DOCUMENTARY LAB

In 2008 Firelight expanded its mission and created the Documentary Lab, a flagship mentorship program that seeks out and develops emerging diverse filmmakers. The Lab provides filmmakers with one-on-one support, funding, professional development workshops and networking opportunities. More than just a workshop, the Documentary Lab is unrivaled in its representation of diverse producers, creating an exclusive network of talented unique storytellers that receive ongoing support from a project’s conception to its completion.

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LAB FELLOWS HAVE HAILED FROM NEW YORK, HAWAII, CALIFORNIA, ILLINOIS, MARYLAND, AND MASSACHUSETTS.
awarded

THE DOCUMENTARY LAB HAS AWARDED $265,000 OVER THE PAST 3 YEARS
 

 

FELLOWS

January 01, 1970
MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART

In 1987, Miguel Dieppa repented of his homosexuality as he lay dying in a New York hospital. Like many other gay Puerto Ricans, Miguel left the island in search of sexual liberation and…

CECILIA ALDARONDO
January 01, 1970
The Feeling of Being Watched

In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago, where co-director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most people think the whole place is under surveillance, and has been for a decade. While filming one community’s story…

ASSIA BOUNDAOUI
January 01, 1970
Canary in a Coal Mine

Jennifer, a Harvard PhD student, was signing a check at a restaurant when she found she could not write her own name. Months before her wedding, she became progressively more ill, losing the…

JENNIFER BREA
January 01, 1970
WARRIOR WOMEN

Told from the perspective of American Indian Movement activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, “Warrior Women” reveals the untold history of the families who fought for civil rights in the turbulent Red Power movement of…

CHRISTINA KING & DR. ELIZABETH CASTLE
January 01, 1970
The Interpreter

The Interpreter is a feature length documentary that follows stories of Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who were essential to American war efforts, but whose lives are now threatened for working with coalition forces.…

ANDRÉS CABALLERO & SOFIAN KHAN
January 01, 1970
WHOSE STREETS?

The activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice bring you WHOSE STREETS? – a documentary about the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and…

SABAAH JORDAN & DAMON DAVIS
January 01, 1970
SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTO...

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of gang raping…

DEBORAH ESQUENAZI
January 01, 1970
A Guangzhou Love Story

In China, an unprecedented surge in African migration has led to a rise in marriages between Chinese women and African men. A Guangzhou Love Story captures the love, heartache, and real life challenges…

KATHY HUANG
January 01, 1970
OUT OF STATE

Out of State follows native Hawaiian inmates who are sent to a private prison in Arizona. In response to their displacement, a group of over 100 native Hawaiian male inmates practice hula and…

CIARA LACY
January 01, 1970
ROKIA: VOICE OF A NEW GENERATION

LAURENS GRANT is a Peabody and three-time Emmy Award- winning documentary filmmaker who has produced and directed films all over the world. Rokia: Voice of a New Generation is a personal story that…

LAURENS GRANT
January 01, 1970
A Woman's Work

Football and feminism collide in this feature documentary that follows three former NFL cheerleaders and their class-action lawsuits brought against their teams.

YU GU
January 01, 1970
Working Title

9/11 left a deep wound within the American psyche. It was a reminder that the American way of life was under-attack. The U.S. vowed to bring these enemies to justice. In this character-driven…

HABIBA NOSHEEN
January 01, 1970
SIQUEIROS: WALLS OF PASSION

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion, a one-hour documentary film about Mexican visual artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) and the resurrection of his Los Angeles mural América Tropical, located at the birthplace of Los Angeles…

LORENA MANRIQUEZ
January 01, 1970
WEDNESDAYS IN MISSISSIPPI

In the summer of 1964 a quiet revolution began in Mississippi when a group of Black and White women reached across the chasm of race, class, geography, and religion to end segregation in…

MARLENE MCCURTIS
January 01, 1970
ISABEL ROSADO: NATIONALIST

Melissa is working on a 60-minute documentary on Puerto Rico’s struggle for independence as told through the eyes of lifetime nationalist Isabel Rosado. At 102 years old, Isabel Rosado has become a revered…

MELISSA MONTERO
September 11, 2012
FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL

Miguel Martinez moved to the U.S. from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato at the age of ten.  After graduating from high school in Charlottesville he began his career by hosting and producing the…

MIGUEL MARTINEZ
January 01, 1970
Always in Season

For more than a century, tens of thousands of men, women, and children attended lynchings of more than five thousand African Americans that often included hours of torture, mutilation, and photography. Lynching was…

JACQUELINE OLIVE
January 01, 1970
#NailedIt: Vietnamese & The Nail Industry

#NailedIt: Vietnamese & The Nail Industry is a feature-length documentary about the genesis of the Vietnamese nail salon and its influence on the $8 billion dollar nail economy. Our story begins at a…

ADELE PHAM
January 01, 1970
Justice for Jennifer

When a 26‐year‐old Filipina transgender woman and alleged sex worker Jennifer Laude is found dead with her head plunged into a motel room toilet, police quickly identify the suspect as 19‐ year‐old U.S.…

PJ RAVAL
January 01, 1970
Time of the Phoenix: The First Rainbow Coalition

Time of the Phoenix: The First Rainbow Coalition (working title), a feature-length documentary now in post-production, charts the history and enduring legacy of a largely forgotten but groundbreaking multi-ethnic coalition that rocked Chicago…

RAY SANTISTEBAN
January 01, 1970
Ask The Sexpert

Ask the Sexpert is a feature documentary centered on a highly popular sex columnist for a daily newspaper in India. Despite sex being a taboo topic in India, the column’s brand of non-moralistic…

VAISHALI SINHA

GRADS

  • Carol Bash

  • MIKE BROWN

  • Sharese Bullock

  • Lyric Cabral

  • Chico David Colvard

  • Jason DaSilva

  • Byron Hurt

  • Melissa Haizlip

  • Cristina Ibarra

  • Shalini Kantayya

  • Risa Morimoto

  • Peter Nicks

  • Bao Nguyen

  • Dawn Porter

  • Yoruba Richen

  • Dinesh Sabu

  • Lacey Schwartz

  • SHUKREE HASSAN TILGHMAN

  • Christine Turner

  • Malika Zouhali-Worrall

MENTORS

  • LOREM IPSUM

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NEXT STEP FUND

Funding continues to be one of the greatest challenges for emerging diverse filmmakers. Even when producers have great ideas and experienced mentors attached to their projects, a lack of funds can stall or completely halt their progress. Often, producers just need a small grant to keep them moving towards the next stage and keep their projects alive.

The Next Step Fund was created to respond to this crucial need. The NSF will provide up to $25,000 in production and post-production funding to five to seven filmmakers who are already in the Producers’ Lab to complete innovative documentary films that tell stories about people, places, and issues that are underrepresented in the mainstream. Funded activities may include travel, shooting, editing, and other mid to completion phase activities.

The goal of the NSF is to help filmmakers advance their projects even in the absence of major funding. Grantees will be selected on the quality of their project and their ability to demonstrate how a small grant from the fund will allow them to move their project to a significant next phase. The NSF is made possible by the generous support of the John D. Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.