A new fellowship from Firelight Media aims to facilitate equitable representation in the documentary film world by training organizers and artists in film production.
The company announced its inaugural group of Impact Producer Fellows yesterday (March 20). The program connects eight fellows with documentary filmmakers and guides them as they develop campaigns to bring the films to a wide audience. Fellows will participate in monthly roundtables with distributors, funders and other members of the film ecosystem.
Firelight Media explains in a Medium post accompanying the announcement that it seeks to "fuel change efforts and catalyze new narratives about vulnerable populations" by bringing these artists and activists of color into media and production.
"The inaugural cohort of Impact Producer Fellows bring with them trusted relationships in diverse communities and social justice movements, cultural competency and a proven commitment to social change," Sonya Childress, Firelight’s director of partnerships and engagement, says in the post. "We aim to build on those assets and provide them with the skills and networking that will position them as narrative strategists who can strengthen both the nonfiction film community and the movements they serve."
The first class of fellows:
- Jin Yoo-Kim, filmmaker (co-producer, "I Hate Big Phony")
- Jumoke Balogun, writer and former Department of Labor advisor
- Sam Tabet, filmmaker ("Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four")
- Julien Terrell, environmental and economic justice organizer (formerly of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice)
- Iliana Sosa, filmmaker (director and writer, "Detained in the Desert")
- Ani Mercedes, filmmaker and former White House intern under Barack Obama (director, "Hand Built Boat")
- Tracy Rector, filmmaker, activist and executive director of Native community-focused media advocacy group, Longhouse Media (co-producer, "Teachings of the Tree People: The Work of Bruce Miller")
- Carmen Dixon, an organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Policing Reform Campaign and Black Lives Matter‘s New York City chapter
Director Stanley Nelson ("Tell Them We Are Rising") and philanthropy executive Marcia Smith founded Firelight Media in 2000. The company produced many of Nelson’s films, including "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution" and "Freedom Summer."