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July 23, 20144 months ago

Firelight Media Announces the 2014 winners of the Firelight Media Freshman Fund (F3)

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.
Posted in: Events, Film Related
July 22, 20144 months ago

Firelight Films Launches "America Revisited"

In June Firelight Films launched AMERICA REVISITED-- an unprecedented, multi-year project for broadcast on public television's series Independent Lens. AMERICA REVISITED is a series of three films-- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and The Slave Trade: Creating A New World-- that will expand and deepen our understanding of African-American history, experience and life. More than just a film project, AMERICA REVISITED is a unique, multi-platform interactive journey through American history-- from the global trade in African lives that built empires; to the excitement, rage and determination embodied in the Black Power activism of the 60’s; through the jubilation of a high school senior opening up an acceptance letter to Howard University in 2014.

For each film, there will be exclusive interviews and clips from the films, interactive games and timelines, as well as background information and essays to bring the history to life. AMERICA REVISITED will seek user-generated content from audiences that can be viewed on our website and shared through social media platforms. And in the case of TELL THEM WE ARE RISING, audiences will be invited to contribute their personal stories, photos, home videos and memorabilia to the site for possible inclusion into the documentary film. Check out our AMERICA REVISITED website and Like our AMERICA REVISITED Facebook page.

Posted in: Events, Producers' Lab
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November 1, 20131 year ago

Firelight Media Announces 2013 Next Step Media Fund Grantees

Firelight Media today announced the 2013 recipients of the Next Step Media Fund, which will distribute $70,000 in funding to documentary film projects created by participants in Firelight Media’s Producers’ Lab, a mentorship program for talented, independent producers of color.  “The Next Step Media Fund helps to demonstrate that Firelight’s Producers’ Lab is more than just a mentorship program. In addition to helping these filmmakers prepare their work for national broadcast, we are providing holistic support to a whole new generation of independent filmmakers of color,” says Marcia Smith, Co-Founder and President of Firelight Media, “and being able to provide direct financial support at a critical stage demonstrates our commitment to making a long-term commitment to these participants.”
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.

  Press Contact:
  Lisa Lucas Director of Communication 212.234.1324 Ext. 7#    
Posted in: Events, Film Related
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August 14, 20131 year ago

Firelight Produces New Stop-and-Frisk videos

On Monday, federal judge Shira A. Scheindlin issued a ruling that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and has called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms. Stop-and-frisk is a practice of the New York City Police Department by which police officers stop and question tens of thousands of pedestrians annually and frisk them for weapons and other contraband. Critics argue the practice fosters distrustful relationships between communities of color and the police.

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.

Visit: Facebook: Twitter: Hashtag: #whereiamgoing

July 19, 20131 year ago

Jason DaSilva: New York City Mapping Day

On July 27th, Jason’s AXS Map team will be hosting its third annual New York City Mapping Day for AXS app. The public is invited to bring along their smart phones and help Jason’s team make NYC more accessible.
July 19, 20131 year ago

Melissa Haizlip's Mr. Soul! at the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival

Melissa will screen a work-in-progress of her film Mr. Soul!, about Ellis Haizlip and the birth of Black Power TV, at the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival, August 6-10, 2013. They recently shot exciting interviews with Pierre Apraxine, Amiri Baraka, George Faison, Stan Lathan, and Stanley Plesent.
Posted in: Events, Film Related
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February 13, 20131 year ago

Celebrating Black Independent Film Pioneers: Bill Greaves & Bill Miles

Please join us as we explore the work, legacy, and lives of Bill Miles and Bill Greaves on Feb 27th, 6:30 pm.

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!
Posted in: Events, Film Related
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February 13, 20131 year ago

Christine Turner's Homegoings Had Its World Premiere at MoMA!

Christine Turner, Firelight media's talented Producers' Lab member, had the World Premier of her film Homegoings at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight 2013. An oversold crowd at the MoMA gave Turner a much deserved standing ovation for her film which takes a look at African American funeral traditions through the eyes of a beloved Harlem undertaker.
September 6, 20122 years ago

What's Next for Firelight? -- A Word From Stanley Nelson

As we wrap up the summer, I am especially excited about our two newest projects: one film about the Black Panther Party and another one about Freedom Summer. This Fall promises to be exciting as we start doing interviews and collecting footage.

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.

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April 16, 20122 years ago

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: 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.