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The Next Step Media Fund grants are being provided for the second year, through funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation designed to support and encourage a diverse slate of emerging filmmakers. “The MacArthur Foundation supports documentary films that explore contemporary issues through powerful human stories, challenge stereotypes and misperceptions, and promote understanding and empathy for different points of view," said Kathy Im, Director of Media, Culture and Special Initiatives at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, “We are thrilled to support Firelight Media and its Next Step Media Fund because this program nurtures a cadre of filmmakers very likely to direct and produce the type of films we’d like to see made.”
Four 2013 projects were selected to receive funding and were chosen from Firelight Media’s current roster of Producers’ Lab participants by a jury comprised of: Tamir Muhammad (Tribeca Film Institute); Cynthia Lopez (POV); Film programmer Chi-Wei Yang, and Firelight’s Stanley Nelson (Co-Founder) and Loira Limbal (Deputy Director).
Each of these projects has received direct mentorship support from award-winning filmmaker and Firelight Co-Founder Stanley Nelson who says, “it’s one thing to provide guidance to these filmmakers, but without direct fiscal support many projects don’t get made, and so we’re invested in making sure that we see our Producers’ Lab participants through the entire process—guiding them in their filmmaking practice, supporting them as they work towards broadcast, and now, ensuring that they have some funding to rely on during phases of production where support is always needed, but often unavailable. In the future, we hope to be able to support the entire lab with this much needed funding.”
The projects selected to receive a total of $70,000* include:
Wednesdays in Mississippi by Marlene McCurtis - $15,000
Wednesdays in Mississippi tells the little known story of the unlikely alliance and friendship between the “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement”, Dr. Dorothy Height and Polly Cowan, a wealthy, New York Jewish activist. In defiance of a world in which women took their lead from their husbands, in defiance of the unacknowledged sexism inherent within the Civil Rights Movement itself, and in defiance of a world in which black women worked for white women, not with them, these two remarkable women fought together to effect lasting change.
Hazing: How Badly Do You Want In by Byron Hurt - $10,000
Hazing will be a 60-minute documentary film that will explore why the controversial practice of hazing continues to be widely seen as a meaningful and legitimate rite of passage, despite mounting lawsuits, fraternity/sorority chapter suspensions, increased media coverage, serious injuries, arrests, and tragic deaths.
Trapped by Dawn Porter - $15,000
Trapped will follow the progress of two Southern abortion clinics – Reproductive Health Services of Montgomery in Montgomery, AL and the Jackson’s Women Health Organization in Jackson, MS as they struggle to stay open in the face of an increasingly hostile legal and political climate.
Mr. SOUL! by Melissa Haizlip - $15,000
From 1968-73, America got SOUL! – televisionʼs first “black Tonight Show.” The film celebrates the groundbreaking PBS series from its genesis to its eventual loss of funding against the backdrop of a swiftly changing political and social landscape, while profiling Ellis Haizlip, the charismatic man behind one of the most culturally significant and successful television shows in U.S. history.
*A fifth project will be announced at a later date
About Firelight Media: Firelight Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing talented documentary filmmakers who tell stories about people, places, cultures and issues that are underrepresented in the mainstream media. Firelight Media was founded in 1998 as an independent non-profit production company and has been best known for producing high-quality powerful productions for PBS and its dynamic educational outreach campaigns. However, in 2008, Firelight Media expanded its work to include developing and supporting the next generation of filmmakers.
About the Producers’ Lab: Firelight Media’s flagship program is the Producers’ Lab, a mentorship program for talented independent producers of color. Participating producers work with award-winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson and his team of senior producers, writers, editors, new media, and fundraising specialists to complete their projects for a national broadcast. 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.
Lisa Lucas Director of Communication 212.234.1324 Ext. 7# email@example.com
Firelight is thrilled to announce that our latest film Jesse Owens, which aired on the acclaimed PBS series American Experience, won an Emmy for Outstanding Research at the 34th Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards! Firelight would like to congratulate Laurens Grant, Stanley Nelson, Stacey Holman, Aljernon Tunsil and the entire Jesse Owens team on this achievement!If you haven’t had a chance to watch the film yet, you can stream it online or purchase it here.
