2022 Firelight Year-in-Review: Artist Programs Highlights

A look back at selected highlights from Firelight Media’s growing suite of artist-support programs.

As we say goodbye to 2022, Firelight Media is taking a look back at an exciting time for our Artist Programs. This year we were able to expand support for our growing community of nonfiction filmmakers of color through our fellowships, labs, and grant programs with great thanks to our community of supporters.

Our Beyond Resilience series recently concluded its third season, which included four National Endowment for the Humanities-supported Masterclasses designed to give our audience exclusive access to master filmmakers, historians, producers, and thought leaders.

Our Documentary Lab recently welcomed a new cohort of 14 filmmakers who are working on exciting and socially relevant documentaries that are authentic and accountable to the communities they represent.

Our Groundwork Regional Lab, part of our Regional Initiatives, returned to in-person convenings focusing on the American midwest, bringing 19 diverse filmmakers together to learn about filmmaking opportunities in their local communities.

Our Impact Campaign Fund granted funds to 5 filmmakers and their teams to develop and execute their dream impact and engagement campaigns for their documentaries.

With thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) initiative, our Spark Fund provided 36 stipends of $50,000 to mid-career filmmakers to alleviate financial hardship and work disruptions endured from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next spring, we look forward to the launch of season 2 of our IN THE MAKING short film series with PBS American Masters and the next season of our short film collection HOMEGROWN: Future Visions with PBS and the Center for Asian American Media. We’ll also be announcing the recipients of our William Greaves Research & Development Fund and our inaugural PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund. Stay tuned for those announcements and more!

In the meantime, read on to discover more about our Artist Programs Highlights for 2022.

You can show your support for Firelight Media and our growing community of BIPOC filmmakers through our end-of-year fundraising campaign! As a nonprofit organization we depend on our community of supporters to provide monetary support for our programs and operations. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Donate now.

Beyond Resilience

The third season of Beyond Resilience, our flagship public program series, included in-person and virtual conversations, film screenings, pop-ups, and curated essays that explored the challenges, strategies, and experiences of creating and distributing work during periods of social transformation. This year, events in the series were presented at festivals and conferences including Sundance Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival, the International Documentary Association’s Getting Real Conference, and DOC NYC, among others.

We also launched a new strand of the series, Beyond Resilience Masterclasses, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which featured filmmaker luminaries, thought leaders, and impact producers for conversations about using documentary filmmaking to educate the public about our shared history.

View our Beyond Resilience Playlist on YouTube

Documentary Lab

This year the Documentary Lab hosted a mix of hybrid and virtual retreats to support our current fellows. Just this month, we announced the 14 new Fellows selected for our Documentary Lab for 2022–2024. The projects the new class brings to the Fellowship include stories of transgender and nonbinary protagonists in search of supportive communities; profiles of politicians and activists seeking to reform racially biased policies and practices in housing and policing; an exploration of the legacy and contributions of disabled visual artists; and an investigation into the disproportionately high rate of breast cancer deaths among Black women.

Meet the 2022–2024 Documentary Lab Fellows

Groundwork Regional Lab

Our Groundwork Regional Lab hosted virtual and in-person labs this year throughout the Midwest. 19 filmmakers joined us in Ohio and Minnesota to receive an introduction to the documentary landscape and to learn about the opportunities that exist for early-career filmmakers. Ultimately, our goal is to help position these filmmakers for national opportunities as well as to increase public television stations’ capacity to leverage the talent and content of diverse, local makers.

Meet the 2022 Groundwork Ohio Filmmakers

Meet the 2022 Groundwork Minnesota Filmmakers

Impact Campaign Fund

In August, we announced the five grantee teams for our Impact Campaign Fund, which addresses a resource gap in the nonfiction space for impact and audience engagement-related projects by and for communities of color in the U.S. This year, we partnered with Looky Looky Pictures, founded by Impact Producer Fellowship alum Ani Mercedes, to provide grantees with additional mentorship around campaign strategy and implementation.

Meet the 2022 Impact Campaign Fund Grantees

In March, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) initiative, Firelight Media launched The Spark Fund, which provided 36 stipends of $50,000 to selected BIPOC documentary filmmakers over the period of one year. The stipend was intended to alleviate financial hardship and work disruptions endured from the COVID-19 pandemic. The selected filmmakers are all working on humanities-themed projects, many of which align with the themes of NEH’s “A More Perfect Union” initiative.

Meet the Spark Fund Recipients

About Firelight Media

Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight Media’s programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S. territories; and the William Greaves Research & Development Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities, among others.

Firelight Media also produces digital short film series, including a forthcoming collection of regional short films HOMEGROWN: Future Visions (piloted as Hindsight), in partnership with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and PBS Digital Studios, and IN THE MAKING, produced in partnership with PBS American Masters.

Funding for Firelight Media and its program is generously provided by our community of supporters, including individuals and institutions.

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Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports nonfiction filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.

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Firelight Media

Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports nonfiction filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. We’re #changingthestory.