Philadelphia. After college, he became a founding team member in the development and production of Black Entertainment Television’s award-winning BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. A 14-year veteran at WGBH, Chris began with the children’s television program ZOOM and eventually evolved to his New England Emmy award-winning work at the WGBH Lab, an innovative incubator for up-and- coming filmmakers. He joined the WORLD Channel in 2011 as interim managing producer and currently is the executive producer and editorial manager of content for WORLD Channel and WORLDChannel. org.

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