Recently, Firelight Films teamed up with Communities United for Police Reform to produce a video series, the Where I Am Going Campaign, which aims to show the real impact of stop-and-frisk on individuals and communities. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing a number of stories from people directly affected by the policies, beginning with Kasiem Walters, a high school senior from Flatbush, Brooklyn. He has been stopped and frisked by the police eight times in his community. Watch his moving story here.
Documenting these stories is the first step in helping others understand the consequences of stop-and-frisk. If you have an experience with stop-and-frisk that you want to share, let us know through Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #WhereIAmGoing. Or simply share these videos and add your voice to a national conversation on racial profiling.
Before Spike Lee, Henry Hampton, Stanley Nelson, St. Claire Bourne, and many other successful black documentary makers, there was Bill and Bill. Steeped in black history and culture, the work of these two pioneers laid a firm foundation for many of today's black filmmakers who continue a proud tradition of storytelling that began with Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, and others.
This event is Co-presented by Firelight Media and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Although this event is free for public, registration is required. Click here to register today!
Food habits and traditions are hard to change, especially when they’re passed on from generation to generation and rich with family history and loving memories. Leaving behind the food you grew up with can seem like a rejection of family values and roots. In Soul Food Junkies, Byron Hurt (Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes) shares his journey from his New Jersey home through the South to learn more about African American soul food and its long-term effects on the community.
Hurt’s journey was inspired by his father’s unwillingness to give up his high-fat, calorie-laden traditional soul food diet, even in the face of a life-threatening health crisis. Although he’s been able to improve his diet and stay in shape, Hurt discovers that the love affair that his Dad and others have with soul food is deep-rooted, complex, and often deadly.
Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as doctors, family members, and everyday people, Soul Food Junkies reveals how the American culinary tradition of “southern” food began in West Africa, spread throughout the Americas during slavery, and was coined “soul food” in the late 1960s during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The film also shows how the profit-driven fast food and processed-food industry, have replaced traditional home cooked meals more and more. This, along with the dwindling number of markets featuring fresh produce in many communities of color, has negatively impacted African American health.
But change is in the air. Faced with increasing obesity and rising diabetes rates, an emerging food justice movement is taking root: dynamic and passionate individuals are challenging the food industry, encouraging communities to “go back to the land” by creating sustainable eco-friendly gardens, advocating for healthier options in local supermarkets, supporting local farmer’s markets, avoiding highly processed fast foods, and cooking a healthier version of traditional soul food.
To learn more about the film, visit the companion website for Soul Food Junkies. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section, where viewers can share their ideas and opinions.
Here is what Pete said in an interview with Variety:
"I can't tell you how many times we walked up to people and told them what we were doing, and they'd say, 'My story doesn't matter -- why does anybody care about my story?' This recognition is really special to me; it's a validation that their story does matter." Pete Nicks has also been nominated for the following prestigious awards:
2012 Gotham IFP nominee for Best Documentary
2013 Independent Spirit Awards double nominee: Best Documentary & Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award
2013 Cinema Eye nominee: Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
This film is currently in theatrical distribution in selected cities around the country and will broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in the 2013-2014 season. Please click here to see the current schedule.
The Waiting Room, which follows the life and times of patients and caregivers at Highland Hospital, a public hospital in Oakland, CA, was picked as New York Times and New York Magazine Critics Pick, won the Golden Gate and Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, a Silver Docs and True or False official selection, and won the Guggenheim Emerging Artists Award at Full Frame.
A huge congratulations to Pete from Firelight Family!
Spies of Mississippi tells the story of a secret state spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy during the 1950s and ‘60s. The Sovereignty Commission was overseen by the Governor of Mississippi and handpicked board of 12 of the most powerful men in the state. The Commission’s purpose was to preserve segregation at any cost. It was granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, to keep secret files, to make arrests and even to compel testimony. To do this, they employed a network of investigators and informants to infiltrate civil rights organizations and undercut their efforts. Ultimately, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission spied on tens of thousands of Americans and collected over 160,000 pages of files.
Jason is a participant in the Firelight Media Producers' Lab.
