By Leslie Fields-Cruz

January 12, 2021


Just Filmmaking

Last week, Black Public Media launched the 2021 cohort of our 360 Incubator+ with an opening presentation by social strategist and impact producer Sonya Childress. During her presentation, Sonya introduced the fellows to a new storytelling framework that she's crafting called "Just Filmmaking."

She defines Just Filmmaking as “an ethos that is locally-grounded, equity focused and in conversation with justice movements.” Filmmakers, she says, must recognize that they are part of a larger ecosystem of change. While a film can’t activate people alone, in concert with other social change actors (e.g., activists, educators, policymakers, lawyers, etc.), she notes that it can be a powerful catalyst for new action.  And it can be liberating for all involved.

“Liberatory cinema can be a force that brings healing, joy and connection to all those involved … I think Just Filmmaking really concerns itself with being a tool for healing, for the people on both sides of the camera.”

We are living through a time in U.S. history when just storytelling is urgently needed. We appreciate Sonya's willingness to sharing her research and her wisdom with our new incubator cohort. I fully anticipate robust discussions about these concepts to continue throughout the remainder of the incubator session. (Wanna hear more? Click here to read Q&A with Sonya that ran last year in Active Voice Lab.)

Last Friday's 360 Incubator+ welcome reception was a delightful experience in virtual party going. It was nice being able to gather safely with the fellows and mentors, our board members, staff and several Incubator+ alumni. Kudos to the two interns who designed our virtual reception space: Chloe Cuffe and Sumi Cruz, and a shout out to Lauren Ruffen of Crux who introduced us to the virtual party platform. We hope everyone who attended had a good time.


We also want to thank our friends at MoAD for inviting us to co-host their African Diaspora Film Club gathering this past weekend. The conversation — which was facilitated by California Newsreel's Cornelius Moore — about Melissa Haizlip's acclaimed film Mr. Soul!, was engaging and inspiring. Don't want to miss the next one? Visit MoAD's website for details about how you can join us for upcoming events.

I know I said this in our newsletter last week, but I'll say it again: Mark your calendars for the premiere broadcast of How it Feels to Be Free on American Masters, Mon., Jan. 18 (check your local PBS listings). BPM grantees Yoruba Richen (360 Incubator+ mentor) and Lacey Schwartz have produced a thoughtful, enlightening and celebratory documentary about some of Black America's most iconic female performers — Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, Nina Simone, Cicely Tyson, and Pam Grier).

Finally, we want to thank our friends at DOC NYC for offering the BPM family a discount on their winter professional development series, which features 10 weekly, online classes (90-minutes each) on documentary production, cinematography, accessibility, funding, and distribution. The series runs Jan.14-March 25. Normally, their season pass is $150, but BPM family members can now sign up for a special partner price of $99. Go here to register and enter the code: PROW12SP_PromoPartner.

Have a good week!