2014 Winners of the Firelight Media Freshman Fund

Firelight Media announces the 2014 winners of the Firelight Media Freshman Fund (F3) award, which supports non-fiction filmmakers of color ages 30 and under. The winners of the F3 award receive a $5,000 grant to support the production of their project and membership in the Firelight Media Producers’ Lab. Support for the Firelight Freshman Fund is generously provided by the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust.

The two winners are:

Bao Nguyen, a Vietnamese American filmmaker whose past work has been seen in the New York Times, Al Jazeera, HBO, ARTE, PBS, among many others. He has directed, produced, and shot a number of short films, which have played internationally in numerous festivals and museums including MoMA PS1 and the Smithsonian. His graduate thesis film, “Julian,” won a CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Best Student Documentary Short at the Palm Springs ShortsFest, the Special Jury Prize at DOCNYC, and was nominated for an IDA Award. He recently produced “2030”, a feature narrative set in near future Vietnam and is a recipient of the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Award. He is a 2011 PBS/WGBH Producers Workshop Fellow and an alumnus of the 2012 Berlinale Talent Campus. He earned his BA in Politics/ International Relations at NYU and a MFA in Social Documentary Film at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

His project, “The Betel Begins The Conversation” is a feature length documentary that follows the potential legalization of same-sex marriage in Vietnam through the lives of several LGBT Vietnamese and their families.

About being a recipient of the F3 Award, Nguyen says, “I am honored and grateful to be selected to receive the Firelight Freshman Fund and join the Firelight community. Firelight Media is an organization’s whose mission truly resonates with my core values as a filmmaker. I believe there is not just a need to tell stories about underrepresented communities but also a need to have stories told FROM underrepresented communities. Thank you again to Firelight for this opportunity.”

Dinesh Sabu is currently directing and producing his first feature-length documentary with Kartemquin Films. He has served in a variety of capacities on such Kartemquin Films as No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson and A Good Man, in addition to shooting part of the forthcoming American Arab. In addition to his work at Kartemquin, Dinesh works as a freelance filmmaker in Chicago shooting documentaries as well as collaborating with organizations such as the University of Chicago, the Chicago Justice Project and the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Dinesh is committed to youth education and youth media. After teaching at Community TV Network from 2006 to 2009, he served on its Board of Directors as President. He also serves on Cinema Chicago’s Education Advisory Committee, which organizes monthly film screenings for youth as well as the annual CineYouth Film Festival.

His project, “Unbroken Glass” confronts the sudden deaths of his parents when he was just 6-years old. Now, twenty-years after their deaths, Dinesh sets out on a journey to find out more about his parents’ story. Along the way, Dinesh confronts his own trauma of being orphaned, resurfaced memories of his parents’ volatile relationship, and faces his own risk of mental illness, while breaking the silence about his mother’s schizophrenia. His desire to revisit the past risks upsetting the carefully maintained balance he and his siblings have constructed over the past twenty years.

About being a recipient of the F3 Award Sabu says, “As an emerging filmmaker making a personal documentary, it’s a true honor to have the support of Firelight for my project. I’m excited to receive funding, but even more excited to participate in Firelight’s Producers Lab with some incredibly talented and well-known people in the documentary community. To me, this support vindicates the long journey of making this documentary so far.”

Firelight Media’s Producers’ Lab is a mentorship program for talented and independent media makers of color. Participants work with award-winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, and a team of senior producers, writers, editors, new media, and fundraising specialists to complete their projects for a national broadcast. The Lab also provides monthly workshops and seminars to our producers on relevant and contemporary topics. Firelight Media started the Producers’ Lab as a way to provide infrastructure support for diverse producers to help overcome some of the barriers to completing their film or video.

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