For me, these projects are so close together in terms of era—1964 and 1966, but they are incredibly different stories. In many ways they are about different paths to liberation for African Americans. These projects are important now because we want to capture the voices of those who were active in those struggles and are aging. They are also about how individuals can participate and make a call to action in very different ways: one group fighting for the vote and for change within the system and the other saying we need drastic revolutionary change in this country. In many ways, young people have mythologized them, but many don’t know the true story. We want to make these figures human and demonstrate that the people who participated were really young. Movements can happen if you participate and if you believe in them.
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.Yesterday, New York NBC's Positively Black aired a special interview with Laurens Grant to discuss JESSE OWENS as part of a presentation in honor of this year's Olympics. Read more
Sunday, July 29, at 6 AM
(NBC, check local listings)
NBC New York's Positively Black highlights the people, issues and events affecting the African-American community in the tri-state region and across the nation.
This Sunday's episode features Laurens Grant discussing JESSE OWENS as part of a special Olympics presentation. Directed and Produced by Laurens Grant, and Produced and Written by Stanley Nelson, JESSE OWENS examines the life and legacy of the African-American sprinter, a sharecroppers son, who triumphed over adversity to win four gold medals in the face of Hitler’s Aryan nation at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
JESSE OWENS premiered on the PBS Series, American Experience on May 1, 2012 and was broadcast on PBS UK on June 6, 2012.
SOUL FOOD JUNKIES makes its worldwide premiere tomorrow! The 64-minute feature length film will be one of four to compete in the documentary film competition at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, Florida June 20-23, 2012!
RECAP FROM THE FIRELIGHT MEDIA AND OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS SEMINAR: "Creating Social Impact through Story in a Transmedia World."Last month, Firelight Media and The Open Society Foundations (OSF) co-hosted our third annual seminar: "Creating Social Impact through Story in a Transmedia World." The event was declared a great success by the over 80 attendees who took part in the two-day event on May 7th and 8th, 2012. Read more
Laurens is also a participant in the Firelight Media Producers' Lab where she is working on another film Rokia: Voice of a New Generation. Check out our exciting interview with Laurens below.
Firelight Media & OSF Seminar: Creating Social Impact through Story in a Transmedia World -- Application Due April 27th!THE FIRELIGHT MEDIA PRODUCERS' LAB & OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS PRESENT: Creating Social Impact through Story in a Transmedia World A two-day Seminar MAY 3RD AND 4TH, 2012 The Firelight Media Producers' Lab & Open Society Foundations (OSF) cordially invite emerging producers and directors of color to apply to the our latest seminar: "Creating Social Impact through Story in a Transmedia World." Over the course of two days, broadcasters, programmers, independents, executives, and community organizers will explore how social and transmedia has: diversified media content, altered means of production, and broadened platforms of distribution. This seminar will be held in New York City. Details TBA. Interested producers and directors please complete the attached application and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line please type “Firelight & OSI Application May2012”. Download a copy of the application here: fm_osi_seminar_application DEADLINE EXTENDED! All applications must be received Friday, April 27th.
The Full Frame Festival honored Nelson for his work with a multi-day Tribute.
Spanning over 40 years, Like it Is archives features a vast array of public figures including: Aretha Franklin, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, jr, Michael Manley, Julius Nyerere, Bob Marley, Lena Horne, Harold Washington, and Muhammad Ali, to name a few.
Noble also loved the documentary genre. He said that documentaries “remain a powerful weapon to change false values, correct historical error and cure the poison of prejudice..." His documentaries covered subjects ranging from Fannie Lou Hamer to Paul Robeson.
Noble managed to weave through the challenges of mainstream media to provide thought-provoking and powerful black content. A fellow Harlemite, Brother Gil Noble will be sorely missed.
Editors Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunsil Win "Best Edited Documentary" for FREEDOM RIDERS at ACE Eddie AwardsA special congrats to Firelight Films' beloved and talented editors Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunsil for bringing home the 62nd Annual American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award for "Best Edited Documentary" for the film Freedom Riders. Winners were revealed during ACE’s black-tie awards ceremony on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Click here for the list of winners.
More Than A Month is scheduled to air tonight on PBS' Independent Lens. Check local listings. Tilghman participates in the Firelight Media Producers' Lab.
Join Us for a Special Screening of this Provocative New Film!
Saturday, January 28 @ 4 PM
Schomburg Center: Harlem, USA
with Producer/Director Shukree Hassan Tilghman and other special guests!
Thursday January 26, 2012, 6-8 PM
North High School Auditorium - 1101 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix
For more information: Tel: (602) 254-5230 Email: email@example.com or go to: TONATIERRA Facebook Page. Click here to check out their flyer.
NAHUACALLI – A Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples supporting local-global holistic indigenous community development initiatives in accord with the principle of Community Ecology and Self Determination.
The film Freedom Riders won the following three Emmy Awards at the Los Angeles ceremony held last night:
Photo: Lisa Collins, Christine Turner, Jason DaSilva (starting from the left)
Last month our New York City partner Brotherhood/SisterSol brought a contingent of young adults from Harlem to Ghana, West Africa for their annual International Study Program (ISP). While there they hosted a screening of FREEDOM RIDERS for over 200 students at the Vakpo Secondary Technical School. Two Brotherhood/SisterSol alumnae introduced the film: Lauren Crawford (sophomore, SUNY New Paltz) and Zora Howard (sophomore, Yale University).
Freedom Riders has proven to be a wonderful, yet never-ending, journey. While we continue roll out our Freedom Riders Community Engagement Campaign, there are few more pots brewing on the stove.
"If you don't have Freedom Riders, you are missing out on something...People were just stunned...I mean, the evilness of some people in this country, and the courage of others to take something that seemed so insurmountable and be able to make some major major headway...that's the type of story that we all need to celebrate and need to emulate and need to pass along to the generations that come after..." Radio Host Davey D
GET ON BOARD: Stories of the Los Angeles to Houston Freedom Ride
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum
4130 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230
Reception: 6:00 PM
Program: 7:00 PM
by Stanley Nelson
I can’t believe it. Its been more than two months since Freedom Riders aired on PBS and since the surreal appearance of over 200 original Freedom Riders on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The journey of making this film is done. The process of the film unearthing a lost history of sacrifice and triumph is still unfolding.
10th Anniversary Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival
St Nicholas Park
Wednesday, July 20 @ 8:30 PM
Presented by Historic Harlem Parks
The film Freedom Riders has garnered the following three Emmy Award nominations:
Photo: Director Stanley Nelson with Freedom Rider Hank Thomas
In May, Firelight Media launched our yearlong effort to help organizations around the country use the film Freedom Riders to engage young people. These organizations are exploring the lessons of the Rides and using those lessons to inform their work on contemporary issues such as disproportionate sentencing, immigrant rights, youth violence and environmental justice. Read more
Photo: Benjamin Cox
Photo Credit: Jackson Sun
Photo: Carol Bash
The story of the Freedom Rides offers a dramatic lesson in the revolutionary power of civic participation. The daring actions of a small diverse group of young adults emboldened a mass movement that ultimately transformed the very fabric of this country. We believe this powerful example of a successful organizing effort will inspire young people, and their adult allies, that are affected by, and mobilizing around contemporary issues such as disproportionate sentencing, immigrant rights, youth violence and environmental justice.
New York Times
"[Freedom Riders] is a story of ennobled youth and noxious hatred, of decided courage and inexplicable brutality...It is hard to imagine a feature film conveying the events with a more vivid sense of drama or suspense."
Ginia Bellafante, New York Times. Click here to read the article.
"In 'Freedom Riders,' Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson uses masterful storytelling and gripping interviews with key players of the era to document what would eventually become one of the civil rights movement’s major victories."
Jamiliah King, Colorlines. Click here to read the article.
"With a thriller’s pace and the emotional heft of a battlefield journal, PBS’s remarkable new documentary 'Freedom Riders' recounts the bloody anti- segregation bus rides of 1961 that helped kill Jim Crow in the Deep South."
Greg Evans, Bloomberg News. Click here to read the article.
Nelson's most recent film, Freedom Riders, airs on PBS Monday, May 16th at 9 PM. Check local listings. Nelson's films can be purchased on this website. Click here to go to our shop and receive special discounts. Click here to donate to Nelson's work to support and mentor independent diverse producers in Firelight's flagship program The Producers' Lab.
Photo: Stanley Nelson
Photo credit: Chester Higgins jr./ New York Times
Writer/Producer/Director: Stanley Nelson
Producer: Laurens Grant
Executive Producer: Mark Samels
Editors: Lewis Erskine & Aljernon Tunsil
"A Celebration of Freedom Riders Release"
Directed by: Stanley Nelson and Produced by Laurens Grant
Thursday, May 12, 2011 from 6:00pm-9:30pm
*African American Women In Cinema is very pleased to announce the celebration release of the new film Freedom Riders. This historic celebration will include a screening of the film, followed by a question & answer segment with Producer Laurens Grant and will conclude with a wine & cheese reception.
Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center Auditorium & Labor Arts Gallery
310 W. 43rd St (near 8th Avenue), New York City
RSVP - IMPORTANT
Admission is complimentary but you must RSVP to be admitted and seating is limited! Please go to FRFilmevent@gmail.com to RSVP.
*PLEASE NOTE THE LAST DAY TO RSVP WILL BE MAY 11TH AT 12 NOON*
Hosted by: 1199 SEIU Bread & Roses Cultural Project
Co-sponsored by: "Cakeman" Raven & Tomlinson Agency
10 FILMS, 10 DIRECTORS, ONE NIGHT!!
For one night only, all 10 Film Forward films screen simultaneously on the National Mall, with the filmmakers and special guest presenters at each location.
Thursday, May 12, 2011 @ 6 p.m.
National Archives, Constitution Ave., N.W.
between 7th St. and 9th St.
FREE admission; ticket required.
THE HOST: Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services
For more info, go to https://residentassociates.org/ticketing/landing/film-forward-advancing-cultural-dialogue.aspx
"I would rather be dead than not free, and that is the reason I got on that bus." - Freedom Rider
On Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, The Oprah Show commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Riders movement that challenged segregation and won. Oprah reunited almost 200 Freedom Riders who had risked their lives to change America, and showcased filmmaker Stanley Nelson's bold new film that tells their story, Freedom Riders. During the opening of the show, Oprah declared: "if it were not for these American heroes, this country would be a very different place right now.The lives of millions of you watching at home would be dramatically different. I know my life would be were it not for them."
Oprah asked everyone to gather their families and tune in to the PBS broadcast of Freedom Riders on May 16, 2011.
Backstage with Stanley Nelson
Click here to see the backstage interview with award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson.
Oprah's Tribute to the Freedom Rides
Click here to view Oprah's multimedia tribute to the Freedom Riders.
Why I Got on the Bus...
Click here to hear why the Freedom Riders joined the struggle and risked their lives.
In this episode of Democracy Now , journalist Amy Goodman interviews filmmaker Stanley Nelson and two Freedom Riders, Bernard Lafayette and Jim Zwerg, who are featured in Nelson's powerful new documentary Freedom Riders. Freedom Riders is scheduled to air on PBS' American Experience on May 16, 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.
Tune-In: May 4th on The Oprah Show!
Chicago, IL – Emmy award-winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, and nearly two hundred Freedom Riders will appear on a special episode of The Oprah Show. One week before the national PBS broadcast of the documentary Freedom Riders, which chronicles their heroic victory, Oprah Winfrey will sit down with leaders of the Freedom Riders’ movement and Stanley Nelson who is bringing their little known story into living rooms across America.
I didn't know quite what to expect as the plane approached Beijing. I had been there 16 years ago but I heard the city had changed a great deal since 1996. There was no way that I could have anticipated the massive changes that have occurred. One of the first things that struck me was that there are cars everywhere and smog to go with it. Our hotel is more modern then any hotel I had seen in the States. American and European stores are all over and the people are very, very fashion conscious. When I remarked to a Chinese person about the changes they replied "Oh you must have been here when it was still 'the time of the bicycles.' "
In 1961, during the first year of John F. Kennedy’s presidency, more than four hundred Americans participated in a bold and dangerous experiment designed to awaken the conscience of a complacent nation.
Check out the press release: http://www.wgaeast.org/
Date: Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 2PM
Venue: Casa Frela Gallery in Harlem, 47 W. 119th (Between Lenox and 5th Avenues)
Ticket Donation: $10 (includes refreshments)